Guide to Streaming Video Services

James K. Willcox

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

In the early days of video streaming services, your choice was simple: Get Netflix. It’s more complicated now, with Netflix battling other well-known subscription services, such as Amazon Prime and Hulu, as well as newer ones, including Apple TV+, AT&T TV Now, Disney+, Sling TV, and T-Mobile TVision Home.

If you watch only a few movies or shows each month, it probably makes the most sense to opt for a pay-per-view service, such as Amazon Video, FandangoNow, or Vudu.

But if you watch a lot of programs or movies, or you’re looking to cut back on—or cut off—your pay-TV service, subscription services may be the best deal. They offer an all-you-can-watch buffet of streaming content, often at a price well below what most of us spend each month for pay TV.

It’s not easy to untangle your choices, though. This guide to the major video streaming services should help. (We have advice on choosing a smart TV or a streaming media device, too.)

We’ll be adding new services as they emerge, so keep checking back for updates.

Acorn TV

Price: $5 per month or $50 per year.

Who it’s best for: Lovers of British TV fare. Goodies include TV dramas (“A Place to Call Home”), mysteries (“Agatha Raisin”), and comedies.

Latest news: Acorn TV is now available on the cable-style YouTube TV service (see below). It’s also on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cable box, accessible via Xfinity on Demand, and on the go via the Xfinity Stream app.

AMC, Acorn TV’s parent company, recently reported the service now has more than 1 million subscribers. Among the exclusives on the service is true-crime drama “Manhunt” and “Jack Irish,” an Aussie noir thriller starring Guy Pearce. Also in the mix: “The Witness for the Prosecution,” an original Agatha Christie movie with Kim Cattrall.

Amazon Prime Video

Price: $119 per year or $13 per month, with free shipping. A video-only subscription costs $9 per month.

Who it’s best for: Anyone who’s already paying for an Amazon Prime membership. The service now has a solid roster of original shows, including the upcoming season three of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; “Undone,” an animated fantasy/dramedy; and “Fleabag.” Amazon Prime has some exclusive series, such as “Downton Abbey” and “The Americans,” plus HBO’s back catalog of shows. You can add HBO, Showtime, and other premium channels for $9 to $15 per month.

Latest news: Amazon and Google have ended their long-standing feud. As part of a new deal, Amazon Prime Video is available on Google's Chromecast and Android TV devices. In return, Google’s YouTube, Tube Kids, and YouTube TV are available on Amazon’s Fire TV devices.

The Amazon original mystery series “Homecoming” stars Julia Roberts as a former government caseworker struggling with the truth about her old job. You can also catch a 10-episode anthology series, “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.” The company has picked up the sci-fi epic “The Expanse” for a fourth season after its cancellation by the SyFy channel.

But perhaps the biggest news is that the company is working on a new “Lord of the Rings” prequel, which should hit Prime Video by 2021. Also on tap: “The Hunt,” from Oscar winner Jordan Peele, and “Utopia,” from “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn.

Apple TV+

Price: $5 per month.

Who it’s best for: Those interested in Apple’s new original programming and those who want the convenience of adding additional premium channels through the service’s app.

Latest news: The new Apple TV+ subscription streaming service launched Nov. 1 at $5 per month, making it even cheaper than the Disney+ service (see below), which costs $7 per month.

However, the amount of content right now is limited because the service launched with just nine new originals, and unlike many other services, Apple lacks a robust catalog of shows. 

Among the available shows are “The Morning Show,” about a morning talk show, starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell; “See,” a post-apocalypse drama starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard; “For All Mankind,” a series that imagines what would have happened if the global space race had never ended; and “Dickinson,” a coming-of-age story from the perspective of Emily Dickinson.

Shows to debut later include a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s series “Amazing Stories”; “Little Voice,” about an up-and-coming singer, from director J.J. Abrams and singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles; “Servant,” a psychological thriller from director M. Night Shyamalan; and a series of documentaries from Oprah Winfrey.

Apple already owned a few original shows, including “Planet of the Apps” and James Cordon’s “Carpool Karaoke: The Series.” 

Apple TV+ also has a subscription option, called Apple TV Channels, for Apple TV users. It makes it easy for them to subscribe to channels such as HBO and Showtime from a single app.

