Hulu and Spotify, streaming services that have begun offering bundles of their two services, have both revealed how many subscribers they have.
Hulu, the popular video streaming service, announced on Wednesday that they had more than 20 million subscribers, according to CNN Money. These numbers aren’t as high as Netflix’s, as CNN Money notes that Netflix has about 55 million subscribers in the United States. But the numbers still suggest Hulu is a decent competitor when it comes to the video streaming game.
They could also potentially gain more subscribers, as well, as some announced changes certainly seem enticing. Hulu, like Netflix, already has some of their own original programming (like the popular Handmaid’s Tale). Until now, though, Netflix offered something Hulu didn’t: offline watching. Hulu now plans to make content available to download and watch offline, says CNN Money. The content would still play with ads, but an internet connection wouldn’t be necessary.
Spotify announced their own numbers on Thursday. Spotify is a popular music streaming service that offers paid and free accounts. According to TechSpot, Spotify now has 75 million paid subscribers to their service, and the number of people who use the service every month is also huge: 170 million. And as TechSpot also mentions, Spotify’s 75 million paid subscribers is far above Apple Music’s 40 million. This only further cements Spotify as the major competitor in the music streaming arena.
Hulu and Spotify both offer their own separate subscriptions, but over the past months they’ve begun offering bundles, as well. Last year they began offering a student plan that bundled the two services for only $4.99 a month. And just last month, a bundle was announced for everyone else that would offer both services for just $12.99, which is higher than the student price but still a significantly less expensive option.
Netflix is now giving their app users a chance to preview shows before watching.
The Netflix app now has what they’re calling mobile previews, Fortune reports. These mobile previews will seem like a familiar feature if you use an app that has Stories (like Snapchat). The previews appear at the top of the app and can be clicked through one after another. You can even go straight to the content from a preview if you see something you like.
According to Fortune, most of the previews are around 30 seconds long. You also don’t have to turn your screen to watch them because they’re vertical videos instead of horizontal.
If you watch on your gaming console or laptop, you’ve likely already seen their auto-playing trailers. These trailers promote content, sometimes showing previews of shows you may not have seen, other times showing a preview of the content you currently have selected. They have also been quite an annoyance for many people. There have been consistent complaints about how the auto-playing videos can’t be disabled, meaning if you stay on one screen for too long while browsing for what to watch, you have to either click away, open content and pause it, mute your TV, or find some other creative way to stop the videos from playing.
Fortunately, the previews now added to the Netflix app are something quite different. They don’t auto-play, which is surely a relief to Netflix app users who don’t want to have previews blasting through their headphones as soon as the app opens. And they appear to be a genuinely useful way to find out about more content you might actually like, particularly since you can tap a preview that’s playing to skip it and move on to something more relevant.
Mobile previews are already available on iOS devices, says Fortune, and Android users can expect the feature to arrive “soon.”
Music and TV lovers, good news! You can now bundle Hulu and Spotify and save some money.
Currently only available to Spotify Premium subscribers, you can currently try Hulu for only 99 cents a month, says TechCrunch, and after this three month trial, you will be able to get both Hulu and Spotify for a combined total of only $12.99. This saves about 5 dollars a month on the popular streaming services.
The bundled Hulu subscription will be the version of Hulu with ads, but this is still a great deal and good news for people who already use one or both of the services anyway. And if you don’t currently use either one, this summer you’ll get a chance to start trying them both for quite a bit less than before.
A Spotify and Hulu bundle is certainly not a new concept. As I wrote last year, the Spotify Student Hulu Bundle became available for students. This bundle gives students both Spotify and Hulu (with ads) for only $4.99 a month and is available right now. Students simply have to follow the verification process to prove they’re currently enrolled in an institution.
Of course, $12.99 is a bit more than what students pay. But it still saves a decent amount of money. According to TechCrunch, the deal will be available to everyone in the summer. For now, if you have Spotify Premium, you can head to their page and add Hulu for an additional 99 cents during your three-month trial.
