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In days of yore, services that let you stream content were a nice bonus to your DVD and digital download packages, offering slim picking of TV shows and second-run movies.  

What you got was add-ons to the shows you’d watched for the first, and even second, showing on cable channels. However, with the advent of super-fast download speeds and an array of devices to make the process easier, video streaming companies are ringing the death knell for old-school cable. Plenty among us have already decided to cut the cord and go streaming-only in their homes. 

Are you ready to hop on the all-streaming bandwagon? Chandra Steele, Chloe Alvanesius, and Ben Moore Cord gave a rundown of their favorite streaming sites to PC Mag, where this article appeared in its original form. You’ll learn what to expect from the services – which you should be careful of not paying more for than your original cable deal – and whether the style of content will match your viewing tastes. 

The Best Alternatives to Cable: Video Streaming Services

Twitch.tv

Image credit: blog.twitch.tv

Great things: It’s super easy to get going and has flexible options that are user-friendly. You can use it in conjunction with loads of streaming video utilities and you get content from pros and hobbyists alike. It also offers video playlists and you get all of this absolutely free.

Not so great things: When you have a basic account you can’t skip any adverts and there’s no default video archiving either. It also doesn’t work for streaming on mobile.

You need to know: Twitch is definitely getting better as its competition improves in the realm of video game streaming. Whether you’re a pro gamer or an armchair player, you can share your demos, walkthroughs, and speed runs with the enthusiastic masses. 

Amazon Prime Video

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Great things: The original content is nothing short of excellent and they have plenty to stream from other networks too. It works in 4K and HDR, as well as watching offline. You can even rent or buy additional TV shows and movies on top of your package.

Not so great things: The interface is somewhat cluttered and you’ll probably come across some glitches when the company does testing.

You need to know: Amazon Prime Video has loads of prestigious and popular shows and movies for your streaming pleasure, and the technical capabilities of 4K HDR is genuinely impressive, as well as the option to watch offline. 

Apple TV+

Image credit: apple.com

Great things: The interface is as you’d expect from Apple: sleek. It’s fairly priced and there are no annoying adverts to deal with. You can watch it in your web browser as well as through devices and you can get offline downloads for iOS. 

Not so great things: At its launch in November 2019 there was a pretty limited content range and it doesn’t have apps for Android devices or gaming consoles. 

What you need to know: Although technically impressive, Apple TV+ is reliant on having a small set of really high caliber original shows. 

DirecTV Now

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Great things: The high-definition video is smooth and you get lots of channels to choose from. You can add extra, premium channels at a fair price.

Not so great things: There are no DVR or rewind options and for any non-live programming you’re dependent on your network provider’s VOD content.

What you need to know: When you have DirecTV you get access to dozens of channels broadcasting live TV and there’s no need to get a satellite dish added or cable ran into your home. 

Netflix

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Great things: You don’t have to deal with ads, and neither do the people you share your account with for simultaneous viewing. There’s an offline playback feature, the library is packed with high-quality offerings, and nearly every device you’d want to stream to is possible. 

Not so great things: The subscription is a little pricey compared to competitors and there is a lot of stuff that’s region-locked. The software doesn’t get updated a whole lot but the content does and you can find shows disappear often. 

You need to know: It might be on the expensive side, but there are loads of TV shows and movies to feast your eyes on and the original content is critically acclaimed and affirmed water-cooler fodder; definitely one of the best streaming sites.

Disney+

Image credit: disneyplus.com

Great things: There’s all of the Disney-owned content you could want, all in one convenient place. You can get offline downloads and stream in 4K quality, and the overall performance of the service is good.

Not so great things: The original content is entrenched in existing franchises and although they’ve bought out 21st Century Fox, they’ve not migrated all the content yet. The parental controls are only basic, too.

You need to know: The library on offer from Disney+ is impressive; packed with high-quality shows and movies that are supported by a streaming package that has really useful features. It’s not essential streaming just yet, there needs to be more diverse content on offer. 

fuboTV

Image credit: fubo.tv

Great things: If you’re looking for live sports and on-demand entertainment, fuboTV is for you. The streaming is good quality and very reliable, whilst the interface is well-organized and easy to navigate. There’s also DVR facilities as a bonus.

Not so great things: Your wallet might not be impressed with the financial outlay and there’s no ESPN. Offline content isn’t an option and the mobile app leaves a lot to be desired. 

What you need to know: Sports fans wanting to get away from hard-wired cable need to check this service out, you get a great array of sports programming and a fair amount of general entertainment channels too. 

Hulu

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Great things: Their bench is deep with great content with loads of complete seasons and full series worth of episodes. The mobile app is wonderful to use and the quality goes up to 720p HD, all without adverts if you’re willing to pay a little more. 

Not so great things: For variety, you get more from Netflix and for streaming quality you get the superior 1080p resolution from Amazon and Apple TV+.

You need to know: Sign up for Hulu’s subscription service if you’re into bingeing on complete seasons of your favorite shows over all of your devices. It’s even better with the premium offering with no commercials. 

Plex

Image credit: plex.tv

Great things: It’s super user-friendly and the process to get content across your home network seamlessly, you can even remotely access your streams from anywhere. There are third-party channels that give you extra content for free, plus it has DigiCert security.

Not so great things: To unlock a lot of the extra features you need to pay more. Since it’s not an open-source media service you can’t tweak it to your liking so easily.

You need to know: If you want a user-friendly media server, Plex is one of the best. It’s easy to stream content across loads of your devices hooked up to your home network without bashing your head against the wall in frustration at technicalities. 

Sling Television

Image credit: pcmag.com

Great things: SlingTV is relatively cheap and you still get great speeds giving great picture quality. There’s a Start Over feature that you’re going to find useful and some channels also offer 3-day replay features.

Not so great things: The channels on offer are somewhat limited and you can’t broaden things out too much even when you pay for add-ons. You also don’t get DVR functions, which can be frustrating.

What you need to know: You can get live TV across pretty much any device you’d have with Sling TV, but the TV you can watch is limited to just a few channels. 

CBS All Access

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Great things: This is where you get your hands on the massive back catalog and current hit list of CBS shows, along with CBS news and the NFL games. The price is competitive in the market and most platforms are covered.

Not so great things: There’s not so many exclusive shows to watch and what’s there isn’t available offline. It can be unreliable and doesn’t support 4K or HDR streaming. The interface ain’t great, it’s pretty cluttered.

What you need to know: For fans of CBS original programming, CBS All Access is essential. For anyone else, the big back catalog of shows of the past and present might not seem like good enough value.

Dazn

Image credit: malavida.com

Great things: This is the place to get MMA and boxing broadcasts that are exclusive. If it’s been aired on Dazn, then it’s available for replay too. The performance is very good. 

Not so great things: The price tag is heavyweight and aside from martial arts, there are precious other sports available. Live streaming of events has a limit of 720p quality

You need to know: For loyal fans who don’t want to pay high PPV fees, Dazn is a reliable option. Fans of mainstream sports leagues and those seeking general entertainment won’t find much of use here.

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