A guide to the streaming sites

So you’re a little late to the party and just learned that Netflix has entered Philippine shores and your interest is piqued. Announced by CEO Reed Hastings at the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Netflix launched in more than 130 countries, including the Philippines, last January 6.

If the global streaming giant plans to dominate this Internet speed-challenged archipelago, it has to prove itself noteworthy against the various competitors aggressively gunning for the working Filipino’s top buck. On that note, what sets Netflix apart from the likes of iflix and Hooq, two streaming platforms who have already stormed the Philippines? A closer look is warranted at the differences and strengths of some of the streaming sites battling for the crown.


Streaming is the new TV

Whether you’re a savvy pop culture fan who’s been tracking the company’s rise for years, or you first heard of Netflix through the infamous street slang “Netflix and chill”, you’ll know that Netflix’s goal is to dominate the pop culture conversation by consistently churning out original content that appeals across all borders. The California-based streaming company plans to release a new or returning series every week, or at least they envision to.

Those who were quick to subscribe for a free one-month trial, however, were surprised to find out that not all their favorite shows and movies are currently available (yet). However, this is due to content rights, geographical restrictions, and a bunch of technical hullabaloo the common “binge-watcher” shouldn’t be concerned about. Nevertheless, Netflix proudly offers its wide array of original programming, which is gaining so much traction globally that several cable and network channels in the United States seem to be quaking in their proverbial boots.

In fact, that is exactly what Netflix is proud of—the idea that they have critically acclaimed original programming to sell to all the territories they are currently in. Although the underrated Lilyhammer is actually Netflix’s first foray into original programming, the biting political drama House Of Cards and surprise cult hit Orange Is The New Black gave Netflix the clout and guts to continue changing the way viewers see television.

Currently juggling partnerships with Marvel (Daredevil, Jessica Jones), the Wachowski siblings (Sense8), and Tina Fey (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), the biggest Internet-based network is eyeing 16 new original shows, as well as a large number of documentaries, comedy specials, and kids programs. For a company that helped coin the phrase “binge-watching” and added it to the modern lexicon, they sure know how to make an entrance and sustain their stay.

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Variety is the spice of life

Netflix arrived with much buzz generated by Filipinos eager for the streaming site, but the playing field isn’t exactly empty.

If you’ve been scrolling through Facebook on a daily basis, you’ll see different advertisements of iflix, asking you to take a chance with them and enjoy their different titles. Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the streaming company is currently making a name for itself among Southeast Asian countries. Aside from housing industry heavyweights like Showtime’s Homeland and FX’s Fargo, iflix is heavily touting Hollywood’s newest fave, Mr. Robot, as an exclusive title on their platform.

More than just offline viewing, however, iflix likes to keep things light, fun, and simple. They boast a huge amount of comedy titles, both from film and television. From everyone’s favorite Friends and The Big Bang Theory to a lot of Comedy Central stand-up specials, they know their comic stuff. If you’re the type to read your email messages, iflix also likes to do funny disclaimers and “specialized messages” for their subscribers.

TV Shows []

On the other side of the spectrum, Hooq is a collaborative effort between SingTel, a Singaporean telco company, Sony Pictures Television, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Hooq carries ABC’s Nashville and Starz’s Ash vs. The Evil Dead, two shows that have gained a cult following with music and horror fans, respectively. The streaming platform also proudly showcases CBS’ Supergirl, The CW’s The Flash, and Fox’s Gotham, three comic book shows that are sure to get graphic novel aficionados hooked on Hooq.

If you’re the type to enjoy local fare, Hooq also offers a plethora of films and shows from ABS-CBN and GMA. The streaming company also gives viewers a chance to see Thai and Indian titles, all in the comfort of your own home (or hotspot). iflix, on the other hand, has Korean titles and animes to quell your content cravings on a boring weekday afternoon.

And if you think that these three sites are alone in this game, you might want to check out Blink and iWant TV. Besides having movies and shows to stream, the two apps offer customers the chance to stream channels online. Blink, being a collaboration between SM Prime Holdings and Solar Entertainment Corporation, streams Solar channels like ETC, 2nd Avenue, and BTV. On the other hand, iWant TV gives subscribers a chance to catch up with their favorite ABS-CBN shows while streaming channels owned by the broadcasting giant.


Pay rates and such

Of course, there’s no such thing as a free stream, or was that about free lunches? These services also vary when it comes to how their monthly subscriptions are paid. Netflix, being one of the most used websites in the US, asks for your top dollar in three different plans. The basic plan, which costs Php 370, allows you to stream on one device, but your programs and films won’t be in high definition. The standard plan, which allows you to stream on two devices and is HD-ready, will cost you about Php 460. The premium plan, which hopes to be a hit among families, is priced at Php 550, with Ultra HD features unlike the first two plans.

iflix’s monthly plan is more affordable, costing only Php 129 a month. You can also pay the annual plan of Php 1308, but all iflix plans come with the offline viewing capability, letting you watch the latest episodes of The Flash wherever you want to. Hooq’s monthly subscription plan costs Php 149, a tad higher than what iflix’s plans cost. They also have plans priced at Php 299 and Php 499, with 2GB and 4GB allocation for data, respectively.

The entertainment arena is becoming riddled with choices for viewers, and competition is booming. If you’re still looking for excuses to torrent, these sites won’t give you any. However, they will make you ask yourself one thing: “Which streaming site is the best for my tastes and needs?” If you’ve answered that, then congratulations, and happy streaming!

Daniel Ian Comandante

By Daniel Ian Comandante

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