And for those of you using Hulu, there’s even more good news: for a limited time, you can add HBO to your subscription for only $5 a month. CNET reports that the add-on, which is usually $15 a month, is currently available at a huge discount. If you sign up for HBO during this promotion, you’ll get the $5 a month price for six months before it goes back to the normal $15 a month.
Long gone are the days when people had to wait for a show to air and watch it live. For many years now, TV shows and movies have been available to stream online. There are too many streaming services to even remember them all.
Whether you have Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu, or any other streaming service, it’s very likely you’ve streamed an episode of your favorite show or a full movie in the not too distant past. You might have watched it by using your phone, your tablet, your computer, or perhaps something like a video game console connected to your TV.
There are many different streaming services and streaming options. One option is to use a streaming device (or a streaming stick). These streaming devices are focused solely on being small, unobtrusive, quick, and easy to use. You’ve likely heard of the most popular devices on the market.
You also might be wondering what the differences are between the devices. For those looking to get a streaming device, it might be difficult to choose. Or you might be wondering why so many people want to use these devices. In this article, I’m going to cover the basics as well as some of your options!
What is a video streaming device?
The video streaming devices this article talks about are typically small devices that plug into your TV. They can be tiny plugins that work with a remote, larger sticks, or other forms. While using one of these devices, people can stream videos from different places depending on the device: from specific services (using apps) or even from absolutely any service or site (using screen mirroring).
Some devices are more limited in what you can watch. Others (that use screen mirroring to let you display your phone, computer, or tablet on your TV) are nearly unlimited in what you can decide to watch.
Keep in mind that you’ll still need to subscribe to services separately. If you buy a video streaming device, you don’t get subscription services included (for instance, you’ll still need to pay to use Netflix).
Which TVs can use these devices?
Video streaming devices use recent technology to work. They typically need to be able to plug into an HDMI port on a TV. For this reason, you’ll nearly always need to have a fairly modern TV. Some devices specifically require you have an HDTV. If you have a pretty old TV that doesn’t have HDMI ports, you’ll very likely need to upgrade to a slightly newer TV.
You can check your TV’s manual to see if you have an HDTV with HDMI ports. Or you can look on your TV to find the TV model and look up its information online.
What’s so great about them?
Video streaming devices like those in this article are fairly popular at the moment, and they have been for years. One reason they are so well-liked is that they typically offer a wide range of streaming options. With most of these devices, you can choose between just about any service you use—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Vudu, YouTube, you name it. This means your video streaming might be entirely controlled through one device.
They’re also great because they’re usually very small and portable. They’re typically small sticks that can be quickly unplugged and used in a different TV. So if you buy a new TV, there aren’t a bunch of confusing cords to figure out. Or if you’re going to watch TV with someone else, you can easily transport the device to their home and set it up there.
Another positive is that there are some pretty affordable options. You don’t have to buy a new computer or use a gaming console to stream your shows. Those can be kind of pricey (though, of course, they do a lot more than just stream shows). If your main concern, though, is to stream TV and movies, you won’t have to splurge on an expensive, larger product.
And with these devices, controlling them is easy and convenient. Some of them have small remotes for controlling what you watch. Some of them also work through apps on phones. It’s no trouble at all to use the devices.
What are the most popular options?
There are a number of streaming video devices out there. If you’ve heard people talking about them, though, you’ve most likely heard them mention one of the devices listed below. The four devices in this article are some of the most popular and well-liked choices you have. Of course, they’re not your only options. But these devices are probably your likeliest contenders.
Apple, of course, has a streaming video device. They have more than one model, in fact. They offer the current model of their regular device (the 4th generation Apple TV) as well as the new Apple TV 4K (for use with 4K televisions). The 4K version is specifically designed to work with 4K TVs. If you have a 4K TV, you’ll want this model. It’s designed to run faster and display 4K video.
With the Apple TV, you simply plug the box into your TV with an HDMI cable (not included). The Apple TV comes with the Siri Remote so you can control what you watch. Once you’ve purchased Apple TV, you also get access to tech support for 90 days, plus you can get help from the Genius Bar.
