Cut the cord and check out these 5 streaming cable services
Cord cutting is all about choice. Namely the choice to not pay for 700+ channels of pure unadulterated reality TV trash when all you want to watch are the Mets and Game of Thrones.
A slew of new services are either currently available or coming to market in the next few years that promise to do just that. We’re talking about offerings from the likes of Sony, Dish, Hulu, YouTube, and even Cable TV providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable that will give you the channels you want without the added nonsense.
The landscape is all a bit confusing at this point, which is why I’m here to break down each service by explaining what they currently, or might soon offer and why you might want to subscribe to them.
Okay, this one is so fresh that YouTube’s Google overlords still haven’t even confirmed its existence. But according to a report by Bloomberg, YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing site, will launch its own cable TV streaming service called YouTube Unplugged as soon as 2017.
Bloomberg says that YouTube has spoken to the heads of every major network but has yet to ink any deals to carry their content. The plan is for YouTube to provide subscribers with so-called “skinny” bundles that include a handful of broadcast channels and a few well-known cable networks.
YouTube is said to be targeting a monthly package price of less than $35 per month for Unplugged. Hopefully we’ll hear more about the service during Google’s big I/O conference (Google's big developer shindig) later this month.
There’s no word on whether Unplugged will include a smoldering dumpster fire of a comment section like YouTube.
Like YouTube Unplugged, Hulu’s cable TV streaming service isn’t yet available, though the company has confirmed its existence. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said it will provide customers with live TV including sports, news, and events, as well as Hulu’s traditional on-demand offerings.
Hulu has a lot going for it that could help it during negotiations with the big television networks. The biggest advantage is that the company is partially owned by 21st Century Fox, Disney, and NBCUniversal.
Hulu plans to launch its cable service in 2017 but hasn’t announced pricing or packages.
Okay, now on to the streaming TV services you can actually get now. Sling TV lets you stream cable channels to pretty much every device you have for $20 a month.
That $20 gets you more than 26 channels including ESPN, CNN, Cartoon Network, TNT, Food Network, and others. A second beta offering gets you 30 channels for the same $20 and lets you stream different channels on up to three separate devices. The base 26-channel offering doesn’t let you stream on multiple devices at the same time.
There’s a catch, though. If you go with the 26-channel service, you’ll get access to Disney’s Disney Channel and ESPN. Go with the 30-channel offering and you trade in Disney’s properties for 21st Century Fox’s local Fox affiliate, FX, and Fox Sports.
You can also add paid subscription channels like Epix, HBO, and Cinema for an additional fee.
Sling TV is available on the Amazon Fire TV, Roku, iOS, Chromecast, Xbox One, Android TV, Android, OS X, and Windows.
Sony PlayStation Vue
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but Sony’s PlayStation Vue service is one of the most robust cable streaming services you can get. It’s also one of the only services, but still.
Available for Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles, Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Google’s Chromecast, and Apple’s iPad and iPhone, PlayStation Vue features three pricing tiers ranging from $30 to $45 a month.
The base $30 per month offering, called Access Slim, gets you more than 55 channels including ABC, FOX, and NBC on-demand, plus AMC, Comedy Central, ESPN, and MTV.
The $35 per month Access Slim package gets you more than 70 channels, while the $45 per month Elite Slim package gets you more than 100 channels.
Each subscription can be viewed on up to five different devices at once and can be setup with five different user accounts.
You can also sign up for standalone channels like Showtime, Fox Soccer Plus, and Epix Hits for an extra monthly fee.
Time Warner Cable Roku
You might be cutting the cord to ditch your cable company, but in a cruel twist of fate, your cable company might actually be your best cord-cutting option. For people living in the greater New York City area, Time Warner Cable is offering three different cable packages that you can stream through your Roku, Xbox, Android, iOS, and other devices.
The basic Starter TV package costs $10 per month for 12 months and gets you more than 20 channels including broadcast and cable networks. The $20 Starter TV package gets you more than 20 channels and includes Showtime and Starz. The $50 Standard TV package with Showtime and Starz includes more than 70 channels.
The one drawback to TWC’s offer is that it requires a 12-month subscription, which means you can’t ditch it if you want to try another service.
Email Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.