Cut the Cord - A Guide to TV & Movie Streaming Services

Cut the What?
You've probably heard or seen the expression, "Cut the cord".  This simply means that people, in record numbers, are dropping their expensive cable or satellite TV packages, and switching to one or more streaming media services.  A streaming service is nothing more than a company that delivers TV and/or movies over the Internet instead of traditional cable or satellite signals.  The programs are still broadcast/sent to you, but with many surprising benefits.

How's it better?
Many streaming service providers have little or no commercials.  Unless you are using a Live TV type of service (i.e. network or cable based channels like NBC or A&E), every program is on-demand - meaning you can watch what you want, when you want.  You can typically pause, rewind, and fast forward.  Closed captioning is present.  Some providers even let you download programs so you can watch them offline (e.g. on your phone/tablet when you are on a plane without Internet service).  Some provides offer original content that can't be seen else where (e.g. Stranger Things).  Many providers focus on a specific type of content, e.g. Movies, TV Shows, Documentaries, or Sports - which lets you more closely pay for only you want to see.  Best of all, the cost is typically much lower than traditional cable and satellite TV. 

Below is a list of our favorite streaming services, and to the right some additional information about streaming services.

Popular Streaming Services

Netflix

Netflix

visit Netflix

Netflix is a streaming Movie and TV Show service that offers multiple ways to watch. Offering multiple plan options, and the ability to cancel at any time, Netflix is a popular streaming service.

Netflix compatibility is included with most Smart TVs, Game consoles, Blu-Ray Players, and more. You can also watch on most phone/tablets via their App, and on computers via their website

Summary:
Pros: 1,000's of movies/TV shows, low cost, no commercials, original content, frequently updated, some content available offline

Cons: No live TV, cost more for multiple devices at one time

Cost: Starting at $8.99 per month
Fubo

Fubo

visit Fubo

Internet television service focusing primarily on live sports, plus network TV, movies, and news.

Includes many popular sports networks and events like international soccer.

Summary:
Pros: Lots of sports options including events not on other popular sports networks.

Cons: Higher monthly price

Cost: 54.99 per month, 7 Day free trial
Acorn TV

Acorn TV

visit Acorn TV

Acorn TV streams TV programming from Britain and beyond. Acorn TV offers British TV shows along with favorites from Ireland, Australia, and beyond, plus original content.

Compatible with most Smart TVs, streaming devices, and mobile devices like tablets and phones.

Summary:
Pros: Original content

Cons: No Live TV, no offline content

Cost: $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year
Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video

visit Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video offers movies & TV shows plus the ability to rent movies & shows not included.

Prime Video is compatible with most Smart TVs, and has an App for most mobile devices. You can also watch via their website

Summary:
Pros: Lots of content, including many current TV shows & movies.

Cons: Sometimes difficult to find content you are looking for

Cost: 8.99 stand alone / 4.99 - 14.99 per month w/Prime. 30-Day free trial
Crackle

Crackle

visit Crackle

Sony Crackle is a free streaming service offering movies and shows plus some original content.

With content changing regularly, you are able to find different programs that interest you including movies, TV shows, and even Anime.

Summary:
Pros: Assortment of content that gets updated / changed regularly.

Cons: Commercials.

Cost: FREE
Criterion Channel

Criterion Channel

visit Criterion Channel

Movie classics and discoveries from around the world.

 

Summary:
Pros: More than 1000 classic and contemporary films, from Hollywood, international, independent and art-house films

Cons: Not common theatrical movies

Cost: $10.99 per month or $99.99 per year, 14-Day free trial
DC Universe

DC Universe

visit DC Universe

Movies, TV shows, and original content from DC Comics

A streaming service for fans of the DC Universe of comics & superheroes.

Summary:
Pros: Some hard to find content for fans of the DC universe of characters, including new exclusive series

Cons:

Cost: $7.99 per month or $74.99 per year, 7-Day free trial
Disney+

Disney+

visit Disney+

COMING FALL 2019

 

Summary:
Pros:

Cons:

Cost:
ESPN+

ESPN+

visit ESPN+

A selection of Live Sports, plus on-demand originals.

 

Summary:
Pros: Low price for ability to watch live major sporting events. Cancel anytime.

Cons: Some items are PPV

Cost: $4.99 per month
FilmRise

FilmRise

visit FilmRise

A free streaming service consisting of popular movies and hit television shows

Includes popular content as well as foreign language films and independent cinema.

Summary:
Pros: Popular content including some classic TV series.

Cons: Limited content

Cost: FREE
HBO Now

HBO Now

visit HBO Now

A stand-alone streaming service that doesn't require a provider with HBO.

