Over the past decade, consumers have been moving away from physical copies of movies like DVDs and Blu-rays and embracing a digital market. However, whether you only buy your movies digitally or you use digital codes included with physical copies, there are still a lot of different services to stream movies.
Because of this, it can be hard to find the service that is right for you. Are you an Android or iOS user? Do you prefer to watch on your gaming console? Do you use Apple TV, Roku, or Chromecast? There is no end-all, be-all answer for the best streaming service for new movies. It all depends on your preferences, but some of these services are better than others. Here are some of the most popular services currently available.
Amazon Unbox launched in 2006, and the service's name has changed a few times, as well as what it offers. Because its current focus is primarily on streaming on-demand content, including original series, the company's section to purchase and watch movies has fallen a bit by the wayside when compared to its competitors.
Amazon is one of the few companies that supports 4K; however, using the service can be a hassle. It will be easy for Xbox One S users to stream 4K, but it can be complicated with other devices.
Chromecasting is possible but because Amazon does not use Google's Play Store, you have to download the app from a third party, which can open up your device to attack, malware, viruses, etc. It seems the only reason the company is still using the service is to incorporate the Amazon storefront.
After allowing its subscribers to rent movies for years, finally cable and satellite providers are offering its users the ability to purchase movies that can be watched at any time. In addition, some companies are allowing you to watch your purchased movies on the go.
4K support is rolling out for for man cable and satellite providers. However, Comcast does not offer 4K through its set-top boxes, and the only way to get it is to use its app on LG and Samsung smart TVs. Regardless, buying movies through cable and satellite is incredibly easy, as the purchase gets charged to your monthly bill. That being said, at times, rental and purchase costs can exceed those through other services, like Google Play and Vudu.
In addition, depending on your service's terms, you can lose your purchases if you leave the provider, like with DirectTv. However, the biggest advantage purchasing your movies this way has over everything else is that it doesn't eat up your bandwidth, so you'll never have to worry about hitting your internet data cap.
Originally founded in 1999 as one of the original streaming platforms, which also had on-demand viewing, CinemaNow was notably purchased in 2010 by Best Buy and Sonic Solutions. Currently, CinemaNow is owned by FilmOn, a UK-based company.
CinemaNow's app and service has been surpassed by every other service available on the market. The only real positive about the service is that you can link your Ultraviolet account, which is the primary way to redeem digital codes included with physical copies of movies.
Aside from that, the CinemaNow app is a disaster. It's clunky and unresponsive. Streaming movies seems to be an impossibility on both iOS and Android, as we spent two minutes waiting for a movie to load before deciding to back out. It can be watched easily if downloaded to your device though. While the app boasts that it has integration with Chromecast, we could not find out how to cast the movies to a TV from phones, tablets, or the PC.
The biggest blow comes to PlayStation users as CinemaNow is not available for any Sony products.
PlayStation's store has an app available on both Android and iOS, and overall, it offers quick access to your purchased content within an easy-to-use app. Xbox, on the other hand, is not only behind the times but also lacks simple functionality if you want to access your content outside of your console. The only way to watch your content purchased is either on your console, through your PC, or on your Windows phone. It is possible to cast the movies on certain smart TVs, but there are numerous problems with trying to playback movies. Simply put, it's clunky and doesn't perform the most basic of tasks at times.
The biggest upside to purchasing movies this was is that there are great deals every week on movies and collections. However, you can get these same deals through other, more reliable services.
PlayStation Video works with:
Microsoft Movies works with:
Flixster, which was acquired by Fandango in 2016, has gone through a lot of changes in its 10 year history. Originally, the site was the go-to service to watch digital copies you received from purchasing DVDs or Blu-rays, but companies like Ultraviolet have moved towards Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu in the past few years.
It feels like this part of the service is on its way out. Many movies purchased through Vudu will no longer play through the Flixster Video app. In addition, you cannot purchase movies, and there is no console support, which is a huge disappointment considering that the service integrates Rotten Tomatoes--providing detailed movie info--exceptionally well.
One of the top ways to watch and purchase movies is Google Play Movies & TV. If you're an avid Android user, then this will most likely be your go-to service.
The service works on multiple platforms, even on Apple TV. However, the app on iOS can be a little shaky and unresponsive. The biggest problem comes from the fact there is no console support, so you would need a streaming or casting device to watch movies on your television.
As for purchasing movies, much like consoles and Vudu, there are a lot of great deals to purchase movies, which rotate out every week or so. Most importantly, Google Play connects with Disney Movies Anywhere, so you can watch your Marvel Cinematic Universe movies without having to open another app.
iOS users will be very familiar with iTunes as a go-to service for purchasing and watching movies. The service is automatically integrated into all iOS products, so longtime Apple users will feel very comfortable with using the service.
The biggest problem with using iTunes is that there is no support for playback outside of iOS devices. Movies cannot be Chromecasted or played through Roku. At this time, 4K content is not available.
However, the apps and Apple TV have an easy to use system and the movie store has weekly deals. The pluses heavily outweigh the minuses, even though iTunes is an iOS-only service.
Finally, there is Vudu, which is one of the best ways to watch and purchase new movies online. While Vudu originally started as a set-top-box service, the company, which was purchased by Walmart in 2010, has an expansive library of movies and television shows, updated weekly, and it was the first streaming service to offer HD movies.
To some people, Walmart being attached to this service may be a turn-off, but without a doubt, this is one of the best services currently available. It is the only one that connects to both Disney Movies Anywhere and Ultraviolet, and it is also the only company that offers free movies, as long as you don't mind ads. In addition, it offers the Vudu Stick, which is a lot like Amazon's Fire Stick. It will allow users to watch movies on the service if they don't have any other way of accessing Vudu.
Much like Google Play and iTunes, there are plenty of deals on movies and collections. Whether you want to watch on your console, Roku, your smart TV, or Chromecast, Vudu has you covered. However, the service is not available on Apple TV, but it will be coming to the device this fall. The iOS app is currently available, but it can be very shaky. That is expected to change this fall as well.