Would you rather: Date someone who's clingy, makes you spend a ton of money on them, and who bosses you around...
Date someone who's super chill, lets you do your own thing, and always makes sure you're happy?
The latter, right? Well, get this: The first relationship is with cable, and the second relationship is with streaming services.
Yup, we're talking about cord cutting: A favorite term of the past few years that basically means breaking up with your cable company and only paying for the content you want without messing around with a cable box or satellite. Because life with cable is so last decade.
We're sure you already have Netflix for binge-watching movies and some TV shows, but that's obviously not a replacement for cable and live television. The streaming service market has grown exponentially over the past few years with too many plans and channel options to pick from, and you're probably panicking and wondering which streaming service is right for you.
Oh, don't you worry. We researched HARD and will outline it all for you.
Top picks for best streaming services: PlayStation Vue and SlingTV
Our top pick for the best overall premium streaming service is PlayStation Vue: If you've got a few extra bucks to blow on TV, Sony's streaming service is worth it. Their base package goes for $35/month and offers nearly 50 live channels, which is a crazy good number for being the low-tier plan. With four package options all together, the top-tier package goes for $75/month and offers over 90 live channels and includes exclusive channels like HBO and Showtime with no add-on price. DirecTV NOW offers more channels in each tier, but their app isn't nearly as user-friendly as Vue's, and Vue is the only service we've seen that allows five streams at once (instead of the regular two).
Our top pick for the best streaming service on a budget is SlingTV: Sling has made a serious mark in the streaming service world, as it was one of the first major live TV streamers and has been able to make significant updates throughout the years. For as little as $20 a month (and no more than $40), Sling offers an impressive variety of up to 50 channels and offers great customization with add-on bundles to make your experience exactly how you want it. Supported by a wide range of devices, SlingTV is an ace cable replacement for those who want to cut their bill in half and then some.
The best premium services
You'll never have to bug someone for their Xfinity password to stream a live channel again (because you'll have any channel you need and then some). Hulu, Vue, DirecTV NOW and FuboTV are our top picks for all-encompassing premium packages. These will all include local broadcast channels like ABC and NBC, so you won't have to worry about an HD antenna.
1. HuluAside from the amazing OG content, Hulu has over 50 live channels and can be used on many devices.
- Live TV version: $39.99/month
- Non-live TV: $7.99 - $11.99/month depending on ads
Amazon customer writes:
"I must say I'm impressed. This was the single best on-line live TV experience I have ever had, including seamless compatibility with a Fire TV Stick, an Android tablet, and a MacBook (even through Chrome). I must congratulate the designers / programmers of this service for a job well done."Special deals: .
Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Kindle, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Android, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and LG with up to two simultaneous streams on-demand and unlimited for non-live TV.
Price: It's pretty much general knowledge that the non-live TV version of Hulu is $7.99/month or $11.99/month, depending on if you mind ads or not. If you want access to Hulu's 40+ live TV channels, the price is jacked up to .
Consensus: We'd pay for Hulu just for access to the originals. The thought of that, plus access to live TV and most of the classic channels you'd want from cable anyway (except for Viacom, RIP) isn't a bad gig. However, other premium services like DirecTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer more channels in their base package for the same price (or less), so if you weren't with Hulu in the first place for the non-live stuff, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. But if all you want are some basic news channels plus a few extras, Hulu is where it's at.
2. Sling TVLooking for live TV on a budget? Sling TV's customizable tiers only make you pay for channels you want.
- Basic package: $20/month
- Upgrades: $5/month extra
Amazon customer writes:
"Who wouldn't like to go from a $100+ cable TV bill with a bunch of channels we never watch to $25 for basically the ones we *do* watch? Yes, there are limits (mainly local TV, but it appears that may be coming soon). We're just glad that we no longer have to be affected by the cable stranglehold and the lack of response to customers who are looking for choice. Do it."Special deals: Then, if you decide you're in, SlingTV will throw in a free Roku Express when you subscribe and prepay for two months.
Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, iOS, Chromecast, Xbox One, Air TV Player, LeEco, Xiaomi, LG, and Samsung with one stream on Blue and up to three simultaneous streams on Orange.
Price: Its cheapest plan, Sling Blue, comes with 30+ channels and goes for . The mid-tier Sling Blue comes with 45+channel plan and goes for . The most expensive plan combines Orange and Blue, comes with 50+ channels, and goes for .
Consensus: If you're trying to spend the least amount possible and are content with the 30-ish channels that Sling Orange offers, then only paying $20 a month is a sweet deal for you — and is a low price you won't find on most other streaming services. However, if you're thinking about opting for Sling's most expensive package, we'd suggest going with DirecTV's basic plan instead. You'll get a few more channels (over 60) and will be paying $5 less per month.
3. CBS All AccessWith all CBS shows, fantastic originals, and a great low price, CBS All Access is winning the one-network-only game.