 

Summary:
Pros: Can get HBO content without having a HBO subscription on cable/satellite networks.

Cons:

Cost: $14.99 per month, 7 Day free trial
Hulu

Hulu

visit Hulu

A premium streaming service offering some of the latest and greatest TV and movie content.

No long-term commitment. You can also upgrade to a NoAds version, and add live TV or premium networks like HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz.

Summary:
Pros: Lots of content to chose from, including latest episodes from many TV shows.

Cons: Costs extra for no ads or adding live TV

Cost: Starting at $5.99 per month
IMDb Freedive

IMDb Freedive

visit IMDb Freedive

A free streaming service available in the United States to watch hit TV shows and top Hollywood hits.

Ad-supported video channel available on many smart devices.

Summary:
Pros: No subscription required

Cons: Ad supported. Not all items listed at IMDb can be watched on IMDb TV

Cost: FREE
Curiosity Stream

Curiosity Stream

visit Curiosity Stream

CuriosityStream focuses on high quality, entertaining, educational documentaries and shows. If the original Discovery, TLC, and History channels morphed into a streaming service -- this would be it. In fact, CuriosityStream was founded by John S. Hendricks who was the founder of Discovery, Inc (The Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, etc)

While this is a paid service, it starts at only $3/m and there are no commercials.

Summary:
Pros: Excellent educational content, super low price, supported by most streaming devices

Cons: Focuses on educational content, HD/4K steams cost extra

Cost: $3 per month
Kanopy

Kanopy

visit Kanopy

Kanopy is a streaming service offering over 30,000 titles including documentaries, classis and indie films that uses your library card.

Content available may depend on what your library offers.

Summary:
Pros: Free as long as you have a library card for a participating public library.

Cons: Requires your library to participate in Kanopy

Cost: FREE
Philo

Philo

visit Philo

Philo is a streaming service that focuses on entertainment over sports at a low price.

Offering over 50 channels, including A&E, BBC America, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, History, Nicelodeon and more.

Summary:
Pros: Many of the common channels people look for

Cons: Almost no sports or news channels

Cost: $20 per month, 7 Day free trial
Playstaion Vue

Playstaion Vue

visit Playstaion Vue

PlayStation™Vue streams live TV, movies, news and sports, offering multiple levels of plans for different channel packages.

You don't have to have a PlayStation™ game console to use PlayStation™Vue, as it is compatible with most streaming devices and smart TVs.

Summary:
Pros: Common channels, Live TV, cloud DVR

Cons: Local TV stations can be subject to broadcast blackout rules

Cost: Starting at $49.99 per month
Pluto TV

Pluto TV

visit Pluto TV

Pluto TV is a free streaming service in America, offering 100+ live & original channels, and thousands of on-demand movies.

Available on most devices including Smart TVs, movile devices via an App, or computers via their website.

Summary:
Pros: Lots of content including some original channels

Cons: International viewing may be limited due to streaming rights.

Cost: FREE
Redbox

Redbox

visit Redbox

Redbox is more than just a DVD/game rental kiosk now! You can stream movies and TV shows thru their website or App.

No subscription required - pay as you go. You can also "Download & Go" for rentals and purchases.

Summary:
Pros: No subscription required. Earn points for free rental at the box. Large selection

Cons: Once start watching a rental, only 48 hours to finish or "expires"

Cost: Starts as low as 99¢ per title.
Roku Channel

Roku Channel

visit Roku Channel

Watch hundreds of free movies and shows without a subscription.

 

Summary:
Pros: Large selection of movies and shows.

Cons: Premium content requires subscriptions.

Cost: FREE
Sling TV

Sling TV

visit Sling TV

Get the live TV you love, and customize the channels you want for less than cable or satellite.

Sling offers several base packages, plus the ability to add channel packages for even more content.

Summary:
Pros: Many common channels included with the different base packages.

Cons: May have to add additional channel packages to get everything you want

Cost: Starting with an everyday price of $25
Showtime

Showtime

visit Showtime

Get award-winning content, movies, and sports, all commercial-free.

 

Summary:
Pros: Award-winning Showtime series. Download full episodes and movies to mobile devices to watch offline later.

Cons:

Cost: $10.99 per month, 7 day free trial
Starz

Starz

visit Starz

Starz is a streaming service offering movies, television series, and original content

Starz requires no contract, so you can cancel at any time.

Summary:
Pros: Popular content including some classic TV series.

Cons:

Cost: $8.99 per month, 7 day free trial
Tubi TV

Tubi TV

visit Tubi TV

Tubi is a free streaming service offering thousands of movies and TV shows.