Apple TV has many different apps to choose from. The product description specifically lists Netflix and Hulu. It also works with the other apps you’d expect, like YouTube and Amazon Video. It’s difficult to find a comprehensive list of all the available apps, but if you’re wondering whether your service works with Apple TV, a quick Google search should tell you. If you have an iOS device, you can also either cast an app to your TV or even mirror your iPhone’s screen to the TV.
Apple TV is currently $149. If you want the 4K version, you have two options: 32GB for $179 or 64GB for $199.
Chromecast is a little different from the other devices. It’s focused on casting from your other devices. Instead of having a remote that lets you choose between different apps, you use your phone, tablet, or computer to pick what you want to watch. Then you press the “Cast” button on the app and it’s displayed on your TV. It works with a number of devices, including those that use iOS, Android, and Windows. And there are many different apps that work with it, including the typical ones like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Google Play.
Screen mirroring is also big with Chromecast. If you have an Android device or use the Chrome browser on your computer, you can display your device’s screen. This means you can watch anything with your Chromecast. If there’s a streaming website that doesn’t have an app, you can simply open it on your Chrome browser, mirror the browser using Chromecast, and watch on your TV.
A regular Chromecast 2nd Generation device is currently $35. Chromecast Ultra is $69.
The Fire TV Stick plugs into an HDMI slot and can be controlled with the included remote. The remote, called the Alexa Voice Remote, lets you control what you watch by either using the buttons or by using your voice. For instance, you can say “Alexa, open Hulu” to launch the Hulu app, or ask Alexa to play a specific show or pull up a genre of shows. And if you don’t want to use the remote for some reason, you can also use your Amazon Echo device to control your TV.
This device from Amazon doesn’t just play Amazon content (I did mention Hulu above). You can launch many different apps, including the ones you’d expect, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video (of course), and HBO NOW. You can also open web browsers and find content that way.
The Fire TV has some slight differences from the Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV isn’t the same kind of stick—it has a “pendant” design, so it looks a little different. It’s also designed to be faster, which is a definite plus. And, of course, it can display 4K content, so if you have a 4K TV, the Fire TV will be superior to the Fire TV Stick.
The Fire TV Stick is currently $39.99, while the Fire TV is currently $69.99 (or $74.99 if you get the bundle that includes a TV antenna).
Roku offers a number of different video streaming devices, each a little different. There’s the standard Roku Streaming Stick, the Streaming Stick+ (intended for 4K TVs), the Roku Express, the Roku Express+, (which works on older TVs!), and the Roku Ultra (intended for 4K TVs).
With a Roku device, you simply plug it in and set it up by creating a Roku account (or using an existing one). Depending on which device you choose, you’ll have some different features and options. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s different with each device:
- Roku Express is designed to be easy to set up (for those who are new to video streaming devices); it still has access to the same apps and it has a remote, but its performance may not be as high, and the remote doesn’t have voice control ($29.99)
- Roku Express+ is meant to be able to be used on older TVs; it comes with a composite cable as well as the typical HDMI cable, so if you don’t have HDMI ports, you can plug in the oldschool red, white, and yellow cords ($35)
- Roku Streaming Stick is the standard stick, with access to all the typical apps; it comes with a remote that includes voice control ($49.99)
- Roku Streaming Stick+ has the capabilities of the regular Streaming Stick, but it’s higher quality (it can stream 4K) and it can work well when further from your internet router, so it’s more easily used throughout your home ($69.99)
- Roku Ultra is meant for intense streaming and can stream 4K content; it’s designed to be faster, clearer, and it comes with some extras, like headphones, a feature for finding the remote when it’s lost, and other audio features ($99.99)
Though Roku’s devices all have some things in common, like access to typical apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video, they all have some slight differences, so make sure to consider each one before deciding.
YouTube showed up in the news this week for a couple different reasons, both of them revolving around their additional services. YouTube TV has received an update that makes it more accessible, while it’s been reported YouTube Kids will become a little more trustworthy in the future.
