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Best TV Service Providers of 2023
Which one is right for you? Satellite TV, cable TV, fiber TV, or a streaming service?
The TV industry is constantly evolving, and with it comes a plethora of options by 2023—satellite TV, cable TV, fiber TV, live TV streaming, and on-demand streaming.
Satellite TV takes the crown for those dwelling in rural areas or want 300+ channels. Cable TV is great for people who want traditional TV at a price that won’t break the bank. If you’re one of the lucky ones where fiber TV is offered, then you might enjoy 400+ channels with a guaranteed reliable connection.
If you don’t need 100s of channels and would rather save a little dough, live TV streaming is something to consider. Or, if you love binge-watching drama or crime TV series, there are loads of on-demand streaming services available.
So between satellite, cable, fiber, live TV streaming, and on-demand streaming—which is the best TV provider for you?
|Xfinity TV||$20–$68.5†||185||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios TV||$75-$119||425||View Plans|
So, what are the different types of TV service providers?
TV service providers offer a variety of plans, channel lineups, and technology to fit different families. We recommend checking out your options before deciding which is the best TV provider or streaming service for your needs.
But before you do, you should know what to look for when choosing a satellite, cable, fiber, or live TV streaming service.
Satellite TV will give you a traditional TV feel with the option to have access to loads of channels and lots of sports extras or add-ons. It’s very widely available across the US, making this the best choice for rural areas.
Most satellite TV providers also offer free installation, so you won’t have to worry about climbing onto your roof to install the satellite dish. If you’ve seen The Holiday with Vince Vaughn, then you understand what you could be avoiding.
A standard cable TV service will give you a decent dollar-to-channel ratio and not too many fees (but expect to see them).
Most cable TV services also provide either a no-contract option or a solid deal with a contract. You can also enjoy sufficient DVR storage space to avoid family … altercations.
When looking for fiber optic cable, you should be guaranteed speed and reliability.
You'll most likely get double the channels than you would with standard cable, and for a reasonable price. The only problem is it's not widely available across the US. But we’re crossing our fingers that it will be in the future.
Digital live TV streaming
A great live TV streaming service will give a smooth user experience with easy navigation to the TV guide, on-demand content, and your recordings.
It does require an internet connection, so be aware of that.
As with all TV services, you'll want to take notice of the dollar-to-channel ratio. But bear in mind that you won't get access to as many channels as you would with satellite and cable TV.
Nowadays, a solid on-demand streaming service has a huge library of content (both network and original content) and an easy-to-use interface.
Not all on-demand streaming services are created equal as they all have their purpose (for example, Disney+ gives you content from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, etc. and Max releases Warner Bros. movies). And if you don't care for live sports or news, on-demand streaming services are the go-to for most people (although some might have a few live channels, such as Paramount+).
DISH: Best satellite TV provider
When it comes to satellite TV providers, the field narrows down to just two contenders that deserve a spot on your radar—DIRECTV and DISH.
DIRECTV flaunts an impressive number of channels, while DISH Network gives you a locked-in price for three whole years. If you're looking for the best all-around satellite TV provider, we choose DISH.
With DISH TV, you'll pay the same price for the life of your 3-year contract.s. And after those three blissful years, your monthly bill goes up by $20–$30.
DIRECTV applies a similar increase two years into your service, but at least it doesn't have second-year price hikes anymore (thank goodness).
Calling all college sports aficionados—DISH has your back with all collegiate channels like the SEC, PAC-12, and Longhorn networks.
And if you're a huge fan of the Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks or Golden State Warriors, we've named DISH the best satellite TV option for watching NBA games.
DIRECTV's top plan offers about 50 more channels than DISH's top plan if you're looking for abundance. Yes, you'll have to dish out more money for DIRECTV, but if you and your family want lots of channels (like over 330), DISH won't be your pick.
If you're interested in swapping out your DIRECTV service for DISH, these perks could be yours:
- $300 prepaid Mastercard
- 3-year TV price guarantee
- Eligibility to receive rewards for each eligible DISH subscriber
- Eligibility to participate in a DISH contest for big prizes
Use offer code DTV2DISH to get the deal here.
DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR
DISH also has the best DVR available. The Hopper 3 Smart DVR lets you record up to 16 shows at once, and you can record 8x times more HD content (2,000 hours) than the Genie from DIRECTV (200 hours).
However, keep in mind that the Hopper Duo and Hopper 2 (with 125—500 hours of DVR storage) is your only choice unless you get three or more set-top boxes. You'll have to pay an extra $5–10 per month for the Hopper 3 and an additional $7 per month for each added 4K Joey receiver.
We think it's worth the upgrade to the Hopper, though. Along with all the other excellent Hopper features, DISH has integrated Amazon Alexa voice commands into its DVR experience.
No longer must you sift through the couch cushions to find your lost remote. You can simply tell Alexa to turn on This Is Us and cry your eyes out with the rest of us.
