Up until now we've discussed a quick way for free TV viewing via antennas and searching for the best Internet provider for you. Now for another component of cord cutting: supplementing your channels and streaming-video options. There are more ways to access the channels you want without having to worry about your cable/satellite bill going up. But what are the best video providers out there?
I'm not going into services like VUDU/Apple TV, where you pay for each movie/show or a specific set of shows via a subscription. I don't believe in paying per-movie (too pricey in my opinion), and being limited to what they what to charge for. I want to turn on my TV, have a good selection and watch what I want from an inclusive buffet of options.
Netflix: To me, the gold standard. Netfilx has a large variety of movies, shows and miniseries, and an even bigger budget — producing original content often as good or better than what you'll find on any major network. If you love high quality pictures, the streaming service has a decent amount of 4K/Ultra high definition shows/movies — that is, if your TV compatible and your Internet connect is fast (about 12 megabits per second download speed)
Cons: You way be looking for even more variety than Netflix can offer, and there are no on-demand buying or renting options for new movies.
Amazon Prime: A close second place. With Prime's affordable monthly price (often billed annually) members have access to movie and video streaming services, some free reading materials, higher end music offerings — and two-day shipping on Amazon orders. If you buy much off of Amazon.com, it's a win for you (mostly). Among the cons are a tad smaller selection of streaming options than Netflix, but you can buy on demand! Prime also has fewer 4K/Ultra high definition viewing — still not a deal killer.
Hulu: Another ubiquitous name. Hulu focuses more on TV series and less on movies. Consider this if you're one for sit-coms and other long-running series — including older classics from some major networks.
Cons: Hulu doesn't have much 4K/UHD viewing at all, and a much smaller movie selection (see the offerings online).
On demand apps (HBO and Showtime): For the shows you "live by." These services are network-specific, but you usually won't find the same content anywhere else. Like many services, you can view them on multiple devices (computers, etc.) to stay up-to-date and catch up on your favorite shows easily.
Cons: You won't find much variety outside of the networks' original content.
SlingTV: An interesting option for those that dropped cable or satellite. With SlingTV viewers get a subset of live network channels like USA, TNT, CNN, and more. For a flat fee — $20 give or take — select what they want from a collection of channels (around 20 or so channels). It works well for me now, it seems previous issues have been worked out since it first launched. Plus, NO CONTRACTS! Don't like it? Just cancel — a great advantage as you figure out what options you're going to stick with after you cut the cord.
Cons: Though SlingTV lets you pick what channels you want to see, you can't filter out all of the junk you could care less about, there's just less of it than you'll find with cable or satellite.
Crackle and PopcornFlix: Free Internet channels. Two among many internet services for streaming movies for free. (Did I mention the free part?)
Cons: They are ad sponsored so you are stuck with an occasional commercials, and don't expect to find the latest box office hits.
I've been playing around with these options myself and have found my a good combination that gets me where I want to see. SlingTV provides the live streams of channels I'm looking for, Amazon Prime — though I had it before the video streaming options — adds to my on-demand library, and Netflix provides programming I can't find anywhere else (I love some of its original content).
Though still much cheaper than your average cable/satellite bill AND additional streaming services, if I had to limit my options, I'd drop SlingTV and possibly Netflix — I order a lot online so it makes sense that I can get my dog food in 2 days when it slips my mind.
Regardless, I always have something I really want to watch at any given time. But your needs may be different. See what each service has to offer you pricing and content wise, and what fits your viewing needs the best. Remember: stay away from contracts as often as possible.
As for additional equipment — if you don’t have one the latest "smart" TVs — you could need
extra piece of technology like ROKU Streaming Stick or Chromecast. I'll be touching more on those products in this space soon.
In the meantime, there's a lot out there to keep you happily binging on your favorite shows, even if it's just a antenna for your TV or a internet connection on your computer or mobile device.