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Is your cable bill too expensive? Maybe you never signed up for cable TV because shows and movies are more important to you than live TV. In any case, one or more video streaming services may be a better option than a cable plan that forces you to pay for entire networks you’ll never watch. Streaming services give you the flexibility to choose exactly what on-demand and live TV content you pay for each month.
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Sounds great, right? You might struggle to choose the best streaming service for your needs because there are so many to choose from – we’ve reviewed over 60 services. In fact, the collective monthly cost of video streaming services can quickly become prohibitive. That’s why we’ve broken down what we think are your best picks at several budget levels for several different audiences. In this guide, we provide a brief overview of each service we mention and explain why we’ve included it. Check out our in-depth reviews for more details.
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Our cord-cutting tips story covers a lot of what to look out for when ditching the cord, as well as explaining why you should consider cord maintenance, but we’ll summarize some of the price points here.
The good news is that video streaming subscriptions usually work on a monthly basis, not an annual basis. In other words, you are not tied to long-term contracts. Many services also offer limited free trials that can help reduce buyer’s remorse. Another advantage of this pricing model is that you can rotate services every month (especially the on-demand ones), so you end up only paying for what you have time to watch. Plan the release of the series with our guides to what’s coming to Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix and Prime Video.
Also consider that most on-demand streaming services are either completely ad-free (such as Disney+ and Netflix) or offer ad-free tiers (such as Peacock and Paramount+). This may not be a big boost for all users, but it will give you back up to 16-18 minutes of life for every hour you would otherwise watch traditional cable TV. If time is money, it’s a decent share of both.
One of the main costs to consider with video streaming services is the amount of network bandwidth required. Cutting the cord doesn’t mean you can cut
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Cable; you still need an internet connection to stream. Streaming HD or 4K content can use up all of your plan’s monthly data allowances, and you’ll have to pay for those excesses. If you want to keep your TV on for countless hours, you should be aware of these potential hidden costs. If you don’t want to change your habits, stick with the cable. You can also stop streaming all the time and probably save on your energy bill in the process.
Aside from popular original shows, it can be difficult for you to keep track of which shows and movies are on which platforms in any given month. Fortunately, there are tools to find out where on-demand content lives. For example, JustWatch (opens in a new window) and ReelGood (opens in a new window) let you search for movies and TV shows (as well as add them to your watchlist) and see which services currently have them. TV Time (opens in new window) and Watchworthy (opens in new window) serve similar functions but as mobile apps.
You may run into a similar problem on the live TV front, as not all services offer the same channels. If you’re specifically looking for one channel or regional sports network (RSN), you don’t need to go to individual sites to find out which channels they offer. Streamable’s Matchmaker tool (opens in new window) lets you enter multiple channels at once and returns the cheapest plan that fits your needs.
If you’re willing to manage your video streaming subscriptions each month, you can use these pages to fine-tune your subscriptions. If you’re having trouble keeping track of which streaming services you need to cancel or pause each month, check out our guide to managing all your subscriptions.
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We’ll break down your options into several price ranges: free, under $10, under $25, under $50, and under $100. We then list what we believe are the best services for multiple categories: children and families; live TV; films and documentaries; network television programs; original shows; sports; and the general public. The video streaming survey found that respondents were willing to spend an average of just $33 per month on video streaming services. There’s no reason to subscribe to more than two or three on-demand services at once, so we don’t recommend on-demand streaming services above the $25/month budget level.
We do not recommend necessarily spending up to the maximum budget. To save costs, consider that the free video streaming services we list in the first part are actually free and can be used alone or in conjunction with any other service on the list. There’s no better way to save money on entertainment than not spending money.
With free video streaming services, you give up two main things: choice and quality. That’s not to say you can’t find quality entertainment, but you’ll have to dig around a bit in libraries and jump between services.
If you’re looking to watch live, there’s really only one free streaming option: PBS Video. With this service, you can tune in to a live broadcast on your local PBS station. Other free streaming services that advertise live TV, such as Pluto TV and Xumo, primarily offer continuous, pre-programmed channels of content. Alternatively, you can consider installing a digital TV antenna for a one-time start-up fee and free service thereafter.
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Among the free services, Kanopy is the best choice for families. To access the service, you need either a valid library card or an email address associated with the educational institution. In addition to a huge collection of documentaries and films from A24, Bleecker Street, HBO Documentary Films, Paramount, PBS and Samuel Goldwyn Films, Canopy also has a dedicated two-year section of films, TV series, animated stories and more. – old men. and older. Even better, the transfer limit that applies to Kanopy’s main library (you get 10 credits each month) does not affect the children’s section. Kanopy is also the best free option for watching movies and documentaries, but if you prefer more mainstream movies, IMDb TV is a better choice.
Our top pick for network TV and original series is Peacock, as a free account unlocks streaming access to many popular NBC shows and select original shows. Most original series limit you to watching the first few episodes, but some don’t. There isn’t much competition among other free original show services.
If you want to watch live sports, you won’t be able to do it for free (legally). The best free alternative is Pluto TV, as it has about a dozen sports channels that show older events or highlights. Pluto TV’s top sports channels include Bellator MMA, CBS Sports HQ, Fox Sports, Glory Kickboxing, Major League Soccer, MLB, NFL Channel, PGA Tour and Stadium.
As mentioned, you don’t have to choose between using any of the free video streaming services. Use them all. Know that as with any free product, your data is the product.
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Your video streaming options will increase significantly when you increase your budget to $10/month. Most on-demand streaming services cost (or at least start) under $10 a month, and many include a live TV component.
Locast used to be our top pick for streaming live TV in this price range, but the service has since been shut down. Now, our pick is Paramount+ Premium because it lets you stream a decent amount of live news and sports programming from your local CBS station.
The Disney+ streaming library brings together classic shows and movies from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic, so it’s no surprise that it’s the perfect service for kids and families. Parental control tools could be improved, but no other service offers a complete library for families looking for high-quality content that’s appropriate for kids of all ages.
If you enjoy watching movies and documentaries, consider subscribing to both CuriosityStream and Ovid.tv. CuriosityStream offers a huge variety of educational and entertaining documentaries in categories such as history, lifestyle, nature, science, society and technology. Ovid.tv isn’t the most comprehensive movie streaming service out there, but it’s cheap and has a great library of indie and international movies. Filmatique is similar in scope to Ovid.tv, but focuses more on a narrowly curated collection of films.
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Hulu’s ad-supported plan offers a better selection of network TV shows than Peacock’s Premium Plus or Paramount+ Premium tiers for most people. However, if you are partial
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