The company also offers a game-subscription service, called Apple Arcade, for about the same price.

Beyond content, perhaps the biggest news is that for the first time you don’t need an Apple TV device to get Apple content on your TV. In addition to being installed on Apple hardware, the Apple TV app, which provides access to Apple TV+, is also available on select Samsung smart TVs now and will come to Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony, and Vizio sets in the near future.

AT&T TV

Price: $60 to $80 per month for the first year.

Who it’s best for: Those who really want a full satellite TV service, but without the dish.

Latest news: AT&T TV—basically a streaming version of the company’s DirecTV satellite offering—is now available in 10 markets: Orange County and Riverside, Calif.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Topeka and Wichita, Kan.; St. Louis and Springfield, Mo.; and Corpus Christi, El Paso, and Odessa, Texas.

Additional metro areas are expected to be added this year, with a national rollout in early 2020.

AT&T TV starts at $60 per month for the cheapest plan with about 70 channels, but then jumps to $93 per month during the second year of a 24-month contract. Three additional step-up plans, with more channels, are also available, ranging from $65 to $80 per month during the first year. But you’ll pay as much as $135 per month during the second year of your contract.

Compared with the AT&T TV Now service, one big difference with AT&T TV is that you need to rent or buy an Android-based set-top box provided by AT&T. The system supports 4K videos where available and includes 500 hours of DVR storage. Recordings are saved for up to 90 days.

There are other fees. One set-top box is included free, but additional ones cost $10 per month, or $120 if you want to buy them outright. AT&T says that one box will support up to three streams at a time. Also, some plans require that you pay a $20 activation fee and $8.50 extra each month to get regional sports networks.

AT&T WatchTV

Price: Free for AT&T Unlimited and Unlimited Premium wireless subscribers, $15 per month for everyone else.

Who it’s best for: AT&T phone subscribers with unlimited plans—either Unlimited & More or Unlimited & More Premium—or those who don’t want to pay for sports and can get by with a limited channel lineup.

Latest news: AT&T WatchTV is the company’s newest streaming offering. (The company also offers the DirecTV Now streaming service.) It has about 30 live channels but no local broadcasts. In addition to Turner fare such as Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, Turner Classic Movies, and TNT, the lineup includes AMC, A&E, Discover, Food Network, HGTV, IFC, and TLC. And AT&T says Viacom channels such as BET, Comedy Central, Nicktoons, and VH1 will be added soon. WatchTV also offers more than 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand.

BritBox

Price: $7 per month, or $70 annually.

Who it’s best for: Much like Acorn, above, BritBox targets fans of British TV fare. The service was formed as a joint venture between the BBC and ITV. One big difference between the two is that BritBox focuses exclusively on British shows, while Acorn also has programs from other countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Latest news: Some of the more popular shows you can watch on BritBox include “EastEnders,” “Coronation Street,” and “Antiques Roadshow,” plus older classic episodes of “Dr. Who” (the first through seventh Doctors), and two seasons of “Fawlty Towers.”

You can watch BritBox via computer browsers, on iOS and Android mobile devices, and with Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku streaming players.

CBS All Access

Price: $6 per month with ads or $10 per month ad-free.

Who it’s best for: Cord cutters looking for major-network fare without using an antenna. The service provides full-length episodes of CBS programs, plus live programming streams of local CBS affiliates in 124 markets. CBS All Access also includes complete back catalogs of most of its current series.

Latest news: CBS and the NFL have extended and expanded their deal, which now runs through 2022. As a result, CBS All Access subscribers will get the NFL on CBS schedule. And you’ll now be able to stream the games on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

CBS All Access is developing a limited event series, “The Stand,” based on the best-selling Steven King novel. It will star Alexander Skarsgård, James Marsden, Amber Heard, and Whoopi Goldberg, and King is writing a new final chapter for the series that wasn’t in the book.

Earlier, CBS executives said there would be six or seven new original series on CBS All Access in the next 12 months. In addition to “Star Trek: Discovery,” original series include “The Good Fight,” the sequel to “The Good Wife,” and the psychological thriller “Tell Me a Story.”

And the company said that later this year it will launch two new streaming services, CBS Sports HQ and Entertainment Tonight.

