Best Streaming Services: The Top Live and On Demand Streaming Services for People without Cable

Best streaming services

More and more people are moving away from traditional cable services and subscribing to online streaming services. Netflix truly paved the way in the industry, but now, there are tons of high quality streaming services competing for your hard-earned dollar. For our readers, we’ve put together this guide to the best streaming services available.

In general, we can break these services up into two categories: live  streaming services, like DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV, and on-demand services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Keep reading to learn more about these options and learn how to choose the best TV streaming service for you and your needs!

 

Best TV Streaming Services for Live TV

First and foremost, let’s focus on the live services that allow you to stream live TV. These are similar to cable, in that you watch all your favorite shows, movies, news, sports and more, live as they happen. Most of these services also have an on-demand or DVR feature, but their focus is on watching live TV without cable. The best TV streaming services for live TV include:

 

DIRECTV NOW – The Best Streaming Service Overall for Live TV

DIRECTV NOW is a live streaming TV service is designed to meet the needs of those that are looking to replace cable. This service offers a premium package of channels to its subscribers. At a minimum, you’ll get 60+ channels – and that can range up to 120+ depending on the package you choose. Here are the highlights of DIRECTV NOW:

  • 60-120+ channels, depending on the package you choose
  • Watch LIVE TV without cable
  • Starts at $35 per month
  • Key channels include TNT, AMC, ESPN, CNN, FOX News, A&E, HGTV, Food Network and more
  • NO contract or commitment
  • Works over the internet – no cable required
  • Works on most devices; streaming players, smartphones, computers, and more
  • Get a free streaming device from DIRECTV NOW when you prepay for 3 months
  • Add premium channels like HBO for only $5 per month extra
  • Free 7-day trial available

If you want more information, check out our DIRECTV NOW review and the full DIRECTV NOW channels list. In short, this service provides the best channel selection for a very reasonable price. It’s contract free, works on most devices, and is our top recommendation overall. If you’re looking for a way to replace cable and save money, while still keeping the channels you love, DIRECTV NOW is the best streaming TV service for you.

Click here to try DIRECTV NOW free for a full week.

 

Sling TV – The Best Budget-Friendly TV Streaming Service

Cable is expensive; the best streaming services are cheap. And for those looking for the best budget option, Sling TV presents excellent value for as little as $20 per month. At around 60 cents per day, this is the cheapest of the live streaming TV services on this list, and yet it still provides excellent channels and great overall value. Some highlights include:

  • 30-100+ channels depending on the package you choose
  • Watch LIVE TV without cable
  • Starts from $20 per month
  • Add 40 additional channels for only $10 per month with the Multi Extra Discount add-on
  • Key channels include CNN, AMC, TNT, ESPN, TBS, Comedy Central and more
  • NO contract required
  • Works over the internet
  • Works on almost all devices; computers, smart TVs, gaming consoles, streaming devices and more
  • Get a free Roku or a discounted Apple TV when you prepay for a few months of Sling in advance
  • Add premium channels like HBO for $15 per month extra
  • Free 7-day trial available

For twenty bucks a month, Sling TV is an absolute steal of a deal. Plus, it’s one of the older services, meaning its more established and has the kinks all worked out. The free device deals are particularly attractive, especially if you don’t yet have a streaming device for your TV. And with the new Multi-Extra Discount add-on package, you can expand your selection to 70-80+ channels for only $10 per month! Not a bad deal at all. See our Sling TV review to learn more.

Click here to try Sling TV free for 7 days.

 

FuboTV – The Best Sports Streaming Service

FuboTV reviewFuboTV has recently expanded from a small sports streaming operation into a main competitor in the online streaming industry. They still focus on sports, but they now offer competitive channel packages offering a wide range of content. For sports fans, this is one of the best streaming services there is. Some highlights of FuboTV include:

  • 44+ channels available
  • Starts from $35 per month
  • Watch LIVE sports and TV without cable
  • Key channels include regional sports channels, FS1, FS2, NBCSN, NBA TV, Comcast Sportsnet and more
  • No contract required
  • Works on most devices; streaming devices, computers, and mobile devices
  • Free trial available

FuboTV is mostly meant for sports, but it does also offer some general purpose channels like USA, FOX News, FX, Bravo and more. With that said, this service is mostly sports-centered. It’s also important to note that while it’s channel selection is good, it does NOT include staples like ESPN (when Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW do), so keep that in mind. See our FuboTV review for more info

Click here to try FuboTV free today.

 

Best TV Streaming Services for On-Demand Viewing

If live TV (and commercials) isn’t your thing, and you prefer the on-demand leisure viewing offered by services like Netflix, this is the section for you. These services provide thousands – if not millions – of hours of on-demand streaming of popular TV shows, documentaries, movies and more. With that said, they are not useful for watching live sports, live news, etc – so there are pros and cons.

