It’s really not that big of a shock that a major TV provider has inconsistent customer service at best. We pitted DIRECTV and DISH against each other in the customer service department, and DISH falls short on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI1). From our experience, you can expect longer hold times with DISH’s customer service department.
What you get: With recently updated pricing, Sling’s Orange package is now $25 and includes about 30 cable channels but no broadcast TV. It supports one user at a time. Sling Blue, also $25 per month, supports three users and a different mix of about 40 channels, including local broadcasts and regional sports. (Among other differences: Sling Orange includes ESPN.) A combined plan costs $40. Themed add-on packs cost $5 per month, and you can add HBO, $15; Showtime, $10; and Starz, $9. Sling is currently running a promotion that gives you either the Blue or Orange plans for $15 a month, or the combined plan for $25 a month, for the first three months.
Skinny bundles like DISH Network's (NASDAQ:DISH) Sling TV and Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) YouTube TV offer a lot of cable-like choices, but they don't offer a similar viewing experience. Sling, for example (which we subscribe to for our second home), does not really make it easy to "flip" channels. It's great when you want to watch something end to end, but even "flipping" during a commercial is awkward and both have incomplete channel lineups compared to traditional cable.
CBS All Access ($5.99/mo. or $59.99/yr. with commercials; $9.99/mo. or $99.99/yr. without): There are several basic cable and major broadcast channels moving into this arena, too, looking to lure customers with exclusive content. CBS has been making the boldest moves here, packaging a library of new and old CBS shows alongside in-demand original series like “Star Trek: Discovery.” CBS All Access also allows for live-streaming of your local CBS affiliate (with some restrictions based on market, program and/or device).
Cable ONE manages bandwidth consumption of Internet services to provide the best experience for all customers. Actual internet speeds will vary by customer based upon time of day, network congestion, customer equipment and other factors. Please visit http://www.cableone.net/legal/internet-aup for Internet plan specifics by reading our Acceptable Use Policy. Includes 300GB Data. Data usage in excess of data plan will result in $10 charge for additional 100GB data blocks, up to a maximum of $50 per data cycle. Customers who use more than 5TB may be subject to speed reductions for the remainder of their data cycle. – see http://www.cableone.net/legal/open-internet for details.
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CatchTV: Functionality requires a Gateway set-top-box, a media player for each additional TV, and an advanced cable modem. Promotional offer includes the rental of the Gateway for the first 12 months (normally $13/mo.) Media players for additional TVs are $6 each. Advanced cable modem costs $10 per month. $4.99 DVR Service fee applies. Standard fees apply at the end of the promotional period. Free Installation includes installation of the advanced cable modem, Gateway and up to 5 media players. In a case of non-standard wiring, installation fees may apply if determined by the technician at the time of installation. CatchTV requires customer to subscribe to qualifying Internet and TV service. CatchTV is not available in all areas. Other conditions may apply.
Since current seasons of CBS aren’t available on Hulu, CBS All Access is one option to get CBS Shows the day after the initial broadcast as CBS isn’t a part of Hulu. The basic service costs $5.99 per month and does air commercials. However, they offer a commercial-free plan for $9.99 per month. The service also offers live local CBS in over 150 markets. For more details, check out my review of CBS All Access.
Way back when, cable and satellite TV were initially sold to consumers as an add-on: Get all of your local channels, along with uncut movies, more televisions programs and additional sports. But pulling the plug on cable doesn’t necessarily mean you can just go back to broadcast networks only. Modern homes and apartments are no longer wired-up with antennas the way they were 30 years ago. Indoor HDTV antennas are available at prices ranging from under $20 to move than $150, but the quality of the signal and the number of channels that come in clearly vary depending on external factors, like whether you live near mountains or skyscrapers.
Most of the time, it’s not difficult to find deals on TV packages. Common deals providers offer include discounts on services, Visa® Prepaid Cards, and free premium channels. Though most deals are advertised on providers’ websites, it’s a good idea to call and ask a sales representative if there are any additional deals not offered online. On the other hand, some deals are online exclusives and might not be honored if you order service over the phone.
If you don’t have or don’t like any of the options above, there are a few ways to turn your TV into a “Smart TV.” There are a number of ways to do this. In the next section, I’ll cover the subscription services available. Certain devices only work on certain equipment so I’ll cover a few of these combinations in the Streaming Devices section of the post.
For example, CBS offers a lot of free full episodes with even more when you sign up for CBS All Access ($59.99/yr with limited commercials or $99.99/yr without commercials after a 7-day free trial). For many shows, like 60 Minutes, you can watch the last 5 episodes for free. Some others have an entire season for free – such as Big Brother: Over the Top.
If you want—or need—to see a significant number of your local teams’ games, I’m going to stop right here. This is one area where streaming services can’t yet fully deliver. Local games are generally exclusive to regional sports networks, and you’ll still need cable for that. There’s also the issue of some online services being a little more unstable than die-hard fans might like. Dish’s Sling TV failed for many customers during this weekend’s NCAA Final Four action, leading the company to issue an apology.