The Criterion Channel

Price: $11 per month or $100 for an annual subscription.

Who it’s best for: Rising out of the ashes of the now shuttered FilmStruck, the Criterion Channel classic movie streaming service offers “constantly refreshed selections of Hollywood, international, art-house, and independent movies, plus access to Criterion’s entire streaming library of more than 1,000 important classic and contemporary films from around the world,” according to the company.

Latest news: The new service kicked off in early April. You can access the Criterion Channel via desktop, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku streaming players, plus iOS and Android mobile devices.

The stand-alone Criterion Channel is the result of a special deal with WarnerMedia, which shut down the FilmStruck streaming service late last year. The Criterion Collection film library, which had been part of that service, is also expected to be included in a new WarnerMedia streaming service later this year. (See below for more details.)

DC Universe

New from Warner Bros. is the DC Universe streaming service, which leverages DC’s comic book characters and superheroes. The service, which debuted in September, costs $8 per month or $75 for a yearly subscription.

DC Universe includes a mix of new exclusive original series, classic live-action TV shows, movies from the DC library, specials and shorts, digital comic books, and a daily news show. Presumably, new DC movies will also be available as they’re released. The service has a community area for connecting with other members, and access to exclusive merchandise from a members-only store.

Among the company’s recent original series are “Titans,” which has been renewed for a second season, and “Doom Patrol,” which debuted in February. Slated for this fall is “Harley Quinn,” based on the Joker’s girlfriend and partner in crime.

However, given the impending launch of a new service by DC Comics’ parent WarnerMedia, it’s not clear whether DC Universe will remain a stand-alone service or be folded into the larger, still-unnamed WarnerMedia one.

DirecTV Now/AT&T TV Now

Price: $50 to $70 per month.

Who it’s best for: Until recently, anyone who wanted DirecTV but not the satellite dish. (Note that AT&T recently changed the name from DirecTV Now to AT&T TV Now.) Thanks to recent plan revisions, it may have less universal appeal, given that some channels have been removed (see below). The $50-per-month AT&T TV Now Plus has about 40 channels, and the $70-per-month AT&T TV Now Max has about 50 channels, plus Cinemax and a number of sports channels, including regional sports. Both plans now also include HBO, which was previously a $5-per-month add-on. (AT&T owns HBO as a result of its acquisition of Time Warner.) Both services include a cloud DVR with 20 hours of free storage and support two simultaneous users. You can add a user for an additional $5 monthly.

Latest news: In a surprise move that appears related to cost cutting, AT&T has let AT&T TV Now and U-verse TV customers know it’s dropping the NFL Network. It will continue to be available to regular DirecTV satellite-TV subscribers.

The company also just let those paying an extra $5 per month to get 100 hours of cloud DVR storage know that it’s discontinuing that option. So all users will now be limited to 20 hours of storage.

On a positive note, you can now watch Thursday night NFL games shown on Fox in 4K with HDR via the Fox Sports app on AT&T TV Now. Right now, you’ll need either a 4K Roku or Apple TV, or a 4K Roku TV from brands such as Hisense and TCL. Additional devices will be supported soon.

These latest moves follow an earlier overhaul of the AT&T TV Now streaming service, where AT&T hiked rates by $10 per month, cutting the number of plan options, and pulling some popular channels from the lineup. Those who already have an older AT&T TV Now plan get to keep it and their current channel lineup, but they’ll also get the $10 price hike.

Though AT&T TV Now is adding HBO to its packages, it has trimmed several popular channels from the new plans, including A+E Networks, AMC Networks, and Discovery Communications. But it just added Viacom networks, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon, which had been missing from the new plans.

AT&T says it will have a total of five streaming services up and running by the end of this year, including a new Netflix-style service. One will reportedly be a beefier 4K version of AT&T TV Now, with more channels and a lower price. But it looks like you’ll need an AT&T box, not an Apple TV or a Roku, to use it.

Disney+

Price: $7 per month or $70 annually.

Who it’s best for: Just about everyone, especially families with kids of all ages.

Latest news: Disney’s new Disney+ subscription streaming service is now live. At $7 per month or $70 if paid annually, it’s among the least expensive new services, about $2 more per month than Apple TV+. However, unlike Apple, Disney+ has a vast array of new original shows and movies, as well as a deep catalog of library titles.

