A good TV binging session doesn’t need much. Some nicely buttered popcorn, and a good cable connection with a rich entertainment catalog, inclusive of America’s all time favorite broadcast networks i.e. ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, The CW etc. So naturally, cutting the cord is not an easy choice for an avid TV watcher.
But times have changed.
Saving money without compromising on the quality of entertainment is now the priority for most U.S. homes. The cable bill in U.S. households amounts to anywhere from $50 to over $200 depending on the level of consumption. And it is easily a good chunk of what you’d routinely pay for all other utility bills put together. Now, that’s a lot of money to spend on TV entertainment when there are affordable alternatives available, which also get you local broadcast TV.
We understand parting with the diversity of a cable channel lineup can take some getting used to?your favorite shows, originals, news channels, and live sports?it isn’t a choice any true TV lover would want to make willingly. But thanks to technological advancement, the good thing is finding prime-time entertainment on broadcast TV, live sports, and local news, without a cable connection, is much easier! And, saying goodbye to Cable isn’t anything like what it might have entailed back in the day with few substitutes available.
While subscription video on demand services like Prime Video, Netflix, and HBO Max get you the most sought after premium entertainment, you cannot rely on these for live TV. And for cord-cutter homes that do not want to compromise on broadcast TV, it becomes necessary to narrow down to streaming platforms which do carry live TV networks such as the Big Five.
Sling TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Hulu + Live, and DIRECTV STREAM, are the top options in the live TV streaming market. These services allow you to access some or all of the Big Five broadcast networks depending on where you are located. Once you have found the right service for your home, your tiny little streaming box will let you tune into primetime on broadcast TV! The only thing you may need to replace in the ‘TV binging’ equation is ‘a good cable connection’.
A reliable high-speed connection from the likes of Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, AT&T or Mediacom, paired with a solid streaming device, and the right streaming service?that is all you need to unlock a whole world of local TV entertainment!
Here it is worth adding that streaming maybe the most viable alternative to pay-tv, but if local broadcast TV is all you are after, you may even be able to get to that with less money spent.
Most video streaming services will bring you original content and on-demand entertainment, but YouTube is the cable TV replacement you need. It brings over 85 top channels of entertainment and news, live sports and more, in a single subscription. And of course it includes the Big Five networks. What’s more the YouTube TV lineup even includes PBS and PBS Kids.
Besides providing complete local network coverage nationwide in the U.S., the YouTube TV lineup includes a number of popular cable networks. You get diverse genres of programming with channels like BBC, CNN, Cheddar News, Comedy Central, FXX, HGTV, MTV, Cartoon Network, NickToons, Disney, ESPN, FS1 & 2, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, NBA TV, NFL Network, and more.
While YouTube TV costs you $64.99/mo., your subscription is not made expensive with hidden fees, cable box rentals, or annual contracts. And, you get access to unlimited Cloud DVR storage space with rewind, fast forward, and pause capability. YouTube TV allows 3 concurrent streams and 6 accounts per household. Above all, it’s risk-free with a trial period for new customers.
If you’re looking for a near-Cable live TV streaming experience, a Hulu+ Live TV subscription will do you a lot of good. Not only will you find a local broadcast TV catalog with the Big Five, but access to the extensive Hulu streaming library. Its on-demand library sets it apart from competition. For $64.99, you get a great combination of live sports, local entertainment, news, and family programming. And the incredibly rich Hulu on-demand collection adds a big pinch to that.
75+ live channels, 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage and great device compatibility, no hidden fees, equipment rentals, or installation charges, all of that quite vindicates the price point. Especially with available add-ons like premium networks and upgrade to an ad-free enhanced DVR experience. The one downside is 2 concurrent live streams. But Hulu gives you the Unlimited Screen add-on option to help with that. All in all, Hulu+ Live TV is a competitive bargain!
The new DIRECTV STREAM service from DIRECTV offers a range of packages starting at $69.99 per month. And if local broadcast TV is your focal point, DIRECTV STREAM does not disappoint you. With the exception of select areas, you can access regional sports and local channels. The starter plan Entertainment is ideal for families who stick to TV essentials. And Choice at $84.99 keeps sports fans happy. With Choice you not only become eligible for regional sports networks, but 3 FREE months of HBO MAX. One big highlight of DIRECTV STREAM is the number of on demand titles which range from 40,000+ to 65,000+.
While the service is compatible with a range of popular streaming devices, the DIRECTV STREAM device with voice remote enhances your viewing experience with its many cool features. You can add it on for a one-time purchase price of $120 or pay $5/mo. over a 24-month period, if you don’t fringe from signing a contract. Otherwise, you pay on a month-to-month basis.
While it maybe more expensive than the rest in spite of the 20 hours Cloud DVR storage which comes included, a DIRECTV STREAM subscription delivers a near-Cable experience.
What makes a Sling TV subscription attractive is its price tag. For $35 and up, you can customize your experience based on your preferences. It comes with 3 paid plans and a free one. The paid plans, Orange and Blue, get you 30+ and 40+ networks respectively, while the Orange & Blue combo gets you 50+. The channel lineup is undoubtedly a balanced mix of diverse programming. For NCAA fans Orange works at $35/mo. and for the same price, Pro Football fans get the Blue Sling TV plan. The 2-in-1 plan costs $50/mo., but gets you a lot. Sling TV now comes with 2 impressive feathers in its cap?a clean and enhanced new interface and 50 hours DVR storage!
Now to the downsides. First, the number of concurrent streams is limited to 3, and that is about it. Keep this in mind if you are a large TV watching family. Secondly, Sling is limited to only FOX and NBC, available in select markets. Yet, given the price points, Sling TV makes for a super affordable subscription, if only 2 of the Big Five can keep you happy.
Well, there are certainly perks to be had at more affordable rates with a subscription to live TV streaming services. It helps you avoid annual contracts and hidden fees. And still gets you access to all or some of the Big Five networks and other local broadcast networks. Above all, its trendy.
But, you cannot undermine the fact you’ll still need a reliable high-speed internet connection as we said earlier. And this is where considerations start rolling in again vis-à-vis cord-cutting. The inclusion of live TV renders a streaming service like YouTube TV and Hulu+ Live TV as or more expensive as a starting Cable plan from the likes of Spectrum and Xfinity. Unlike SVOD services such as HBO Max or Netflix, when you go for live TV streaming, the subscription cost goes up too. So do your math and make sure to look into better cable TV and internet bundles, before you cut the cord!
To find the most local TV channels on a live TV streaming service, get a subscription to YouTube TV, DIRECTV STREAM, or Hulu+ Live TV. YouTube TV provides complete local coverage nationwide. Sling TV is also an option, but only if you are good with NBC and FOX (in select markets).
YouTube TV, Hulu+ Live TV, DIRECTV STREAM, and Sling TV apps are compatible with Android and iOS, as well as a number of popular streaming devices. This makes it possible for you to catch shows on local channels anytime, anywhere.
As long as you have a live TV streaming service subscription, a streaming device, and a high-speed internet connection, you can easily stream your local TV favorites on your smart TV. The streaming app, which you get access to with your subscription, allows you to tap into local broadcast TV on your Smart TV.
The cheapest way to access local networks on your TV is to get a branded digital TV antenna which can help you catch the broadcast TV signal in your area. It is a one-time investment, and many U.S. homes use an antenna to access local programming.
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