Lets face it: When did you last find the time to sit down in front of a TV at just the right time of day to catch the new episode of your favorite TV show? Or remember to DVR?
For many of us, this is a quickly dying practice. With cable bills ringing up costs of up to $200, many are turning to the fast-growing world of online video service providers. These low-budget options let you watch the shows you love on your own time, and all without the antiquated hassle of a cable service provider. Exploring your options from month to month is easy, as you can easily cancel these services at any time.
The best thing about all of these options is you can pick limit yourself to one subscription a month, or mix and match to your liking. Settle down, curl up, and enjoy the airtimes and shows best tailored to your lifestyle – for a fraction of your cable bill.
With these streaming services you’ll only pay for a single month at a time. If you’re still on the fence, they also offer free trial periods that are easily cancelled free of charge. All of these options include access to original shows, exclusive to each streaming service. Picking the right service for you really just depends on the shows you most want to watch that month.
Netflix – Starting at $7.99
Netflix provides a vast collection of films and tv shows. Its position as the leading Internet television service means the selection includes many popular titles and is constantly picking up more. The pricing is set up as tiers (all ad-free), with different prices including the options to watch Netflix on multiple screens and devices simultaneously and better resolution. The Basic package is for $7.99 and allows streaming on 1 screen at a time (SD Resolution), Standard allows for 2 screens for $9.99 (HD resolution), and Premium allows for 4 screens for $11.99 (HD + Ultra HD). If you have multiple people sharing an account (and splitting the cost), it’s probably worth the Premium package.
Hulu Plus – Starting at $7.99
Hulu’s selection is definitely more for the television connoisseur than the film buff, with a variety of great television, but a less extensive array of films. Hulu also tends to update their available content selection more often than most other streaming services. This means you usually won’t have to wait longer than a day after airing to see that new episode of your favorite show. For $7.99 you’ll have to put up with a few short ads throughout the episode, but there is an add free option for $4 more per month.
CBS All Access - $5.99
CBS offers a variety of their shows to stream, however they also include live TV streaming of your local CBS broadcast. If you’re into sports, CBS will give you access to all the sports on-demand you could want. CBS All Access shows may not be as popular as their Netflix and Hulu counterparts, but the streaming service is likely to see a spike in subscriptions with their release of the all new Star Trek: Discovery.
HBO NOW - $14.99
Although more expensive than the other options, HBO is home to a variety of quality content such as Game of Thrones, Westworld, The Wire, The Sopranos, Silicon Valley and countless others. Their film catalogue includes a competitive selection of titles. Whether this is the right streaming service for you this month comes down to a matter of taste. The quality of the content means it’s a great option for marathons of all of those shows you’ve been meaning to catch up on.
Amazon Prime - $10.99 ($99/full year)
Amazon Prime’s Instant Video service might not have quite as large of a selection when it comes to TV and film, however it’s still a competitive option. Their variety is by no means poor, and the perks of an Amazon Prime account are unbeatable. For around the same option of a full year of Netflix, Amazon Prime also offers free two day shipping on many of their products, free music streaming, and unlimited photo storage.
Live TV Streaming:
If you have to tune in to the Oscars, can’t miss the latest sports event, or miss channel flipping, these options are all low commitment ways to keep live tv in your life that are easy to cancel at any time.
Sling TV - $20/month
If you want a selection of both on-demand content and the chance to watch some live tv, Sling might be a good option. Sling has two bundles to choose from that each include a different selection of 30+ channels. Sling Orange is $20/month while Sling Blue is $25 (or both for $40/month).
Playstation Vue - $29.99/month
This live steaming service allows for live TV streaming on up to five screens or devices at one time – and no, you don’t need a Playstation to watch the 45+ channels. Chromecast, smartphones, Apple TVs, and Roku are just some of the devices you can stream from. Playstation Vue also comes with a DVR option that allows you to fast forward commercials.
DirecTV Now - $35/month
With over 60+ channels to chose from, DirecTV lets you channel surf to your heart’s content. An added bonus is that adding HBO only costs $5/month. Pricier monthly packages include more channels ($50 = 80+, $60 = 100+, $70 = 120+).The difference between DirecTV and certain other live tv options is that all channels are streamed over wifi. On the upside, this means you don’t need cable or a satellite installed to start watching.
YouTube TV by Google - $35/month
As the newest option, there are currently 39 channels available, but more are slated to arrive any day now. Currently, YouTube TV is only available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago. This is just for trial-run purposes and it is expected to launch in more cities soon. YouTube provides a competitive variety of popular networks as well as YouTube Red originals. With an engaging user interface and unlimited DVR space, this is a fairly decent value for the cost.
Most Recent Episodes - Free Online
Popular networks including The CW, Fox, CBS, Hulu and more allow viewers to watch recently aired episodes for free. Channel surfing is a thing of the past now that you can scroll through a variety of quality content curated to your own tastes. This is a trend that’s quickly catching on and growing in scope to prevent fans from illegally streaming or downloading the latest episodes. Even with ads, these options have significantly less commercial time than their live airing tv counterparts. The CW also has multiple seasons of select shows available for free on CW Seed.
Roku – Prices Vary (Options start at $29.99 - one-time fee for the device.)
Will all the streaming options out there, Roku helps you keep them all in one place. You still pay for the streaming service subscriptions , but only the ones you choose. The nice thing is that the majority of free and paid streaming options available are all compiled into single place through Roku with an easy-to-navigate search layout. All you need is a Roku device. There are a variety of options to choose from, including Roku TVs or boxes and portable sticks that stream content to your own screen. Roku also gives you the option to stream live broadcast tv, either from a paid network or for free from your antenna.
Vudu is a on-demand streaming service that provides access to a variety of TV shows and films for rent or purchase. Signing up for a Vudu account is free, so you have nothing to lose by browsing their library of content. The video quality is probably what sets Vudu apart from other options, as it offers not only HD and 1080p, but also HDX and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound. As soon as the film you want to see is release on DVD, it will also be available on Vudu.