Streaming television shows over the internet used to be a novel concept, but thanks to advances in technology and changing viewing habits, it is now a way of life for many Americans.
“Our data shows that prime time starts at 10 in the morning,” says Bill Demas, CEO of Conviva, a firm that provides analytics to streaming publishers to help them improve their services and customer experience. While prime time for television is traditionally considered from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., people are tuning in earlier now that they are spending more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and can stream shows on demand.
Streaming options include major services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime as well as niche offerings like BritBox which is dedicated to British television. “I don’t think we’re going to see people subscribing to only one or two services,” Demas says. Instead, he predicts consumers could have as many as a half dozen services to meet all their viewing needs.
Those who want to save money by eliminating cable may want to consider these five streaming services, each of which offers plentiful viewing choices at an affordable price.
— CBS All Access.
— Samsung TV Plus.
As one of the first streaming services to focus on television programming, Hulu now offers a mix of TV shows, movies and original programming such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Emmy-nominated “Ramy.” There is also Hulu + Live TV which provides access to more than 65 channels, including local news channels in many cities and live sports coverage of the NFL, NHL, NCAA and more.
Hulu offers several plan options, starting at $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year for ad-supported streaming. College students can subscribe for only $1.99 a month. Ad-free content costs $11.99 per month and includes the option to download shows to watch offline. However, if you want Hulu + Live TV, prepare to pay as much as cable; this service is $64.99 a month. Premium networks such as HBO Max and Showtime can be added on to any plan for an additional cost.
The best deal for Hulu subscribers who also want family and sports programs is to buy a bundle that includes Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month. Verizon Wireless customers with unlimited plans may even be eligible to get a year of streaming from these channels for free.
CBS All Access
When it comes to streaming services, Ethan Rasiel, a resident of Maplewood, New Jersey, and CEO of Lightspeed Public Relations, says he’s tried them all. He points to CBS All Access as an often-overlooked option. Not only does it provide original content such as “Star Trek Discovery” and shows from channels like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, but it also comes with access to live CBS TV.
“If you cut the cord and don’t have cable, this is the most affordable way to get live streaming TV without buying an expensive bundle of shows such as from SlingTV, Philo, Fubo, etc.,” he says.
Plans cost $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year for content with limited commercials. Ad-free streaming is available for $9.99 a month or $99.99 per year. College students can receive a 25% discount. CBS All Access will be rebranded as Paramount+ in 2021 which is expected to expand the service’s catalog of recently released movies.
As one of the newest television streaming services available, Discovery+ is made for those who love DIY projects, home renovations and other nonfiction content. The service is bringing together shows from more than a dozen different channels including HGTV, Food Network and the upcoming Magnolia Channel.
In total, more than 55,000 episodes are currently available, and the service says more are being added daily. Exclusive content includes “Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines,” “Six Degrees with Mike Rowe” and “American Detective with Lt. Joe Kenda.”
Discovery+ has two plan options: ad-support streaming is available for $4.99 a month, or subscribers can pay $6.99 a month for ad-free shows. Verizon Wireless is also giving customers with select unlimited or home internet plans free access to Discovery+ for a year.
The NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock is poised to make an impact in 2021. “I think they are going to have a huge year,” Demas says. The service is currently streaming the hit show “The Office,” and assuming it isn’t canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer Olympics are expected to stream on-demand on Peacock as well.
Like other streaming services, Peacock offers a combination of television, movies and original series. Viewers will find classic shows such as “Murder, She Wrote” alongside more contemporary hits like “Downton Abbey” and popular NBC series. Original titles include a reboot of “Saved by the Bell” and the suspense series “The Capture.”
With a free plan option, Peacock is a good choice for budget-conscious consumers. However, viewing is limited with the free plan. Only two seasons of The Office are included, and there is no access to original series. Peacock Premium adds those features for $4.99 a month, and ad-free viewing is offered for $9.99 a month. Xfinity and Cox customers may have access to Peacock Premium for free.
Samsung TV Plus
Samsung TV Plus is a completely free streaming app for those who have Samsung Smart TVs and select Galaxy smartphones. “It delivers free TV and instant access to over 160 channels, including news, sports, entertainment and more,” says Sang Kim, senior vice president of product for Samsung Electronics.
For U.S. audiences, the channel lineup includes ABC News Live, AMC Presents and Fubo Sports Network. There are also children’s programming, Latino channels, music and movie options. “Cord cutters make up 59% of Samsung TV Plus users,” Kim says, and they enjoy a mix of live TV and on-demand content.
While there is no cost and no credit card required to use the Samsung TV Plus app, you will need a compatible Samsung device. These include all 2016-2021 Samsung Smart TVs and select Galaxy devices including S10 and S9 series phones.
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Best Affordable TV Streaming Services for Cord Cutters originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 01/19/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.