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Most of these plans have different levels and options, depending on which plan you sign up for. My personal favorites for movies and documentaries include Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. If you want to watch more on-demand network television, then you may be better off going with Hulu. Hulu Plus and Hulu Live allow you to stream live network shows, including sports and other live events. You can compare Hulu and Hulu Plus in this review.
PlayStation Vue has an "evolved" interface that is also easy to use once you get the hang of it, but can have a learning curve. Its DVR is excellent, with unlimited storage and the ability to skip commercials on any show -- although unlike YouTube TV, shows in Vue's DVR are deleted after 28 days. The biggest knock is that it's one of the most expensive basic packages, but it has fewer channels than any of the Big Five, aside from Sling TV and DirecTV Now. You don't need a PlayStation 4 to watch it -- just like the others, Vue has apps for numerous streaming devices including Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV, as well as phones and PCs -- but a PS4 is the only way to get its sweet multiscreen view.
Internet providers are not available in all areas. Internet service and speeds vary by zip code and even street. Cable TV service may be available in some areas, but not in others. The easiest way to see service for your address and what internet you can get is to enter your zip and then call, but the above shows major TV and internet providers and their major service operation areas.
When you start adding Paks ($10–$16 per Pak per month) on top of your base service charge, your monthly price starts to go up pretty quickly. It’s nice to start so low, but don’t expect to get out at the advertised price. Also, keep in mind, most Paks are limited to the Contour TV package, so if you’re looking for more options, you’ll be starting at a higher base price.
Prime ($8.99/mo., $119/yr.): If you shop a lot on Amazon, it’s already worth it to pay the hundred bucks a year (or $12.99/mo.) for Prime, which includes the streaming Prime Video service, the Prime Music service, some free Kindle books and free two-day shipping on many products. If you’re not big on yearly commitments, you can still get just the video service for $8.99 a month.
Having bundles, also helps. While with DTV and AT&T, you still get access to DTVN streaming content, but also 15 channels of HBO and HBO GO. After the bundle rebates, the cost is $50/mo, for the lowest tier. Certainly not cable, and your money is going to the same company, but you do get the best of both, full 5 tuner DVR whole home DVR service, plus on the go streaming. What I am trying to say, Satellite service isn't Cable or Streaming. They traditionally were the rebels against Cable TV prices. However after some time they turned into nothing under $110/mo, a lot like cable. But while there's a lot of customer churn, the prices and business modeling has changed. I am liking it, while it lasts.
All DISH TV packages come with a Hopper Duo Smart DVR that supports up to two HD TVs. The Hopper DVR can store up to 125 hours of HD recordings and includes a Voice Remote that lets you search for your favorite shows or channels via voice commands. The Voice Remote even has a “locate remote” feature that will beep when activated. The age-old hunt for the remote just came to an end.
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.
If you’re a cable company, such as Comcast or Charter, it’s much easier to stay the course and extract maximum value from a steadily dwindling subscriber base, especially when the internet side of the business is more profitable and still growing. While cable companies have put forth some modest attempts at cheaper streaming packages, including Charter’s Spectrum TV Choice and Comcast’s Xfinity Instant TV, they’re generally not marketed toward existing TV customers, and they’re not especially appealing anyway. Spectrum’s streaming service, for instance, lacks DVR, and Comcast’s service quickly becomes pricier than other services if you want more than just local channels.
Apple TV ($149 - $199): Similar to the Amazon Fire, the Apple TV is fantastic for dedicated Mac families, allowing them to sync programing between iPhones, iPads and laptops. Apple also has one of the better interfaces for finding and organizing content, with an app simply called “TV” that’s designed to function a lot like a DVR, keeping the latest episodes of your favorite shows in an easily accessible queue. Note: Netflix shows can be searched via the "TV" app, but they can't be added to its queue; users are simply redirected to the Netflix app.
PlayStation Vue is a streaming service similar to Sling TV, offering channels like AMC, TBS, Syfy and much more. However, this service starts at $44.99 per month. Check out this comparison of Sling TV Channels vs. PS Vue for the difference in each services channel lineup. You don’t need a PlayStation gaming console to use the service either. While the service is available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, you can also use the service with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast, Android, iPad, and iPhone. Check out my review of PlayStation Vue for more details.
Netflix is a great place for binge-watching entire seasons all at once. But unless it’s a Netflix original series, you’ll just have to wait until a season finishes airing to get started. But hey, no commercials! Accessing the service shouldn’t be a problem either. You probably have 10 devices in your house right now that came preloaded with the Netflix app. But if you want to use Netflix on more than one device at once, you’ll have to upgrade to the Standard ($10) or Premium ($12) plan.
