On January 5, 2009, Lionsgate announced its intent to purchase TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online for $255 million in cash. Lionsgate closed the transaction on March 2, 2009. The following April, Lionsgate announced plans to revamp the network into a more entertainment-oriented channel, including plans to discontinue the bottom-screen scrolling program listings grid that has been a part of the channel since its inception in late 1981; this was partly because internet-based TV listings websites, mobile applications and the on-screen interactive program guides (IPGs) built directly into most modern cable and satellite set-top terminals (such as TV Guide's own IPG software, TV Guide Interactive, which is visually similar in its presentation to the channel's pre-2015 listings grid) as well as into digital video recorders like TiVo eliminated the need for a dedicated television listings channel by providing the same information in a speedier manner, and often in much more detail and with greater flexibility. Even so, the channels that were listed in the grid, long after many providers began offering digital cable service, were usually limited to those within their expanded basic tier, with only select channels on its digital service appearing in a separate grid towards the end of the listings cycle. Following the announcement, Mediacom announced that it would be dropping the network; Time Warner Cable also dropped the network from its Texas systems.
However, if you’re a more casual sports fan or a supporter of an out-of-market team, cord cutting is still a worthwhile option. Sling TV—assuming it can hold up under the strain of future events—will give you ESPN and ESPN 2 in addition to a handful of basic cable channels for $20 a month, and for another $5 you can get even more sports options, including ESPN U, ESPNEWS, and the SEC Network. Add in an indoor TV antenna and you’ll also have access to network sports.
TV and broadband bundles: Some providers will let you bundle a TV package with your broadband. These commonly offer hundreds of additional TV channels. The best TV offerings are from Sky and Virgin Media, with BT a fairly distant third place. Other providers mostly offer Freeview channels with a few bolt-ons, their main draw being the set-top box they offer. These allow you to pause, rewind and record live TV
Even so, no service we've reviewed is incomplete enough to discourage you from using it outright. If a service sounds like it might be a good fit for you, your best bet is to investigate which channels that service offers and see if it falls within your price range. Most of these services give you anywhere from a week to a month to evaluate them before charging you, and none of them require a contract. At worst, you'll be stuck with a service you don't like for a month.
You might have a Blu-ray player or smart TV with streaming apps on board, but those offer a pretty dismal streaming experience. Newer TVs from Samsung and LG have pretty impressive smart interfaces, and Roku TVs like TCL’s 6-Series are fantastic for all-in-one streaming. Otherwise, if you’re going to transition to a full-time streaming entertainment plan you may want a separate device purpose-built for the job. Below is a small selection of some of our favorites. If you want more recommendations, we highly recommend sourcing our full list of the best streaming devices you can buy.
Note: Several premium cable channels offer standalone monthly subscriptions to their original programming for people who don’t subscribe through cable or satellite providers. The most popular of these are HBO Now ($14.99/mo.), Showtime ($10.99/mo.) and Starz ($8.99/mo.). These (and others) are also available as add-on channels to Amazon Prime Video; of those three, only Showtime is cheaper as an add-on ($8.99/mo.).
Making the video integration possible were the Amiga 2000's native video compositing capabilities. All video (and associated audio) content was provided live by Prevue Networks via a special analog C-band satellite backhaul feed from Tulsa. This feed contained a national satellite listings grid in the bottom half of its picture (strictly as a courtesy for the era's C-band dish owners), with the top half of its picture divided horizontally in two, both halves showing promos for unrelated telecasts on different networks (sound for each half was provided in monoaural on the feed's respective left and right audio channels).
Sling TV offers two base channel monthly packages: Sling Orange ($25) and Sling Blue ($25). Sling Orange offers popular channels like ESPN, but is limited to a single stream — meaning subscribers can only view on one device at a time. Sling Blue offers many of the same channels as Orange along with a whole lot more, but is also missing some key channels, ESPN among them. On the flip side, Sling Blue offers NFL RedZone as part of the Sports Extra add-on package, a must-have channel for NFL fans. Viewers can sign up for both packages and get a discount, bringing the total to $40 per month.
All that said, Google TV does have a feature that is—in my opinion—the Holy Grail feature of set-top boxes: universal search. If you enter the TV & Movies app and search for a TV show, it'll show you a list of seasons and episodes. Select an episode and it'll show you which services it's available on (like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube). You can then decide from there which service you want to use to watch it. It's a lot nicer than having to search each library separately for that show that's harder to find. Every device should implement this, and I really hope Google expands it to include other apps in the future.
