What are the film channels on Roku
Which streaming TV service is right for you? (Sling, Hulu, YouTube TV, Vue or DirecTV)
Streaming TV services are increasingly becoming a valid cable substitute for many, but there are currently a multitude of options. We've looked at the five biggest - now it's time to compare them.
To be clear, what we're seeing here isn't regular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Rather, they are services that allow you to stream live TV and offer many of the channels you would get with a cable subscription.
There are really five main competitors in the streaming TV space:
- YouTube TV
- Hulu with live TV
- DirecTV now
- PlayStation Vue
There are other options, but these have proven to be the biggest, most popular, and best choices for most. But how do they compare? Which one is right to you? These are the questions we want to answer today.
What is interesting about some streaming options is that some of them only offer one plan - this is the strategy for both Hulu and YouTube TV. Others, like Vue and DirecTV Now, have more traditional package deals. And then there's Sling, which has basic packages and multiple add-ons to help you put together your streaming plan. It can all get pretty overwhelming.
Then there's also the choice of channels - the packages and plans don't make a difference if the channels you want aren't available. This will help you find the best solution for your family. While we won't be able to literally list every channel offered by every service - especially since the channel selection is very objective - we'll do our best to play the numbers.
Sling: Best bet for a cheap starter package
There is no true A la carte cable subscription, but sling is as close as it gets - at least for now. Sling offers two basic packages: blue and orange. You can then add all sorts of other packages to the offer. It's worth noting that Cloud DVR is an additional $ 5 per month. Below you will find an overview of the respective offers and their costs:
- Sling orange: Over 30 channels, one stream each, $ 20 per month
- Sling Blue: Over 40 channels, multiple streams at once, $ 25 per month
- Sling orange + blue: Both packages combined $ 40 per month
CONNECTED:What is Sling TV and can it replace your cable subscription?
The Channel Packages are very similar to Basic, but it should be noted that some of the add-on packages will be different depending on whether you are using Sling Orange or Blue as the basic package. For example, if you have Blue, you won't get access to the Disney Channel. This also means that the Kids Extra package does not have Disney Junior or XD. Of course, if you choose Orange + Blue, you have access to all of them.
Here are some of the add-on plans and their amounts. Please visit Sling's website for more information on channel options.
- Cloud DVR: $ 5 per month
- Do you do sports?: $ 5 / $ 10 per month (orange / blue)
- Children extra: $ 5 per month
- Comedy Extra: $ 5 per month
- Lifestyle extra: $ 5 per month
- Hollywood Extra: $ 5 per month
- News Extra: $ 5 per month
- Broadcast Extra: $ 5 per month
- Heartland Extra: $ 5 per month
- International: $ 5 per month
- Espanol: $ 5 per month
- HBO / Showtime / Cinemax / Starz: between $ 10-15 per month
Sling is a great deal if you only watch certainchannels: for example, if you only want to watch the news and some sports, you can get Sling Orange for $ 20 and possibly the Sports add-on for $ 5. Plus, you get everything you need for $ 25 per month. However, if you want tons of channels it adds up very quickly and becomes too expensive. I
When it comes to using sling, it's beautiful. It has an intuitive, familiar interface. The DVR works as expected and is very reliable overall. It's available on just about any device you can think of - the web, Android, iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, and more. The only thing missing is PlayStation.
You can register for Sling here.
YouTube TV: Multiple users, streams and unlimited DVR storage
YouTube TV has admittedly gotten a bit rocky, and it has now grown into one of the best streaming TV packages out there. YouTube TV takes an all-or-nothing approach to planning. There is a plan and it costs $ 40 a month. YouTube TV also has a killer feature that none of the others can compete with: cloud DVR with no storage restrictions. This is exactly where Google comes in.
CONNECTED:What is YouTube TV and can it replace your cable subscription?
If you want premium movie channels, you can add these too: Play Times ($ 11), Fox Soccer Plus ($ 15), Shudder ($ 5), and Sundance Now ($ 7). It clearly lacks two coveted options: HBO and Cinemax. Google has done a good job over the past few months adding new channels to YouTube TV. Hopefully more premium channels can then be added as well. The good news is that you can buy HBO Now as a standalone service so you don't have to miss any episodes of Game of Thrones.
Another advantage of YouTube TV is the fact that it gives each family member their own login. Up to six users per plan have their own login, ie their own favorites and DVR recordings. How cool is that
YouTube TV offers three simultaneous streams with access to Android TV, Android, iOS, Apple TV, Samsung TV, LG TV, Chromecast, Roku and Xbox One.
You can sign up for YouTube TV here.
Hulu with Live TV: good if you're already using Hulu (and can live with a terrible UI)
Hulu keeps things as simple as you'd expect in this department: it offers one Streaming TV package, and if a desired channel is not available, well, bad luck.
For $ 39.99 per month, get access to 60 channels, a cloud DVR service, and Access to Hulu's entire on-demand catalog (with "Limited" advertising). Considering the Limited Streaming Package is $ 7.99, that's a pretty solid deal - if you can handle the absolutely miserable interface. Alternatively, you can opt for live TV without access to the streaming catalog. However, this only saves you one euro. It's not worth it. And in case you're wondering, you can get the ad-free streaming package with your TV package for a few extra dollars per month.
CONNECTED:What is Hulu with Live TV and can it replace your cable subscription?
