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There are more ways to catch your favorite shows and movies now than ever before. The traditional option involves bundling cable TV service with your internet provider. By choosing this package, you can save money as opposed to separately buying each service.
Alternatively, you could sign up for a streaming service instead of cable. Streaming platforms like Hulu have become very popular thanks to their bevy of entertainment options. Outside of AT&T TV, all the others don’t require a service agreement, so you can cancel at any time. This guide will examine what is the best internet service to use with a streaming service, available streaming services, as well as bundling options for both cable TV and streaming platforms.
What are TV Streaming Services?
TV streaming services are different from cable TV in several ways. For one, streaming platforms don’t require you to rent equipment. Instead, you can download the app or visit the service’s website to watch live TV or catch on-demand shows. Further, most streaming services don’t require a service agreement whereas some cable TV providers (AT&T, Xfinity) do. This is a huge draw for viewers as they can catch their favorite shows, cheer on their favorite sports teams and more, without a long-term obligation. Most importantly, streaming services can be much less expensive than cable TV packages.
Best Live Streaming Services
Here are some of the best streaming services for TV viewers who want to cut the cord and give up cable (or add to their current subscription). Which streaming service is best for you? That depends on your price range and the type of content you love. Some services allow you to choose which channels you have access to, while the best TV streaming service for many customers includes all standard channels.
|Service||Free Trial||Additional User Profiles?||Cloud DVR?|
|Hulu + Live TV||Y||Y||Y|
|AT&T TV Now||Y||N||Y|
|T-Mobile TVision Now||N||Y||N|
Sling TV comes in three highly customizable month-to-month packages called Sling Orange, Sling Blue and Sling Orange & Blue. In addition to the standard packages, Sling offers extras like their Cloud DVR, sports channels, premium channels and more depending on your individual or family needs.
YouTube TV is a great option for people who are willing to spend a bit more per month to have a wide variety of channels. Also, by paying a bit higher price than some of the other streaming service options, YouTube TV customers get all channels for the same cost. No add-on costs for things like sports channels, extra storage, local channels and more.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV subscription packages for 65 channels, including sports and news channels. Customers can add on options like premium channels, DVR, unlimited screens and more for an additional cost. Many people might already be familiar with Hulu for their Hulu without Live TV plan for a low price with adds.
AT&T TV Now
AT&T TV Now is offered in five packages, starting with the Optimo Mas package for 90+ channels and going up to the Ultimate package for 125+ channels. Regardless of which package you choose, you can add on a variety of options like premium channels, international channels, sports channels and more. Their cloud DVR is included in all packages, so customers do not have to worry about storage space.
T-Mobile TVision Home
With T-Mobile TVision Home, customers can enjoy more than 154 channels. This includes one set-up box with the option to add on accessibility for more devices in the home. You can also choose to add on extra channels like premium movie channels, sports channels, local news channels and more. TVision is not yet available nationwide, so it may or may not be an option in your area.
Streaming your favorite shows, music and movies requires the best streaming service and the tech to handle it. Depending on where you live, you may have a single DSL or fiber provider, one cable provider and multiple satellite options. If you've used our tool to find your internet providers by ZIP code, you may have seen any of the following types of service to pick from:
Internet Recommendations for TV Streaming
What is the best streaming service without the internet to handle it? Customers should make sure their internet service can provide ample download and upload speeds to avoid buffering and other errors.
The recommended speed to stream shows is at least 3 Mbps. Below are some of cheap internet plans that will keep you binging on your favorite shows:
|AT&T Internet 100||10 to 100 Mbps||Check Availability|
|Verizon FiOS||Up to 200 Mbps||Check Availability|
|Xfinity Performance Starter+||Up to 25 Mbps||Check Availability|
|Cox Internet Start 10||Up to 10 Mbps||Check Availability|
|Frontier Internet||0.5 to 6 Mbps||Check Availability|
Generally, customers are most satisfied with fiber-optic internet service. Speeds are fast and tend to remain fast at peak times. Most fiber-optic internet providers also provide digital TV service, which is similar to the cable service most people are familiar with. Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. cannot yet get fiber internet service. While Google Fiber is the best-known fiber internet provider, Verizon, Frontier and AT&T are the largest fiber providers in the U.S. See more fiber providers here.