YouTube TV will now be able to be watched in the Firefox browser, says TechCrunch. It was previously only available for Chrome users, keeping things in the Google family. But as promised, it’s begun to expand. Firefox is a massively popular browser, so it should make things a little easier for some people.
YouTube TV, which I wrote about last year, is a live TV service with a monthly fee. The service is $40 a month and offers more than 50 networks for live streaming. It can be used by multiple people with their own DVRs, and recordings are stored in their unlimited cloud storage, so you don’t have to worry about flipping through other peoples’ recordings or running out of space. Now that YouTube TV is available on Firefox, we’ll see how long it takes to reach other popular browsers.
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed News is reporting that, according to their source, YouTube Kids will be coming out with a different version of their app that may ease parents’ concerns about what their kids are watching. YouTube Kids uses algorithms to decide what shows up for kids to watch, and it has famously accidentally showed children videos that were upsetting to parents. BuzzFeed News specifically mentions conspiracy videos that have been appearing on YouTube Kids, even flat earth videos, as well as videos with age-inappropriate content.
The new app (which wouldn’t replace the current app but would simply be a new option) would only include videos from sources that were approved by YouTube, BuzzFeed News says. This would add a human element to the decision-making process. Parents would be able to feel a little more comfortable with their kids using the app—they wouldn’t have to worry about the algorithm missing something.
BuzzFeed News also mentions their source said this new app could be released within weeks, though it hasn’t been confirmed by YouTube yet.
With Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu releasing so much original content, it might be a little hard to keep up. New shows and new seasons are coming out on a regular basis, ready to stream. Here’s a look at the original shows coming in the next couple months to Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu!
3/7: Hulu Hard Sun—Set in a pre-apocalyptic world, a pair of detectives must work together despite not seeing eye to eye. Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn star in this Hulu Original. Watch the trailer on YouTube.
3/8: Netflix Marvel’s Jessica Jones (new season)—Jessica Jones, private investigator and former superhero, is back for season 2 in the Netflix Original set in the Marvel universe. Watch the trailers on Netflix.
3/9: Amazon Sneaky Pete (new season)—Sneaky Pete’s first season starred Giovanni Ribisi as a con man and Bryan Cranston as the gangster he’s on the run from. Season two sees Ribisi’s character dealing with new problems. Watch the trailer on Amazon.
3/23: Netflix Alexa & Katie—Alexa & Katie follows Alexa as she deals with cancer and starts high school with her best friend. (A trailer isn’t yet available.)
3/30: Netflix A Series of Unfortunate Events (new season)—This Netflix Original based on the Lemony Snicket books and starring Neil Patrick Harris is back for a second season. Watch the teaser on YouTube.
Hello, and welcome to the newest Tech Spotlight! This week, I’m continuing to highlight some of the tech that’s caught my eye and raised my interest. Like every week, the items I’ve found are cool, fun, incredibly useful, or all of the above.
The items I’ve found this week are an Echo Dot accessory, a TV touchscreen projector, and a solar light. Take a look at what I’ve found, then head on over to Amazon to take a closer look and add them to your cart!
The Spot is an accessory you’ll want if you have an Echo Dot or one of more than half a dozen other small speakers. This accessory allows you to keep your speaker at the ready while mounting it out of the way.
The Spot is a speaker holder that mounts your speaker using your outlet. You place your speaker in the holder, which holds it in with small tabs, then plug it into a wall outlet through the mount’s designated spot. This allows you to have your speaker mounted on the wall instead of taking up space on the countertop or desk. They’ve also designed the mount to prevent sound from being muffled.
This accessory also helps eliminate some clutter. You use your speaker’s plug, but the Spot comes with its own shorter cord that connects to the plug and makes things less messy. This accessory can plug into vertical or horizontal plugs. It’s also designed to avoid blocking the outlet above it, so it only takes up one space.
