Getting the Most Out of Streaming Services: A How-To Guide

The 2010s saw the sharp decline of cable and the astronomic rise of streaming, with services like Netflix and Hulu leading the charge. But despite these streaming services dominating the TV industry for nearly a decade, there are so many features that users either aren’t familiar with or don’t know about altogether.

Today, let’s go over four features that you should know about and take advantage of.

Features to Take Advantage of in 2021

Customizable Subtitles

Subtitles are an essential feature built into all major streaming services. But did you know that most streaming services allow you to customize subtitles?

Most customization options revolve around aesthetics, dealing with how big subtitles appear, what color they are, and if the speaker’s name is shown. You can also adjust where on the screen subtitles are displayed.

It is small but essential features like these that users should take a look at.

Parental Controls

Is your use of streaming services limited to you, or do you also use Netflix, Hulu, and HBO to distract your kids while you work around the house? If it’s the latter, then you know just how important it is that your kids stay in line—that they don’t get hold of the remote and start watching content too explicit for their age.

Fortunately, most streaming services offer the ability to limit viewable content to kid-friendly shows only. This ability is known as “parental controls,” with various settings designed to keep kids from accessing mature content.

Some streaming services also offer the ability to create kid-specific viewer profiles that only show kid-friendly shows and movies.

Apps That Bypass Geo-Blocking

It’s no secret that all streaming services, from Netflix to Hulu to even Amazon Prime Video, limit the content available to viewers depending on their location. For example, the United Kingdom has a myriad of shows and movies that users in the United States can’t access.

This is called geo-blocking. The reason it happens varies from service to service—from show to show—but licensing issues and censorship are the two main culprits.

If there’s a show or movie you really want to watch but can’t because it’s not available in your country, there is a type of app that allows you to watch it: a VPN app.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) routes your connection to a server in the country of your choice. This tricks a streaming service into believing you are located in that country, granting you access to content that was previously withheld from you.

In short, subscribing to a VPN service is an excellent way to access content from other countries, and you should take advantage of it whenever possible.

Ad-Free Options

One of the reasons Netflix gained a significant lead early on into the streaming era is that it had zero ads—a feature that it upholds to this day. The same can’t be said for other streaming services. For a long while, Hulu forced ads on users.

Nowadays, most streaming services have either gotten rid of ads completely or offer ad-free subscriptions, Hulu and HBO Max being the main examples. For $5 more a month, you can turn these two services into ad-free platforms.

If you find yourself using an ad-supported streaming service frequently, look and see if it offers an ad-free subscription. In all likelihood, they do, and getting rid of those ads is extremely worth it.

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that streaming has become the world’s preferred method of watching TV. But with so many streaming services offering so many different features, it’s important to know which features you should be looking for. Here are just a few of those features.

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