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You can watch practically anything cable and satellite TV offer without paying the high monthly price thanks to video streaming.
Video streaming can be treated as an a la carte subscription by signing up for as many services as you want. Are you a die-hard fan of The Handmaid’s Tale? Sign up for Hulu. Love Stranger Things? Get a Netflix subscription. Always quoting Game of Thrones? An HBO Now membership is perfect for you.
Learn more about each video streaming service so you can get started with a reduced price vs. cable/satellite TV.
YouTube TV gives you access to live TV, and you can record TV to watch it later. I have YouTube TV and love that I can schedule recordings and watch my favorite shows and movies later. My husband loves that he can watch a lot of his sports teams play.
One of its best features is the unlimited Cloud DVR storage, so you can record as many shows, movies and games as you wish. You can also add-on TV channels to your subscription to have access to more television.
It has more than 70 channels available at its base price of $40 per month. Unfortunately, it isn’t available in every U.S. city, so you’ll need to check your zip code before signing up. YouTube TV requires the following download speeds:
- 13mbps+ to reliably stream HD video and have other devices use the same network
- 7mbps+ to stream one HD video
- 3mbps+ to stream SD video
- Under 3mbps you may experience buffering and slow loading
- 7-day free trial
- $40/month for 73 channels
- AMC Premiere: $5/month
- Curiosity Stream: $3/month
- FOX Soccer Plus: $15/month
- NBA League Pass: $40/month
- Showtime: $11/month
- Shudder: $5/month
- STARZ: $9/month
- Sundance Now: $7/month
Netflix is great for movie enthusiasts because it has a wide variety of new, old, foreign, indie and original videos to watch. It also has a massive library of television shows that have ended, so you can binge watch an entire TV show in a weekend.
You can create different accounts for one login, so multiple family members can use it. There’s an entire section dedicated to children’s movies and TV shows too. The recommended bandwidth is 500kbps to get maximum results.
- 1-month FREE trial
- Basic: $7.99/month
- Standard (2 screens): $10.99/month
- Premium (4 screens): $13.99/month
Hulu offers TV shows as well as older films. New TV episodes are posted the day after it airs, so you can keep up on your favorite big name shows. Its focus is more on what’s currently popular on prime time TV. Episodes “expire” so you won’t always be able to watch them. If you want to stay up to date on current TV shows, then Hulu is the way to go.
It also has a few original series, like The Handmaid’s Tale, and we expect it will continue to add to its lineup in the coming years. For SD, you’ll need a bandwidth of 1.5mbps, and for HD you’ll need 3mbps. Hulu also offers the option to watch television live through Hulu with live TV.
- 1-month FREE trial
- Hulu: $5.99/month for the first year, then $7.99/month
- Hulu with No Commercials: $11.99/month
- Hulu with Live TV: starts at $39.99/month (Free trial is only 7 days)
- Enhanced Cloud DVR: $14.99/month
- Unlimited Screens: $14.99/month
- SHOWTIME: $8.99/month
- HBO: $14.99/month
- Cinemax: $9.99/month
- STARZ: $8.99/month
- Entertainment Add-on: $7.99/month
- Español Add-on: $4.99/month
Other Video Streaming Services Reviews
Amazon Prime isn’t just a video streaming service. In addition to blockbuster films and popular TV shows, you also have access to more than 1 million songs and more than 500,000 free ebooks as well as 2-day free shipping on amazon.com purchases. (Note: Not all items on Amazon are eligible for Prime shipping. The Prime logo must be marked next to videos, books and other items.)
With Amazon Prime, you get a lot of things at the same price as other video streaming services. So if you are a frequent shopper (or reader), this may be a good choice for you because it has tons of benefits.
Amazon is best for watching newer releases that you can rent at a low price. Often you can watch movies at home for a lower price than what it costs in theaters.
Amazon also won several Golden Globe awards for its original series “Transparent.” Minimum internet bandwidth requirements are 900kbps for SD and 3.5mbps for HD.
- 30-day FREE trial for Prime
- 6-month free trial for Prime Student
- Prime: $119/year or $12.99/month
- Prime Student: $59/year or $6.49/month
Sony owns Crackle and consists mainly of Sony movies and TV shows, although it does offer content from other film distributors. It also provides original productions like Trenches and The Bannen Way.
The most significant benefit of using Crackle is that it’s completely free; however, with the lower selection, it may be hard to find the content you want to watch. Your internet connection speed should be 200kbps or more if you plan to use Crackle.
DIRECTV NOW is set up similarly to DIRECTV and DISH but is slightly less expensive. To get channels that you may want, you may have to get the upper tier package, which doesn’t come cheap.
DIRECTV NOW has some a la carte options, but they’re only for individual premium channels. Ultimately, there are less expensive options for your TV streaming needs.
- 7-day FREE trial
- Live A Little: $40/month, 65+ channels
- Just Right: $55/month, 85+ channels
- Go Big: $65/month, 105+ channels
- Gotta Have It: $75/month, 125+ channels
- Todo Y Más: $45/month, 90+ channels
- Vietnamese: $20/month, 9 channels
- Brazilian: $25/month, 2 channels
- HBO: $5/month
- Cinemax: $5/month
- STARZ: $8/month
- Showtime: $8/month
- Third streaming option: $5/month
FuboTV is for those who want to watch international sports like soccer and cycling. You can stream local, minor, major and world league teams live or recorded. If you’re interested in family channels, children channels, news channels, etc., we’d recommend another service over FuboTV.
