Trying to find the best streaming service? We did it for you already!
Considering the fact that there seem to be new streaming services landing every day, it is no surprise that consumers are left scratching their heads and wondering where they should be investing their streaming dollars.
If you are thinking about cutting the cable cord and switching to streaming, there are a lot of things to consider. But first and foremost, no. There is no way that you can get anything like the same selection. Programmers are monetizing their assets.
But if you know what kind of programming you watch the most and if you select your streaming services carefully, you can certainly get the content that you want for a cheaper price than your cable subscription.
Quick Look At Our Top Picks
Amazon Prime Video
Apple TV plus
AT&T Tv Now
*If you’re buying your first streaming media player to get your streaming services onto your TV, I created a perfect starting point to learn more about TV boxes. Or, look here if you’re just looking for a good, cheap Android TV box.
Before diving into the details, one other thing I have to point out: if the service is free, it will either have ads or it will be selling your viewing habits and information. Remember, if something is free, you’re not the customer… you’re the product.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. And not everything worth watching will cost you. There are a couple of really good free streaming services, but they usually cater to niche markets. You won’t find the most popular movies and TV shows there, but you’ll definitely still find stuff worth watching.
My Personal Favorite Streaming Services
My own personal streaming portfolio has a couple of main components to it. For what I want, I only need a couple of premium streaming services to get my live sports and movies.
Here’s my plan:
- Amazon Prime (a side benefit of the free shipping)
- Sling TV
- Plex Channels (free official content)
I get the majority of my paid content through Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Both offer 4K streams over multiple devices. I figure, if I bought a 4K TV, then I might as well try to get the most 4K content that I can, right? Otherwise, I’ve wasted my money on the TV.
I was already an Amazon Prime member, so the video streaming service is just an added bonus for me.
For live sports, I’ve tried both FuboTV and Sling TV. I’ve recently switched from fuboTV to Sling TV because it has the same content (for me) at a lower cost. Since the point of cord-cutting is to save money, I can’t really argue with that. fuboTV has some options that Sling TV doesn’t, so which one I go with depends on which sports season is on right now. If you’re a fan of American football, check out where to watch NFL games online.
Recommendations: Best Streaming Service
Now, about each service in order!
Any discussion about the best streaming service has to start with Netflix. For most of us, Netflix was “step one” in our cord-cutting experiment.
- Price: Between $7.99 and $13.99 per month
- Simultaneous Streams: Between one and four, depending on your plan
- 4K content: Yes, depending on your plan
If you live in the United States, Netflix boasts just over 5,500 titles in their library as of this year. The totals for other parts of the world are going to be less. Expect numbers to change monthly as new titles are added or removed.
One of Netflix’s strengths is a growing lineup of original content like Stranger Things, Élite, The Witcher, and La Casa De Papel. If stand-up comedy is more your thing, you’ll also get a whole lot of exclusive comedy specials.
Netflix can be picky about what devices it allows to stream in HD and 4K. Many generic Android boxes will be limited to standard definitions. To find out more, check to see if your Android TV box can play Netflix HD or 4K.
2 Disney Plus
The newest disrupter in the streaming space, Disney has pulled much of its content from other streaming services in order to populate their own.
- Price: $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year
- Simultaneous Streams: Up to 4 devices
- 4K content: Yes
Soon this will be the only place to go for movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox – that is a lot of quality programming. As well as classics from the vault, like competitors Netflix, they are investing a lot in new programs developed exclusively for the service.
Completely ad-free, you can have up to seven profiles per subscription and can stream on up to four different devices at the same time with the app installed on up to ten different devices. 4K Ultra HD resolution and HDR are available on selected content, and you can download and watch offline when needed.
Considering Disney’s brand name, Disney Plus is surprisingly affordable at only $6.99 per month, or you can bundle Disney Plus with Hulu and ESPN+ for just $12.99 per month, about $5 less than if you pay for them each separately.
