Although some companies only allow you to rent shows, you can buy episodes through several services, including Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and the Apple iTunes store. But before you subscribe to a service, be sure to take a look at which shows it offers, which devices you can play those shows on and whether the service offers recent episodes. Any one of those issues may present a limitation that you're not happy with.
Subscriptions to Hulu Plus run $7.99 per month. Amazon, like the Apple iTunes store, offers shows for as much as $2.99 per episode. Users can watch Amazon's streaming shows on televisions or computers. Netflix, with its 20 million subscribers, is positioned to dominate this market. But there's one problem: Because of the company's clout, TV producers don't want to give the company first-run programs. The problem, Rayburn says, is that the networks are afraid they won't get the revenue they need through the Netflix model. "The broadcast networks pay millions of dollars to produce this content," Rayburn says.
Major sports leagues also offer subscription services to stream games. For example, the National Basketball Association (NBA) allows fans to watch seven teams throughout the season through broadband for $24.95 and allows access to all 30 teams for $49.95.