TV channel count
|America's Top 120||$79.99/mo.‡||190||View Plan|
|America's Top 200||$99.99/mo.‡||240+||View Plan|
|America's Top 250||$109.99/mo.‡||290+||View Plan|
Xfinity: Best all-around cable provider
There are several cable TV options out there, but across the board, cable television providers suffer from not being available everywhere.
Xfinity is the best cable TV provider because it's widely available across the country, reliable, and decently priced.
With the entry-level package starting at only $20 a month, and the Popular TV starting at $50 with more than 125 channels, Xfinity wins our "best all-around package" award out of all our recommended TV providers.
The channel selection for Xfinity's Popular TV package is pretty similar to DISH's base-level package (including channels like ESPN, TNT, Food Network, and Disney Channel).
When you upgrade to Xfinity's Ultimate TV plan, you'll get Cartoon Network, Cooking Channel, Disney Junior, FX Movie Channel, and Paramount Pictures.
If you're an NFL fanatic, you'll like Xfinity because it's one of the best options for the NFL RedZone Channel. So if you decide to become an Xfinity customer and order this channel, you'll be set to watch all of the exciting moments of Sunday's games.
Xfinity’s monthly fees
Sigh. The thing we all dread: fees.
And Xfinity has plenty of fees to watch out for, such as regional sports fees (up to $13.35 per month), broadcast TV fees (up to $26.15 per month), DVR fees ($0–$20 per month), and a fee for each TV box ($7.50 per month).
They can really start to add up quickly on top of your base price, so we recommend you double-check how much your total monthly price will be during the checkout process before you commit.
Xfinity no longer holds you down with a contract
Xfinity TV no longer requires you to sign a 1-year contract!
Besides the fees, the contract was another downside to Xfinity TV. But now that there is no term agreement to sign, this cable TV provider just went up a few points in our book.
Even without a contract that sometimes brings your monthly price down, you might also notice Xfinity's prices still beat out many cable TV providers.
Read our full review of Xfinity for more details on packages, equipment, and channel lineups.
TV channel count
|Choice TV||$20.00/mo.^||10+||View Plans|
|Popular TV||$50.00/mo.°||125+||View Plans|
|Ultimate TV||$68.50/mo.°||185+||View Plans|
Verizon Fios TV: Best for fast, fiber cable TV
As of right now, there aren't too many fiber cable TV providers out there, and only a few areas can reap the benefits of a fiber-optic connection.
Verizon Fios is the number one fiber TV provider that we recommend, and it will guarantee you speed, reliability, and a ton of channels.
Verizon Fios TV uses a fiber-optic connection, which is actually a faster connection speed than traditional cable. It's super convenient when you're connecting multiple devices, bundling your TV and internet together, and for those who want a faster upload and download time.
In short, Fios is good for bigger families, people who work or go to school from home, and families that use the internet constantly.
Verizon Fios TV doesn't require an annual contract. So you can cancel your service if you move, switch over to a live TV streaming service, or want to cut back on bills.
Verizon Fios TV is only of the only services to offer channel customization
One of Verizon's entry-level plans, Fios TV Test Drive, allows you to, you guessed it, "test drive" Verizon Fios TV. For the same price as the Your Fios TV plan, you can watch for 60 days and Verizon will recommend the best plan for you based on your viewing history.
Verizon's Your Fios TV package also has a unique way of personalizing. You get to choose your top five channels, and Fios will recommend a channel lineup for you based on your choices. (We've noticed it's pretty good at creating a channel lineup just for you.)
The Most Fios TV plan gives you the most channels you could possibly get with any TV provider: 425 channels! We would hands down recommend this TV service over many others, but it’s only available in less than 15% of the country.
The flaw of fiber-optic cable is the availability
The biggest downside about this oh-so-great TV service is it's available in only nine states. Maybe Verizon won't be so shy and will venture out to other states one day.
If you live in one of these East Coast states, check if Verizon Fios is offered in your city:
- New Jersey
- New York
TV channel count
|Fios TV Test Drive||$75.00/mo.**||425+||View Plans|
|Your Fios TV||$75.00/mo.**||125+||View Plans|
|More Fios TV||$99.00/mo.**||225+||View Plans|
|The Most Fios TV||$119.00/mo.**||425+||View Plans|
fuboTV: Best live TV streaming service
If you're looking to cut the cord or want to save some money, a live TV streaming provider is a great alternative to cable or satellite TV.
fuboTV takes the crown for the best live TV streaming service. fuboTV has the best dollar-to-channel ratio, offers over 100 channels, and provides more sports channels than any other TV service in the industry. It's also one of our top picks for streaming NFL games this 2023 season.
