Discover the best streaming services on offer
Obsessed with Netflix? Can’t get enough of Disney Plus? We’ve got the latest news, reviews and deals for your favourite streaming services, from Amazon Prime Video to HBO Max.
Streaming services are becoming increasingly popular as cord cutters ditch their cable and satellite subscriptions, choosing instead to use a live TV streaming service, on-demand setup, media center or OTA TV system with an antenna and tuner. We have carried out the most extensive review to find the best streaming services possible, delivering all the facts you need to know before making the big switch.
Live TV Streaming Services
With live TV streaming services, ask yourself what kind of content you want to watch. Do you enjoy watching sports networks? Try out ESPN+, NHL TV or MLB TV. Are you more of an entertainment junkie? Go for Hulu Live TV, Pluto TV or fuboTV. Perhaps movies are your thing, in which case you could be suited to Showtime, YouTube TV or Sling TV. There are a range of different options catering to each niche, so make sure you find the perfect match for your viewing habits.
Many live TV streaming services offer a free trial, with the average length being 7 days, so it’s worth finding an option which allows you to do this, as if you decide you don’t want to sign up before the trial period has expired, you can cancel without having to pay anything! Finances are definitely an important consideration, and one of the best features of live TV streaming services are that you aren’t tied into a contract, so you can cancel at any time. There are also skinny bundles available with a range of providers, so if you’re low on cash you can go for a service such as Philo, which costs less in exchange for a more limited selection of channels.
That isn’t all you need to think about, though. Some live TV streaming services offer DVR services, so you can record your favorite shows to watch later, and even skip through commercials, pause, rewind and fast forward as you desire. There’s no point watching content of any kind, however, if the streaming quality is poor. Therefore, make sure you check out the standard of service you’ll be getting with the provider you’re considering. Will it play in 1080p or 4K? What is the framerate, and are high-intensity choices such as sports matches and movies available in 60FPS? Is the sound quality high, and will you be able to access surround sound? What’s the delay compared to cable or satellite content delivery, and is there much of a wait when you switch between channels?
Interface is also important, as if the provider offers screens which are difficult to navigate, you’ll be put off using it altogether. Are channels organized in a way which is easy to understand? Is the navigation menu simple and clear? Can you search for a particular show or channel? Furthermore, accessing additional features is also important – and there are many options to consider. For example, some services allow for simultaneous viewing on multiple devices, TV Everywhere app access, parental controls and more. Fortunately, we take all of these questions and more into account with our live TV streaming services reviews.
On-Demand Streaming Services
On-demand content is an important part of any streaming service, as there’s nothing better than bingeing on your favorite TV show or having a movie marathon. Keeping up to date with the latest episodes of popular series and having access to a large database of content for rainy days or lazy Sunday afternoons definitely enriches your life, so making sure you have access to this branch of streaming service is vital. Some on-demand services will be part of live TV packages, while the big names such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will mainly be focused on this type of content. Niche services include Shudder for horror fans, Crunchyroll for anime enthusiasts and Disney Plus for watching the classic childhood favorites. Perhaps you only want access to a backlog of movies and TV, or you could want the choice of live TV or picking a movie to watch. Whatever you choose, there are plenty of options to consider.
Clearly, the main benefit of VOD (video on demand) is the convenience users get to enjoy. You can choose a video from the available catalog and watch it at any time you like, as often as you wish and, in any location, as long as you’ve either downloaded the content or have a high-speed internet connection. Furthermore, you won’t be tied into a contract with a VOD subscription, and can cancel at any time. This takes away the pressure of commitment, and if you find another service is better suited to your needs further down the line, you can easily cancel one subscription and sign up to another. Alternatively, you may like to be signed up to several services at once to customize and enhance your access to various forms and genres of content.
With traditional cable or satellite television, your viewing options are generally limited to your geographical location, but this isn’t the case with VOD. Regardless of where in the world you reside, all you have to do is log in to gain access to a huge library of content. This means you get a huge variety of video choices, as opposed to being limited by whatever is available at the time on cable or satellite. There will typically be hundreds or thousands of movies and TV shows available with on demand streaming services, so you’ll always be spoilt for choice. What’s more, with the increased development of niche content in specific genres such as anime and horror, plus original content being created to cater to specific viewing desires, it’s clear the on-demand streaming is a rapidly growing platform.
Not only can you access more content with VOD, you’ll also be paying less than what you would with cable. While you could pay more to watch unlimited content with a premium cable package, you could also take the route of paying less and viewing content on demand. Plus, viewers can sync their accounts across multiple devices, so whether you’re on a desktop computer or laptop, video game console, smartphone or tablet, you’ll be able to log in to your account and pause your watch progress to pick it up on another device if you wish.
Moving on to media players, these are an important part of streaming services if you have a large library of local content you want to organize and manage. By streaming content through a media player such as Kodi, Plex or Emby, you will be able to see everything you have available, from top movies to TV shows, and many of these providers will be able to fill in missing information such as album and movie artwork, synopses, cast information and trailers. With media players, it’s all about functionality – is the setup easy to handle? What’s the interface like? If you’re into tech and want to modify your streaming service, are there elements of it which are open source? How many types of device is the media server compatible with, and can you integrate other services so they can be easily accessed from the home screen? Check out our reviews to make comparisons of the top providers using our trusted information.
It’s not just the services you need to consider – there’s hardware, too. You may want to stream live and on demand TV on a television, and while there are smart devices such as the Samsung Smart TV, VIZIO Smart TV and LG Smart TV, you could also be using an Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV or Android TV. Alternatively, you could be using a smartphone such as an Android or iOS device, or something different like the Google Chromecast or Roku. Whatever you’re using, a media streaming device is an important purchase to make. For example, you could have an NVIDIA Shield or Xiaomi Mi Box S. When you make your purchase, consider questions such as: What is the storage like? Is it decently priced? Can you access an app store? Is voice control available? Can it be integrated with Smart Home? What’s the audio quality? Is the streaming quality high? We have asked all of these questions in our streaming services reviews.
If you want to access over the air – or OTA – TV, you’ll need equipment such as an antenna and tuner. Some of the best choices out there include the Mohu blade and Mohu releaf, RGTech Monarch 40 and Monarch 50, the Hauppauge WinTV DualHD tuner and the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner. Important questions to ask during the process of making such a purchase include: What is the setup like? Is the device easy to install or mount? Will it be likely to pick up a range of channels? What is the streaming quality like? Do you live near a broadcast tower? Is there a money back guarantee in case you cannot pick up reception?