Amazon customer writes:
"Easy to use. Being able to watch my local CBS channel live is a nice bonus. Now I don't have to have an over the top cable package to get my local CBS channel. Plenty of shows (current and past episodes) to choose from. Now I can watch my favorite CBS shows with the app. Picture does load in a little fuzzy at first, but after a few seconds it comes in in full HD, just like my cable subscription used to."Special deals: Try out CBS All-Access for free with a seven-day trial.
Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, PS4, iOS, Android, and Windows 10 with up to two simultaneous streams.
Price: Hella cheap. Pay for streaming with ads and for ad-free streaming.
Consensus: If you're a pretty avid watcher of the CBS lineup (airing now or for past seasons), CBA All-Access is convenient if you missed an episode or want to binge. It also guarantees you access to all live coverage from CBS, and paying under 10 bucks per month is a minuscule amount to pay to make sure you're up on sports and pop culture.
4. Curiosity StreamIf you love docs, Curiosity Stream is a great add-on, though it won't replace more comprehensive streaming services.
- Price: $2.99/month - $11.99/month, depending on picture quality
Amazon customer writes:
"I'm a huge science nut, and love my documentaries. This app is loaded with excellent information. I've watched videos on everything from quantum physics to the formation of solar systems to the birth and death of stars to interplanetary robotics. I can't get enough. But there's a lot more than that. Singularity, nanobots, climate change, space exploration, astronomy, and everything under every sun that we know about so far."Special deals:
Available on: Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Xbox One, iOS, and Android with up to two simultaneous streams.
Price: Unlike your traditional streaming service, all of CuriosityStream's plans have the same content, regardless of how much you pay. The rise in price depends on how much you care about Ultra HD and 4K streaming — going from . 12 bucks at most? We're sold.
Consensus: This may not be able to replace one of the above streaming services when it comes to channels, but it's an insanely sweet add-on service or budget-friendly way to get a ton of content without paying $40/month. For those of you with very niche interests, CuriosityStream is a great pick.
5. Fubo TVWhile Fubo TV offers other channels, it's best for the sports fan at this price point.
- Price: $44.99/month
Amazon customer writes:
"2018 review: Fubo has come a long way in a year. The streams are much more stable, the channel lineup has solidified, and VOD and DVR options keep improving. Fire TV now has the Video On Demand options you'll find on other platforms along with updated support for the 500 hour DVR. Yes, the interface is clunky on Fire TV and there is no quick way to flip between channels. This isn't like watching cable tv, and it's not supposed to be."Special deals: Then, if you decide you're in, they'll give you your first month for 10% off at $39.99.
Available on: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android and Android TV, iOS, and Chromecast with up to two simultaneous streams.
Price: After your first month at $39.99, Fubo ups the price to . It may seem hella costly, but just remember the fact that you're paying $45 a month for over 95 channels, when DirecTV only gives about 60 channels for $5 less per month.
Consensus: It might not be the best for households with kids (as there's no Nickelodeon or Disney Channel) but if your kids like sports, you might be fine. The app interface isn't the greatest, but bottom line is that paying $45 a month for nearly 100 channels is crazy, and gives more variety (40-ish channels worth) than most competitors.
6. PlayStation VueIf you live in a PlayStation household and value premium channels like HBO and Showtime, this is our pick.
- Access Plan (49 channels) : $34.99/month
- Core Plan (over 60 channels) : $44.95/month
- Elite Plan (over 90 channels) : $54.95/month
- Ultra Plan (Elite Plan plus HBO and Showtime): $74.99/month
For extra customization, PlayStation Vue also offers add-on channels for a monthly fee: Add a bundle of 13 extra sports channels or nine Spanish channels, or get access to exclusive channels like HBO, Showtime, or Cinemax. Amazon customer writes:
"wow, goodbye cablevision!!!!! hello playstation vue. what a rip off cable tv really is. we are paying an outrageous amount of money for 18 minutes of actual programing and the rest of the hour is commercials. thank you play station vue for coming up with this app, so easy to use and great customer service, my husband and i are enjoying all the benefits and programing on this app. when all is said and done, we will have picked netflix, playstation and internet at just at $100 plus tax, our savings is big and we are very happy."Special deals:
Available on: PS4 and PS3 consoles, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Android, and the web with up to five simultaneous streams.
Price: The basic Access plan goes for and provides 49 channels, the Core plan ups the channel selection to over 60 and goes for , the Elite plan provides over 90 channels and goes for , and the top-tier Ultra plan affords the same 90+ channel suite as the Elite plan, while also adding on fancy channels like HBO and Showtime for .
Consensus: If you're a PlayStation household, this is hands-down the service to choose for obvious reasons. While Vue certainly isn't worthless to other devices, its packages are slightly pricier than competitors who offer mostly the same channel selection. However, if you value channels like HBO and Showtime, PlayStation Vue's Ultra package is a better deal than purchasing those channels as add-ons elsewhere.
