Stay Home and learn about streaming services

We're not cable cutters-- although we talk about considering it sometimes.
We have a relatively reasonably priced 'cable' package. We'd like to save money, though. More than that, we're picky about what we want to watch, and looking for more niche material than we can typically find on traditional cable.

With more time at home, we're trying some things out.
We have an Amazon FireStick, mostly used for Prime Video up to now, and a Netflix account. (I'm always disappointed at what isn't available on either, though.)

There's a series we recently discovered on Amazon Prime video that we really liked (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries), but then of course they discontinued availability after we'd seen 2 episodes, so we're forced to look further afield.
I can 'borrow' episodes from our local library system through Hoopla, but the app for FireTV is broken, and doesn't work.
I had a Roku Express+ stashed away that I picked up on too-good-to-pass-up sale, but had never used. Hoopla works fine on Roku, so that's one problem solved.

With the Roku, we've got Sling Blue for a week-- it seems to work well, and has a decent programming guide and some on-demand programming of interest, but except for one channel I really want, there isn't much else here to make it worth the normal cost for me. We're trying to use it as much as we can so we'll have an idea if it's viable for us as part of a potential cord-cutting strategy.

I think the Roku seems a little more friendly to use as far as menu structure than the FireStick. Plus, the FireStick always seems to need some kind of attention-- the batteries are dead in the remote, the remote doesn't work (or Alexa is asleep & won't wake up) and has to be reset, it forgets that we have WiFi assigned, etc.) Roku seems to have a much better search-across-providers function than the FireStick, and so far hasn't required the tinkering that the Firestick seems to need.

Also got 30 day trial of Showtime with the Roku-- can't find much I want to watch, and the search/browse function via Roku (for Showtime) is poor. (Frankly, this is my biggest complaint with both the Fire Stick and Roku so far-- they work well if you already know what you want to watch, and terrible if you're trying to search for things you might enjoy-- at least if you're as picky as we are.)

I've loaded Tubi, Crackle, Pluto, Vudu (free tier). We've got Hulu Basic ($2/mo for a while). All of these add some nice variety, but it seems like I have more likely choices located on Tubi than the others. We haven't actually watched any of them but Hulu yet, though.

If your local library offers Hoopla (oriented towards general entertainment viewing) and/or Kanopy (aimed more towards documentary, educational, and 'art' offerings), both are worth exploring. A fair amount available on both, but not for real binge watching. (Our library has extended Hoopla credits to 20 checkouts per month for the duration, which will likely last us through the month. If you have youngsters who like to watch the same movie over and over, a single checkout can be viewed as many times as you want during the checkout period.) We haven't watched Kanopy yet, but I have some programs bookmarked.

I think you and I have similar taste (except that I prefer Fire Stick).

You should give Britbox a try.

I have both firetv 4k stick & previous gen (2?) stick and they work well without the issues you describe. Other than a network/signal issue that the Roku is not sensitive to I wonder if something is physically "broken" on yours.
Any chance you could borrow someone's to test if issues repeat.
I have a really old Roku still connected to a CRT TV and maintain a bunch of newer rokus / Roku TVs for elderly family members.

They both have +/-'s re UI & features but the "tinkerability" / sideload options / internet browser of fire sticks puts them ahead of Roku for me, not to mention the ridiculous cheap purchase prices I've paid for them.

I'm still very new to the Roku. What do you like better about the Fire Stick? (Ours is a Gen 2 from 2017, so the slower processor & maybe less memory than newer models.)

Britbox looks interesting-- but I'm trying to stick to free sources since our budget trends that way for now. I see they have a one week trial available, and we'll probably cycle through some of the free trials if this lasts a while. I don't want to do more than 1 or 2 free trials at a time, though, as otherwise we won't give any of them a fair chance to be a trial.

Our FireStick is a Gen2, with the 1st gen Alexa remote. You might be right about mine just being buggy.
The battery issue is mostly just me complaining because we don't use it that often, and it seems the batteries need to be replaced whether it's used or not. (I think it pairs via bluetooth, and never really turns off, so the battery life is geared towards 'hours since installed' when I expect it to be geared towards 'hours I've really used it', like an infrared remote.) We use rechargeable batteries, so it's just an inconvenience, which inevitably happens just as we sit down for dinner-and-a-movie.

I'm not sure why Alexa seems senile or frequently indisposed on ours-- I have to reset things every month or so because she won't wake up, or because buttons on the remote stop working until after a reset.

I could probably talk a friend into living without theirs for a few days sometime down the road, but I'm not asking any of them to give up an entertainment source right now.

I get what you're saying about the FireStick being a more flexible platform, and that's a very good point.

I got both the FireStick and Roku at ridiculously cheap prices, and they're both pretty amazing devices!

I have been watching more youtube videos. I have picked up more garden knowledge and found out you can air layer trees to make exact clones.

I like that I can side load non-Amazon apps to the Fire Stick.

I also like that the newer models with Android 6 (FTV3, Fire Stick 4k, etc.) are capable of WiFi Direct, which means that I can install PdaNet+ on them and bypass any hotspot restrictions on my various phones.

I DON'T like the messy, cluttered, disorganized menu system, though.

(music streaming service)
Re the title, if you combine a Chromecast (not Chromecast Audio tho) with a Google Home Mini and a Spotify FREE account, the entire music library is ON-DEMAND. Any song on demand, and repeat on demand. Or a whole CD in order (tho I think chances are about 50/50 an ad will intersperse).

Details in table...

I have them. I also have an old Roku -- it does all this even better due to the existence of the Roku App's Private Listening feature. You used to be able to get new Minis on eBay for $2 but today they're ~$15.

tl/dr Spotify FREE is about as good as an unlimited paid subscription if you know these tricks

Sling TV offers free viewing during prime time hours

No Credit Card info required. On Sling Blue 5pm to midnight.

Thanks! If/as the shutdown drags on, this could be a big plus for me, and would make it easier for us to drop our cable subscription.
We're in a better financial situation than many, but our dual-income family is now single-income, and is likely to effectively stay that way for a considerable time beyond whatever date stay-at-home guidelines are relaxed.

Given my cynicism, I actually think the better nature of some companies has come to the fore during these rough times, without ulterior motives being a factor. Their stepping up may be rewarded in the future regardless of their good motives or lack thereof.