- 7-day FREE trial (fubo plan only)
- fubo: $44.99/month
- fubo Extra: $49.99/month
- fubo Extra Bundle (fubo Extra, Cloud DVR Plus, Family Share, Showtime): $59.99/month
- Cloud DVR Plus (500 hours): $9.99/month
- Family Share (3 people streaming at once): $5.99/month
- SHOWTIME: $10/month
- NBA League Pass: $28.99/month
- AMC Premiere: $4.99/month
- FX+ Ad Free: $5.99/month
- fubo Cycling: $11.99/month
- International Sports Plus: $5.99/month
- Sport Plus: $8.99/month
- Adventure Plus: $4.99/month
- RAI Italia: $7.99/month
- Portuguese Plus: $14.99/month
- Latino Plus: $7.99/month
Like the other services reviewed here, you do not need cable to subscribe to HBO NOW. An HBO NOW subscription includes a variety of content including original series, comedy specials, sports, blockbuster movies, documentaries and more. Every season of popular award-winning HBO programs is available at the same time it airs on “regular” HBO, including Game of Thrones, Westworld, Silicon Valley, Veep, Barry, Big Little Lies, Insecure, and more.
- 30-day FREE trial
If you have HBO via your cable or satellite provider (or subscribe to HBO NOW on its own), you can use HBO GO to gain unlimited access to HBO movies and shows. HBO shows are released on HBO GO the moment they air. This video streaming service requires a 3mbps connection for HD content.
- Free with HBO subscription
PlayStation Vue is live streaming TV, and a PlayStation isn’t required to watch it. If you choose one of the upper-level packages with some add-ons, you could be spending a similar amount that you would with cable/satellite TV. So, it may be better to look at other options.
- 5-day free trial (for Access, Core and Elite)
- Access: $44.99/month
- Popular live TV
- Core: $49.99/month
- Sports + popular live TV
- Elite: $59.99/month
- Movies + kids + sports + popular live TV
- Ultra: $79.99/month
- Movies + sports + premiums
- View all plans
- Sports Pack: $10/month
- FX+: $5.99/month
- Epix Hits: $3.99/month
- HBO: $15/month
- Showtime: $10.99/month
- Cinemax: $15/month
- HBO & Cinemax: $21.99/month
- Epix Hits & Showtime: $13.99/month
- FOX Soccer Plus: $14.99/month
Sling TV is a good backup option if YouTube TV isn’t available in your area yet. This was one of the first companies to offer a live TV watching alternative. We like that the base price for Sling TV is $25 and you can customize your TV options by adding packages at relatively low costs.
- 7-day FREE trial
- Sling Orange: $25/month for 32 channels
- Sling Blue: $25/month for 45 channels
- Sling Orange + Sling Blue: $40/month for 51 channels
- Cloud DVR: $5/month
- Kids: $5/month
- Sports: $5/month (with Sling Orange) or $10/month (with Sling Blue)
- News: $5/month
- Lifestyle: $5/month
- Hollywood: $5/month
- Heartland: $5/month
- International: starting at $5/month
- Español: $5/month
- Comedy: $5/month
- Many other add-ons available
Vudu is similar to iTunes rentals. Instead of paying for a subscription you pay per rental/purchase. You can rent or buy movies in SD or HD. Walmart owns Vudu and it may be clicking in your head right now because when you purchase a DVD or Blu-ray, you sometimes get a digital copy. You can download your digital copy onto Vudu, so you have access to it digitally.
The price can go up quickly because if you like to watch lots of movies you have to pay for each rental or purchase, so two Vudu rentals can add up to a month subscription to Netflix. For HD streaming, 3mbps is required, and for SD streaming 1mbps is needed.
- Vudu’s pricing is a “pay as you rent/buy” model. So the price varies depending on how much you buy.
What Is The Best Video Streaming Service Terminology?
Below are some terms you’ll want to familiarize yourself with regarding bandwidth speeds and screen resolutions:
- HD – HD means High Definition or the pixelation the video uses to display (720 or 1080 pixels per line). More pixels means a higher quality picture. HD is preferred over SD.
- SD – SD means Standard Definition, which is video displayed at 480 pixels per line. HD offers better image quality than SD because the total number of pixels displayed is higher.
- KBPS – KBPS stands for kilobits per second. The higher the number, the faster the speed.
- MBPS – MBPS stands for megabits per second. 1mbps = 1000kbps, therefore 1mbps is larger than 1kbps.
Best Streaming Media Players
An easy way to watch your video through your streaming service is on a media streaming player. Some popular ones you may have heard of include Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast. Devices like these integrate with services like Netflix, Hulu and more so you can watch your video on your TV instead of always watching on a smaller screen like a tablet or computer. Check out our article on the best streaming media players and find out their pros, cons, pricing and what you can watch on them.
Which streaming media service do you like most and why?