7. DirecTV NowDirecTV has the highest number of channels from any streaming service with a high price tag to match.
- 60 channels: $35/month
- 80 channels: $50/month
- 100 channels: $60/month
- 120 channels: $70/month
Amazon customer writes:
"This is great, and much cheaper than cable! Sucks not having DVR, but they do have a good selection of on demand stuff, and with the fire box I run this through I can also download a lot of channel apps to watch stuff Direct TV Now doesn't stream on demand. Great channel lineup, everyone knows sports channels cost the most, not being much of a sports fan I got no use out of them. But that didn't stop my cable provider from making me get and pay for them with a basic package. So all in all I am very happy with this service, yes a couple of glitches/downers, but the price is right, and the customer care is great. Since cutting the cable I have not looked back."Special deals: In addition to its one-week free trial, one of DirecTV NOW's current deals is a discounted price of $10 a month for the first three months. If you've already used your seven day free trial, this deal is the next best thing.
Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Android, Chrome, and Safari with up to two simultaneous streams.
Price: The basic plan, Live A Little, has over 60 channels for $35/month. The Just Right plan has over 80 channels for $50/month. The Go Big plan has over 100 channels for $60/month. And finally, the Gotta Have It plan has over 120 channels (what) for $70/month. Kinda pricey, but damn, having that many choices sounds nice. There's also a Spanish plan, Todo Y Mas, with over 90 channels for $45/month.
Consensus: Aside from the base plan, DirecTV NOW's packages have the highest prices that we've seen, and spending $60-$70 a month on TV watching just may not be a priority. However, if you've got a bit of disposable money and have a wide range of interests, DirecTV's insane channel selection is about to make you a very happy camper. (Regardless, it's cheaper than a $200/month cable bill.)
8. PhiloIf you like reality TV, talk shows, cooking shows, and documentaries, Philo's $20/month for 49 channels is a seriously insane deal.
- 40 channels: $16/month
- 49 channels: $20/month
"Many streaming services cost as much as a regular cable subscription, which defeats the purposes of ditching cable in the first place. Philo, on the other hand, a lifestyle and entertainment-focused service, comes in at a very affordable $16 per month for 40+ channels of live and on-demand content. It lacks higher-end features such as offline playback and does not offer a native Android app, but Philo still might make sense for you, if you enjoy its lineup of channels."Special deals: Try out Philo with a seven-day free trial.
Available on: Roku, iOS, Android Chrome, and Web with up to three simultaneous streams. We'd like to emphasize the fact that Philo is not yet supported on Amazon Fire TV, so keep that in mind if you're an Alexa person.
Price: You can get . This is still a really sweet deal, considering DirecTV or Sling would only offer five to 10 more channels but charge you double.
Consensus: If you like reality TV, talk shows, cooking shows, and documentaries, Philo's $20/month for 49 channels is a seriously insane deal. However, news junkies and sports fanatics might want to look elsewhere, as American news channels (like CNN) and sports channels (like ESPN) are nowhere to be found.
9. CrunchyrollIf you love anime, Crunchyroll offers the best content and is an amazing deal. It's basically Netflix for anime.
- Price: Starts at $6.95/month
A lot of these shows are from years ago, so binging one episode after the other is a go. However, if you're watching a new one and you're not in Japan, keeping up can get difficult with other services. While other streaming sites (like 123movies) may not have new episodes up until a day later, Crunchyroll posts them within the hour. writes:
"Being a fan of anime used to mean that you were subject to the whims of media importers or your friend who had a high-bandwidth Internet connection and shady IRC contacts. For years, the only anime I saw was on bootlegged VHS tapes I made myself. Crunchyroll puts all previous methods of watching anime outside Japan (legal or otherwise) to shame. Devoted exclusively to anime and live-action Asian television, Crunchyroll offers 950 shows, over 25,000 streaming episodes, and simulcasting from across the Pacific. It's a dream for fans, so they'll probably forgive its problematic interface. I do."Special deals:
Available on: Roku, Apple TV, Wii U, Chromecast, Xbox One and 360, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, 3, and Vita, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone with up to three simultaneous streams. Note: No Amazon Fire TV in this lineup either.
Price: A premium account goes for and has unlimited access to all content as well as discounts on merch like plushies and shirts at the . The Fan Pack, which goes for , gets you Crunchyroll content plus funimation and simuldubs ad-free and in HD on VRV. Finally, for , the Super Fan Pack will give you all of the previously mentioned perks, plus free shipping at the Crunchyroll store and special access to events.
Consensus: If you love anime, a Crunchyroll account is basically a requirement (especially at seven bucks a month). If you don't love anime, then best to skip this one.
Cord cutting isn't just a millennial fad. Ditching cable allows you to save hundreds per year without being completely clueless about what's on TV. Nothing will you decide which service is best for you better than physically trying it for yourself. Each of the eight streaming services we've picked all offer free trials, so there's no reason to not take advantage of them — and all together, that's like two months of free TV.