Many local libraries have movies and television shows on DVD, and some even offer BluRay. Borrowing one is completely free as long as you are eligible for a library card, and you usually have a generous return window too. The only caveats are that your selection may be limited and other borrowers may not have been kind to the DVD when they borrowed it, so some of them may not work. But, when the cost is $0, it isn’t as painful when that happens.
So, just how many channels do you want…or need? Well, it depends on what networks you love most and whether you’re a major sports fan, movie buff, or if you enjoy watching the news, kids programming, and more. Xfinity TV deals feature the following channel counts, networks, and 24/7 sports coverage, plus you can always add on premium channels like HBO®, STARZ®, SHOWTIME®, CINEMAX®, and TMC® for an additional cost per month. View our channel lineup for more information and to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Sling is a good deal for serious TV fans, but if you’re not going to watch at least eight different shows on those channels per year, it’s cheapest to just get your Mad Men/Walking Dead fix by buying individual seasons on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video. That strategy, ironically, is pretty much what Dish Network’s chairman recommended back in 2012—before his company owned its own streaming business.
The service that started the cable-replacement trend is still one of the best on the market. Sling TV starts off cheap ($20 per month), and while the cost can balloon quickly, depending on your add-ons, this probably won't happen. That's because Sling TV offers two basic packages of channels (Orange and Blue), then lets viewers pick and choose smaller add-ons, which usually cost $5 per month. From sports to comedy to kids' programming to foreign language channels, Sling TV has a little something for everyone. The service's DVR features are not bad, either.
Internet streaming services also require a high-speed internet connection. If your internet isn't fast enough, you'll probably experience lots of buffering and lagging during your shows. Many cord cutters end up paying extra for a faster internet plan, just so they can stream their shows. Cable, fiber, and satellite TV aren't dependent on internet, so you'll never have to worry about inconsistent sound and picture quality. If you do need internet, why not get all of your services in the same place? You can bundle your TV service with internet to save even more every month.
Dependability and other quality issues related to the streaming Internet TV services are all over the board. Internet speed, type of Internet connection (wired vs. wireless), and platform (game console vs. computer vs. other devices) are among the things to consider. I chose PlayStation Vue because it has the widest choice of channels at a price I couldn't pass up. Its feature set is considered by many to be superior to the alternatives. Buffering of streaming content is more noticeable on certain platforms, with Roku often cited as one of the worst. When considering how much you'll save over traditional cable/satellite, you need to factor in the cost of Internet service. That wasn't an issue for me. As a heavy computer user, I would have Internet access to pay for anyway, regardless of my TV usage. If you have a family with several members using your Internet connection all at the same time, streaming TV service performance will take a hit, as it requires a fair amount of horsepower. If more than one person in the home is watching PS Vue at the same time, they each need to be on a different platform, with some exceptions. Sony's PS Vue website explains those limitations in more detail.
Yes, I dropped my cable many years ago. The cost was outrageous and also wanted to hurt the biased Leftist media. I still have a flat panel and I can hook up to local channels which includes the three major channels and all their tv shows. I just don’t though. I turn it on and think I’ll just have it as background noise like I used to. I can’t stand it. And I’ve watched some of the tv shows and they’re truly just horrible. I watch some things on YouTube, like the old Unsolved Mysteries, but generally I just don’t need tv.
When we went through the ordering process for Spectrum and got all the way to the check-out, we realized we never got to choose which DVR we wanted. Spectrum offers both Motorola and Cisco DVRs (neither of which stand out from competitor DVRs like the Genie or Hopper 3), and as far as we can tell, you get whichever one Spectrum decides to send you.
DirecTV Now ($35/mo. - $70/mo.): The breadth of channels and the reasonable pricing tiers will make DirecTV an attractive option to a lot of cord-cutters — especially those who already have AT&T mobile phone plans, which offer heavy discounts on this service. As always, the availability of local channels varies. And unlike the live TV services above, DirecTV Now is not the best place for watching a show after it airs. The service has DVR cloud storage, but it is still being developed, and at the moment it is relatively limited in storage and functionality when compared with many of its competitors.
That said, if you want a cable-like experience both at home and on the go without the dead weight that a cable subscription brings, then a streaming service is worth a look. There's no contract to sign, and if you don't like the service you're on, you can easily switch. So whether you're looking for a basic package such as Sling TV or want to pay more for a deluxe experience from the likes of PlayStation Vue, there should be a streaming TV service to suit you.