5 Streaming Services Every Beginner Cord Cutter Should Be Using

By: Laura Smoots

Not sure where to begin now that you’re considering cutting the cable/satellite cord? Point Broadband has you covered. These are a few streaming services that will get you started in your new streaming life. And, don’t forget one of the most attractive features of streaming services….you can watch shows anytime, anywhere, wherever you have a good, reliable internet connection.

Netflix

Netflix has been around the longest with a vast library of TV shows, movies, documentaries, children’s movies and programs, and original series. Starting as low as $7.99 a month with one standard definition stream and $9.99 for two concurrent HD streams, this service is a favorite among cord cutters. You can even stream Ultra 4k content for as low as $11.99/month. There’s something for everyone here!

Want to get started? Click here to make sure your device is Netflix compatible: Netflix Compatible Devices.

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Most folks already enjoy Amazon Prime 2-day shipping option, which also includes access to their Amazon Prime Instant Video library and service. Amazon Instant Video provides it’s members access to original hit series, some HBO content, plus many TV and movie options. If options are not available as part of the Instant Video membership, members can easily rent or buy the option to add them to their library and watch instantly. 

You can purchase Amazon Prime Instant Video for $99/year as part of their annual fee (which also includes the two-day shipping!), or $10.99 monthly Amazon Prime account (also includes two-day shipping!), or $8.99/month for just streaming video service.

Ready to get started (and do a little shopping)? Click here to check out these Amazon Prime packages. And to make sure your device is Amazon Instant Video compatible, click here: Amazon Instant Video Compatible Devices.

Hulu

Starting at just $7.99 per month, Hulu has grown to a very receptive audience of cord cutters that enjoy network TV on-demand, without the hefty DVR and cable package fees. You can even bump up your subscription to the $11.99 package to cut commercials. Interested in Hulu, commercial free, with Showtime? That’s just over $20/month. Many of the shows are available the day after they air on these popular networks: ABC, NBC, Fox, and the CW.

Hulu is even starting to get into original content with several cool shows that debuted in 2016 and even more slated for later this year in 2017. While it’s not nearly where HBO and Netflix are with the popularity of their original series, they are definitely in the ballpark and slowly offering more critically-acclaimed content for their subscribers.

Ready to start a Hulu subscription? There’s even a 30-day free trial for new subscribers. Click here to make sure your device is Hulu compatible: Hulu Compatible Devices.

DirecTV Now

It’s not what you think. DirecTV Now is different from its predecessor, the satellite service, DirecTV. Do you want satellite or dish content without the hassle of  dish installation or an aggravating outage due to weather? Well, thankfully DirecTV Now is available to meet that need. Starting at just $35/month you will receive channels such as: ESPN, Cartoon Network, USA, HGTV, Nickelodeon, AMC, A&E, Food Network, Bravo, History, E!, CNN, FX, Comedy Central, Spike, FS1, TBS, Animal Planet, FXX, TNT, Disney Channel, Discovery, Lifetime, Nat Geo, SyFy, TLC and more. ABC, FOX and NBC are included as well, but only in select markets.

Other DirecTV Now plans range from $40-$70 per month with a no-contracts policy. It’s easier than ever to test out this service with a 7-day free trial. One thing to keep in mind is that DirecTV Now live-streams TV show broadcasts, so there is no playback option. If you’re tied to a DVR or TiVo service, this may be a slight adjustment.

DirecTV Now is available via a streaming app and subscription to service. Here’s a list of devices that are currently supported by DirecTV Now. DirecTV Now Compatible Devices.

Sling TV

Sling TV is also new to the scene offering smaller bundles of affordable and popular cable channels at a much reduced price. And, for those cord cutters that want to catch the big game, this service will fit the bill most of the time. These bundles cost anywhere from $20 to $40 and offer channels such as ESPN, AMC, CNN, HGTV, Disney, and many more. SlingTV, like DirecTV Now, is a live TV stream. For the DVR fans out there, there are rumors that a “Cloud DVR” option will soon be available to all Sling subscribers. Right now, Sling TV’s Cloud DVR option is only available on Apple TV.

You can try Sling TV free for 7 days! Sling TV is available via a streaming app and subscription to service. Here’s a list of devices that are currently supported by Sling TV. Sling TV Compatible Devices.

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We hope you enjoy the brand new world of Cord-Cutting, and we are so glad that Point Broadband can help you cut the cord with our fast, reliable internet.

Stay Tuned

Have you heard of YouTubeTV? This service is very popular with cord-cutters. We’ll publish a full blog post about this exciting streaming service in the next few weeks.

 

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Your Guide to Cable TV Cord-Cutting

View original post on Tom’s Guide website here.

by MARSHALL HONOROF

For decades, cable television was the best way to get quality shows geared toward specialized audiences. Today, that’s what streaming services do, while cable is more like a lumbering dinosaur, slowly laying waste to both consumers’ wallets and their sense of good taste. Cable TV still has some great shows, but you no longer need to pay through the nose to get them — not when you can cut the cord.

