The Chromecast might not have its own channel store or a dedicated user interface, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a wonderful little gadget. In fact, if you’re looking for a low-cost way to test the cool waters of cord-cutting, the Chromecast is arguably the best device currently on the market.
Chromecasts first hit our shelves in early-2014, and the number of compatible apps has been steadily growing ever since. Today, there are hundreds of apps that can effortlessly beam video content from your phone or tablet straight to your television.
With all that choice, where do you begin? Why, by reading this article, of course! Below we list 10 must-have apps for watching TV and video content on your Chromecast.
Yes, it’s obvious, but it’s also the number one must-have Chromecast app.
Netflix is tight-lipped about the exact amount of content in each region, but estimates suggest if you live in the United States, you’ll have access to around 35,000 hours of video. This means that if you watched TV for three hours every night, it would take you 31 years to watch it all.
Still not convinced? Experts also think that by signing up to Netflix you’ll avoid 160 hours of commercials per year. What are you waiting for? Go and sign up.
2. HBO Now
Do you like Game of Thrones? How about Ballers, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Wire, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, or Real Time with Bill Maher?
If you answered “yes” to any of those shows, you need HBO Now. Unlike HBO Go, it’s a standalone streaming service; you don’t need a TV package.
It costs $14.99 per month, making it an excellent way to cut your cable bill.
PlayStation Vue is one of the newer services on this list. It launched in early 2015 and has only been available across the entire United States since mid-2016. It is not currently available outside the U.S.
It only provides live TV, there are no on-demand titles. The service offers different channel line-ups depending on which package you have. The basic Access package ($39 per month) includes NBC, FOX, ABC, AMC, CNN, and a few more big names. The $74-per-month Ultra package adds 90 mainstream channels plus the premium HBO and SHOWTIME channels.
Google Play Movies & TV isn’t quite as popular as its cousin, Google Play Music. But it’s an oft-overlooked app that any serious TV lover should seriously consider.
Unlike Netflix et al, the service does not have a library of on-demand content. Instead, it focuses on purchases and rentals. Generally speaking, the newer the show/movie, the more it costs.
It also has an advantage over other apps thanks to its global availability. It has a presence in 110 countries, with the only notable exceptions being Central Africa, China, and some other parts of Asia.
Hulu is Netflix’s great rival. The two services have slightly different premises: Netflix primarily hosts older TV shows and movies (along with its original content), Hulu often broadcasts brand new episodes less than 24 hours after they screen on the networks.
Hulu has deals in place with NBC, ABC, FOX, ION Television, USA Network, Brave, Syfy, E!, A&E, and more. If your favorite shows are on one of those channels, Hulu is worth the $7.99-per-month subscription.
The FOX Sports GO app lets you watch FOX Sports, FS1, FS2, your local FOX Sports regional network, FOX Deportes, FOX College Sports, and FOX Soccer Plus.
Between those seven channels, you’ll have access to all the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, UFC, NASCAR, college sport, and soccer that you could possibly want.
Unfortunately, unlike HBO Now, FOX Sports GO is not a standalone app. You need to have the channels in your TV package.
7. PBS Kids
All the apps I’ve discussed so far have focused on adults, but it’s important not to forget your children.
Of course, you should never stick your kids in front of the TV for hours on end every day, but high-quality children’s programming can help develop their education in several areas (and give you some occasional well-earned respite).
PBS Kids is free to watch and doesn’t require a subscription. It’s won numerous industry awards for its focus on reading, science, and math.
PBS releases new content every Friday, just in time for the weekend.
Any dedicated cord-cutter will tell you that having either Plex or Kodi installed is vital if you want to cut your ties with the cable companies.
Plex has plenty of private channels you can enjoy and it offers a way to stream all of your locally-saved content directly to your television. It will even automatically fetch movie and TV series metadata.
If you take the time to set up the app properly, Plex can become your own personal Netflix.
Fandor isn’t particularly well known. So for the uninitated among you this is all you need to know: the app offers one of the best selections of indie and small budget movies anywhere on the web.
There’s an extensive collection of English-language films, but the app also has hundreds of the best foreign movies. New content is added every day, and the app highlights a few standout flicks in its weekly Spotlight section. It’s a breeze to find something new and enjoyable.
A subscription to Fandor will set you back $9.99 per month.
10. Google Chrome
A diverse selection of compatible apps is great, but what happens if the video or TV show you want doesn’t have its own dedicated app and is only available online?
Don’t worry, Google has thought of everything. Make sure you’ve got Chrome installed on your phone or tablet and you can cast a tab directly to your television. Suddenly, the entire web and all its content can be viewed on that 50-inch television you spent far too much money on.
What Are Your Must-Have Chromecast Apps?
In this article, we have given you our 10 top picks, but given the variety of apps available, we’re sure some of you will disagree with our choices. So now it’s over to you. Which TV and video apps do you think every Chromecast user should install?
And if you’ve heard about Android TV and are wondering if it has better options than Google Chromecast, take a look at our comparison of the two:
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