If fiber is not in your area, you'll need to choose between cable and DSL. We generally recommend DSL if price is your primary concern. While speeds are lower, they're also more reliable during peak usage. You may have to get TV through a satellite provider. See more DSL providers here.
Cable is generally a better option if internet speed is your main concern or if you want to bundle TV and internet through the same provider. Note that while introductory prices (usually for the first 6-12 months) for cable and DSL will often look similar, cable internet and TV prices tend to jump after the introductory period.
Fixed wireless internet
If you can't get fiber, DSL or cable, try to find a fixed wireless internet provider. It's unlikely that you'll find TV service through a fixed wireless provider, but these providers offer internet that is faster and more reliable than satellite internet service. See more providers or read more about fixed wireless internet here.
If you can't get any of the above service types, your best bet is probably cellular service. Cell providers work through the same technology your phone uses. You can either use your phone as a hotspot (generally only good for temporary use) or purchase a cellular modem or modem/router combo that connects to your provider's 4G/LTE network. The major downsides to cellular internet are data caps, throttling (even on unlimited plans) and potentially spotty coverage. If you get no cell coverage at your home, you'll probably have to use satellite internet instead.
Almost everyone can get satellite internet service. Satellite works for browsing and simple web/email usage, but the lag can make it frustrating to use. Online gaming is not suited for satellite internet, and streaming may not work. You may, however, be able to use something like the Netflix download feature to slowly download and then play video. Depending on your specific internet usage needs, satellite internet may be a feasible option for you if other higher speed options are not available.
Best Internet and Streaming TV Bundles
If you prefer to bundle cable TV and internet service with one provider, here are some of the bundling options available for each:
Xfinity’s internet and TV bundles range from $50 to $90/mo., with 12- to 24-month contracts. The most basic package offers 100 Mbps download speeds and 10+ channels. The top-level package offers 300 Mbps download speeds and 12+ channels. Check if Xfinity is available in your area.
Depending on your location, AT&T may offer both internet and TV bundles. Starting at $39.99/mo. with a 12-month agreement, customers may get up to 18 Mbps download speeds. AT&T also offers four TV packages to choose from in your bundle. Check if AT&T is available in your area.
Offering internet through AT&T, DIRECTV gives customers the option to bundle internet and TV into one package. They offer three bundle options ranging from $89.99 to $109.99/mo. with a 12-month agreement. Within these bundles, you can get anywhere from 155 to 330 channels and an internet download speed of up to 100 Mbps. Check if DIRECTV is available in your area.
Spectrum offers two main internet TV bundle packages. Double Play Select, when bundled with the internet, is $98/mo. for 125 channels and 200 Mbps download speeds. Double Play Silver, when bundled with the internet, is 175 channels and 200 Mbps download speeds. These prices are based on a 12-month agreement. Check if Spectrum is available in your area.
Although a bit more limited in coverage area, RCN offers 15 package options for internet and TV bundles. Packages range from $39.99 to $119.99/mo. with anywhere from 70 to 295 channels. Download speeds vary greatly by package from 50 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps. Check if RCN is available in your area.
Best Internet and Streaming Packages
Some internet providers have decided to offer streaming services of their own to compete with Hulu and other providers. The benefit to going this route is you get to house all your entertainment needs with one provider with one bill. However, as some of these options indicate, they’re works in progress:
Xfinity Internet and Flex Streaming
This is a basic package that includes cable internet service and the ability to stream content from other platforms. While it doesn’t include any live channels, it does include access to the Peacock app, where you can relive your favorite TV shows (The Office will be there in January 2021) as well as movies, comedy and children’s programming. The bundle starts from $25/mo.
Spectrum Internet and TV Essentials
If you want access to live channels, this might be the better route to take. With this bundle, you’ll receive cable internet service and access to over 60 channels. Spectrum also has a mobile app so you can catch your favorite team’s game or show on the go. It also gives you access to Spectrum’s ever-expanding on-demand platform.
Cox Internet and Contour Stream Player
This bundle works similar to Xfinity’s in that you receive a player that houses all of your apps. On one hand, this is great if you don’t have a smart TV because it transforms your TV into one. You can watch Netflix, stream your favorite sports content on YouTube TV and much more. The package also includes cable internet service.