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Best Video-on-Demand Services

video on demand service

How do you watch your favorite programs while you’re on the road? Besides iTunes, the vast crop of on-demand services for your laptop, mobile, and tablet should keep you entertained.

Netflix ($7.99 per month) remains the undisputed leader, offering tens of thousands of TV shows (from classics to recently aired series) and movies (a healthy mix of blockbusters, obscure film-festival favorites, and more) for mostly seamless, advertising-free viewing.


TV lovers should opt for Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month), for prime-time shows from major TV and cable networks—with ads, unfortunately. Hulu’s movie selection has expanded recently with the addition of Criterion Collection’s stellar art-house catalogue. Both services can be accessed via their websites or apps (though Hulu’s mobile selection is a bit more limited). And if you’re an HBO subscriber, check out HBO GO (free for subscribers), which lets you watch the channel’s premium content online or through its iOS and Android apps.

Overall, these services are a satisfying way to avoid hotel or in-flight media entertainment charges. Two caveats: in-flight broadband speeds can be unreliable, so don’t count on these to work while in the air. The services also have a very limited international presence. Outside the U.S., Hulu is available only in Japan, while Netflix can be used in Canada and Latin America. Luckily, you can still download iTunes content no matter where in the world you are. But if all else fails, there’s one more option: PlayLater (from $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year; Windows) lets you record live streams to watch offline later, essentially serving as a mobile DVR for streaming content.

Illustration by Leif Parsons

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