Over time, fuboTV has renamed itself as an all-around live TV streaming service for the whole family rather than just sports fans. But it still towers over the competition when it comes to sports.
fuboTV caters to all types of sports fans. You'll get channels like ESPN, Big Ten Network, PAC-12 Networks, Tennis Channel, TUDN, and Zona Fútbol.
You'll also get all major national sports channels like NFL Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, and NHL Network.
Check out the channel lineup to see all 160+ channels you could get.
Your kids will be able to watch Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, your teen can watch Lifetime, and your spouse can watch HGTV or FOX News with fuboTV.
Honestly, fuboTV has little to no faults compared to its competitors. It has the best dollar-to-channel ratio, gives you access to lots of channels, and has the smoothest interface and user experience. But, although fuboTV is one of the best services for sports, it's not perfect for NBA-watching. It doesn't have TNT.
If your Abuelito wants to watch sports in Spanish, fuboTV has a Latino package for $33 per month with 44+ Spanish-language channels.
TV channel count
Netflix: Best on-demand streaming service
You don't get your sports, news, and lifestyle live TV channels with on-demand streaming services. So if you need a TV service to replace your cable or satellite provider, then a non-live TV streaming service isn't a great option.
But if you just want on-demand content (like Originals you can’t find anywhere else) and you’d like to save some cash, then an on-demand service will suffice for you.
Netflix is king when it comes to on-demand streaming services. This big-time service has come in at the number one spot for our Top 10 Streaming Apps, Best On-Demand Streaming Services, and Best Streaming Services for Kids.
You'll get access to a vast 5,500-title library of TV shows, movies, Originals, and comedy specials (and it gets updated often).
Watch New Girl while you're working from home, distract the kids with CoComelon while you're talking to the landscaper, and enjoy Stranger Things or Hustle on the weekend with some popcorn.
Netflix’s Originals are *chef’s kiss*
As for the Originals, you're in for a treat.
You can watch Jason Bateman in Ozark, Jonah Hill in You People, Penn Badgley in You, and Catherine-Zeta Jones in Wednesday.
Talk about a movie night. And there are many more of these great movies or shows with great actors that you really won't want to miss.
It's no wonder why this streaming service is one of the best.
Netflix’s basic plan is for those who don’t need to share an account
Netflix is the priciest on-demand streaming service out there, and you might be someone looking for a service that doesn't break the bank.
Just know that you won't be able to have more than one supported device with the Standard with ads plan, and even though you won't have any ads with Netflix's Basic plan, you'll only have access to one "simultaneous" stream.
You won't be able to share your account with anyone else in the household unless you want to risk not being able to sign in because someone else is using the app already.
|Netflix Basic with ads||$6.99/mo.*||2||View Plans|
|Netflix Basic||$9.99/mo.††||1||View Plans|
|Netflix Standard||$15.49/mo.††||2||View Plans|
|Netflix Premium||$19.99/mo.††||4||View Plans|
DIRECTV: Best for loads of channels
If you don't want to feel limited like you do when your wife says you're only allowed one slice of pie after dinner, DIRECTV gives you a bottomless amount of channels to watch.
You can get over 330 channels for news, entertainment, lifestyle, movies, kids, and music with this satellite TV service.
DIRECTV offers all of the channels one could want, including close to 20 sports channels, and STARZ, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, and HBO channels.
To make your entertainment grander, DIRECTV offers à-la-carte programming for most major sports leagues, including:
If you want to know more about which channels each DIRECTV package carries, check out our full DIRECTV review.
DIRECTV’s Genie DVR
DIRECTV also offers more high-definition (HD) channels than any other TV service, and it can record up to 200 hours of HD video content.
So whether you're tuning in to see Matt Stafford connect with Cooper Kupp, or you just want to marvel at the realistic zombie makeup on The Walking Dead, you can expect a crystal-clear picture for both live TV and recorded shows off your Genie DVR.
DIRECTV’s biggest downfall
Third-year price hikes are a real caveat. DIRECTV will raise the price to its current prevailing rate at a month-to-month basis for the remainder of your contract.
We're torn on this policy. On the one hand, you get a pretty good deal for the first two years of service. But on the other hand, you're subject to any price hikes unless you cancel your service or sign up for another contract.
It's a pretty big knock on DIRECTV. But as long as you're aware of the change up-front, you can prepare for it.
TV channel count
|ENTERTAINMENT All-Included||$64.99/mo.‡‡||165+||View Plan|
|CHOICE All-Included||$84.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees^^||200+||View Plan|
|ULTIMATE All-Included||$109.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees^^||270+||View Plan|
|PREMIER All-Included||$154.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees^^||340+||View Plan|
Cable TV runner-ups
These cable TV services earned a spot on our favorite cable TV providers list—which we think is a pretty big deal. So do our Moms.
Each provider has its purpose and qualities, such as specific location and channel lineups. We give a break down on each one below.
TV channel count
Spectrum: Best no-contract option
Spectrum TV is available in 41 states, and we really like the pricing of its entry-level package. It's a bonus that this cable provider doesn't require a contract whatsoever.