Disney also seems to be taking aim at Netflix with a bundled plan that combines Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu, all for $13 per month. 

As a reminder, Disney now owns all the “Star Wars” movies, thanks to its acquisition of LucasFilms, as well as Marvel Studios and Pixar. Its most recent acquisition is 20th Century Fox—home to movie franchises such as “Avatar,” “Deadpool,” and “X-Men,” and TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Empire”—as well as National Geographic.

And, of course, Disney has a huge library of its own animated and live-action films and TV series. Some of that content is currently licensed to Netflix in a deal that ends next year.

Disney+ will offer 10 original films and 25 original series, including three “Avengers” spinoffs, in its first year of operation. Available now are almost all of the “Star Wars” movies, the complete catalog of Pixar titles, and all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons.” Fox is contributing family-focused movies and TV shows, such as “The Sound of Music” and “Malcolm in the Middle.” Marvel titles will include the recent blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame.”

Among the highlighted new original content is “The Mandalorian,” a Jon Favreau-directed series set in the “Star Wars” universe that cost an estimated $10 million for each of its 10 episodes.

The Disney+ app, which features individual tiles for each of the prominent Disney brands, is available on lots of devices, including LG and Samsung smart TVs, plus Android TVs and Roku TVs. You can also access the service from most streaming players, game consoles, Android and iOS smartphones, and via web browsers.

ESPN+

Price: $5 per month or $50 per year for the basic service. You can pay an additional $25 per month each for the full MLB.TV baseball and NHL hockey seasons.

Who it’s best for: Hardcore sports junkies looking to add out-of-market baseball and hockey games to their menus, college sports fans who want a broader assortment of collegiate sports than they can get with traditional TV, or those who have an interest in niche sports, such as rugby and cricket. It will also have documentaries and scripted series.

Latest news: Disney has launched its own Disney+ service for $7 per month or $70 annually. (See above.) You can also get a bundle that includes that service, plus Hulu and ESPN+, for just $13 per month. Right now it costs $11 per month just for Hulu and ESPN+.

ESPN+ is part of the main ESPN app. It’s available for Android and iOS mobile devices, Android TVs, and Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku media streamers. You can also watch it online at ESPN.com.

Some early shows include an original “30 for 30” film called “The Last Days of Knight,” about the Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, and “Detail,” where Kobe Bryant gets into the minds of basketball players as he analyzes the previous day’s game.

FilmStruck

FilmStruck, which offered indie, art-house, and classic movies as part of a joint venture between Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection, is now closed. However, Criterion has launched its own classic-movie service, called the Criterion Channel. (See above for more details.)

FuboTV

Price: $55 per month for about 90 channels for the base package, up to $75 per month for an Ultra Plan with more than 110 channels.

Who it’s best for: Sports fans looking for a streaming alternative. This sports-centric service offers a mix of live and on-demand channels from broadcast networks (CBS, Fox, and NBC in most markets), cable channels (A&E, Bravo, FX, SyFy, and USA), and sports networks (BeIn Sports, FS1, Golf Channel, and NBA TV). With the addition of TNT and TBS from Turner, you also get NBA and NCAA basketball, Major League Baseball, and PGA golf. There’s also a robust roster of regional sports networks—including those from NBC, Fox, and Yes—for local-team action, including MLB and NHL games. The service comes with a free cloud DVR, plus a 72-hour “look back” feature that lets you replay most programs that appeared in the previous three days.

Latest news: FuboTV was among the first streaming sites to offer sports in 4K, but you’re now able to watch Thursday night NFL games shown on Fox in 4K with HDR (HDR10) via the Fox Sports app. Right now you’ll need either a 4K Roku or Apple TV, or a 4K Roku TV from brands such as Hisense and TCL. Additional devices will be supported soon.

For other 4K HDR content, the company recently expanded the list of supported 4K streaming players to include Amazon Fire TV 4K and Amazon Fire TV Cube, Apple TV, Chromecast Ultra, and Roku’s Premier, Premier+, and Ultra models. Fubo recommends broadband speeds of 30 to 40 megabits per second for top-quality video.

