Here we’ll introduce you to some of the best TV streaming services. Most people are familiar with Netflix and Amazon Prime, but they may not know there are plenty of ways to watch your favorite networks without cable.
The first thing cable-cutters need is a reliable internet connection. You will want a download speed of 10 Mbps or better to watch HD shows with little to no buffering.
Cord-cutters will also need a replacement for their cable box. If you bought a smart TV in the past couple of years, you should have built-in streaming capabilities. If you have an older TV model, I would recommend the Roku Streaming Stick+ ($60), Google Chromecast Ultra ($60), or Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K ($50). These devices are affordable, easy-to-use, and capable of streaming HD and 4K shows.
Finally, you may want a digital antenna to watch local shows for free. A great overall model is the Mohu Leaf 30 ($35), which is relatively easy to set up.
Best Services for Bargain Hunters
Philo is one of the best bargain services, allowing you to watch 35 popular cable channels for only $16 a month. This is perfect for fans of AMC, Comedy Central, TLC, or Food Network. Philo’s major drawback is it doesn’t include sports, news, or local channels. AT&T WatchTV also has a great lineup, which includes A&E, Animal Planet, CNN, History, and Lifetime for just $15 per month. If you’re already an AT&T wireless customer, you can even get WatchTV for free with certain data plans. However, this “skinny” plan doesn’t include local channels, sports, or DVR service.
Choose Your Package
Sling TV has two excellent packages to choose from for $25 per month. Sling Orange lets you watch ESPN and 30 other popular channels, including Disney, TNT, and CNN. Meanwhile the Sling Blue plan offers Fox, NBC, Nick Jr, Bravo, and more than 40 channels. For an additional $10 a month, sports fans can add on NFL Red Zone, NHL Network, and the Pac 12 Network. The one drawback to Sling is the cost begins to creep up considerably if you want both packages for $40 per month, add-on channels, and $5 per month for DVR services.
Good News for YouTube and Hulu Fans
If you are already a YouTube or Hulu fan, you will be pleased to hear that both have excellent streaming services.
YouTube TV offers a lineup that’s comparable to most basic cable plans for only $40 per month. That price gets you access to all the major broadcast networks, as well as TNT, AMC, USA, CNN, ESPN, Disney, Oxygen, and many more. Your household can have three separate streams going at the same time, which means the kids can watch SpongeBob SquarePants while you catch up on The Walking Dead or Project Runway. YouTube offers six individual user accounts, so that you can personalize your viewing preferences, as well as unlimited cloud DVR. The downside to this service is that it doesn’t include A&E, Discovery, History, TLC, or the Food Network.
Hulu + Live TV gives you access to all of Hulu’s award-winning shows, plus 60 other popular local and cable channels. The cost is $40 a month with commercials or $44 without. You can watch up to two streams at the same time, as well as save up to 50 hours of programs on cloud DVR. The major drawbacks include no AMC, Discovery, or Viacom (Nickelodeon and Comedy Central) shows. You also need to be prepared to spend an additional $20 a month if you want 200 hours of DVR storage and unlimited simultaneous streams.
Giving up cable doesn’t mean you need to forego Game of Thrones, Shameless, or Outlander. You can now subscribe directly to HBO for $15 a month, Showtime for $11 per month, or Starz for $9 a month. While the subscriptions are a bit pricey, you get access to all new episodes, whole seasons of past shows, and a wide selection of newer movies and specials.
This year will also be an exciting year for Disney fans. Disney plans to introduce Disney+, a service that will supposedly include nearly 7,000 past episodes and 500 movies. There will even be new Marvel and Star Wars series, such as The Mandalorian, which will include fan favorite Boba Fett.