Tubi is ad-based, so it's free to stream, but supported by putting commercials in the content.

Summary:
Pros: Popular content including some classic TV series.

Cons: Commercials, no ad-free option.

Cost: FREE
Vudu

Vudu

visit Vudu

Vudu is a movie and TV streaming service, offering thousands of free titles, along with the latest releases available to rent.

Vudu offers the option to rent or buy movies.

Summary:
Pros: Lots of free content. No subscription required. Video quality up to 4K UHD, download & watch on mobile device options.

Cons: Have to rent latest titles.

Cost: FREE, but options to rent latest titles
Xumo

Xumo

visit Xumo

Bringing some of the best content from digital and traditional networks, you can pick from 160+ channels, live events, breaking news, viral videos, and more!

Xumo is able to offer it's content free because there are commercials.

Summary:
Pros: Lots of channels and content.

Cons: Commercials

Cost: FREE
You Tube

You Tube

visit You Tube

YouTube TV is a streaming service from Google/YouTube that brings you a mix of live TV, on-demand videos and some DVR features, all with the familiar YouTube interface.

Upgrades are available to add additional channels like Starz, Sundance, AMC, NBA, and MLB TV

Summary:
Pros: Friendly interface, many options, supported by many Smart TVs and devices

Cons: Cost

Cost: $50 per month, 7-day free trial
* Please note that the streaming service prices listed above were accurate to the best of our knowledge as of Q2 2019.  Prices, terms and availability may change.  See service provider's site for specifics and current details.  If you happen to notice a discrepancy, feel free to contact us and we'll be more than happy to review the information.  Happy Streaming!

More about Streaming TV & Movies

Do I have to watch on my phone?
You can watch most streaming services on your phone, but you don't have to.  The majority of the streaming providers have numerous ways you can watch.  There are apps for phones and tablets.  You can typically use your notebook or desktop computer to watch by visiting their website, and most importantly - your TV. 

There are a few  ways to watch streaming services on your television, and they are pretty simple! 

Many newer TVs are called "Smart TVs".  These TVs have either built-in apps or apps that you can add just like with your phone.  Most Smart TVs will have a Netflix app on them.  Typically, you tap "Apps" on your remote, select Netflix, log in once, and then you're ready to start browsing 1,000's of TV and movies.  Once you've found what you want to watch, you click play on your remote, and in seconds you're watching your program.

For TVs that are not Smart TVs or lack the app/service that you want to use, there are a variety of "sticks" that you can plug into your TV that will give you this capability.  Some examples are the Google Chromecast, the Roku, Apple TV, and the Amazon Fire Stick.  The stick plugs into one of your TV's HDMI ports (like plugging in a DVD player), the stick connects to your Wi-Fi, and you then can use the apps on the stick as if they were built into your TV.


Watch Netflix and more on your TV with a Roku Streaming Stick

Bingeing - What's that about?
If you've ever talked to someone who streams, you've likely heard the someone say, "oh man, I binged The Office for hours last night".  If you have an old show that you can't get enough of, or are ready to finally watch that series everyone's been talking about for two years, you can typically start at season 1, episode 1 and just continually watch it.  No annoying commercials, no "what happened in the last episode that aired a week ago" -- just immersive enjoyment.

 

What's the down side?
As with anything, there are a few drawbacks.  Some of these are:

  • Live TV - The majority of the streaming providers do not offer Live TV.  This means that if your show airs on Mondays, you may not get to watch it until Tuesday evening.  Some of the larger providers (e.g. YouTube TV, Hulu), do have Live TV options, but they usually come at small premium.

  • Sports - If you like sports, you need to first research what each provider offers in terms of sports.  Some providers have none, others will give you live/local NFL games at no additional cost with their Live TV package, and some providers are specifically for sports.  Odds are you can find your favorite sports/leagues, but it takes a bit of reading on the providers' websites.

    For local sports - check out Hulu with the Live TV option
    For more sports - check out Fubo TV on the left.

  • No Internet / No Streaming - This is probably obvious, but the Internet is required to use these services.  If your internet is down, so is your programming.  You'll also need decent speed internet so that the content streams reliably from the provider to you.  Most high-speed Internet services (like Milwaukee PC's) will handle the streaming fine.  If you're still using dial-up internet, streaming isn't going to work for you.

  • No Recording - while some of the Live TV providers offer a DVR-style option to store some broadcast recordings in the cloud for you, the vast majority of shows and movies cannot be recorded.  This may seem strange at first, but since the content is on-demand, there's no reason to record - it's just there when you want to watch it.  Remember, some providers offer "offline viewing" which means you can download a copy of the show prior to being offline (e.g. being on a flight).