Fubo recently raised the price of its Sports Plus add-on pack, from $9 to $11 per month. The service also recently added several new live sports shows to the Fubo Sports Network.

Earlier, FuboTV upped its deal with Discovery, which will bring the Discovery Channel, TLC, and more to its base subscriber package. After adding channels from AMC, Turner (Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, and TNT), and Viacom (BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon), the company hiked the price of its base plan by $10 to $55 per month. It includes more than 100 channels, a cloud DVR with 30 hours of storage, and up to two simultaneous users. You can add more DVR storage for an extra $10 per month, and more channels via various packages from $5 to $28 more per month.

HBO Now

Price: $15 per month.

Who it’s best for: HBO fans who don’t want to pay for cable. Sign up to get all the network’s series, movies, specials, and documentaries. If you already get HBO through your cable package, remember that the HBO Go app lets you watch HBO on your phone, tablet, and other devices.

Latest news: HBO will be included in the new HBO Max service that is being launched by AT&T’s WarnerMedia division in May 2020. AT&T, which owns HBO via its WarnerMedia division, says that it will try to migrate HBO Now subscribers to the HBO Max service because it will contain a lot more content for the same $15-per-month subscription. In addition to several HBO channels, HBO Max will include new original programs and movies, TV shows such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “Friends,” as well as titles from the Warner Bros. TV and film library.

HBO Now is available on many devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Microsoft Xbox, Roku, Samsung TVs, and PlayStation Vue. It’s also available via a growing number of cord-cutting streaming services—it’s included free as part of its AT&T TV Now service—and as part of Amazon Channels and Apple TV Channels.

Hulu

Price: $6 per month with ads or $12 per month without ads.

Who it’s best for: Cord cutters who don’t want to miss out on broadcast TV. Hulu has current shows from ABC, Fox, and NBC; older ones from CBS; plus the “Seinfeld” library. Original content includes “The Path” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Latest news: Disney, which now fully owns Hulu, says that it will become home to more adult and edgier fare than its new Disney+ service offers. To that end, the company’s FX Networks will be producing some original shows to stream on Hulu.

In other news, Hulu now lets you download shows from its streaming service, though only if you pay for the ad-free tier. Right now downloads are available on iOS devices, but they’ll be coming to Android devices soon.

Earlier this year, Hulu cut the price of its least expensive ad-supported service from $8 to $6 per month. The ad-free version remains unchanged, at $12 per month. (The company also just raised the price of the Hulu With Live TV cable-style service, listed below.)

In other news, Hulu’s deal with Viacom brings the full run of MTV’s animated sitcom “Daria,” and several other shows and movies, to the streaming service. Also part of the deal are TV shows such as “Nathan for You” from Comedy Central, MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16,” and Nickelodeon’s “Every Witch Way.” Movies include “School of Rock.” The deal is for Hulu, not the cable-style Hulu With Live TV streaming service.

Hulu also has a deal with DreamWorks Animation for the exclusive streaming rights to future DWA feature films, as well as catalog titles, including “Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” and “Shark Tale,” and new kids’ series it will develop. Starting this year, the service will also get new theatrical releases, including “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” and “Trolls 2.” Hulu also signed a deal with Sony for the on-demand streaming rights to “The Good Doctor.” 

Additionally, Hulu has teamed up with the music service Spotify to offer a combined bundle to college students for just $5 per month. Because Spotify Premium for Students usually costs $5 per month, it’s like getting the basic Hulu service free. Hulu also has an exclusive deal with Magnolia Pictures to stream the company’s films after their theatrical release.

Hulu + Live TV

Price: $45 per month.

Who it’s best for: Cord cutters who want yet another option in a cable-replacement company. Hulu + Live TV offers about 60 channels, including the major broadcast channels—ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC—albeit only in a handful of markets right now. You also get cable channels such as A&E, the Cartoon Network, CNN, Disney, Fox News, FX, TBS, and TNT, among others. The lineup includes CBS Sports, ESPN, and Fox Sports, plus some regional sports networks.

Latest news: Like several other services, Hulu hiked monthly subscriptions by $5 per month earlier this year. The service’s basic, $45-per-month plan lets you create six separate profiles—though only two people can use the service at a time—and includes a cloud DVR with 50 hours of recording time.