Here’s what you’ll need to know about life after cable TV. Tom’s Guide will tell you what kind of hardware you’ll need, where you can find your favorite shows and roughly how much you should expect to spend.

Editors’ Note: If you’re looking for a cable TV replacement service, check out our comparison between the new YouTube TV and Sling TV, DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue.

Hardware

Once you ship your cable box back to its Machiavellian overlords, you’ll need a way to funnel streaming content directly to your TV. The good news is that this process is both easy and inexpensive, and you may even own the necessary components already.

HD Antenna

The first thing you may want to consider is an HD antenna. This doesn’t provide a way to watch streaming videos, but if you want to watch live TV, it’s the cheapest and simplest solution. You may remember having rabbit ears on your hand-me-down TV as a kid — an HD antenna is basically the modern-day version of that. You hook the device into your TV, put it somewhere near a window and watch as the free channels roll in.

This process is how you get local broadcast stations and, as such, is ideal for news and sports. You can get a good HD antenna for less than $40, and like with a regular antenna, there are no subscription fees. However, your channel selection depends a lot on where you live, as well as your line of sight to the broadcast location.

A nonamplified antenna picks up signals across a range of about 20 miles and is ideal for people in urban areas, who tend to live close to broadcast towers. The Mohu ReLeaf is a good choice for city dwellers, and costs about $40. Suburbanites and rural citizens may prefer amplified antennas, which pick up signals over a range of about 50 miles, but also cost more. Our top pick here was the $40 Terk Trinity.

Streaming Devices

If you want to take advantage of streaming services — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so forth — you’ll need a way to display them on your TV. If you have a recent TV from a major manufacturer, you may not need to get anything at all. Smart TVs usually have these apps built in, and almost every high-end TV sold within the last two years or so has smart capabilities.

If not, setting up your TV for streaming can still be a simple and inexpensive process. The market is positively glutted with set-top boxes, streaming sticks, game consoles and other devices. Tom’s Guide has compiled a list of the best devices to fit various budgets and streaming preferences.

In general terms, your choices boil down to devices from Roku, Google, Amazon and Apple, plus game consoles from Microsoft and Sony. The Roku Ultra is our top pick in this category, as it offers thousands of channels, 4K resolution and an inventive interface.

Amazon and Google also produce a 4K players: the 2015 Fire TV and the Chromecast Ultra, respectively. An Apple TV is a good choice for consumers who already own a lot of Apple devices, while if you plan to do a lot of gaming, a PS4 or an Xbox One is the way to go. Streaming devices range in price from $35 to $400.

Finally, if you have a laptop or don’t mind moving your desktop to the living room, you can simply plug your computer into your TV via HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA or DVI cable (depending on which ports you possess). Grab a wireless mouse and keyboard, and voilà: You have access to almost every streaming music and video service on Earth.

Once you’ve picked up the appropriate device, all that’s left is to pick the services that provide the shows you want to watch.

Streaming Services

While Netflix ($8-12 per month), Hulu ($8-12 per month) and Amazon Prime ($99 per year) are the most recognizable streaming services, they are not the only ones available. In fact, traditional streaming services — wherein you pay a monthly fee to consume as much content as you like on-demand — are only a small part of the market. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend (from nothing up to hundreds of dollars per year), you can get just about anything you used to enjoy on cable.

Cable-Replacement Services

The most expensive, but also most comprehensive, streaming services are known as cable replacements. This includes services like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, as well as the new YouTube TV.

Cable-replacement streaming services work exactly the same as having cable — live channels presented in real time — except they come streaming over the Internet rather than via an analog wire. The upside is that you don’t have to give up the channels that you love. Sling TV carries multiple ESPN stations, plus Cartoon Network, TBS, Bloomberg, CNN, History and dozens of others. PlayStation Vue offers SyFy, Spike, USA, VH1, Fox News, Nickelodeon and more. You can also record programs to watch later on PS Vue, just like you would with a cable DVR box.

However, you may not be saving much money. While Sling TV starts at $20 per month, the costs of adding extra stations like Epix, HBO and Univision can pile up pretty fast. Just to add HBO and the Hollywood Extra package (which includes TCM, Epix and others) raises the monthly cost to $40. PlayStation Vue starts at $40 per month, and can go up to $70, depending on your region. DirecTV Now ranges from $35 per month to $70 per month.

Streaming Subscriptions

Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are the best-known subscription-based services, and for good reason. They have excellent selections of TV shows and movies, both modern and classic, and the services are quite inexpensive. Each one costs between $8 and $12 per month, depending on what kind of options you need. Even if you subscribe to all three, this will represent a substantial price break over cable.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Tom’s Guide compared all three services head-to-head-to-head, and discovered that Netflix is generally the best of the three. However, the services do not offer exactly the same thing. Netflix is a good all-purpose service, while Hulu focuses on recently aired TV, and Amazon Prime is part of a larger service that also offers free shipping on Amazon orders, e-book loans and other perks. (Viewers who just want Amazon Video without any other perks can now subscribe to it for $9 per month.)