3 Sling TV
For only $20 a month, Sling TV gives you access to over 30 channels, including ESPN and selected Disney content. For most sports fans, that’s all you needed to hear.
But, just in case you need a little more…
- Price: Between $20 and $30 depending on your plan
- Simultaneous Streams: Either one or three, depending on your plan
- 4K content: No
Sling TV is a live TV replacement plan, owned by satellite TV provider Dish Network. That means that Sling TV is able to access Dish’s existing relationships with the major TV channels and get access to channels like ESPN.
There’s no binge-watching or DVR functionality here. This is simply a great way to get that live content you’ve been missing when you cut the cord.
There are two pricing options: Sling Orange and Sling Blue. Each offers slightly different channel lineups, although there is some overlap. Plans start at $20 per month.
4 Hulu Plus
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Hulu. So, why’s it on this list?
Simply because no other service has faster access to current seasons of TV shows. Hulu is partially owned by ABC, so most of its content will be on Hulu. There’s even an option for live TV, although it jumps the price up to $39.99 per month – roughly the cost of both Netflix and Sling TV combined.
- Price: Between $7.99 and $39.99 per month
- Simultaneous Streams: One
- 4K content: Yes
Hulu, like Netflix and Amazon, has put a big focus on creating its own original content. Unlike the other two streaming services, Hulu has had, well, mixed success. Only The Handmaid’s Tale and The Mindy Project are household names.
The main reason I’m not a fan of Hulu is that there are still commercials – even on the paid plans. Still…if you absolutely have to have the current seasons of your favorite TV shows and can’t get them any other way, Hulu Plus is a pretty good option.
5 HBO Now
HBO Now gained popularity as a streaming service as we were all desperate for the latest episodes of Game of Thrones. But even without weekly episodes of its flagship show, it is still a popular service.
- Price: $14.99 per month
- Simultaneous streams: unspecified, multiple devices on the same WiFi network
- 4K content: Yes
HBO doesn’t have as much content as other services, but the content it does offer is premium. Look out for classics such as The Wire, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under, as well as new programming including Westworld, Gentleman Jack, and His Dark Materials.
HBO also supports virtual reality content, which you can access using phone-compatible VR headsets.
HBO Now is a relatively expensive streaming service at $14.99 per month, though they offer students a discounted rate of $9.99. You can also get it as an add-on with Sling TV or AT&T TV Now; just add an additional $5 to your subscription.
6 Apple TV Plus
The newly released Apple TV Plus hasn’t exactly taken the market by storm, but it is a respectable offering that is sure to grow into a contender.
- Price: $4.99 per month
- Simultaneous streaming: Up to six
- 4K content: Yes
The service launched in November 2019 and has built up a respectable offering of new shows, including Amazing Stories, Home Before Dark, Home, and Defending Jacob. Their list of upcoming content for 2021 is enticing. Their approach has been to partner with big-name A-List actors to help them deliver pet projects, hoping that this will attract audiences.
It is surprisingly affordable considering the high price tag we associate with most Apple products, especially considering that a single account can be shared between six different family members.
One of the newer additions to the streaming arsenal is fuboTV. When I first dropped my cable TV subscription, the thing I missed the most was live sports. Especially if your favorite team isn’t the local team, finding the games you want to watch can be difficult.
- Price: Between $14.99 and $34.99 depending on your choice of channels
- Simultaneous streams: Two
- 4K content: No
That’s where fuboTV comes in.
FuboTV is geared for the football fan – soccer if you’re in the United States. But there’s much more to it than just soccer. There are several plans available. The basic plan starts at $14.99, but the real star is the $34.99 Premier plan with over 60 channels available – half of them live sports!
The other half of the channel lineup includes MSNBC, SyFy, E!, History, Fox, Fox Business, A&E, and Bravo.
