Let's not fool ourselves, the media companies go where the money is, and right now that's still the cable/satellite/telco providers by a wide margin. But according to Steve Shannon, Roku's General Manager of Content and Services, the tide is turning in negotiations between content providers and cable distributors with more rights becoming available for streaming services. "As each contract comes up for renewal, digital rights are becoming more valuable," he says. "Content creators recognize that there's value there and as cable companies are looking to reduce programming costs, some are giving up the digital rights."
Sometimes called "TV Everywhere" apps, these are the apps for individual networks or cable channels that provide video-on-demand of their current shows (usually a day or two after they air). All of them have wildly different interfaces. Almost all of them require you to sign in using existing credentials for a cable or satellite TV subscription. And even then, almost all force you to watch commercials while viewing shows, with no way to skip them.
We mentioned before: YouTube TV is not YouTube Red. Red is more like an advanced, commercial-free version of regular ol' YouTube. The YouTube TV option costs more and has a lot of catching up to do to rival the other live TV streaming services. It's in limited cities, has limited channels, and is available on limited devices (Chromecast, Android, iOS, LG and Samsung TVs, Xbox One, and browsers on PCs). It doesn't even bundle in YouTube Red as part of the service—you'd have to spend another $10 a month on Red to keep ads out of your regular YouTube streaming. Premium channel add-ons include $11-a-month Showtime, $5-a-month Shudder, and $7-per-month Sundance. The big plus: unlimited storage in the cloud-based DVR option.
Roku ($29.99 - $99.99): One of the pioneers in the concept of cheaply and simply turning any TV into a streaming portal, Roku offers a wide range of products, from simple sticks to bigger (yet still compact) boxes. Because it’s been around so long, Roku has agreements with pretty much every major and minor streaming video service, and it is even integrated into some smart TV models. The company has also been giving its customers more power to control the sound of what they’re watching, with features like “night mode” (which mutes explosions and amplifies whispers) and “private listening” (which allows viewers to watch a show or movie on their TVs but listen to it through headphones).
On June 11, 1998, News Corporation sold TV Guide to Prevue Networks parent United Video Satellite Group for $800 million and 60 million shares of stock worth an additional $1.2 billion (this followed an earlier merger attempt between the two companies in 1996 that eventually fell apart). At midnight on February 1, 1999, the Prevue Channel was officially renamed to the "TV Guide Channel," and new graphics were implemented. With the rebranding, the hourly segments featured on the channel were revamped, with some being retitled after features in TV Guide magazine – including TV Guide Close-Up (which profiled a select program airing that night), TV Guide Sportsview (which maintained the same format as Prevue Sports, making the segment more similar in format to the listings section's sports guide than the color column of that name in the magazine), and TV Guide Insider (a segment featuring behind-the-scenes interviews).
For example, CBS offers a lot of free full episodes with even more when you sign up for CBS All Access ($59.99/yr with limited commercials or $99.99/yr without commercials after a 7-day free trial). For many shows, like 60 Minutes, you can watch the last 5 episodes for free. Some others have an entire season for free – such as Big Brother: Over the Top.
In the second quarter of 2018, Netflix released around 452 hours of U.S. original programming, up 51% year-over-year but actually slightly under the company’s record output of 483 hours in Q1 2018. In Q2, Netflix’s originals slate included “Thirteen Reasons Why” season 2, “Luke Cage” season 2, and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” season 4, in addition to the reboot of “Lost in Space” and second seasons of drug war docu-series “Dope” and Brazilian dystopian series “3%.”
That’s right, Amazon—it’s not just for shopping. It’s a major contender in the online streaming market. A membership to Amazon Prime Video gives you access to a wide selection of popular movies and TV series, plus a bunch of Amazon original series. And if Prime Video doesn’t include the show or movie you want as part of your package, you can usually pay per season or episode, or just rent it.
If you don't already have one, you'll need an over-the-air HDTV antenna with a coax connector that is able to work as a receiver in your area. Depending on how far away you are from your local channel broadcast center, you might only need an indoor antenna, which you can get for about $15 - $30, or you might need an attic or outdoor mounted antenna, which could cost as much as $150. You can figure out which type of antenna you'll need by using TV Fool's signal locator.
I literally watch 90+% of my TV on Hulu for the past several years. I quit cable in 2006. Subscribed to Netflix streaming, and then Hulu Plus as soon as it came out in 2010, but found myself watching most stuff on Hulu. I even quit Netflix for 3 years from 2014 to 2017 because I never watched it. I watched everything on Hulu and signed up for the commercial free subscription as soon as Hulu rolled it out. I signed back up for Netflix for 4K content, but I still hardly watch it. In the last 6 months the only things I’ve watched on Netflix were Better Call Saul season 3, a few episodes of Arrested Development, a couple of episodes of The Break with Michelle Wolf, and Thor Ragnarok. Still watch most stuff on Hulu.
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.
The WD TV Live isn't as popular as the other devices on this list, but it's actually a pretty good device, especially for users that have a lot of ripped or downloaded movies already (and it supports quite a few formats). WD TV Live comes in two flavors: a small, cheap, Wi-Fi-enabled box designed for streaming, and a more expensive, Ethernet-enabled box with a 1TB drive for all your local movies. The small box can play files off a USB drive, and the big box can still stream, but they're clearly aimed at two different types of users.
An antenna is your means of access to local programming when cutting cable TV. If you want an in-depth guide for the information required for an optimal antenna solution, you should check out my antenna guide. Setting up an antenna may be seamless, or it may be the most difficult thing you do when canceling cable. There are numerous variables involved in television signals and antennas. If you are having a difficult time with this, the antenna guide makes this task easier.