However, the company has now cut the price of several add-ons. An enhanced cloud DVR, with 200 hours of storage, had cost $15 per month. An add-on to allow for unlimited screens at home plus three mobile users, had also cost $15 per month. The prices have dropped to just $10 each per month. A combination of the two options now costs $15, down from $20.

An option to watch TV without ads, went up to $51 per month, a $7-per-month increase. Both that plan and the basic plan combine everything you get with the regular Hulu plan with the additional channels available on Hulu With Live TV. 

A recent deal with Discovery brings several new networks (Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC) to the service. Hulu’s deal with DreamWorks Animation gets it the exclusive streaming rights to future DWA feature films, as well as catalog titles. Hulu also has a deal with Sony for the on-demand streaming rights to “The Good Doctor.”

Hulu + Live TV is now available on most Roku streaming players and all Roku TVs, as well as many LG and Samsung smart TVs. It is also supported on Amazon Fire TV devices, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, PlayStation and Xbox game consoles, and Android and iOS mobile devices. Hulu is now supported by Amazon’s Alexa digital voice assistant, so you can use voice commands on Alexa-powered devices to watch shows on Hulu. It continues to add local TV affiliates, but right now the service doesn’t include AMC or Viacom (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon).

Netflix

Price: $9 per month for standard-definition video on a single screen; $13 per month for high-def video on up to two screens; $16 per month for 4K Ultra High Definition video on up to four screens.

Who it’s best for: Everyone. Netflix is still the king of binge. It has a vast library of movies and TV shows, plus now-classic original shows (“House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black”) and newer hits (“Stranger Things”). It even has original movies (“Beasts of No Nation”). A deal with Marvel has spawned “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones.” Netflix subscribers currently have access to some Disney titles, but Disney will be pulling those films later in 2019, along with Pixar movies and some Marvel titles, when it launches its own streaming service, Disney+.

Latest news: Netflix is telling those with the first two Roku streaming players that the Netflix app will no longer work starting Dec. 1. You can find out whether your Roku model is affected by going to the Netflix website for compatible devices.

In other news, Netflix now has a deal to bring all 180 episodes of “Seinfeld” back to its service as part of a five-year pact starting in 2021. Earlier in the year, Netflix upped its subscription rates by its biggest increase ever, and its first since 2017. Its most popular plans will now cost $2 per month more, while the basic one-user plan gets a $1-per-month hike. The price increase was effective immediately for new customers, then rolled out to current subscribers.

Earlier, Netflix updated its home screen, which now has a left-hand navigation bar that makes it easier to search for and view new content. It’s also easier to locate the shows and movies you’ve bookmarked for later viewing in My List.

In other news, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is about to start production on an animated feature film, “Pinocchio,” which will be a stop-motion musical. It’s his first movie since winning an Oscar for “The Shape of Water.” Netflix is also co-financing and distributing Michael Bay’s next film, “Six Underground,” which stars Ryan Reynolds. It’s the first time either has worked with Netflix. The movie is expected to appear on Netflix in 2019.

The company says it spent about $8 billion on content in 2018 and will probably spend even more in 2019 as it fends off competition from new services from Apple, Disney, and Warner NewMedia. 

Philo

Price: $20 per month for 58 channels; $4 more for an add-on channel pack.

Who it’s best for: Viewers who don’t care about sports and don’t want to subsidize those who do. Philo is a sports-free streaming service backed by several cable networks, including A&E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps, and Viacom.

Latest news: Initially, Philo offered two different plans, but dropped the lower-priced package. Now, a $20-per-month plan includes 58 channels from those and other cable networks, so you get A&E, AMC, BBC America, Cheddar, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, History, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, TLC, Travel Channel, and others.

The plan also now includes the nine additional channels—the American Heroes Channel, BET Her, the Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Logo, MTV Live, and Nicktoons—that were part of a $4-per-month add-on pack you could get with the cheaper service.

Philo supports three simultaneous users, and includes a cloud DVR that lets you record and save an unlimited number of shows for up to 30 days. You can watch a show from the beginning if you join late, and a 72-hour “look back” feature lets you view any show that appeared within the previous three days. You can now share your favorite shows by sending them to friends, right from within the platform.