Most providers heavily encourage bundling your telecommunication services; phone, internet, and sometimes home security. Some providers, like Comcast and Cox, give you wide range of TV and internet options that you can purchase independently. Others, like Charter Spectrum, only offer one TV package without bundling. If you choose Mediacom, you won’t have an option at all, as all its TV plans require an internet bundle. On the plus side: By bundling, you’re likely to save an average of $20 to $30 for each service.
Grasshopper provides a business number for your cell phone that delivers the business phone functionality you need and more at an unbelievable price. Just mentioning the 2nd number for your cell phone doesn’t really explain what they do. Their service turns the personal phones of you and your employees into a full blow PBX. Read my review of their small business phone system for more information.
Currently, you can try DIRECTV NOW free for 7 days. I find the best option to be their “Live a Little” package. It is priced at $40 per month and contains Fox News, CNN, Nickelodeon, MSNBC, Hallmark Channel, ESPN, Disney, HGTV, USA, ID, TNT, Food, TBS, History, Discovery, Disney Jr, TV Land, Nick Jr, AMC, FX, FXX, Bravo, Lifetime, A&E, Animal Planet, BBC America, Bloomberg, BET, Cartoon Network, CMT, CNBC, Comedy Central, Disney XD, E!, ESPN2, Fox Business, FS1, Galavision, HLN, MTV, MTV2, Paramount Network, Syfy, TCM, TLC, Univision, VH1, and more
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Philo ($16/mo. - $20/mo.): This new cut-rate service is cheap for a reason: It eliminates all sports, major networks and premium movie channels, delivering instead what amounts to a stripped-down basic cable package with the likes of History Channel, A&E and TV Land. Philo also has limited DVR storage and can be watched on multiple devices simultaneously. It’s a good starter option for people who want a solid array of traditional cable channels to supplement with subscriptions to Netflix, HBO Now and others.
YouTube is another option for online viewing that can take the place of your cable or satellite package. The popular web channel shares many movies and TV show episodes for legal viewing. YouTube won’t offer an abundant selection of quality movies and TV show episodes. Still, there are some available, and it’s free with your Internet access package.
I take it you have done your homework and it sounds as though you know your stuff! However, I do not know who you are or if you are a “plant” by the cable industry to down talk these alternative methods to cable. Having said that, I need to do my own research and I know I have to start somewhere, so I consider your remarks and opinions as that start. The problem I see in doing research is “who to trust”! Call me cynical if you wish. However, I detest these things about cable: 1) The major cable companies (Comcast, Spectrum, et al) control the perimeters of choice for consumers by, as you stated, “blocking” given areas; 2) If you want to watch a given number of channels, the cable companies mentioned control the “plans” for the channels that include my favorites like sports, local channels, documentaries, etc… I could not care less for the so-called movie channels that show hardly anything but smut movies. I have to pay an astronomical monthly fee to get the preferred channels and pay for channels I do not want or watch. I suppose I could list much more disgust that I have for cable. However, all I would be doing is frustrating myself more. The task of searching for the best solution is to me, much too tedious and not as trustworthy as is being touted by these “cable cutting” enterprises. So, until I can find a more realistic alternative, I will stay with the blood-sucking cable company which I currently have.
With the online service, students get most new titles simultaneously with their premiere on the networks; the ability to create a “Watchlist” that keeps track of bookmarked content for later viewing; bonus content including interviews, recaps, and behind-the-scenes extras; and customizable views showing titles in slideshow, grid or list format. In addition, HBO GO® can be personalized through a “Series Pass®” capability which automatically alerts viewers to new episodes of favorite HBO programs when they arrive on the service.
One of the toughest things for cord-cutters to give up is sports content, since cable and satellite TV give access not only to home games, but also to matches from all around the world. An HD antenna will keep you covered for local games. Otherwise, you have two options: a cable-replacement service, or a streaming sports service. Every major sports organization offers some kind of streaming package, from MLB.TV to NFL Live to NBA League Pass. These services are expensive compared to streaming subscriptions, and can cost between $100 and $200 per year.
As for over-the-air TV, reception in many areas ranges from limited to terrible. If you live in rental property, you normally don't have the option of installing a powerful outdoor antenna. If you live near mountains, even the best outdoor antenna won't do much. A streaming service can solve that problem. Another advantage to getting local channels via streaming is that you can record those programs with the DVR feature. The FCC requires cable and satellite companies to include locals. Even if that rule doesn't apply to streaming services, they are in the midst of adding locals in order to provide the most complete service. Since the streaming services' prices are generally lower, the full channel line-up also gives them a competitive edge over cable and satellite operators.
With the least cable-like interface of the Big 5, Hulu's greatest asset is the integration of live TV with its significant catalog of on-demand content for one price. Unfortunately, the interface frustrations apparent with the standard service are amplified once you add live TV. The app generally confuses "simple" with "incomplete." It technically offers a guide, for example, but it's extremely bare-bones. Another issue is that you'll have to pay extra, a hefty $15 per month, to get the ability to skip commercials on Hulu's cloud DVR. Its channel count is solid, but YouTube TV at $5 less is a better value if you don't care about Hulu's catalog.