The Spectrum TV Select package only costs $59.99 a month and nets you some great channels (ABC, ESPN, CNN, and HGTV).
Not only will you get channels for sports, movies, and news, you’ll also get thousands of on-demand titles that you can watch whenever you’d like—whether it be Saturday night in your living room or on a roadtrip.
Spectrum raises its prices after your first year of service. We’re here to give you a heads up that you’ll need to budget for $77 monthly after year one.
Spectrum’s DVR storage is unspecified
Spectrum's website and checkout don't specify how much DVR storage you will receive with the service, but it could be about only 30 HD hours. If this is the case, Spectrum's DVR is the weakest in the TV industry.
But the good news is that you only have to pay $5 per month for the DVR service, or $10 for DVR service on two or more HD set-top boxes.
That DVR fee might be the cheapest in the TV industry.
Optimum TV: Offers the most channels
Optimum was named one of the best for basic cable because its dollar-to-channel ratio is excellent, and this TV provider offers lots of channels similar to satellite TV.
Optimum charges two fees with its TV service
Optimum TV requires you to pay two monthly fees that you'd normally see with any traditional TV provider:
- TV box ($0–$10/month for each)
- Cloud DVR storage ($8.00–$20.00)
And Optimum installs your TV service for free. But we do have to warn you that during the checkout process, we noticed Optimum TV won't offer its customers TV service unless you order Internet service, as well. Its download speeds range from 300–5,000 Mbps.
Optimum TV's availability favors five East coast states
Unfortunately, Optimum is only available in five states, so you'll want to check this availability map to see if your city is serviced by this cable TV provider.
Optimum TV is available in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
Optimum may have fewer fees, but Xfinity TV is available in 2x more states.
All of Optimum's TV plans come with your favorite channels like ESPN, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, and FOX News.
As you upgrade, you'll get more sports, movie, and entertainment channels for the whole family to enjoy. You can even get over 400 channels for a lower price than satellite TV and without a contract.
TV channel count
|Basic TV||$35.00/mo.†††||50+||View Plans|
|Core TV||$75.00/mo.†††||220+||View Plans|
|Select TV||$95.00/mo.†††||340+||View Plans|
|Premier TV||$115.00/mo.†††||420+||View Plans|
Cox TV: Best for customization
Cox TV gives you a personalized checkout experience you can't find with another cable TV provider. Bundle TV, internet, home security, and a landline for the simplicity of one bill.
Cox gives you the option to bundle TV, internet, home security, and a home phone at checkout. There are about four steps for signing up for each service—including selecting a plan, choosing your equipment, and add-ons.
You create your service, Cox delivers.
In a nutshell, you'll want the Starter TV plan if you just want local channels, the Preferred TV plan if you want popular channels like Disney Channel and Fox News, the Preferred Plus TV plan for popular channels, and a few premium channels like HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and Cinemax, or the Ultimate TV package if you want all of the above plus MGM+, premium sports packages, and movie packs in your lineup.
Cox’s DVR can record up to 24 shows at once
Cox has a DVR any big household could benefit from—a DVR that can record 24 shows to be exact. No other TV provider comes close to that!
The Essential and Preferred DVR service each gives you 250 hours of DVR storage space (but Essential lets you record two shows simultaneously while Preferred lets you record six).
And the Ultimate DVR service is, well, pretty ultimate. This is the one that lets you record 24 shows at once, and it gives you and the fam 1,000 hours of DVR storage.
How much are Cox’s DVR service fees?
- Essential DVR service: $13.50/mo. (for one year)
- Preferred DVR service: $20.00/mo.
- Ultimate DVR service: $30.00/mo.
Cox TV’s pricing brings it down to the bottom of our cable TV list
Cox TV is on the pricier side of the cable TV services with its high dollar-to-channel ratio.
Xfinity TV gives you 125+ channels for $80 per month, making that $24 cheaper than Cox TV's Preferred plan.
You could get local channels for $56 per month, but if that sounds like too much, consider an HD antenna to get your local channels for free.
Cox's availability isn't so wide across the US, but if your area only offers Cox TV, it's not a bad option for bundling four services in one.
TV channel count
|Contour TV Starter||$56.00/mo.‡‡‡||75+||View Plans|
|Contour TV Preferred||$99.00/mo.‡‡‡||140+||View Plans|
|Contour TV Preferred Plus||$119.00/mo.‡‡‡||170+||View Plans|
|Contour TV Ultimate||$139.00/mo.‡‡‡||250+||View Plans|
Live TV streaming runner-ups
Live TV streaming services give you live channels, on-demand content, and the ability to record TV shows and movies.
These live TV streaming services are the best behind fuboTV, and each is unique. We’ll get into the details to see which one you should subscribe to.