PlayStation Vue

Price: $50 to $85 per month, depending on the package.

Who it’s best for: Those who are looking for a real cable TV-style programming package and are willing to pay for it. You also get local channels in many major markets—on demand in others—plus a cloud DVR for recording shows.

Latest news: Sony has announced that it will be shutting down PlayStation Vue on Jan. 30, 2020. The company had reportedly tried to find a buyer before making the decision. The company blames the escalating cost of licensing content and the increasingly competitive market for streaming services, and says it will instead focus on its core gaming business.

Showtime

Price: $11 per month, or $9 per month when purchased through certain services, such as Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Who it’s best for: Showtime fans. Like HBO Now, this service lets you watch a cable network without the cable. You get all of Showtime’s movies, plus original shows such as “Billions,” “Homeland,” and “The Affair.” If you subscribe to Showtime through your cable provider, Showtime Anytime lets you watch Showtime fare on your phone, tablet, and other devices.

Latest news: Showtime has had to delay the debut of “Purity,” a 20-episode drama starring Daniel Craig, until next year because Craig is reprising his role as James Bond in a new film.

The network recently got the rights to the weekly news magazine “Vice,” which had previously aired on HBO. A new 13-episode season will kick off in early 2020.

The network has renewed several shows, including second seasons for “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” starring Kirsten Dunst, and “Couples Therapy,” a docuseries about relationships. You can now watch “Patrick Melrose,” a new original series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, based on the semiautobiographical novels by Edward St. Aubyn.

Sling TV

Price: Sling Orange costs $25 per month; Sling Blue costs $25 per month. A combined package costs $40 per month. Add-on packs cost $5 to $10 extra per month.

Who it’s best for: Cord cutters. With Dish’s Sling TV, you don’t get individual shows; you get channels. The Orange package comes with about 30 cable offerings, including Disney and ESPN, plus A&E, the Food Network, and TBS, but limited broadcast TV. You can get Fox and NBC in some markets, plus Univision, as part of the Blue package. ABC and Univision are available in some markets for both the Orange and Orange-and-Blue plans as part of the $5-per-month Broadcast Extra add-on pack. You can add premium channels, such as HBO and Showtime, for an extra $10 to $15 per month.

Latest news: Sling has updated its apps for LG and Samsung TVs, as well as Xbox game systems. The update includes a new guide and better search capability.

In other news, parent company Dish has reached a deal with Fox to keep local Fox channels, as well as FS1 and FS2, on Sling. Sling had lost those stations during a carriage dispute.

Sling TV has a new promotion, called “4 for $10 Deal” for Sling Orange and Sling Blue customers that lets you subscribe to Kids Extra, Lifestyle Extra, Comedy Extra and News Extra all just for $10, or half the cost of getting them separately.

Another promotion, called the Total TV Deal, combines seven Extra programming packs—around genres such as sports, news, Hollywood, and comedy—with a cloud DVR with 50 hours of storage for an extra $20 per month. Sling has also updated pricing for Sports Extra for Sling Orange customers. It now costs $10 per month, the same as for Blue subscribers.

Earlier, Sling TV raised the price of its Orange service by $5, to $25 per month. The service is also enticing lapsed customers with a new offer that lets them watch free, on-demand content, purchase à la carte channels, and view pay-per-view movies and events without signing up for a base subscription. The program kicks off for those using Roku devices but will be rolled out to other devices soon.

The list of à la carte channels that can be purchased without a Sling TV subscription includes Showtime ($10 per month), CuriosityStream ($6 per month), and NBA League Pass ($29 per month). 

In addition to NBA League Pass, Sling now also has NBA Team Pass, a separate plan that lets you get out-of-market games for a single NBA team. Team Pass costs $18 per month on top of a Sling Orange, Sling Blue, and/or Spanish-language services plan. Sling TV’s latest promotion is a free Roku TV Express when you prepay for two months of Sling service.

Starz

Price: $9 per month.

Who it’s best for: Like HBO and Showtime, you can now get Starz without a pay-TV subscription. Content includes such shows as “The Spanish Princess,” “Outlander,” and “Power,” plus movies, including “Venom” and “A Dog’s Way Home.”