Plus, you can add movie channels like HBO ($ 4.99 for the first 6 months, $ 14.99 / month after), Cinemax ($ 9.99 / month), and Showtime ($ 8.99 / month).
While regular Hulu is pretty much available for every platform under the sun, live TV service isn't that far-reaching. It isn't currently available on Android TV, and Roku's availability is limited to "Select Devices". You need to check out Hulu's full list of devices to verify.
The only way we think Hulu with live TV is to flatten it a little kind of Consider if you are already a Hulu subscriber and only want to use one service. Otherwise, just stay away from it - at least until you do something to update an interface's near-useless disaster.
You can sign up for Hulu here.
DirecTV Now: Traditional cable channel bundling
DirecTV has been in the television business for a long time, for a long time. As a result, it wouldn't be surprising if the company's entry into the streaming market feels like an outdated, timeless approach to staying competitive. This couldn't be further from the truth. DirecTV Now is a great choice if you want to start streaming your TV and stick to a familiar user interface.
CONNECTED:What is DirecTV now and can it replace your cable subscription?
The company is taking a more traditional packet-based approach to the streaming plans. So if you can find one that's right for you, you might want to buy traditional cables. Still, that's not a bad thing. Here's a quick rundown of what it has to offer:
- Live a little: 60+ channels, $ 35 per month
- Precisely: 80+ channels, $ 50 per month
- Go Big: 100+ channels, $ 60 per month
- Do I have to have: Over 120 channels, $ 70 per month
All of these packages provide access to local channels too, although the inclusion is regional - your locals may or may not be available. You can also add movie channels for some really reasonable prices: HBO ($ 5 / month), Cinemax ($ 5 / month), Showtime ($ 8 / month), and Starz ($ 8 / month). It looks like DirecTV used some of these great forces to negotiate better deals on the rewards than the others - for less than just what you can get HBO from the others, you can get HBO and Cinemax with DirecTV Now. That’s solid.
Note: At the time of writing, you can sign up for the DirecTV Now service for just $ 10 per month for three months. Visit DirecTV Now for more information.
While DirecTV Now was late to DVR game - the lack of that feature was the biggest downside when the service launched - a free plan was recently added that allows users to record up to 20 hours of video. You can also add up to 100 hours of TV recording for $ 10 a month if 20 hours isn't enough for you. Either way, it's good business.
In terms of device support, DirecTV Now can be found on many platforms including Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, iOS, Apple TV, and Android. Currently it is Not Available for Samsung Tizen Smart TVs, Xbox (or other game consoles) or Android TV.
Here you can register for DirecTV Now.
PlayStation Vue: Great prices and a lot more than just PlayStation
"Sony" and "PlayStation" may not be the first names that come to mind when you think of TV streaming, but they don't limit Vue as a service - it's solid and available for most platforms.
CONNECTED:What is PlayStation Vue and can it replace your cable subscription?
Similar to DirecTV Now, Vue takes a package-based approach. Here is a quick overview:
- Access: Across 45 channels, $ 39.99 per month
- Vein: 60+ channels, $ 44.99 per month
- Elite: 90+ channels, $ 54.99 per month
- Ultra: All channels, plus HBO and Showtime, $ 74.99 per month
There are a few additional packages you can stick to your basic plan if you'd like: the Sports Pack ($ 10), Epix ($ 3.99, included in Ultra), and Espanol (4.99 U.S. dollar). Plus, you can add premium movie services: HBO ($ 15), Showtime ($ 10.99), Cinemax ($ 15), HBO / Cinemax ($ 21.99), Epix / Showtime ($ 13.99), and Fox Soccer Plus ($ 14.99).
Existing PlayStation Plus subscribers can also take advantage of some discounts on these add-ons. For example, Showtime drops to $ 8.99 per month and the HBO / Cinemax package costs $ 19.99. There are a few other discounts available - a nice perk if you're already paying Sony for other PlayStation items anyway.
Really, when it comes to making big bucks for you, PlayStation Vue offers it much of value. It has access to almost any channel you want, including DVR and on-demand video, and is extremely affordable.
There is one caveat, however: Sony recently completely lost access to local channels owned by Sinclair. So if you are in a Sinclair network coverage area, you will not get local channels. If you don't, you shouldn't be affected by it.
When it comes to device support, Sony has done an excellent job - you can find Vue on virtually every platform out there. This includes Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, iOS, Android, Fire Tablets, Chromecast, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4. The only option that's missing here is Xbox.
You can sign up for PlayStation Vue here.
Finding a Good Streaming Platform to Replace Your Existing Cable Subscription can be a challenge - and requires a lot of research. Hopefully this piece can help you narrow down some (or even make a firm choice of which is best for you).
For us, it shakes that way. If you just need the standard wired channels (and possibly some extras), Sling is probably your best bet for inexpensive and reliable service. DirectTV is a great choice if you want more channels, especially if you want multiple premium channels (these are cheaper on DirecTV than any other). YouTube TV is great when you have multiple family members as it has six separate logins, each with their own favorites and DVR storage. YouTubeTV also offers unlimited cloud DVR storage.
But either of these packages might be right for you, depending on your situation. For what it's worth, this author has been using PlayStation Vue for several months and couldn't be happier with the service.
Photo credit: madeaw_ec / Shutterstock.com
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