8 AT&T TV Now
If you are looking for a streaming service that feels like cable, then AT&T TV Now, previously known as DirectTV Now, is an excellent option. It is a great option for AT&T wireless customers as they aren’t charged for the data associated with the streaming service.
- Price: from $39.99 to $114.99 per month
- Simultaneous Streaming: 2 devices
- 4K content: No
AT&T TV offers access to most of your favorite cable channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. There are also additional premium channels that can be accessed for an additional fee, such as Cinemax, HBO, and Showtime.
The service also includes a lot of sports channels for fans and special season tickets if you want to see every match in a certain league.
While this is one of the most comprehensive options and feels the most like cable TV, it is the most expensive, and there are lots of additional charges for specific content. It can quickly add up and be more expensive than cable.
Crackle is one of the best choices if you’re looking for a free streaming service. It’s owned by Sony, so it’s got a pretty big backer in the entertainment industry. It doesn’t have the newest content, but it does have a sizable library including Seinfeld, The Shield, Last Resort, and News Radio.
- Price: Did I mention that it’s free?
- Simultaneous streams: As many as you want
- 4K content: No
There are also a number of original series like Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Sports Jeopardy, StartUp, and The Art of More.
One of the drawbacks of Crackle is that it has commercials, just like if you were watching broadcast television. You’ll get about two and a half minutes of commercials every half-hour. As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, there are some trade-offs if you’re watching a free streaming service. This is one of them.
Crackle isn’t going to take the place of Netflix or Hulu Plus. It just doesn’t have the number of titles to compete. Still, Crackle is a solid choice to help fill out some gaps that the big boys don’t offer, without breaking the bank.
Remember when watching someone play video games just meant that you were waiting for your turn?
Twitch is pretty much the same concept, except it never becomes your turn.
- Price: Free or $8.99 per month for Twitch Turbo
- Simultaneous streams: As many as you want
- 4K content: Not yet
A whole industry has started around watching people play video games. Many users will superimpose videos of themselves over the screen, allowing you to see them as they’re playing. There’s also a chatroom where you can add your commentary along with everyone else watching the channel.
Twitch is a free service, and you can even watch gamers without having to sign in. There’s also Twitch Prime, which you get free if you’re an Amazon Prime member. Finally, there’s Twitch Turbo which provides ad-free streaming with the revenue going directly to the gamers that you watch instead of to advertisers.
Best Streaming Services FAQs
What Is The Best Streaming Service To Replace Cable?
Which streaming service is the best alternative to cable depends on the type of programming that is most important to you. If you just want a broad and ever-updating selection, Netflix is still probably the number one option. If you mainly watch sports, you will need to investigate the specialist sports streamers that focus on the sports you love most. If you are after family-friendly content that will appeal to all ages, it may well be worth investing in Disney Plus. The best thing you can do is make an honest inventory of what actually gets watched in your household and find a streaming service (or group of streaming services) that best meets your profile.
Is Streaming Cheaper Than Cable?
According to a recent survey, two-thirds of households in the U.S. save money by switching from cable to streaming services. There are also fewer set-up overheads as all you need is an internet connection. The exact savings depends on your watching habits and which streaming service or services you choose to subscribe to.
How Do I Get Rid Of Cable And Still Watch TV?
Most TV channels now offer access to their content via apps, and most viewers are replacing their cable subscriptions with a variety of streaming service options. To get this content to actually display on your TV, you will need either a Smart TV or upgrade your existing TV with a Smart TV Box such as an Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast, or Apple TV Box.
The streaming service market is certainly a complicated one. There are scores of streaming services, most paid-for, some free, and all offering a range of different content.
If you want to subscribe to every streaming service on the market, it will cost more than a small fortune. But if you know what content you like, you can cover all your watching needs at a cheaper price than a cable subscription.
Don’t forget to upgrade your TV to a smart TV using a Google Chromecast, Apple TV Box, Amazon Fire, or other alternatives so that you can still watch all your favorite programming on the big screen.