Keep in mind these prices don't include internet service charges (which you'll need in order to stream), but you can check those out in our best internet for streaming article.
YouTube TV: Second-best live TV streaming service
YouTube TV is one of our favorite live TV streaming services on the market and is a very close second to fuboTV.
YouTube TV is well-rounded with a decent number of channels (including some major sports channels) and many add-ons for everyone in the family. Like fuboTV, YouTube TV is one of our top picks for streaming NFL games. And in 2023, this will be home to NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
With YouTube TV, you get the best of all things TV and streaming have to offer: live TV channels, on-demand movies, full seasons of popular TV shows, unlimited DVR space, YouTube videos, and the latest news clips.
Unlimited DVR space means you can literally record anything and everything you want. You also get a robust channel lineup with lots of top lifestyle and entertainment channels.
You even get major sports channels like NFL Network and NBA TV. MLB Network was once included, but YouTube TV's deal with MLB Network ended in January 2023, so you won't find that channel on YouTube TV anymore.
All this easily makes YouTube TV one of the best streaming services available.
PS: If you're looking for a service to stream all NBA games, YouTube TV is our number one pick. You can find more options in our How to Stream NBA Games Live piece.
YouTube TV doesn’t have all the channels under the sun
YouTube TV is missing a few channels some of us might "need.” We understand. A few of those channels include History Channel, MLB Network, Tennis Channel, and PAC-12 Network.
That means you'll have to miss out on Alone, Wimbledon, and some intense college football games.
But we have to say we're proud of YouTube TV for adding the three Hallmark channels to its lineup. Now, they are one of the best live TV streaming services for your Hallmark-movie fix.
|YouTube TV||$72.99/mo.††||100+||View Plan|
|Spanish Plan||$34.99/mo.****||30+||View Plan|
Hulu + Live TV: Best bundle for the family
Hulu + Live TV's service now includes the Disney+ bundle! This means you don't need to opt-in or order Disney+ and ESPN+ separately. How can we say no?
Hulu + Live TV gives you the best of both worlds: live TV channels and even more on-demand streaming. Along with over 85 channels, you get access to Hulu's entire streaming library.
As far as live channels are concerned, you get all the essentials, like ABC, ESPN, FOX, Food Network, and HGTV.
Nothing good on TV? Catch up on This is Us, The Bachelor, or Rick and Morty. You'll also get access to well-known originals, such as Little Fires Everywhere, The Handmaid's Tale, Only Murders In the Building, and Letterkenny.
Rest assured, you won't run out of stuff to watch with this improved live TV streaming service.
Hulu Live’s DVR storage space is now one of the best
Hulu + Live TV's cloud DVR used to store only 50 hours! We're happy this live TV streaming service made the change to unlimited DVR storage.
So now, you can record every Modern Family episode because you just can't enough of Phil and every series of Friends to have on standby when you need a laugh.
TV channel count
|Hulu + Live TV||$68.99/mo.††||85+||View Plans|
|Hulu (With Ads) + Live TV, Disney+ (With Ads) and ESPN+ (With Ads)||$69.99/mo.||85+||View Plans|
|Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV, Disney+ (No Ads) and ESPN+ (With Ads)||$82.99/mo.††††||85+||View Plans|
Sling TV: Best budget pick
If you're looking to save some cash for that much-need summer vacation but still want to stream your favorite live TV channels, Sling TV might have a channel lineup you'll be happy with.
Sling TV truly understands what cord-cutting is all about—saving money without missing your favorite shows. Starting at $40 per month, Sling packages provide the best bargains around. Granted, Sling TV's channel selection is smaller, but it also goes for quality over quantity.
We recommend Sling Orange if you want more kids and lifestyle channels (like Disney Channel and Comedy Central), and you'll like Sling Blue if you want a TV package with more news and sports channels (like FOX News and NFL Network).
Sling Orange + Blue only gives you six more channels than the Sling Blue plan, but you'll get the Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, Motortrend, and Freeform.
With a low entry price comes a smaller selection of channels. In fact, you get almost 50% more channels with YouTube TV or Hulu Live.
We're still in the camp that Sling gives you quality over quantity, and you can add over 20 different channel packages for $5 to $13 each.
You'll have to pay an extra $5 more per month for the 200-hour cloud DVR. But if 50 hours is enough for you, then that means more savings for you.
TV channel count
|Sling Orange||$40.00/mo.††||31||View Plan|
|Sling Blue||$40.00/mo.††||39||View Plan|
|Sling Orange + Sling Blue Services||$55.00/mo.††||44||View Plan|
DIRECTV streaming: Best for traditional TV experience
DIRECTV's streaming service is the most expensive live TV streaming service, but if you like DIRECTV’s traditional TV experience, you’ll like its little brother (and his straightforward name)—DIRECTV streaming.
DIRECTV includes premium channels in all of its streaming packages.
With any plan, you'll get the SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX® channels in your lineup free for the first 3 months.
