I have a secret for you—there’s no reason to use cable anymore. None at all. If you know where to go, you can get pretty much any show on a streaming service, even find live TV. Instead of paying God knows what for cable (seriously, I don’t know how much it costs anymore other than ‘a lot’), you can just pick a few streaming services and save a ton of money in the process.
Which services should you choose? It depends on what you want to watch.
The big daddy. The cream of the crop. Netflix is the one streaming service your 90-year-old grandmother knows about. Heck, my spell-checker knows what Netflix is. It’s also the streaming service that has the most original content (and the most content people are actually talking about) and has most of the shows you’ll want to watch. Generally, if someone is considering streaming whatsoever, they’re going to want to have Netflix in their rotation.
Netflix’s subscription model works a little differently, though—you pay for the number of screens your login can screen from at once. So, it’s a bit harder to share your subscription with the whole family, but you can still have everyone in the household enjoying all the shows and movies.
Current Netflix Deals: Try 30 days for free (new accounts only). Sign up at Netflix’s website.
You can also grab a Netflix gift card from Amazon.
Hulu basically is what Netflix isn’t. Hulu is based more on TV shows (when originally Netflix was more focused on movies), and Hulu usually will put up new episodes within 24 hours of them airing on cable—replicating the cable experience without all the commercials and needing to be in front of the TV at certain times.
Well, technically Hulu still has SOME commercials, depending on the tier you pick. The normal Hulu subscription has occasional ads, or you can pay a bit more for Hulu Ad-Free, which does what it says… for the most part. Finally, there’s Hulu Live, which allows you to watch some live TV for a big upcharge—but honestly, there are other services for that.
Current Hulu Deals: Try 30 days for free (new accounts only). Bundle Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month. Sign up at Hulu’s website.
You can also grab a Hulu gift card from Best Buy.
Amazon Prime Video is probably the service most everyone has, but no one really uses. There are a few exclusive shows on the service, but one of the main draws of Amazon Prime Video is that there’s a good chance you already have it! It comes free with any Amazon Prime subscription, so there is always something you can start streaming.
The other big perk of Amazon Video (not even the Prime part) is that you can buy digital versions of movies and keep them forever. Or just rent them for a few days. It’s a nice alternative to the movies that aren’t available on Netflix.
Current Amazon Prime Video Deals: Amazon Prime Video is attached to Amazon Prime. For Amazon Prime, students get a 6-month Amazon Prime trial, with Prime Student costing $6.49 a month afterwards. If you have a valid EBT or Medicaid Card, you get half off your monthly Prime charge. Learn more at the Amazon Prime page.
Some streaming services, namely Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, allow you to buy other network’s services and bundle them into the main streaming service you already have. For example, on Hulu you can grab packages for Showtime, HBO, Disney+, and more, and have all the networks’ shows available right on your Hulu account. Amazon Prime Video is similar. This can sometimes save you month-to-month, but make sure there isn’t an advantage of signing up to a particular streaming service separately before locking yourself in.
Disney is the mega-corporation that’s the stuff of nightmares, but that’s also why they were able to start up a streaming service of their own. Disney+ has properties like Marvel, Star Wars, and the Simpsons on their service, and for some people that’s enough for the price of admission on its own. Basically, if you love Disney, or one of the many other companies that Disney owns, Disney+ is going to be worth your time.
Current Disney+ Deals: Free seven day trial (new accounts only). Sign up at Disney+’s website.
We all use YouTube for videos and livestreams, but YouTube TV is the Google company’s answer to Live TV, and it’s currently the best one on the market. YouTube TV offers live TV and DVR for over 70 channels, and has the YouTube UI that most people are already familiar with. You can even have one membership be attached to six YouTube accounts, which is more generous than most services.
Current YouTube TV Deals: 14 days free (ends April 14). Sign up at YouTube TV’s website.
You can also grab a YouTube gift card at Amazon, which can also be used towards YouTube TV.
Sling was the main contender for live TV, but then YouTube TV came alone, so Sling is now second place. Still, Sling has a wide variety of live TV you can watch, if you don’t want to give Google money (which is very understandable).
Current Sling Deals: Free 14 days with the Stay In & Sling promotion, no credit card required. Sign up at Sling’s site.
Do you like sports? Well, then ESPN+ is for you. It has sports. Live sports. Shows about sports. Articles about sports. It’s… ESPN. Did you expect anything else?
Current ESPN+ Deals: Nothing on its own, unfortunately, but you can bundle Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month. Learn more at ESPN+’s website.
HBO is the premium channel most people will pay for, which the highest amount of quality content that isn’t “held back” by cable TV rules. So, it would stand to reason anyone going to the streaming life would also want to still watch HBO.
HBO Go is the service that you’ll get as a part of a cable package, which means that you probably won’t have it if you’re looking to cut the cable. HBO Now is the service you’d want to grab, which gives you access to HBO shows and movies.
HBO Max is a new streaming service, where HBO is trying to encroach on the market Netflix and Hulu has. This means exclusive shows, as well as shows from networks other than HBO themselves. Wondering what happened to Friends? It’s on HBO Max now. Or will be, when it launches this year.
Also known as “the service that shows Star Trek: Picard”. There are, of course, other shows like Survivor and other CBS series on All-Access, but we all know what you came here for.
Current CBS All Access Deals: Get one month free with the code ALL (expires 4/23). Sign up at CBS All-Access’ website.
Whenever I’m trying to find some older movies to stream, I tend to be left with two options—buying or renting from Amazon Video, or a STARZ subscription. On top of that, STARZ is home to Outlander, a popular TV series.
Current STARZ Deals: Get your first three months for $4.99 a month. Sign up at STARZ’ website.
Peacock is NBC’s streaming service, and while it didn’t have any exclusives like CBS All-Access and STARZ, there is one advantage Peacock has—a solid free tier for their service. However, it won’t be live until later this year, so you’ll have to wait until you get access to some free NBC!
Current Peacock Deals: Peacock isn’t live yet, but you can learn more at their website.