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Like many people, you probably love to watch cable TV programming but hate paying the high subscription rates required for a full cable subscription. Fortunately, some networks have realized this is a common dilemma, and have started offering streaming services for cordcutters.
These streaming services are available on a standalone basis, giving audiences the chance to watch the shows they love without being lumbered with hundreds of channels they’re not interested in.
Many other networks not listed here (e.g. Lifetime, The History Channel, and Cartoon Network) offer streaming content too. However, you have to have to pay for a cable service in order to view it. And they hide that stipulation somewhere in the fine print.
By making use of the list below, you can take advantage of libraries overflowing with content. And best of all, the subscription rates are significantly lower than cable TV.
Consider CBS All Access a service that supports your binge-watching habit. It offers over 9,000 on-demand episodes. Take your pick of a soap opera like The Young and the Restless or go with a reality show such as The Amazing Race. You can even watch older shows that remain fan favorites. Take 7th Heaven for example. The collection on CBS All Access includes almost 250 episodes of that family drama.
The streaming service also lets you view subscriber-only content. Try episodes of Star Trek Discovery or No Activity starring Will Ferrell. Wondering about live cable TV shows? You can watch them 24/7. Get updated on news headlines with CBSN, a streaming channel with award-winning content.
You can watch NFL games, too. Just keep in mind that those football matches aren’t available to watch on smartphones.
Use CBS All Access on your Android or iOS device, a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, a Google Chromecast, or a Roku.
After your seven-day free trial, you can select from one of two pricing plans. Pay $5.99/month to view content with limited commercials. Alternatively, you can pay $9.99/month for commercial-free content. However, even on the more expensive plan, live TV and certain on-demand shows still contain commercials.
Is It Worth Buying?
Due to archived shows, live TV, and exclusive content, CBS All Access is great value for money. If you’re not sure whether your favorite programs are on the service, take a look at the full list of shows before signing up.
$5.99-$9.99/month after a free trial period
2. HBO Now
One major perk of HBO Now is that it offers new full-length, theatrical movies every week. The rest of the content library includes documentaries, talk shows, and HBO-exclusive shows. There is even a section for kids’ content.
However, the HBO site is not as straightforward about the specific shows or movies offered through the service. Go to the main HBO show schedule, then click on a program in the grid. You’ll then see a box that gives a program synopsis and airing times. Pay attention to the Streaming section and look for the blue Stream on HBO Now button.
As you can see from the screenshot, HBO Signature broadcasts Shakespeare in Love. This example indicates how HBO Now gives you content shown on premium HBO channels and not just the original network.
Watch cable TV shows online on a wide variety of devices. Go to HBONow.com through your web browser, or use your Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or Fire TV Stick. HBO Now also works on Chromecast and select Samsung Smart TVs. If you’re a gamer, rest assured you can see HBO Now content on a PlayStation 4 or PS3, or an Xbox One or Xbox 360. Finally, download the app for iOS or Android devices or your Amazon Fire tablet.
Is It Worth Buying?
If you love to stay entertained without leaving the house, HBO Now might be a good choice for you. It offers sports programming you may not find elsewhere, such as boxing matches. Plus, you can see theatrical movies soon after the cinematic release dates. HBO Now is an outstanding service for people who love diverse content. Also, the length of the free trial lets you determine if the programming suits your preferences before committing.
$14.99/month after a free trial period
Subscribe: HBO Now for your web browser | Roku | Apple TV (pre-installed on the platform) | Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and Fire TV Stick (Subscribe through Amazon Channels within the gadgets) | Google Chromecast | PlayStation 3 and 4 | Xbox 360 (download the HBO Go app within the device and sign in with your username and password for the streaming service) | iOS | Android
By choosing this streaming provider, you get full access to Showtime’s entire content library. See recent films like Bad Moms or indulge in a beloved romance like Notting Hill. Also, check out comedy specials from stand-up superstars including Dane Cook, Jay Pharoah, and Martin Lawrence. Do you love documentaries? They’re well-represented here and offer titles about music, politics, and sports, among others.
You can watch Showtime’s streaming content through various devices. After your free trial ends, the service costs $10.99/month or $109/year. Want to cancel a monthly subscription? Do it through the website or service provider that handled your signup process.
Is It Worth Buying?
Showtime’s streaming service offers you the same content available with a cable subscription. It’s an excellent choice if you’re on board with cordcutting but can’t bear losing Showtime. Also, the content assortment is quite broad and encompasses numerous genres. Because of these perks, it’s a worthy subscription service.
$10.99/month or $109/year after a free trial period
The Starz streaming service is similar to HBO Now and Showtime. Unlike CBS All Access, it does not offer streaming subscriber-exclusive content. Finding out which shows it has requires going to the network’s schedule.
Then, click on a show. If you see a Play button, it’s available to stream.
Alternatively, look for the menu at the top of the Starz homepage. Then, click it to explore different types of content. After selecting a show or movie, look for the Play button that indicates streaming material.
Is It Worth Buying?
$8.99/month after a free trial period
Starz offers an exhaustive assortment of movie channels. There are specific ones for kids, Spanish-language content, indie films, and even Westerns. However, it seems to have comparatively fewer non-movie selections. Also, this service does not provide live or recorded sports programming. The films aren’t as recent as the ones available through HBO Now.
With these possible pitfalls in mind, note that Starz is cheaper than the other services covered so far, so it still represents good value for money.
Hulu is one of the most well-known streaming providers around. It’s potentially a smart choice for cordcutters but could become pricier than expected based on programming. You can get this service for as low as $7.99/month with limited commercials.
Discover an original series like The Handmaid’s Tale or catch up on a current weekly show such as This Is Us. Hulu also offers shows for kids and full-length movies. There is also a live TV beta package which lets you see more than 50 live and on-demand channels including ESPN and ABC.
Is It Worth Buying?
With prices starting at $7.99/month, Hulu seems like a budget-friendly option — especially if you don’t want add-on channels or special content. The live TV package costs $39.99/month, and it’s another $14.99/month for viewing on unlimited screens.
Granted, the $7.99/month package offers an impressive variety and breadth of content for just a little more than a coffee at Starbucks. However, if you want additional material, keep tabs on the overall expense to avoid unpleasant surprises.
$7.99/month after a free trial period
Will You Pay to Watch Cable TV Online?
The streaming services covered here demonstrate how you can still access a wealth of cable shows and cable-quality movies without paying for a cable subscription. If you subscribe to multiple services, on top of your existing Netflix subscription, prices can obviously add up, but if you choose wisely you can save a lot of money without losing access to the content you love.
Have you cancelled your cable yet? If so, what cable show do you miss the most? If you haven’t yet cut the cord, do these streaming services offer enough to make you consider doing so? Please let us in the comments below!
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