 

Netflix – The Best On-Demand Streaming TV Service Overall

netflix

If you haven’t heard of Netflix, well… it’s time to get Netflix. This service should be everyone’s first subscription if you’re just now cancelling cable. It offers an incredibly diverse content library with over 4,000 movies and 1,000 TV shows. Here are some highlights of Netflix:

  • Watch thousands of on-demand options
  • Movies, documentaries, TV shows and more
  • Access to exclusive Netflix Originals not found anywhere else
  • Starts at $8 per month
  • No contract required
  • Millions of hours of entertainment potential
  • Works on almost any device
  • Free month long trial available

Netflix is a must-have for anyone who has cut the cable cord; and even a great buy for people who still do have cable. Nothing can really compare to Netflix’s impressive content library. Read our Netflix review for more info.

 

Hulu – The Best Streaming Service for Recent TV Episodes

Hulu

Netflix is great, but one of the big downsides to it is that they only have older, past season episodes of most TV shows. Hulu is a great way to fill in the gap, because it offers very recent episodes of popular TV shows, usually within 1 week of the episode airing on live TV. Here are some highlights of Hulu:

  • Watch on-demand TV shows and movies
  • Recent episodes added the same week they air on live TV
  • Hundreds of thousands of episodes available
  • Starts at $8 per month
  • Great way to stay current on current seasons of your favorite shows
  • Works on most devices
  • Free 7 day trial available

Hulu is a great service, and on it you’ll find TV series that are simply not offered anywhere else, as well as very recent episodes that you’ll have to wait a year or more to watch on Netflix. For staying current on TV shows, Hulu is one of the best streaming services. See our Hulu review for more info.

Click here to try Hulu free for 7 days.

 

Amazon Prime Instant Video – The Best Streaming Service for Amazon Users

amazon prime video review

Do you shop on Amazon? Do you have Amazon Prime? If not, you really should. Amazon Prime comes with tons of awesome benefits, including free 2 day shipping when shopping on Amazon, and access to Amazon Prime Instant Video. Some highlights of Amazon Prime Instant Video include:

  • A Netflix-like on-demand streaming service, but with different content
  • Thousands of hit TV shows, movies, documentaries and more
  • Exclusive access to Amazon Originals not found anywhere else
  • Tons of HBO content included for free – series like The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and more
  • Prime membership is $99 per year (works out to $8.25 per month)
  • Works on most devices
  • Includes free 2 day shipping on Amazon, free photo storage, free music streaming and more
  • Free 30 day trial available

Amazon Prime Instant Video (review here) is really just one of the many benefits of an Amazon Prime membership, but it’s a big one. The service is functionally very similar to Netflix, and offers a similar amount of content. If you’ll get use out of the other Prime benefits, Amazon Prime Instant Video is the best streaming service for you.

Click here to try Amazon Prime free for 30 days.

 

CBS All Access – The Best Streaming TV Service for CBS Show Fans

cbs all access review

CBS All Access is an on-demand streaming service that offers a massive library of past episodes of hit CBS shows. As you likely know, CBS is home to some of the most popular shows on TV, including staples like Big Bang Theory, CSI, NCIS, The Good Wife and more. If you’re a fan of any CBS shows, CBS All Access may be one of the best streaming services that should be on your shortlist. Here are the highlights:

  • Watch CBS shows on-demand
  • Over 8,500 episodes available
  • Hit shows like CSI, Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods and more
  • Access to CBS All Access originals not available anywhere else
  • Starts at $6 per month
  • No contract required
  • Also offers live streaming of select CBS programming, including live sports
  • Free 7 day trial available

For fans of CBS shows, this service is a must-have. CBS is also expanding the service fairly rapidly, recently announcing the new CBS Originals that will only be available through this service, and also implementing live sports streaming recently. At $6 per month, this is a no-brainer for a lot of folks. Read our CBS All Access review for more.

Click here to try CBS All Access free for a week.

 

The Best Streaming Services: Bottom Line

So, that was a whole lot of information, we get it! Choosing the best streaming service for you can be a challenge, given how many options there are. What’s important to realize, though, is that having more than one service might be ideal. These streaming TV services are cheap enough that you can easily get 2 or 3 and still be saving tons of money compared to cable. If you are looking for the quick-and-dirty lowdown, here’s what we’d recommend:

  1. Get a live streaming service – either DIRECTV NOW ($35 per month, 60+ channels, free 7-day trial), or Sling TV ($20 per month, 30+ channels, free 7-day trial)
  2. If you don’t have a streaming device, take advantage of one of the free device deals. Note that these offers do change from time to time.
  3. Explore the live streaming service that you chose, and see if it will be enough for your needs
  4. If you find you want more selection or more on-demand options, go with either Amazon Prime Instant Video ($99 per year, free 30-day trial), Hulu ($8 per month, free 7-day trial), or Netflix ($8 per month, free 7-day trial). All these services are great; choosing the best streaming service for you will depend on your specific tastes and preferences.
  5. Explore your new on-demand service, and if you find that you still want more options, check out one of the more specialty services like CBS All Access or FuboTV.
  6. Keep reading StreamingObserver – new services are launched regularly, and we strive to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your new service(s)!

Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows is a cord-cutting reporter living in the rainy but beautiful Pacific North West.
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Austin Meadows