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The best streaming services in India

A majority of us are happy to dump the idiot box and pay for good web content

brunch Updated: Dec 02, 2017 22:30 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Netflix, Amazon Prime and others thrive on offering great content
Netflix, Amazon Prime and others thrive on offering great content(Photo Imaging Kishore Rawat)

If this was a column being written about three years back, then it would be over in one sentence. The best media service to watch movies, TV shows and other stuff was Torrents. Whether you’re truthfully nodding your head right now or shaking your head in feigned disgust while trying to hide your secret folder full of torrent downloaded content – the fact is that India was an illegal Torrent nation. But technology, content, behaviour pattern and habits have changed drastically. We are willing to watch our content on streaming services! And pay for it!

Snap that cable?

The numbers are in and it seems millions have switched. Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hooq landed on Indian shores and taught us that Indians would pay for good content, while Hotstar, Voot and others taught us that we would watch good content on the move. But before you snap that cable, lets do a quick comparison on the best streaming service available.

A big world

The number of streaming services in India is huge and growing and it’s beyond the scope of this column to review and rate all. And a good streaming service experience also needs a good device to stream on as well as a great TV to view it on. For now, I’m going to restrict my column to the best streaming service on the move. Content that you consume on your mobile phone or tablet that will give you the most for your buck.

Hooq

This is slowly becoming my go-to-service when I’m on the move. Hooq doesn’t really faff around and clearly plays to a specific audience. It doesn’t waste time or money on original content, doesn’t have too much Indian content, has some of the best international movies and TV show choices, adds premium new movies faster than the others (you pay for it separately), you can download almost anything and keep it for offline viewing, the app is clean and very easy to use and has a lot of movies and TV shows dubbed into Indian languages. Plus it has some introductory offers, like a free trial for the first few months and then ~89 per month after that, makes it a no brainer. I’m kinda Hooqed!

Netflix

The godfather of them all and pretty much the one that perfected the category. It’s got an incredible library of international programming, has some of the self-produced original content, is growing its India-specific portfolio albeit slowly, has some of the best choices if stand-up comedy is your choice and offers quite a bit of 4K UHD play outs. The app is clean, easy to use and the recommendation engine is robust. Most of the content is available for download and offline viewing (a critical criterion for on-the-move viewing) and online streaming is smooth and seamless. However, you’ll have to shell out ~650 per month to really get something out of this. Netflix really needs to relook at the pricing.

Amazon Prime

It was ~499 a year (thus about ~40 a month) but has upped it recently. Still it’s an absolute bargain as you also get other Prime advantages like fast delivery on other things you purchase. The content is rich, great choices, new movies come in at a pretty rapid pace, good original content and programming though not at Netflix level and Indian content is growing in leaps and bounds. The app interface isn’t the best and streaming isn’t as seamless as Netflix. Almost everything is downloadable for offline viewing and works well. The recommendation engine comes up with very strange choices. Still, it is the perfect choice if you’re on a budget and still want awesome content to carry with you.

There’s a lot more out there. Hotstar is a bargain specially since it gives you more TV, and live cricket and sports than anyone else, Voot is great for TV shows and quick updates on who is behaving more obnoxiously on Bigg Boss. Others like Eros Now, Wynk and Sony LIV have their set of great stuff. If you’re actually looking to severe the cord completely then I would recommend Amazon Prime, HOOQ and Hotstar for the time being as the three will give you enough to keep you occupied at any point on the move. Oh, and a good 4G connection and some Torrents too :)

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, December 3, 2017

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