Cord cutting isn't just a millennial fad. Ditching cable allows you to save hundreds per year without being completely clueless about what's on TV. Nothing will you decide which service is best for you better than physically trying it for yourself. Each of the eight streaming services we've picked all offer free trials, so there's no reason to not take advantage of them — and all together, that's like two months of free TV.
Netflix: Offer available 1/31 – 4/3/2019 and must be redeemed by 8/31/2019. Valid for 12 months of Netflix service on the Netflix Premium UHD streaming plan for $15.99/month (total value of $191.88) with subscription to eligible Verizon Fios plan. Must maintain qualifying Fios services for 31 days after installation, with no past-due balance to receive a one-time bill credit of $191.88 applicable directly to customer’s Netflix account. A Netflix compatible device (manufactured and sold separately) and broadband internet connection are required. 4K Ultra HD availability subject to device capabilities and content availability. Not redeemable or refundable for cash. Value may be applied to a different Netflix streaming plan; exchanges in this manner may alter the duration of the offer. Netflix Service price plans subject to change. Not available to subscribers billed through iTunes or Google play unless subscriber begins a new subscription billed via alternate payment provider or via Netflix.com. See www.netflix.com/termsofuse
Price: A premium account goes for $6.95/month and has unlimited access to all content as well as discounts on merch like plushies and shirts at the Crunchyroll store. The Fan Pack, which goes for $9.99/month, gets you Crunchyroll content plus funimation and simuldubs ad-free and in HD on VRV. Finally, for $14.99/month, the Super Fan Pack will give you all of the previously mentioned perks, plus free shipping at the Crunchyroll store and special access to events.
Sling TV organizes its content a little differently from most competitors: instead of a few different tiers, Sling TV starts you off with one of two base packages (you can also get both) and then invites you to build a custom package through its “add-ons.” The “Sling Blue” base package ($25 per month) will get eligible markets live streams from Fox and NBC. The Broadcast Extra add-on to Sling Blue will give subscribers in some markets access to ABC, Univision, and Unimas local broadcasts. Local and regional sports stations are available in various base and add-on packages, too – check out the link below to track down the ones you're most interested in.
On the other hand, these services have clear drawbacks compared with cable. The first is that your ability to record programs or stream them later can vary from channel to channel. For example, Sling TV lets you watch content from up to seven days in the past on many channels, but ESPN and some other channels don’t allow you to rewind at all. And certain channels on Sling TV, including ESPN, allow you to stream to only one device at a time, whereas you can stream other channels to multiple devices at once. In a home with multiple users, people will likely get frustrated when their program stops because another person started to watch it in another room. Channel listings can also vary depending on your location, so you might gain or lose a local station or two if you’re using the service on the road. In addition, you don’t always get access to app streaming with any of these packages; you’ll be able to watch anything through the service’s interface, but not a network’s own app.
Pros: As the only entirely free service on our list, Pluto TV offers more than 100 channels, no subscription necessary. Besides TV and movies, the platform even features internet radio stations and videos. The streaming service is compatible with many devices, including smart televisions like Vizio TVs or connected TV devices like Amazon Fire TVs.
Another option for the serious bargain seeker is to find the previous generation’s model on a site like eBay, though we obviously can’t vouch for any reliability there. While the previous generation Apple TV is definitely showing its age (and lacks 4K support), it’s still very handy for Apple fans thanks to AirPlay, which easily allows you to stream media from your iPhone or iPad to the TV. Either way, if you’re a big-time Apple fan, the Apple TV 4K is likely to be a viable choice as your streaming hub.
PlayStation Vue is the slickest of all the major streaming TV providers, with a pleasant, evolved interface that is also easy to use. Its DVR is excellent, with unlimited storage and the ability to skip commercials on any show -- although unlike YouTube TV, shows in Vue's DVR are deleted after 28 days. The biggest knock is that it's one of the most expensive basic packages (Hulu is now also $45), but it has fewer channels than any of the Big Five aside from Sling TV, and local channel coverage is less comprehensive, too. You don't need a PlayStation 4 to watch it -- just like the others, Vue has apps for numerous streaming devices including Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV as well as phones and PCs -- but a PS4 is the only way to get its sweet multiscreen view.
We also recommend testing your internet speed at peak streaming hours (between 6 – 10 p.m. weekdays) to determine if your neighborhood struggles under the strain of heavy traffic. For instance, if you routinely get around 10Mbps downloads during the day, but that figure takes a dive to about 3Mbps around dinner time, you’ll want to call your internet provider to see if anything can be done. Fortunately, this is an increasingly rare problem outside of rural areas, but better to check ahead.