If you aren’t willing to spend the money for any of the above options, some of the networks will stream events like the Superbowl for free on YouTube or within their own app for smart TVs and mobile devices. The top networks know that people are cutting off their cable subscriptions in droves, and in order to keep them interested in the sports they broadcast, they are coming up with new ways for you to watch. So, just check with the channel that will be airing the event you want to see and find out if they are going to allow the public to stream it for free, with commercial interruptions, of course.
This streaming service Hulu is known for helping binge-watchers catch up on their shows, but it also offers a live tv option. The Hulu Live TV feature allows viewing of major networks with access to the local channels for around $40 per month. Hulu Live TV is commonly available in addition to the regular monthly streaming cost. However, there are often promotions where they offer one without the other. Something to keep in mind: the local programming is subject to regional restrictions. Check out their website to see which local channels your area is eligible 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.
It’s these little things, plus the channel offerings, that make PlayStation Vue feel more like a traditional TV service (even though it’s not). You also get free DVR service with PlayStation Vue and can store an unlimited number shows for up to a month before they get automatically deleted. We really like the recording features that PlayStation Vue offers, but the downside is that you can only record one show at a time.
If you have unpredictable tastes, but only focus on one show at a time, it might be most cost efficient to just buy all your television a la carte. For the price of a year of cable, the average viewer can buy 26 seasons of TV. Assuming these are all 45 minute shows with 14 episodes, that’s almost 300 hours of content. If you can’t ever imagine yourself watching more than that, then this plan is for you. Don’t forget to grab a TV antenna for major live events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl, or if you just want the option of kicking back and watching prime time now and then.
(Side note: you can also, of course, buy or rent digital movies or TV show episodes from services like Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes. That's a bit removed from “watching TV without cable” in the sense that we mean it in this article, but it's worth noting that you can use purchase and rental apps with the same streaming devices – see Part II for those – that work with the streaming apps we're about to talk about here in Part I. Owning digital copies and subscribing to streaming services go together like peanut butter and jelly: switching between a movie you own on Amazon and a show you're streaming on Netflix is much more convenient than switching between cable an a Blu-Ray disc. You won't even have to get off your couch!)
The good news is that nearly all of these services offer the ESPN family of networks as standard, at the lowest tier. Many then offer regional Fox Sports channels, and even an array of overseas sports broadcasts. Soccer fanatics should also look into FuboTV, which emphasizes the major sports leagues in general but is particularly generous with international football. Again, be sure to check with the various live TV providers to see what you’re allowed to see in your region and for what price. (If you can afford it, consider Playstation Vue, which offers easy access to the many games streaming every day on ESPN’s website.) ESPN also now offers ESPN+, which features a selection of live games from professional and college sports, along with access to the network's documentary films and some studio content exclusive to the subscription service.
On 19 January 2017, RT stated that it had been temporarily restricted from posting media on its Facebook page until 21 January, after the service claimed that RT had infringed on the copyrights of Radio Liberty's Current Now TV when broadcasting a live stream of Barack Obama's final press conference as president of the United States. Current Time TV denied that it had sent any specific complaints to Facebook, and both RT and Current Now TV stated that they had obtained their feed from the Associated Press. The restriction was removed after about 20 hours, but Facebook did not say officially if this was because of a technical error or a policy issue.
General idea: CuriosityStream, or as Mashable called it, "the Netflix of non-fiction," is a unique streaming service that wants to help viewers explore their universe through non-fiction documentaries. Hashtag edu-tainment. (And yes, you read that right. Three bucks a month.) Instead of offering a mix of different channels like traditional streaming services, CuriosityStream offers over 1,500 science, history, and technology documentaries that wouldn't be found on many popular channels. Topics include famous assassinations, nature, evolution, and a whole lot of space stuff. It's like your own personal museum, but you don't have to blow all your money for a ticket and don't have to deal with someone's kid running around. Unless it's your kid, that is.
With Spectrum TV, for example, you get access to live TV streams for any of the networks in your tier of service. There's also lots of on-demand content for individual shows and some movies. It integrates channel guides and search for select shows/movies. If a channel (or show on a channel) that isn't available to you shows up on a menu, it's generally grayed out. And you can mark shows as favorites so they're easier to follow. But what's annoying is it takes a lot longer for a show to appear in the on-demand section—three or four days, instead of just one with a show on Hulu or even a network's own app, for example.
The WD TV is kind of a "jack of all trades, master of none". It does a good job of playing your own files while being easy to use, streaming from a few different services (but not a lot of them), and being configurable only where it counts. Tech-savvy media center users may find it a little basic, but it's the perfect box for someone who wants more than Apple TV can offer, but without the work that goes into Google TV, Boxee, or a homebrew XBMC box.