Speakers like the Echo Dot are small and convenient, but they can be even more convenient with an accessory like the Spot. It comes in five different colors, so check it out and choose the colors you need for each room!
This is a product you’ll want if you work with others in meetings, run a classroom, or want to use a smart device with the whole family. The Touchjet WAVE can turn your flat screen TV or monitor into a giant touchscreen device.
The WAVE attaches to the top of any flat screen TV or monitor (up to 65”) and projects a touchscreen down onto it. It uses the Android operating system, and it comes preinstalled with some apps already, including some games and a Chrome browser. You can then add more apps that you want.
This device works well in many different situations. It allows people to work together—everyone can easily touch the screen, unlike using a regular tablet. Using the accompanying app, everyone can share what they’re looking at on their devices. And it can be fun for a family, because you can all play games together on the large touchscreen. It also makes it easier to stream your shows, because you can add your favorite streaming apps to the WAVE instead of having to use a separate device.
Whether it’s at home, at the office, or in a classroom, the WAVE can be a fun or incredibly useful addition. Learn more about how it works, then add it to your cart!
This small lamp makes it possible to stay well-lit in the outdoors or at home without any plugs or batteries. The Portable Solar Lantern is a small solar-powered lantern with a sturdy stand.
The lantern is a small, round, yellow lamp that comes with a detachable base. It’s solar-powered, with its charging area located on the back of the lamp. You can leave the lamp on the base to charge it, or you can detach the lamp and easily set it in any windowsill to let it charge while you’re not using it.
The lamp is convenient in many ways. You can get up to 70 hours of use from the lamp with a full charge. It also has three brightness settings—low, normal, and turbo. It’s light, weighing only 150 grams (which, for comparison, is just slightly heavier than a baseball). And it’s water resistant and durable, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it during a camping trip.
Even if you’re not on-the-go or in the great outdoors, this solar lantern is a small battery- and cord-free way to add some light to your home. Head over to Amazon to take a closer look!
In what I’d call a completely unexpected move, it’s been announced that the hit cartoon ‘Animaniacs’ will return to its viewers thanks to a partnership between Hulu, Amblin Television, and Warner Bros. Animation!
‘Animaniacs,’ in case you’ve forgotten or somehow missed out, was a hugely popular cartoon that aired in the 90s on Fox Kids and then later on The WB. The show featured a collection of shorts each episode, and some of the characters included the popular trio of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, as well as the scheming characters Pinky and the Brain.
This reboot will be available to watch through Hulu. Steven Spielberg will once again be the executive producer for the show, according to Variety, and there will be at least two seasons of the show starting in 2020. TechCrunch also reports that all of the previous episodes of ‘Animaniacs,’ as well as other related shows, are now available on Hulu. There are 99 episodes just of ‘Animaniacs,’ which means if it’s been a while since you watched—like, since the 90s—you’ll have time over the next couple of years to refresh your memory.
This is just the newest in a long line of cartoon reboots. There are, of course, some cartoons that just keep coming back in new cartoon series. ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is a good example of this. It feels as though it’s never left television because there have been so many new series.
Other cartoons, though, have somewhat recently been brought back for the first time in a long while, and even more are coming. ‘DuckTales,’ for instance, was brought back on Disney XD just last year. Before that, ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ returned to television. Plus, according to Nerdist, ‘She-Ra’ is going to be rebooted sometime this year, with the show being released on Netflix.
The announcement about ‘Animaniacs’ is only surprising in that I simply hadn’t considered it as a possibility. However, it could be a fun show to reboot. With all the cartoon reboots in the works or already airing, it does make me wonder what might be next. Personally, I’d like to suggest that ‘Darkwing Duck’ actually come back (in spite of the fact that previous rumors about its reboot have been shot down). Or another popular cartoon from the 90s, ‘CatDog,’ could be interesting to revisit. Hey, just a thought.
(Featured image: Warner Bros)
Who needs remotes anymore? Now it’s getting easier and easier to control your TV-watching experience with just your voice. Most notably, you can now use Alexa to control more of your video apps on Fire TV!
