What are Streaming Services
Streaming Services are media content (digital video or digital audio), which primarily uses the internet to provide infotainment to end-user. The term streaming is used for these services as the data is streamed through the internet to your device using a telecommunication network. It’s different than the traditional channels we watch on our TV through direct to home or cable services as live TV uses airwaves via a television signal to broadcast content. In contrast, in streaming services, the content is delivered live through the internet. Various platforms are providing HD audio and video services as OTT (Over the top) content, and users have the option to choose from SD (Standard Definition), HD (High Definition), and Full HD depending upon their plan and bandwidth of internet services being used.
Benefits & Drawbacks of Streaming Services
Streaming services provide new and unique content to their audience, which you’ll hardly get elsewhere. There are special series and movies made for the OTT platforms, and the best part is that you can stream them anywhere, anytime, and on almost any device. Not only this, but you can also download your favourite programs and then watch them later. Similarly, for music streaming services, you can download your favourite songs and listen to them offline. All the paid subscriptions (video or audio) are mostly ad-free; hence you get uninterrupted premium content.
However, there are few downsides of streaming services, which include problems in streaming/downloading due to poor internet speed. Moreover, if any ongoing show doesn’t get good viewership, then it might get cancelled, leaving you wanting for more of your favourite character/series. Another drawback of streaming services is that one can get addicted to binge-watch the serials/movies as you get an enormous amount of entertainment at just one click. Sometimes it’s fine, but if it becomes a habit, then it can hamper your work and personal life. Not only can it disturb your life, but it also impacts your health as you are glued to your screen and become a couch potato.
Online Video Streaming Services
Netflix has some of the best original shows and movies from across the world, and they are ad-free. These two are the primary reasons that today Netflix is so popular in India and across 190 countries on the globe. They invest heavily in their productions and cast the best of the directors and actors to retain their viewership. Few famous movies and serials of Netflix India are Sacred Games, Daredevil, Punisher, Delhi Crime, and Sherlock. It has four different plans starting from Rs.199 (mobile only), Rs. 499, Rs. 649 (two screens and full HD) and Rs. 799 (4 screens and 4K + HDR)
Amazon Prime Video
A cheaper alternative for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video is a part of the Amazon Prime membership by the e-commerce giant, which offers several benefits on Amazon and access to Amazon Prime Music. They have many popular series, movies and comedy shows like Made in Heaven, The Man in the High Castle, Goliath, Mirzapur, Panchayat and Mr. Bean, etc. They have two rental plans; the monthly subscription costs a mere Rs. 129, while the annual one is for Rs. 999.
Zee5 is the OTT video streaming platform of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) and was launched in Feb’18. It offers international movies, TV shows, live TV, music, health, and lifestyle-related content in 12 regional languages apart from English. Zee5 also has an impressive collection of Korean, Turkish and Spanish shows and TV series dubbed in Hindi. The Live TV on the go option allows users to access more than 90 live TV channels in Hindi, English and regional languages which include News channel, kids channel and movie channels. Some content is free for users, but for the premium version, you need to pay Rs. 99 per month, and other options are – Rs. 599 for 6 months or Rs. 999 for a year.
Hotstar is owned by Start TV Network, but after Disney’s takeover of Star Network, it’s known as Disney+ Hotstar. Now, it has not only contents which were available on Hotstar, but also the exclusive content available by Disney. They have more than 10,000 hours of content available in 8 languages in 15 TV channels, and exclusive content from HBO like Game of Thrones and Hotstar gained immense popularity after they live telecast the IPL matches. With an active user base of 400 million monthly users, Hotstar is leading the OTT bandwagon. They also have some free content available on their platform, but for premium content, you have to pay Rs. 299 per month or Rs. 999 per year. They also have a cheaper subscription option of Hotstar VIP at Rs. 365 per year in which you can watch limited content.
A subsidiary of Balaji Telefilms, Alt Balaji is their OTT platform launched in Apr’17 and since then have gained massive popularity in India as they already have many popular serials and shows in their kitty. They have a plethora of web series, comedy shows, movies, celebrity chat shows, kid’s library, and TV serials on their platform. Their monthly subscription is for Rs. 100 and yearly sub is for Rs. 300.
Owned by Times Internet, MX Player is an app-based OTT platform that provides content in 10 regional languages apart from English and Hindi. The app is currently free for viewers and has a lot of web shows, serials, movies, music, news, buzz, and live TV. They have content in different genres like crime, drama, thriller, reality, and comedy. MX Player also has an impressive collection of popular Hollywood and foreign movies dubbed in Hindi.
Sony Liv is a video on demand, entertainment OTT service which is owned by Sony India and they have their own popular shows from Sony like Kaun Banega Crorepati, The Kapil Sharma Show, Crime Patrol, Indian Idol, 10 ka Dum and Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, etc. plus they also live stream football matches of UEFA Europa League, Serie A, Ligue 1 and UEFA Champions League.