Latest news: Starz recently reached a deal with AT&T to keep the network on that company’s various TV platforms, including DirecTV, AT&T TV, AT&T TV Now, and U-verse. 

Starz also recently acquired six new titles, including  “In the Long Run,” a family comedy starring and created by Idris Elba about his experience growing up in ’80s London. Others include “The Professor and the Madman,” a true story about murderer and his unlikely friendship with an Oxford professor, starring Sean Penn and Mel Gibson, and a documentary, “This Changes Everything,” that looks at gender discrimination. Interviewees include Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Taraji P. Henson, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett, Anita Hill, Jessica Chastain, and Rose McGowan.

Recent original series include  “American Gods,” based on the Neil Gaiman book; “Sweetbitter,” about a 22-year-old arriving on the New York restaurant scene; and “Vida,” about two wildly different Mexican-American sisters returning to their old neighborhood.

T-Mobile TVision Home

Price: $90 per month for 150-plus channels (at launch).

Who it’s best for: Seemingly, those who really hate their cable company and the add-on fees that come with most pay-TV services, because many subscribers to T-Mobile TVision Home might not save much money. The service is now live in eight metro areas—Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Longmont, Colo.; Los Angeles; New York City; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C. It will roll out to other markets later this year. You get more than 150 channels, plus local broadcasts and regional sports, and you can add premium channels for an extra monthly fee. The service will support 4K video when it’s available. Family members get their own profile and DVR, with a shared 1TB of storage. The company says it will use artificial intelligence to make personalized recommendations. 

Latest news: Compared with other streaming services, TVision Home is pricey. For a limited time, it will cost $90 per month for all subscribers, but after a promotional period, only T-Mobile mobile customers will pay that price; others will pay $100 per month. There’s also a $10 monthly fee for each additional TV you want to connect.

At launch, you’ll need a TVision Home box to get the service, though the company says it will support third-party devices at a later date. The service will initially come with apps for Xumo, CuriosityStream, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and a few other niche services, but Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube apps are on the way, according to T-Mobile. TVision supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can use voice to control TVision Home.

YouTube TV

Price: $50 per month.

Who it’s best for: Cord cutters looking for a different option. YouTube TV offers access to more than 70 networks, including all the major local networks. It supports up to three simultaneous users. You get a cloud DVR—a virtual recorder that stores programs for you on YouTube’s servers—that lets you save as many shows as you want for up to nine months before they’re deleted.

Recently, the service’s biggest limitation was that it wasn’t supported on Amazon Fire TV streaming players. But Google and Amazon have ended their feud, so YouTube TV, along with YouTube and YouTube Kids, is available on Amazon Fire devices.

YouTube TV has a nice selection of channels, including AMC, Bravo, Disney, ESPN, FX, Fox News, Fox Sports, MSNBC, National Geographic, Turner, USA, and some regional sports networks. You also get access to the original programming on YouTube Red, usually $10 per month. Showtime, Starz, and a few other channels can be added for an additional fee. However, the service lacks programming from Viacom (Comedy Central, MTV), though it just added some Discovery channels (see below).

Latest news: YouTube TV is adding PBS and PBS kids starting in November 2019. Initially, the channels will mainly be available in major markets, with smaller markets being added later.

Like other cable-style streaming services, YouTube TV got a price hike earlier this year, to $50 per month. Those who get YouTube TV through Apple iTunes are now paying $55 monthly.

YouTube’s deal with Major League Baseball brought 13 live MLB games exclusively to both YouTube and YouTube TV during the back half of the 2019 season. Those games weren’t shown elsewhere. The move came after YouTube TV added eight channels from Discovery, including Discovery Channel, HGTV, and Food Network. Also new is Cozi TV, which airs older TVs shows, such as “Frasier” and “The Office.”

Full details on its price hike and new channels are available on the YouTube TV blog.

YouTube TV is now available nationwide, including all the local broadcast stations in almost all U.S. markets. The streaming service has been experimenting with new features, such as the augmented reality ads it ran during last year’s World Series as part of its sponsorship of the event. Augmented reality was used to create a large virtual video screen above the Green Monster seats at Fenway Park that looked on screen like it was a part of the stadium.



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