It really feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it? Not long ago, it seemed like Netflix was the only option. These days, TV streaming options are plentiful.
According to research by Statista, about 40 percent of the U.S. population will be using streaming video services by the end of 2019. That number is expected to grow over the next four years, but it still represents a minority of the entire population.
From “classics” like Hulu and Amazon Prime to upcoming goodies such as Disney+ and Apple’s new service, we break down some of the most popular options, listing what’s included and what you’ll be shelling out each month.
1. Amazon Prime
If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you can’t beat it. Free shipping (sometimes even next-day or same-day pickup) comes with original content like the new Homecoming and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, along with exclusives such as Downton Abbey. There’s also a backlog of HBO series’ to explore.
- Cost: You can expect to pay $119 per year or $13 a month.
- Pros: Includes a variety of other features, such as free shipping, Whole Foods discounts and food delivery.
- Cons: No live streaming.
2. CBS All Access
Like football? CBS All Access not only offers up a buffet of the network’s fare, along with live streaming of 124 local market affiliates, it will be partnered with the NFL through at least 2022, so you’ll be able to enjoy NFL play on the CBS schedule. You can also stream the games on other, more portable devices.
- Cost: You can expect to pay $6 to $10 per month.
- Pros: The commercial-free option, for a few dollars more a year, is one many users opt for.
- Cons: The local CBS affiliate stations will still have advertisements.
3. DirecTV Now
Want the service without the satellite dish? DirecTV Now is a great option and offers 20 hours of free cloud DVR storage and allows for two simultaneous users. Channels offered include the Cartoon Network, FX, USA, Fox, CBS, E!, Oxygen, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and more. Both of DirecTV Now’s plans include HBO, the pricier one also folds in Cinemax and loads of sports content.
- Cost: You can expect to pay $50 a month for about 40 channels or $70 a month for about 50.
- Pros: 20 hours of cloud DVR come with either package and the ability to upgrade from two to three concurrent streams for an extra $5 per month.
- Cons: Users who started with the service back in 2016 said it was glitch-ridden. Though reviewers have been happy with its fixes and upgrades, it’s something to watch for.
4. HBO Now
It’s likely enjoyed a spike as the Game of Thrones final season got underway, but HBO offers much more than the Mother of Dragons, including the network’s other series (Vice and Real Time with Bill Maher), movies, documentaries and specials.
HBO Now is also on multiple devices including Xbox, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and PlayStation Vue and as add-ons for other services, like the above mentioned DirecTV Now.
- Cost: You can expect to pay $15 a month.
- Pros: HBO’s award-winning original content.
- Cons: Pretty expensive for what you get.
Sure, its lowest-end plans have commercials, but you can consider these as snack and bathroom breaks. Loads of great broadcast TV here, from Bob’s Burgers to the entire Seinfeld library.
- Cost: You can expect to pay $6 to $8 a month for the low-end service with ads or $45 to $50 a month for the live TV package with loads of channels and full catalog access.
- Pros: Comprehensive channel lineup gives access to most popular channels. Plus, there’s no contract so you can cancel any time.
- Cons: Its 50 hours of cloud DVR storage (base subscription) doesn’t allow for commercial fast-forwarding.
It’s still a top performer, despite its recent price-jack, offering a vast catalog of films and shows, including its own original content (like the still-hot Stranger Things). Marvel fans stick with it for fare including Jessica Jones and as Disney begins to re-capture its own content for an upcoming service, Netflix is one of the few services that still has some Disney to offer.
- Cost: You can expect to pay $9 a month for single-screen standard video, $13 a month for high-def on up to two screens or $16/month for 4K Ultra High Def on up to four screens.
- Pros: Super-easy, no commercials, great originals.
- Cons: The waiting is the hardest part. The latest episode of your preferred show won’t be available immediately.
Pluto offers more than 100 live and original channels and thousands of movies on-demand. Pluto is available on several devices including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV and more.
Users will find Discovery Channel, TLC and other popular network content available on demand.
- Cost: None!
- Pros: Hello! It’s free! And the catalog is huge.
- Cons: Ad overlay means you’ll miss live content during commercials.
Sling’s Orange and Blue packages overlap on its offerings somewhat, but there are different channels within each package. Users can also get a combined package, too. Those on both plans include Food Network, IFC, CNN and AMC .
Add-ons range from $5 to $10 extra.
- Cost: You can expect to pay $25 a month for either of its two packages or get both for $40.
- Pros: It’s cheap with no contracts
- Cons: No local channels. Plus, you’ll probably have to get both packages if your family has different TV-watching tastes.
9. YouTube TV
This service gives users access to more than 70 networks, including all the major locals. YouTube TV supports up to three simultaneous users and allows for unlimited cloud DVR (though your content will evaporate after nine months — that seems more than fair).
While Amazon Fire TV users are cut out of YouTubeTV, most others can opt in for popular channels including ESPN, Bravo, Disney and NatGeo, along with access to all content on YouTube Red.
- Cost: You can expect to pay $50 to $55 a month if you get it through Apple iTunes.
- Pros: Easy to use, great lineup of content.
- Cons: Recent price hike took the service from $40 to $50. That’s steep.