This does not mean, however, that you can never watch ESPN again after you cancel cable. Nearly every major media brand is moving toward offering its own standalone subscription service. Until then, though, if it’s important to you to maintain some continuity with your current cable-viewing habits, proceed to the next section for your best options.
In the sports arena, you can use fuboTV to watch NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA basketball, NCAA football, soccer, racing, and more on channels including FOX, NBC Sports, NBA TV, NFL Network, and many others. One of the biggest draws of fuboTV is that you get tons of regional sports channels. That means you can watch your home team games without cable on fuboTV — something the other streaming services don’t provide without the workaround described below.
YouTube is the most popular streaming-video platform online; it was only a matter of time until YouTube tried its hand at providing live TV, too. For $35 per month with this service, you'll get almost 40 channels — which is, admittedly, not that many. Still, there are some good networks, especially for sports fans: multiple stations from ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports. YouTube TV's biggest draw is the service's unlimited DVR feature, which lets you record as much as you want and keep it for up to nine months. The integration with the rest of YouTube feels half-baked, though.
Prime Video is a nice hybrid of an all-you-can-eat streaming service like Netflix, plus a video-on-demand store, with plenty of original content to go with it. It's "free" to anyone with a Prime account, which is best known for giving customers free two-day shipping—but you can also get Prime Video for $8.99 a month as a standalone service, with none of the other Amazon extras.
In addition, there are lesser-known services to consider, such as ESPN Plus and Crackle, as well as the highly anticipated Disney Plus, which will lead off with a live-action Star Wars series produced by John Favreau, The Mandalorian among multiple Marvel Cinematic Univers spinoffs. That’s just the start, too. We’re also anticipating AT&T’s new three-tiered service with content from Warner Bros. and HBO, Apple’s new service, a new service from NBCUniversal, and more. We’ll be monitoring these new options and updating our list as they come online and compete for your dollars.
With the Digital Starter package starting at $49.99 per month, Xfinity comes in with the best all-around package out of all our recommended TV providers. The channel selection for Xfinity’s entry package is pretty similar to DISH’s base-level package (including channels like ESPN, TNT, AMC, and Discovery). It’s also a better bargain than the satellite service (and the next-closest cable TV provider, Spectrum) by about $10 per month.
"This is great, and much cheaper than cable! Sucks not having DVR, but they do have a good selection of on demand stuff, and with the fire box I run this through I can also download a lot of channel apps to watch stuff Direct TV Now doesn't stream on demand. Great channel lineup, everyone knows sports channels cost the most, not being much of a sports fan I got no use out of them. But that didn't stop my cable provider from making me get and pay for them with a basic package. So all in all I am very happy with this service, yes a couple of glitches/downers, but the price is right, and the customer care is great. Since cutting the cable I have not looked back."
If you find that most of your television diet consists of reruns of old sitcoms and dramas or movies, an on-demand video streaming service will probably meet most of your needs. By this point, services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime video are widely understood and fairly ubiquitous. In fact, as of June 2017, Netflix has more US subscribers than cable TV.
Reliable figures for RT's worldwide audience are not available. In the United States, RT typically pays cable and satellite services to carry its channel in subscriber packages. In 2011, RT was the second most-watched foreign news channel in the United States (after BBC World News), and the number one foreign network in five major U.S. urban areas in 2012. It also rates well among younger Americans under 35 and among inner city areas.
YouTube is another option for online viewing that can take the place of your cable or satellite package. The popular web channel shares many movies and TV show episodes for legal viewing. YouTube won’t offer an abundant selection of quality movies and TV show episodes. Still, there are some available, and it’s free with your Internet access package.
Hulu ($7.99/mo., $11.99/mo.): Hulu’s original content isn’t as copious or as impressive as Netflix’s, but it did just win the first ever “Best Dramatic Series” Emmy for a subscription streaming service, courtesy of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Hulu is also becoming more and more of a boon to TV buffs, thanks to a growing library of classic older shows, as well as some current ABC, NBC, and Fox series. (In fact, one of Hulu’s main selling-points for cord-cutters is it has deals to allow subscribers to watch the most recent episode or episodes of much of those networks’ programming.) The lower price tier includes commercial breaks. The higher tier kills the ads. Hulu also has an option to add live TV (starting at $39.99/mo.), covered further down.
Cons: Those unlimited screens come at an extra cost. Available only to Hulu With Live TV subscribers, the add-on costs an additional $14.99 per month, nearly twice the price of the basic subscription itself. One of users' biggest gripes with the service is that it doesn't allow for offline viewing. A lot of subscribers also recommend the no commercials add-on.