You have probably heard about the advantages of watching movies and television shows over the internet. If you belong to the old school and still have subscription(s) to pay TV, but don’t get why more and more people are now falling away from subscription TV, it can be tough to understand. There are many benefits you receive when you take a look at what’s available on Netflix in the US, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube Premium, and DIRECTV NOW. But if you’re a first-time cord-cutter, you might be confused about all the services and apps out there you might use.
First, let’s define what we’re talking about: “cord cutting” refers to the process of unsubscribing from expensive pay TV connections like satellite or cable and moving to an alternative multi-channel source. Those channels could be accessed through over-the-air (OTA) for free with a relatively inexpensive antenna or through the internet, sometimes through a set-top box — sometimes referred to as over-the-top or OTT.
OTT became widely recognized almost a decade ago as more streaming companies started operations. Since about 2010, about 33 million people in America alone have already canceled their satellite or cable subscriptions and chose low-cost internet video-streaming subscription services.
There are certainly some minor drawbacks in watching movies through antenna or internet. For the networks, live video streaming rights for programming like sports matches are more challenging to handle. That means that you might have to search around to find the channel with the game you want to see. Some programs and channels might be unavailable altogether. And if you don’t have a decent internet connection, the picture quality might suffer a bit — a 5Mbps connection is suggested as the bare minimum for streaming while a 25Mbps downlink is considered optimal.
Yet, these are truly minor disadvantages that pale in comparison with the advantages that cord cutting brings to viewers like you. By watching movies and shows through the internet, you won’t be interrupted by incessant advertisements — most ad breaks on Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming companies are shorter than ones you see on traditional TV. You won’t need to subscribe to channels which you don’t want to watch because there are no useless package deals in these video-streaming subscription services. All that and you get to save some money, too!
The streaming service market has grown so rapidly over the last few years that choosing the right streaming application has become a serious dilemma. Which one can get you the most channels for the least cash? Well, if you don’t want to continue paying for cable but still want to keep your TV set, Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW should fit your bill.
DIRECTV NOW has more channels in its base package than its rivals; from $35 to $70 a month, it offers the lowest price after Sling TV as well as your local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox stations. You can add HBO or Cinemax for only $5 per month extra each. The service has recently added cloud-based DVR to store up to 20 hours of local recordings.
DIRECTV NOW has an easy-on-the-eyes interface that’s available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, but the service can be accessed on a TV with a Chromecast dongle or a Google Cast-enabled TV as well as your iPhone, iPad, Android device, Mac or Windows computer — results are best on Chrome and Safari web browsers. Customer can try the service free for one week.
On the other hand, Sling TV only costs $25 per month for its base package which includes ESPN, CNN, AMC, History Channel and Disney Channel. There is also a wide variety of add-ons, such as sports channels, for the taking at relatively low cost.
As with DIRECTV NOW, you don’t need a cable box. You can get the free Sling TV app for your existing streaming stick or box, smart TV, or game console. And again, the app’s also free for your computer, tablet, and phone. For both services, there are no term contracts and no penalties for canceling or re-signing.
There are also tons of alternatives to even these services. The best services among them are Fubo, Hulu, and YouTube TV. They offer a rich catalog of channels and do not require you to set up specific hardware to use them. There are even smaller services with highly-curated content: Philo, ESPN+, Sony’s Crackle, Mubi, Plex, and Vimeo. You’ll want to research what they offer and choose one that suits your watching purposes best.