Since DIRECTV's streaming packages are the live TV streaming version of DIRECTV, you can enjoy the traditional TV experience without installing a satellite dish. Instead, you'll receive a set-top box and voice-activated remote control.
DIRECTV's streaming prices could be lower
DIRECTV's streaming service is the priciest live TV streaming service we review. If you like the idea of the traditional TV experience as well as the premium channels you get with DIRECTV's streaming plans, the price tag might be worth it.
It truly is the streamable version of DIRECTV, which comes with satellite TV pricing.
|ENTERTAINMENT||$64.99/mo. + tax‡‡‡‡||75+||View Plan|
|CHOICE||$84.99/mo. + tax‡‡‡‡||105+||View Plan|
|ULTIMATE||$109.99/mo. + tax‡‡‡‡||140+||View Plans|
|PREMIER||$154.99/mo. + tax^^^^||150+||View Plan|
On-demand streaming service runner-ups
An on-demand streaming service gives you a massive library of content (both network and Original content) that you can stream at any time of the day. You won’t be able to watch live channels, but you’ll be saving a buttload of money.
Watch Step Brothers while you’re waiting for your car to be serviced, or distract your kids with Spongebob Square Pants while you’re grocery shopping.
Each on-demand streaming service is unique in its own way. For example, Disney+ gives you content from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and more. And Hulu has network shows available to stream the day after they air on television.
Disney+: Most family-friendly on-demand service
Disney+ is the best on-demand streaming service for families and one of the best for kids. You can enjoy heart-warming nostalgic movies—like The Sandlot or The Lion King—and your kids can enjoy, well, everything.
Disney+ delivers content that will make your day just a little brighter. Enjoy Disney movies and TV shows, Marvel superheroes, Pixar productions, The Simpsons, and Star Wars movies.
Throw on Moana or Toy Story when the kids eat lunch, watch Holes to bring back memories, or binge-watch all of the Iron Man movies if that's more your thing.
Disney+ might also be a must if you want to catch season 3 of The Mandalorian. The debut for the newest season will be on this platform on March 1, 2023.
If you want to check out something new, you'll find great Originals in Disney+'s on-demand library.
Currently, some of the most popular Originals are
Star Wars: Andor, Hocus Pocus 2, and Pinocchio (so we don’t blame you if you’re feeling a little bit of FOMO).
Under the Originals tab of Disney+’s homepage, you’ll also find Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Hawkeye.
Disney+ might not be the only service you subscribe to.
If you need your CBS, ESPN, HGTV, or Food Network shows in on-demand form, you won't find it with Disney+.
Another on-demand streaming service that can fill the content gap is Peacock. Peacock will give you all of your NBC shows, such as The Voice (you can even get this service for free).
Or if you're more of a Love Island fan, you'll benefit more with Paramount+, which will give you Paramount+ content from more networks like Comedy Central and BET.
And lastly, if you're a lifestyle and entertainment type of fan, you'll like Discovery+ because you'll get on-demand content from networks such as Food Network, HGTV, and TLC.
|Disney+ Basic (With Ads)||$7.99/mo.||View Plans|
|Disney+ Premium (No Ads)||$10.99/mo.||View Plans|
|Disney+ (No Ads) Annual||$109.99/year||View Plans|
|Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+||$19.99/mo.°°°°||View Plans|
Hulu: Best for cord-cutters and those without live TV channels
If you've chosen to cut ties with your cable or satellite TV provider and you still need The Bachelor in your life, Hulu will be the best on-demand streaming service for you.
If you don't have access to live television, but you want to watch the latest episode of Chicago P.D. or The Voice before you read about spoilers, then Hulu is what you're looking for.
Hulu releases lots of recently broadcasted TV shows on its platform within hours. So when Abbott Elementary airs on Wednesday night, you'll find that episode ready for you to watch while you have your bagel and coffee.
You'll find other new episodes on Hulu from TV shows like Blue Bloods, The Amazing Race, Bob's Burgers, The Masked Singer, 9-11, Animal Control, 60 Minutes and Survivor.
On top of that, you can watch all of Hulu's terrific Originals, such as The Kardashians and Nine Perfect Strangers.
Hulu is a big competitor in the streaming world when it comes to Original content.
This service has outstanding Originals, such as The Handmaid's Tale with Elisabeth Moss, The Act, The Mindy Project, and Little Fires Everywhere with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.
Hulu was the first to include an ad-supported tier for those who want to save
Hulu does this thing where you have to pay $7 more to exclude ads from your binge-watching marathon.
But we guess it's nice Hulu gives you the option to go a cheaper route if you can patiently wait through a few ads. Netflix and HBO Max recently took a page from Hulu's book and now offers a less expensive option with ads.
But an extra $7 isn't so bad for no interruptions.
