You don’t need a lot of streaming services to satisfy your TV needs. Most cord cutters use two, sometimes three services and there are specific benefits to each one. We recommend the following services because they provide the most value to cord cutters and they are readily available nationwide. Here are the main services you will likely want and why:
* NetFlix is a must-have, folks. For a very reasonable price you get access to a huge library of movies, TV shows, documentaries and award-winning original content.
With the exception of original content, Netflix does not provide access to new-release movies or current TV shows, they are about a season behind. Netflix also has access to 4K (or UltraHD) content for many of its programs, if you happen to have a 4K-capable TV.
This is all available for about $8 per month, depending on your needs. No contract, cancel at any time.
* Amazon Prime is your option for getting current season Cable shows and new-release movies. If you are not a Prime member, Vudu offers this without a subscription. However, Prime members also get access to a large library of movies, TV shows (including past HBO seasons) and award-winning original content.
There are many other reasons to consider being an Amazon Prime member, including free two-day shipping, a vast free music library, free books from the Kindle library, and unlimited digital photo storage. Yes, unlimited!
$99 per year, paid once per year. View content for free with your subscription, rent or purchase TV and movies.
For cord cutters who are not Amazon Prime members, Vudu is a fantastic service for getting your current season Cable shows and new-release movies. In addition, Vudu has frequent sales for all kinds of movies. At very little cost you will find yourself with a great movie library filled with all of your favorites.
Added bonus: Vudu lets you upload your DVDs to your Vudu library for a small fee. You won’t need a DVD player any more and your movies are safe, secure and accessible from anywhere, on any device, from Vudu’s cloud. No subscription fee, pay only for what you watch.
* Sling TV
Lucky for us in the Twin Cities Sling TV now has Fox North so you can watch all your Twin, Timberwolves and Wild games.
Sling TV is live Cable TV without a contract. Yes, you read that correctly. Sling TV is a small bundle of the most popular Cable channels, including Fox North or ESPN, TNT, TBS, History, AMC, A&E, Food Network, HGTV, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, CNN and more. For sports lovers in particular, the combination of your TV antenna with Fox north, ESPN, TNT and TBS from Sling TV is going to get you a lot of great NFL, MLB and NBA content. Sling TV has additional add-on packages and a big On Demand library, too. There’s no contract, so you have nothing to lose by trying it out!
Best of all Sling has its own voice activated streaming device for only $139.00 that includes NETFLIX, over- the- air- tv and Google Apps all in one device.
Sling is only $19.95 per month. No contract, cancel at any time.
You probably noticed that we did not include Hulu in the options above, even though it’s one of the most common streaming services mentioned when people give advice about cord cutting. So why would we leave it out of our recommendations? Here’s our reasoning:
The majority of Hulu content, and indeed the content upon which the service was founded, is current seasons of broadcast TV shows. With Hulu you can view current episodes of broadcast TV shows, with commercials, the day after they air. TV antenna users already have access to this content live, on the day that it airs, can record it on a DVR, skip commercials and don’t have to use up data to stream it. Also, the non-broadcast content on Hulu, except for originals, can usually be found on Amazon or Vudu.
While we recognize that Hulu is evolving as a service, at this time we don’t feel that it provides much added value to TV antenna users. For cord cutters who for some reason cannot use a TV antenna or don’t have access to one, Hulu, at either $8 or $12 per month depending on whether you want a lot of TV commercials in your content or just a few (you can’t skip them), Hulu would be a great service to have.
About Stand-Alone Streaming Services
The services that we have recommended above are what we call aggregate services, meaning they provide content from many different sources and are going to provide cord cutters with the best value. There are lots of what we call stand-alone streaming services, media companies who charge a monthly fee for you to access JUST their content, and more are popping up every day.
CBS has a service called CBS All Access. It’s $6 per month. Antenna users are going to get the same CBS content for free from their TV antenna, in amazing HD quality and without using up data.
HBO Now, for $180 per year ($15 per month) is great if you watch a lot of HBO. But if you watch only a handful of HBO shows you’re going to save money by getting that content from either Vudu or Amazon. The same goes for Showtime.
It will be up to you to determine if any of the stand-alone streaming services are worth your money. There are a lot of choices out there. Are you an anime lover? There’s an all-anime service called Crunchyroll for $7 per month! We couldn’t possibly list all of the choices here, but you will have fun discovering what’s available.
Where do you find all of these options so you can learn more about them? Through a streaming device that we’re going to talk about in the next section.