Fire TV is offered by Amazon and gives TV watchers a way to stream videos through a number of different apps. The Fire TV Amazon page shows apps like Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV. And Alexa, of course, is Amazon’s smart assistant found on devices like the Echo and Echo Dot. Give Alexa a command and you can complete hands-free tasks.
Alexa was already able to handle some TV controls with Fire TV—specifically, playing videos from the Amazon Prime Video app. You could also control Netflix and HBO Now with your Echo, as well. Users could pair their Echo with their Fire TV and control their videos with their voice.
The newest update expands Alexa’s ability to control video apps. According to the news release, you can now control “Bravo, CBS, Hulu, NBC, SHOWTIME, and Sony PlayStation Vue” with voice commands. For instance, you can ask Alexa to open any of those apps, or you can ask Alexa to play a certain episode from one of those apps. Of course, you also need to make sure you have the most recent update of each of these apps in order for them to work properly with your Echo.
This means that Fire TV’s video apps now work with a pretty decent number of apps, particularly compared to a device like Google Home. Google Home can control some video playback on Chromecast, but it only works with seven “partners” according to their page on Google Home Help. Hulu is not mentioned on their list, and it does not include some other video apps that Alexa can now control, though Google Home’s voice control does work with some video apps that Alexa doesn’t (like Crackle).
If you lose remotes often, don’t like having to rely on a device, or just don’t like having to move more than necessary, this new update will be great. It’s also a good sign, because it could suggest even more voice control options in the future! For more information on Fire TV, check out the Fire TV page.
Middle Earth will be coming to our screens again, this time through a show on Amazon! The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have been hugely popular works for decades. J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories set in Middle Earth have been a big part of popular culture for a long time. The books themselves have been on most book-lovers’ shelves over the years, and though there have not been too many adaptations, Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings in the early- and mid-2000s brought Tolkien’s world to even those who don’t have the time or desire to read the original works.
The Lord of the Rings films took the world by storm. According to Forbes, the three films made $2.91 billion in ticket sales alone. They were also very well-received by audiences and critics, as I well remember and as can be seen in their scores on Rotten Tomatoes—all three films in the trilogy have a Tomatometer score above 90%.
Since the huge success of these films, there have also been attempts to continue with more adaptations. The Hobbit films took Tolkien’s shorter book and turned it into three films. These films, however, were less warmly received. The second film in the trilogy has a Tomatometer score of 75%, the highest score among the three, while the final film has a score of only 60%. Many fans have criticized the films for being unnecessary, changing the story too much, and trying too hard to replicate the previous trilogy of films.
Perhaps because of the more lackluster response to the Hobbit films, the news of Amazon’s upcoming show has people talking. It’s important to note that over the past decades, Tolkien’s works have often been very difficult to adapt due to Tolkien’s estate. Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, was one of the directors of the estate for many years and was notably careful with what could be done with his late father’s works. However, in a shocking bit of news, it has now been revealed that Christopher Tolkien exited his role in the estate all the way back at the end of August. Many now question whether this is how Amazon has gained the chance to create its upcoming show.
All the recent news has been confusing and concerning for some fans, while other fans are simply excited. Though it’s too early to guess how Amazon’s show will eventually be received, we do at least know a little bit about what Amazon plans for the series. In Amazon’s recent press release, fans learned a bit more about what to expect. The series is already being called a “multi-season television series,” meaning they certainly don’t plan for the show to be a one-off. And interestingly, it’s noted that the show will be set before the events taking place in The Lord of the Rings. Because of this, fans are left to theorize about what material might be used and what the focus of the show will be.
Again, it’s far too early to really know what to expect. And naturally, though many fans are worried, many others are excitedly anticipating a TV show set in Tolkien’s world. If Amazon can replicate the success of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, fans will certainly be grateful. The whirlwind of news this week has a lot of people talking, but the fact is, it will likely be quite a long while before we know anything more concrete about the upcoming adaptation. I know I’ll be waiting impatiently for more news from Middle Earth!