A live TV streaming service is exactly what it sounds like: a pay TV solution that streams over the internet. The live local and network channels are exactly the same as they are on cable, though – only the way that they’re delivered is different. These services tend to offer smaller channel bundles (hence the “skinny” part of the “skinny bundle” moniker), which makes for lower prices.
One big advantage Roku offers though is a choice of four models ranging in features and price, from the $50 Roku LT to the faster and higher resolution $100 Roku 3. With over 1,000 channels, Roku has long had an edge over its Apple rival in terms of content, but unsurprisingly, many channels are of limited appeal. While it lacks support for iTunes, Roku counters with the Amazon Instant video store (unavailable on Apple TV). Roku also offers both a PBS and PBS Kids channel.
The setup I talked about above is only one way to get free or low cost TV content. Another way we get free content at home is through the free over-the-air HDTV channels that are now available to everyone who has a HDTV tuner and an antenna. Did you know that 94 of the top 100 watched shows are shown on network television – that you can get over-the-air?
Hulu and CBS All Access are the best places to start here, with Netflix as a potential add-on. You also may want to invest in an antenna to see if you can pick up a local channel that carries MeTV or a similar retro television service. Also, since the Philo live TV service has Nickelodeon and TV Land (and is super-cheap, starting at a bare-bones package for $16 a month), it might be worth subscribing to that as well.
Local broadcast channels are still available for free over the air. All you need is a digital TV antenna and a TV with a digital tuner (which is standard on pretty much any TV purchased within the last decade). If you’ve got a TV older than that, you can still receive broadcast channels, but you’ll need a digital-to-analog converter box along with your digital antenna.