It's no secret that TV streaming services are on the rise due to constantly rising cable prices.
The best streaming sites house a huge variety of television shows and movies for an affordable price for you to watch whenever you feel like it.
Keep in mind, however, that not all streaming services offer the same television shows and movies, so you should try to find that best package that suits your preferences.
In this review, you'll get all the information you need to make an informed decision.
The Best TV Streaming Service
Best Streaming Service: DIRECTV Now
DIRECTV Now has a lot to offer as a streaming service. Not only can it offer you content that is out now but it includes some major networks like ESPN and HGTV. What else do they have to offer?
Let us tell you:
- Larger Packages - Compared to other major competitors, DIRECTV Now gives you more channels.
- Price - You'll save lots of money compared to what a cable package would cost you.
Now let us tell you the downside:
- Equipment - The DVR included with DIRECTV Now only holds about 20 hours of storage.
Cheap Streaming Service: Sling
We get it, you're choosing a streaming service to cut down on cable costs but you don't want to sacrifice quality coverage. That's where Sling comes in. With Sling you get:
- Great Channel Connection - Sling TV includes channels like ESPN, Food Network, and HGTV.
- Packages - Sling offers multiple tiers of coverage with their Blue, Orange, and Blue + Orange package.
As with most services, there is a con:
- Lack of Variety - The Blue and Orange packages both have a lot to offer but there's nothing that sets either apart.
Best Content: Hulu
Hulu has some steep competition with Netflix but when it comes to best content we'd have to go with Hulu. Not only does Hulu have it's own original series such as Runaways and The Handmaid's Tale but it also has up to date content. Here's what else they have to offer:
- Price - Hulu has some of the cheapest prices among streaming services.
- Add-Ons - You can add HBO or SHOWTIME to your Hulu package.
- Deals - Some other services offer you a free Hulu package such as Sprint.
The downfall of Hulu:
- Packages - Hulu only has one package.
- Ads - You have to pay extra if you want ad-free viewing.
Multiple Streamers: Playstation Vue
Playstation Vue is great if you have a house full of people. And that's not all they have to offer:
- DVR Storage - Playstation Vue gives you unlimited storage for 28 days.
- Multi-Device Streaming - That's right, you don't even need a Playstation to get Playstation Vue.
- Major Network Coverage - With Playstation Vue you get channels like Disney Channel, Food Network, and CNN.
So what's Playstation Vue lacking?
- Content - Playstation Vue is missing a few major networks. Check their channel guide before committing.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Streaming Service
According to Variety.com, U.S. consumers are more likely to stream movies and shows online than to watch TV these days.
In fact, the Media and Entertainment Spotlight says:
...video and TV video, on-demand will go from a $11 billion industry to a more than $15 billion industry by 2020.
There are various things to consider when deciding on subscribing to a streaming service:
- The Price - There are a lot of streaming services out there for every budget.
- Movies & TV Shows - Streaming services these days create their own original content. So take a look at what each one has to offer before you commit.
- Devices Availability - Determining where and how you'll be able to access your streaming service may make your decision for you.
- Ads & Commercials - Look into the streaming site's ad policy. Do they show ads or commercials between shows? Do they have annoying pop-ups you'll have to deal with even after paying for the service? Typically streaming sites provide movies and tv shows with no commercials or interruptions if you are paying a monthly subscription.
Tips & Advice
While exploring your options and researching, here are some extra things to note:
1. Streaming vs. Downloading
Streaming and watching downloaded media are two different things. Streaming is different from downloading because you don't need to save the video onto your computer in order to watch it, according to the BBC. When you download something, on the other hand, Tech Target says you save a copy of whatever you've downloaded onto your device. In order to watch it, you must watch it with an application or software on your device.
2. Save Some Money
Acquiring streaming services can allow you to save money on TV and Internet bills. If you're watching all of your shows through a streaming service, chances are you might not need regular cable anymore. Cancel your cable and save yourself some cash.
If you're interested in other ways to save money on your bills, check out our guide on how to save money on TV, Internet and Phone.
3. Get a Quality Internet Service Provider
If you want to get one of the best streaming services, you should make sure to have one of the best Internet connections. You need fast Internet for streaming. The minimum amount of Internet you'll need to stream movies and shows effectively is 1.5Mbs for streaming, according to the FCC.
Of course, this will differ depending on a number of people using your Internet service and what types of activities they're doing. Keep this in mind when you choose an Internet provider plan.
Check out our buyer's guide to internet providers to get the strongest, most reliable connection you need for streaming.
If you want to stream your favorite movies and shows online to your TV, you're going to need a streaming device, or a Smart TV, for the job. The options for streaming devices can get confusing. As a result, here is a list of the main types of streaming devices and how they work.
- Chromecast - The Chromecast is a Google product in which you can connect your Netflix account and other applications in order to stream them on your TV. Connect to its wi-fi through your device to stream your movies and shows. Any subscription that is available through Google Play should work with the Chromecast. You can also use Netflix or stream YouTube through the device.
- Amazon Fire TVs and Sticks - The Amazon Fire TV and Sticks are extremely versatile. They support all main subscriptions including Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Showtime. An Amazon Fire TV or Stick may be your best bet if you're looking for a device that works with whatever decision you end up making on the best TV streaming service. The stick works like a Chromecast, plugging into your TV's HDMI port.
- Roku Player or TV - Roku is somewhat new to the streaming device game. Roku, however, supports over 3,500 channels of content at the moment. It supports Amazon as well as HBO and Showtime. You can now even use Netflix with Roku. The programming on Roku is pre-recorded, which is the difference between it and cable.
- Apple TV - The Apple TV is good for anyone who wants to stream Apple, HBO, Showtime or Netflix movies and shows. It is a bit slower than other options because they're not as new. The Apple TV does not support Amazon Prime either. This may be a red flag in your search for a streaming device.
It's no surprise to anyone that streaming services have become immensely popular as an alternative to traditional cable TV. Be aware, however, that streaming services play by different rules than normal cable television.
Nearly all streaming services we've discussed on this list cycle out old content every so often, so your favorite shows and movies might be gone the next time you log in. Funnily enough, the convenience of online streaming services can actually be a problem.
It's uncommon that Netflix and Amazon Prime will have the same programming available. Coupled with the cheaper subscription fees of streaming sites, it may appear more alluring to subscribe to a bunch at once to try and cast as wide a net as possible.
At the end of the day, you might be paying just much (or more!) on your monthly streaming services than you do on cable. It might be best to subscribe to one or two streaming services for specific content you want while trimming your cable package.
For more information, you can consult our best TV providers.