Max: Best for newly-released Warner Bros. movies
If you want to enjoy Warner Bros. movies from the quiet comfort of your home rather than a crowded theater, Max (formerly HBO Max) has got you covered.
If you enjoy shows like The Last of Us, Succession, Strike, Father of the Bride, and Barry, Max is a must.
All Warner Brothers movies released in theaters will also be released on Max the same day (*subscribed*). You don't even have to pay a fee to unlock one of these new movies. You just simply have to be a subscriber.
And you'll want to stay a subscriber because this new streaming service is two in one. It has all of Max's old and new content.
You can find old favorites like Insecure and Game of Thrones in your library. You'll also find Max Originals like House of the Dragon and The White Lotus.
On top of these great Originals, you'll find classic TV shows like Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The Big Bang Theory.
Max has half the titles Netflix does
We love the content Max has in its library, but you could say you might "run out of things to watch."
Max has 2,500 titles, while Netflix has nearly 6,500.
Max might not be a streaming service that you can live off of if you had to choose one, but it's certainly a great addition to your streaming apps.
|HBO Max (With Ads)||$9.99/mo.||View Plans|
|HBO Max (Ad-Free)||$15.99/mo.||View Plans|
|HBO Max (Ad-Free) Annual||$149.99/year||View Plans|
NBCUniversal Peacock: Best for money-saving cord-cutters
Peacock has been ruffling the feathers of the streaming service game, and they’ve recently become an excellent streaming services. Peacock has live channels for news, sports, and NBC programming fans, as well as 80,000+ hours of excellent on-demand content.
We like how Peacock offers two different tiers depending on your budget— $4.99 or $9.99 per month.
The ad-supported plan gives you access to 80,000+ hours of movies and TV shows with limited ads. If you upgrade to Premium Plus, you’ll be able to watch 20,000+ hours of more content, but get Premium Plus if you want zero commercials.
Sports fans will benefit from either Premium plan because you’ll get access to live sporting events, such as Sunday Night Football, Premier League, and WWE.
Peacock gives you access to NBC Sports, NBC News NOW, Telemundo, Sky News, and custom channels playing NBC content on loop.
For example, Peacock has 24/7 replay channels of Dateline, Love Island, Saturday Night Live, and Jimmy Fallon. And with NBC Sports, you’ll be able to stream Sunday Night Football or any sporting events that air on NBC (past subscribers got to stream Super Bowl 2022 and the 2022 Winter Olympics).
But Peacock is not a cable replacement because you won’t get your local channels. You also won’t get your Disney Channel, HGTV, Food Network, or CNN like you would with a TV provider.
If you’re looking for a service that is easy on the wallet, has a few channels, and loads of quality on-demand content (and you’re excited to watch season 4 of Yellowstone), Peacock might be your next subscription.
Amazon Prime Video: Delivers the most perks
Amazon Prime Video gives you a few perks you'll likely want in your life, especially access to an on-demand streaming library and free Prime shipping.
Amazon Prime Video is a unique on-demand streaming service because your monthly payment gets you more than just access to streamable content.
This streaming service is great for kid's shows, for movie night (I Love You, Man or Hancock), and for Original content you can't find anywhere else (Coming 2 America, and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power).
The other perks you'll get with Amazon Prime Video include free 2-day Prime shipping (just in case you tend to buy last-minute gifts), rent and buy movies, access to Amazon Music, and a free Kindle book each month.
So stream, buy, listen, and read all you want for $15 per month.
Prime Video doesn’t have a smooth, user-friendly interface
Because Amazon Prime Video was a shopping experience before it was a streaming service, the interface is a bit confusing.
You won't get a smooth experience like you will with dedicated on-demand streaming services, so you'll just have to learn your way around the app.
|Amazon Prime Video||$8.99/mo.||View Plan|
|Amazon Prime Membership + Video||$8.99/mo.||View Plan|
|Amazon Prime Membership (annual)||$139.00/year||View Plan|
Paramount+: Best for CBS and Paramount content
Paramount+ has an on-demand library filled with content multiple networks, such as CBS, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon.
With Paramount+, you'll find your favorite past CBS shows like Big Brother, The Brady Bunch, Survivor, and FBI. You'll also be able to watch Paramount Pictures movies like Tulsa King and Mayor of Kingstown during your relaxing weekends.
CBS produces so many great TV shows, so they created an app to put it all in one place for you. And now, Paramount+ provides you with even more.
In the Paramount+ library, you're also going to find classic and original content from MTV, Comedy Central, The Smithsonian Channel, Nickelodeon, and BET.
So on a Friday night, you'll also be able to stream shows such as Ridiculousness, Tosh.O, Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, Reno 911! and Spongebob Square Pants.
To break it down, Paramount+ has a library filled with 450 TV shows and more than 580 movies.
And last but definitely not least, you'll be able to watch 1,000 live sporting events annually.
Paramount+ allows you to watch live CBS television channels with the Premium subscription: your local CBS station, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ, and ET Live.
