A Beginners Guide to Using Streaming Services

Stranger Things

Sixty-five years ago, when TV Guide Magazine published its first issue, viewers had only four networks to choose from. Today, many would welcome back that simplicity.

But they’d be missing out on a world of new and exciting series, as some of the best current shows are on streaming platforms (for proof, just check out the Emmy nominations!).

So, if you’ve been curious about how best to jump into the streaming waters, let us guide you.

Pick A Service

Dozens of great niche streaming services exist (BroadwayHD features plays and musicals, for example), but the biggest mainstream offering is Netflix, which pumps out dozens of original programs each year. (Amazon Prime Video and Hulu are great options too, and you can see their differences in the box to the right.)

Get The Right Hardware

You’ll need an internet connection to log on to Netflix.com via a computer, or you can download the app on a tablet or smartphone. If you have a smart TV — which has built-in internet capability — you can start the process there. And if you don’t have a smart TV, don’t worry. Inexpensive devices such as a Roku stick or Chromecast plug into your television and make it smart… and ready for streaming.

Sign Up

Most streaming services are user-friendly with easy-to-follow instructions. You will need to enter an email address, choose a password and input credit card information to pay for the monthly fee. Note: Several services offer introductory promotions for one week or one month free!

Start Watching!

Once you’ve signed up, choose from thousands of TV shows and movies. Welcome to the world of bingeing!

Discerning the Difference:


Price: Subscriptions start at $95.88 per year and run to $167.88 depending on video quality and how many devices you want to stream on.

Library: Netflix has roughly 4,000 movies in its library (titles come and go each month), plus hundreds of TV shows including How to Get Away With Murder.

Original content: The service has introduced about 700 of its own titles, such as the comedy GLOW and prestige dramas House of Cards and The Crown.

Amazon Prime

Price: The cost is $119 per year, with extra perks such as free delivery on Amazon.com orders.

Library: Expect to find several big-screen hits, like Oscar winners Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea, as well as an incredible amount of TV titles, including USA’s Suits and TNT’s The Closer.

Original content: Comedies Transparent and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and dramas Goliath are just a few of the critically acclaimed highlights.


Price: The service runs $7.99 per month, plus $4 more per month to avoid ads on some content.

Library: Hundreds of movies, plus tens of thousands of episodes of TV series, including hit The Good Doctor. Bonus: Because of Hulu’s deals with many networks, some series’ episodes stream the day after they air on broadcast TV!

Original content: Emmy-winning drama The Handmaid’s Tale and 9/11 miniseries The Looming Tower stand out.