Apart from shows and matches, they have movies in English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. Viewers can also watch different channels like Sony Entertainment Television, SAB, Sony Marathi, Sony BBC Earth, Sony Pal, Sony Max, and other regional channels of Sony. The monthly fee for premium content is Rs. 299, or you can also opt for Rs. 699 for 6 months or a full year for Rs. 1000.
Voot is an online streaming platform of Viacom 18 group which owns many channels like Colors, Colors Cineplex, Colors Rishtey, MTV, MTV Beats, VH1, Colors Infinity, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, History TV18 and many regional channels of color. Apart from these entertainment channels, they have a host of News channels under CNBC, CNN, and News18 group and have more than 15 News channels in English, Hindi, and regional channels. Voot has content from all these channels and also their own premium content, which makes Voot one of the best content-based OTT platforms in India. All their channels, shows, serials, and many blockbuster movies are available on Voot, and the premium content is available at just Rs.99 per month or Rs. 499 per annum.
Online Music Streaming Services
With the increasing internet penetration in India, not only OTT platforms but digital music streaming services are also becoming increasingly popular. Now people are ready to pay to listen to their favourite music instead of purchasing CDs etc. as these Online Music Streaming Services provide the listeners almost unlimited access to regional, filmy, pop, classical, international, folk or any genre of their choice at less than Rs.100 a month in most cases.
JioSaavn was founded in 2007 as Saavn Music and was taken over by Reliance industries in 2018 for more than $1 billion and merged with Jio Music. It has more than 5 crore music tracks in 15 languages and also has podcasts and radio stations as well. JioSaavn has partnered with more than 900 labels, which include giants like Universal, Warner Music, Saregama, Eros, T-Series, Tips, YRF, and Sony Music to provide a complete package to its listeners. JioSaavn is a free digital music platform, but you have to listen to the ads in between and if you want to go ad-free, have access to 55+ million songs, highest quality audio, unlimited downloads and listen on Alexa, then you can buy the JioSaavn Pro package for Rs.99 valid for 30 days or Rs. 399 valid for a year.
Gaana was founded by the Times Group in 2010, and it’s a part of Times Internet, which is a subsidiary of Times Group. Currently, Gaana has more than 150 million monthly users, and they have Indian as well as International content on their music streaming platform. They also have podcasts and live Radio streaming facility. Though the entire content is free to users, if you want to uninterruptedly listen to your music without advertisements and in high quality, then you can opt for a yearly subscription for Rs. 999. Though, there are different offers available on various coupon sites by which you can avail a 3-month free Gaana Plus subscription.
YouTube is already dominating the online video market, and now with YouTube Music, they want to cater to the listeners as well; people who are simply interested in listening to their favourite music without spending much data. The music streaming app YT Music is available in 95 countries. It is available on Android, iOS, Alexa and Google Nest, etc. Like its competitors, YT Music is free for users, but for a premium subscription, you can avail ad-free music in HD at Rs. 99 per month.
Spotify Technology SA is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden and is a Swedish company which is a music streaming and media services provider. They have renewed their partnership with Warner Music Group and have an impressive collection of songs from both Indian and International labels. The premium plan starts at Rs. 119 per month (after 3 months free) and goes up to Rs. 699 per month.
Apple Music is a music streaming platform that started exclusively for iOS users and was launched in Jun’15 in around 100 countries across the globe. They started video streaming services in 2016, and since then, their subscriber base has grown up to 70 million as of now. They have a huge collection of more than 60 million songs, and you can enjoy it on iOS or Android device free for the first 6 months and then at a nominal fee of Rs. 99 per month.
Online Streaming Devices
Now let’s talk about a few streaming devices which can be used to convert your old LED TV to a smart TV. You just need to have an internet connection with a speed greater than 3 Mbps for standard definition and 5 Mbps and more for HD streaming.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick Streaming Media Player with all-new Alexa Voice Remote helps you to play and control the content on your TV with simple voice commands. It has 8 GB internal storage, 1.3 GHz Quad-core ARM Processor, and is available with 1-year manufacturer warranty on reliancedigital.in for Rs. 2,999.
Airtel Xstream Smart BoX – 4K
Airtel Xstream Smart BoX – 4K-Android Box by Airtel has inbuilt Wifi and Bluetooth and has features like inbuilt Chromecast, mobile screen mirroring, voice search, 4k picture quality and 1 year free Airtel TV content (OTT). You can watch 350 + live TV channels, more than 10k movies and free content for 1 year, and also watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and many other apps on your TV. The Airtel android box comes with a 1 year digital TV warranty and can be purchased from yashretail.com for Rs. 3,999.
It Makes Sense to Buy the Yearly Plan!
If you're new to the world of streaming services, then here's a pro tip for you to consider - First, examine each streaming service and find out the shows that you'd want to watch, the ones that suit your taste, and go for its yearly plan as it's significantly cheaper! Another pro tip would be going to share your plan with your friends and family, and it can help you even out the cost even more!