Choose from Amazon, Hulu and Netflix

Choose from Amazon, Hulu and Netflix
Television still: Alpha House.

The draw of streaming services is not limited to speed and availability, but also that these services let you watch content anytime and anywhere.

Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and Netflix are the three biggest streaming content providers in the US, especially for TV shows.

All three compete for streaming rights and none can offer the complete library of current US TV shows. For example, Netflix has exclusive rights to the complete Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead drama series; Amazon has a lock on dramas such as Downton Abbey and Suits; and Hulu offers an exclusive selection of British and Canadian TV shows, such as dramas Line Of Duty and Endgame.

Due to contractual rights, shows can also be added and removed at any time.

To add to the confusion, some shows are not available on all three streaming services. The exclusions include crime drama Criminal Minds, comedy The Big Bang Theory and fantasy series Game Of Thrones.

To pull in more subscribers, all three services are now actively producing their own original TV shows, which has given rise to binge watching.

Instead of waiting a week for a new episode, services such as Netflix produce a full season and make everything available to subscribers at the same time.

When these services use original content to lure more subscribers, they do not license these shows to other countries. This means most will never be broadcast on free-to-air or cable TV channels here.

Amazon Prime Instant Video, US$99 (S$124) a year

Original content:

Alpha House

Renewed for a second season, the political comedy is created by Doonesbury creator, Gary Trudeau. It stars John Goodman as one of four US senators who share a house in Washington DC.

The After

Chris Carter, creator of the hit series X-Files, is the brains behind The After, a sci-fi post-apocalyptic drama which follows eight strangers in a new world.

Exclusive content:

Downton Abbey

This critically acclaimed British comedy is one of the most widely watched drama shows in the world and a fifth season is planned for this year.

Suits

One of the best legal dramas ever crafted about a lawyer and his protege. The twist is that one of them does not even have a law degree.

Amazon has two related video services. Amazon Instant Video is an a-la-carte service which rents and sells digital movies and TV shows, while Amazon Prime is a service which offers free two-day shipping on most items sold on Amazon.

While this free-shipping option is only for the US, Amazon Prime also comes with Prime Instant Video, which offers streaming of selected movies and TV shows at no additional charge.

Amazon's Pilot Season programme commissions the pilot episode of a potential series and offers it free to subscribers for viewing.

Viewers are encouraged to offer feedback, which Amazon will take, together with viewership figures, to determine if a full-length series will be ordered.

Amazon reportedly set aside US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) to spend on original content, as well as acquiring exclusive content for its subscribers.

For example, Downton Abbey, Suits and sci-fi series Under The Dome are streamed only on Prime Instant Video. 

Hulu Plus, US$7.99 (S$10) a month

Original content:

Battleground

The mockumentary-style political comedy drama is produced by Marc Webb, who directed the reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man.

The Awesomes

Created by comedian Seth Myers, this animated series follows a group of superheroes who recently stepped up to replace the original Awesomes superhero team.

Exclusive content:

Prisoners Of War

This Israeli drama follows the lives of two soldiers who return home to Israel after 17 years as prisoners of war. The show was adapted and remade as the hit US series, Homeland.

Hulu is the undisputed king of TV shows, as most of its TV shows air the day or a week after the episode has been broadcast on TV, compared with other streaming services, which usually release a whole season only after the final episode airs.

The free Hulu service is available via Web browsers, but most of the episodes available are of the latest three, five or eight episodes which just aired.

Neither the past seasons nor the complete current season are available free.

Subscribers of Hulu Plus, however, get the free content, as well as all the episodes from past seasons.

Hulu's strength is in network programming, that is, shows airing on TV networks, such as NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox.

So, shows from cable channels, such as Showtime, AMC and HBO, are not offered and Hulu viewers cannot get Homeland, The Walking Dead or Game Of Thrones.

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