But you'll have to live in an area where CBS is available. We recommend you sign up for Paramount+'s free trial to see if you like what it offers.
If Paramount+'s channels aren't available in your region, then you can just enjoy this streaming service's library of 30,000+ hours of on-demand content.
Recap: Which is the best TV service provider?
- DISH has better pricing than DIRECTV (no second-year price hikes) and has a killer DVR in the Hopper 3. DISH is excellent for those who live in rural areas or want loads of channels. This satellite TV provider offers plans ranging from $80–$110/month with 190–290+ channels.
- Xfinity offers the best all-around service with affordable pricing, great channel lineups, and the X1 DVR. It struggles with pricey monthly fees, though. Xfinity gives you a great deal with $20–$70 plans for 10–185 channels without a contract.
- Verizon Fios TV will give you up to 425 channels! And this fiber-optic technology gives a fast, reliable network for both TV and the internet. If this provider is in your area, we very much recommend it. Get 125+ for as low as $75, or get that load of 425 channels for $119 a month.
- fuboTV is not only one of the best streaming services for sports, but fuboTV now has lots of news, lifestyle, and kids channels, as well. Get close to 50 sports channels with the Elite plan at $85/mo. or order the Pro plan for $10 less for over 40 sports channels along with family channels. This live TV streaming service also has great plans for Spanish speakers who love watching their fútbol for $33/month.
- Netflix is one of the most popular on-demand streaming services with its vast TV show and movie selection (we're talking over 6,500 titles). This on-demand streaming service gives you critically acclaimed Originals, networks TV shows, and great movies for $7–$20/month.
We compare and rank TV service providers based on five key factors:
To decide which TV providers are worth your attention, we have put loads of hours and a handful of years into our research. (I mean, this page is close to 8,000 words long).
We have personally tested out all of these services to come up with our own analysis of if the provider is worth your attention or who might benefit most from said service. Our experience has also helped us accurately rank a service amongst the competitors.
And finally, we have put in all of this effort to give you our true review of each cable and satellite provider, live TV streaming service, and on-demand streaming service.
Going with a satellite provider generally gives you more HD channels than cable or live streaming (especially movie channels). Satellite TV is also available in many rural areas where cable is not. So you can still keep up with The Bachelor and The Bachelorette even if you live outside of your local cable company's area of service.
The downsides are that you need to have a satellite dish installed on your roof, which can mean extra installation fees, and satellite just isn't as reliable. Sometimes your signal can get interrupted by bad weather, like harsh snow or wind.
Cable is all about consistency. You won't have the same service interruptions that you see with satellites (bad weather, for example) because cable TV is connected directly via, well, cables. Underground.
And even though the monthly price can sometimes start off higher than satellite, you usually won't see second-year price hikes, or you can avoid a contract with cable. This makes it easier to budget upfront since you won't fall for sweet promotional deals that come back to haunt your bank account in 12 months.
Live TV streaming provides some of the lowest prices out there while still offering you a lot of the programming you're looking for. You can also watch it on the go.
Seamless and uninterrupted live TV streaming relies on your internet service. To stream content, you need an internet connection fast enough to handle it. This means if you live in a more rural area, you may not get a strong enough internet connection speed to livestream TV.
And remember, streaming costs aren't bundled into the cost of internet. So you'll be paying for internet and for any streaming service you sign up for, like Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Netflix.
Early termination fees only when you've signed a long-term agreement that you're trying to get out of. (We're looking at you, satellite providers.) ETFs aren't a problem for services like cable and live streaming that don't require traditional contracts.
If you cancel a DIRECTV contract, DIRECTV will charge you a $20 fee for every month remaining on your contract.
So if you need to get out of your contract, but you still have nine months left, you're looking at a hefty fee. It's steep, for sure, but it's all in the contract agreement. Make sure to ask your provider about early termination fees before you sign, just in case.
There are two reasons your monthly bill might increase—your promotional pricing has expired, or if you didn't sign a contract, some companies are subject to increase their service by pennies.
For example, when you get DIRECTV, you'll receive a promotional price for the first 12 months, and then your monthly price will increase in year two.
It's definitely not good for your blood pressure, but if you're careful, it shouldn't come as a surprise. Make sure to ask about any price changes that may happen after your promotional period ends so that you're not blindsided with a giant bill.
The cheapest live TV streaming service, cable TV provider, and satellite TV provider are the following:
Sling TV: $40–$55/mo. for 31–44 channels
Xfinity TV: $20.00–$68.50/mo. (for the first year of your service) for 10–185 channels
DISH TV: $79.99–$109.99 for 190–290 channels
Xfinity is our choice for the best cable TV and internet bundle. For $29.99-$140 a month you can get in between 75 - 1200 Mbps download speeds and 125+ channels. DISH and Spectrum also offer comparable bundles for cable and internet.