Recent cord-cutters will probably want to keep an eye on Hulu, since network and cable shows often show up on the service just a day or so after airing on TV. On the other hand, if you want a rich backlog of classic shows (and ambitious original programming), Netflix or Amazon is probably the way to go.

MORE: Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Streaming Showdown

If there’s one particular movie or show you want to watch, your best bet is to look it up with JustWatch: a website that trawls more than 20 streaming, à la carte and on-demand services to show you where your content is available. If there’s a series you want to watch, for example, looking it up on JustWatch and subscribing to that service for just a few months could save you a lot of money.

You should also keep an eye on the trend of TV networks offering their own streaming subscription channels. CBS All Access, for example, is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of live CBS TV, on-demand CBS programming and next-day episodes for new CBS shows.

Sports

One of the toughest things for cord-cutters to give up is sports content, since cable and satellite TV give access not only to home games, but also to matches from all around the world. An HD antenna will keep you covered for local games. Otherwise, you have two options: a cable-replacement service, or a streaming sports service. Every major sports organization offers some kind of streaming package, from MLB.TV to NFL Live to NBA League Pass. These services are expensive compared to streaming subscriptions, and can cost between $100 and $200 per year.

MORE: How to Watch NFL Games Online

If you’re a die-hard sports fan in general, a cable subscription is probably worthwhile for that content alone. But if you follow only one or two teams in one or two sports, you can probably get away with paying $15 to $20 per month — much less than traditional paid TV.

To learn more about streaming sports services, visit your sport of choice’s website (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, etc.) and click on its streaming section. It will likely be toward the top of the page on one of the toolbars.

Premium Channels

By cutting the cord, you’re also losing your access to premium channels, which often have some of the most daring content on TV. Networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz are the prime destination for edgy dramas like Game of Thrones, Homeland and Outlander, respectively. You can also get raunchy comedy specials, niche documentaries and newly released movies.

The good news is that premium channels are starting to cut out the middleman. The three aforementioned networks all exist in stand-alone formats. HBO Now costs $15 per month, Showtime Anytime costs $11 per month and Starz costs $9 per month.

Subscribing to these channels allows you to stream shows, either as soon as they air or on-demand after the fact. You can also stream movies, comedy specials, documentaries and even specialty sports events, just like what you get on the cable channel. The price tags are not for the faint of heart, since each one is just as expensive (if not more so) than a comprehensive streaming service.

All three apps are widely available, so you should be covered whether you use a smart TV, streaming player, game console, mobile device or computer.

What to Stream

You need not fear running out of things to watch. If you sat through every episode of everything on our list of the best shows to binge watch list, it would take you 38 days, 3 hours and 15 minutes. And that’s if you don’t break to eat or sleep. Add to that some essential, newer shows you can find online (Empire, Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Vikings, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Peppa Pig) and you’re looking at 48 days, 8 hours and 59 minutes of TV shows alone.

Foreign TV

While foreign-TV streams make for a huge topic on their own, it’s worth pointing out that cutting the cord opens the door to a whole world of TV from other countries. Offering entire cable channels for individual linguistic niches would be unthinkable, but there are a ton of streaming channels dedicated to just that.

For starters, anime fans should check out Crunchyroll. DramaFever brings Korean dramas and sitcoms to Western audiences, while YuppTV broadcasts a variety of news, sports, music and serials in Hindi. Those who prefer programs in English can check out Acorn TV, which streams British TV to expats and Anglophiles all around the world.

These channels are available on most streaming devices, but not every service is available on every device. (Acorn TV, for example, isn’t available as a Chromecast app.) Your best bet is to check the manufacturer’s website for your streaming device and see if the channel is supported before dropping the money on a subscription to it.

Other Services

There are thousands of niche channels, from local live news stations to camera feeds that show nothing but goats. (Really.) Two services worth checking out are Plex and Crackle.

Plex is a fantastic service, which allows you to make a media library on your computer, then stream it to your TV, mobile device or other computer anywhere in the world. Plex has become one of the most comprehensive media servers around, letting users record TV from HD antennas and store their media servers in the cloud. (For reference, a monthly subscription costs $5, a yearly subscription costs $40 and a lifetime subscription costs $150.)

Crackle is not the only free streaming-video service out there, but it is one of the only ones that don’t rely on public domain or cheap content. Sony owns Crackle, and as such, you can find tons of cool movies, newish anime, beloved sitcoms (Seinfeld, All in the Family, Mad About You) and even a few funny original shows (Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, SuperMansion, Sports Jeopardy!). If you remember the days of mid-’90s afternoon cable, Crackle is like coming home after school and binging on TV that’s so bad it’s good.

Beyond that, there’s a whole world of streaming content to explore. No, you can’t cut the cord and continue to watch every single one of your favorite shows in real time — at least not yet. But you’ll never again be shackled to an expensive service that broadcasts mostly junk, and that’s worth the price of a few prime-time dramas.