Traditional cable is steadily falling out of favor as more people shift to an ever increasing number of streaming options. Not only can streaming save on the monthly bill, but customers also rely less on companies that are better known for poor customer service than the products they provide. Devices such as Apple TV, Roku and Playstation have enabled viewers to watch streamed programming on their televisions in addition to their computers and tablets.
Netflix is probably the best known and one of the most popular streaming services. It’s not a good solo option for people who are really invested in network programming that is currently running as it takes a season or two for those programs to make their way over. It is, however, excellent for getting multiple previous seasons of current and older programs, thousands of movies, and highly regarded original programming such as “Orange is the New Black,” “House of Cards,” and “Stranger Things.” The standard and premium subscription options, $9.99 and $11.99 respectively, allow for two or four screens to use the service at once. Additionally, each household user can create their own profile so that the suggestions and favorites are customized to each individual viewer. A one-month, free trial is also available.
Hulu is a great option for people who want to stay up on current network programming. It does have commercials in its cheaper option for $7.99, though fewer than watching on regular TV. Subscribers can upgrade to watch commercial free for $11.99 per month. Aside from CBS, which has its own app, most network shows are available the day after they air, as are many cable options as well. Though not quite as large as Netflix, Hulu also has a sizeable library of movies, recent shows no longer in production and classic programs. Not to be outdone by other streaming services, Hulu is also producing original programming, such as “The Path,” “Shut Eye,” and is picking up “The Mindy Project” after it left the Fox network. A one-week, free trial is also available.
3) Amazon Prime
Not only do you get free two-day shipping on a large selection of Amazon’s goods, access to the free Kindle library with over 800,000 titles, and free streaming music services, subscribers can also increase their library of television and movie programming. Amazon Prime contains a mix of programming that is included with the subscription, as well as a la carte content that can be purchased at additional cost per movie, episode or season. It also has a large selection for kids and families since it has a deal with Nickelodeon and PBS. Original programming includes the award-winning shows “The Man in the High Castle,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” and “Transparent.” The fee is an annual cost of $99 or $10.99 per month and a free one-month trial is included.
The movie channels that have been around since the 1970s continue to stay relevant by changing with the times. There is no need to purchase an expensive cable package to watch first-run movies and original content on the Showtime movie channel anymore. In addition to the Showtime Anytime app, which allows cable subscribers to stream content, it now offers an option for streaming subscriptions only. Sign up for a one-month free trial, then choose whether to pay $10.99 per month or $109.90 for a year. The channel has a tremendous catalogue of films, documentaries and Championship Boxing. In addition, Showtime has been creating quality, award-winning original programming for several years which is accessible through the service. Current programs such as “Homeland” and “Ray Donovan” are available, as are older shows like “The Tudors” and “Dexter.”
5) HBO Now
HBO has also expanded its streaming options from the HBO Go app, which exists for cable subscribers, to HBO Now, which is their new app for streaming only. After the month-long free trial, the monthly fee is $14.99, and customers can stream movies from HBO’s expansive catalogue on multiple devices. HBO was the first premium channel to get in the game of original programming, and has put out hugely popular shows over the last few decades, to which access is a huge draw for many of the channel’s customers. “Sex & the City,” “The Sopranos,” and “Band of Brothers” were some of HBO’s early forays, and more recent programs include “True Blood” and “Game of Thrones.” The channel also provides boxing coverage and other sports programming like “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” which originally debuted in 1995.
6) Sling TV
Sling is the streaming service of choice for people who still want access to traditional cable television channels. Subscribers have access to live streams of their favorite channels after selecting one of three options. Sling Orange has more than 30 channels including ESPN, CNN and HGTV for $20 a month. Sling Blue has more than 40 for $25, such as NBC, Fox and FX. For $40, subscribers can get both. Sling also has some a la carte package options which include additional sports, children’s, comedy, news and lifestyle programming. Other premium add-ons include HBO, Cinemax, Starz and Spanish programming. The availability of some channels may vary based on location, but Sling.com allows you to search your zip code to find if you will be able to access Fox NFL Sundays and other local programming.
7) CBS All Access
The apps for NBC and ABC still require viewers to have a cable subscription to log in and view much of their content. CBS, on the other hand, offers its app at $5.99 per month for limited commercials or $9.99 for commercial free playback. Live streaming of programming is available and programs are available the next day for replay. CBS also has a number of classics to choose from in their library, such as “Family Ties” and “Mission: Impossible.” In addition, the network is creating original content available only through their app, like “The Good Fight,” a spinoff of “The Good Wife,” and an extra season of the popular reality show “Big Brother: Over the Top.” Before canceling cable, make sure the live stream option is available in your area. Potential subscribers can try it free for one week.
Crackle is a Sony-owned streaming service that offers movies and also produces original programming. While its library doesn’t even come close to that of Netflix, the unbeatable price is FREE! It has even produced some original programming, such as Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Of course, it has to make money somehow, so the programming does come with commercial interruptions. It also refreshes the content monthly, which means there is always new content being added. By the same token, don’t take too long getting back to that movie you paused because it might not be there when you come back. Due to partnerships with some major movie studios, Crackle has a lot of titles you’ve heard of, though not necessarily the top-shelf blockbusters.
9) PlayStation Vue
PlayStation Vue is no longer solely available through PlayStation. It can also be accessed through Amazon Fire devices, as well as iPads, iPhones, and it has even recently become available through Roku and Apple TV. Upon its initial release the high price and limited device compatibility kept it from being a major competitor. Now it’s climbing in popularity with lower price plans and increased availability. The cheapest package is $29.99 per month and includes more than 45 cable, movie and sports channels. For $34.99, access more than 60-channels, or 90-channels for $44.99. For $64.99 (and currently on sale for $54.99 for a limited time), the elite package includes 90-channels, plus HBO and Showtime. There is no contract and you can start with a free trial.