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When you were a kid and you had trouble making a decision, what did your parents tell you to do? In many cases, the answer is “Make a list.” And they weren’t just trying to get you to go to your room and write quietly. Okay, that may have been part of it, but making a list of pros and cons has plenty of benefits.

Here’s why: It helps to have a tangible way to compare two (or more) options. To some extent, that’s what we’re doing here. No, we aren’t your parents, and we aren’t going to ask you if you’ve done your homework. But we’re pretty confident in our ability to help you compare streaming services and decide on the best option (or options) for your household.

How to Compare Streaming Services: How We (and You) Should Handle Streaming TV Comparisons

How do we compare these things? To compare TV streaming services, we look at concrete differences. For instance, instead of saying “We think Service A has a better library than Service B,” we might say “Service A has 5,000 hours of on-demand programming, while Service B has only 3,000.” Our opinions can still come into play, but we try to ground them in numbers and data when we can. We make a lot of comparisons here at CordCutting.com, and we want them all to be as valuable as possible.

In other words, we know there’s more to a decision than just cold, hard stats. Yet we still strive to give you as many of those stats as possible when we compare streaming TV services. We believe in being useful without being overly technical. We don’t just want to tell you that a livestreaming service maxes out at 720p; we want to tell you why that’s important. We’re not doing our jobs if we just throw numbers at you without any context.

Key Factors in Streaming Service Comparisons

  • Streaming quality
  • Streaming content library and/or channel selection
  • Streaming service cost
  • Usability: Is the service intuitive, or do you need a detailed instruction manual just to navigate the main menu?
  • Ad time: If the service has ads, how often do they appear?

Our comparisons are built on real-world testing, not conjecture. If we test a service and don’t quite understand it, guess what we do? That’s right: We test it again. We keep testing it until we understand it, for one simple reason: We can’t explain something to our readers that we don’t have a good grasp on ourselves.

Compare Top Streaming Services

Streaming Service Price Comparison

Any streaming service comparison has to include price. It’s the first thing a lot of people look at, and for good reason. Think of it as like shopping for cars: You probably want to know a car’s price before getting in and test driving the car. Otherwise, there’s no point in going any further with the process.

The best streaming services are ones that line up with your budget. Unfortunately, the price of live TV streaming services has gone up a lot in recent years. You’ll be paying more for a skinny bundle now than you did three or four years ago. We keep those increased costs in mind when we compare live TV streaming services. Savvy shoppers know to look for a free trial. That way, they don’t have to pay for a month of a live TV streaming service unless they just want to. Just remember to cancel before you get charged, though. If you forget, your bank account will take an unnecessary hit, and you can pretty much forget about getting a refund for that unwanted month.

Some of Our Favorite Affordable Streaming Services

Streaming service Cheapest plan Cost
Philo Only one plan $25 per month
Sling TV Sling Blue or Sling Orange $35 per month
fuboTV Starter $64.99 per month

And here’s what we’ve found, as you’ll read in our comparisons: Among the best in this category are Philo and Sling TV, because you can get a month of service for as little as $25 and $35, respectively. After that, it’s a pretty significant price jump up to fuboTV, which starts at $64.99 per month, which is also the lowest price you’ll pay for a month of Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV

One more thing: We’re focusing mostly on how to compare live TV streaming services here. Services like Netflix and Disney Plus are a lot cheaper on a monthly basis than services like Sling TV, but they also don’t include live channels. But if you want, you can get Netflix for as cheap as $8.99 a month for its most basic plan. Our Netflix review found a lot to like about it. And Disney Plus is only $7.99 a month, or $79.99 a year if you pay on an annual basis. But while you’re getting a lot of good content for services like that, you’re not getting any live channels. Someone who didn’t know better might think that a Disney Plus subscription should include a livestream of the Disney Channel, but it doesn’t. Our Disney Plus review has the details on what you can watch there.

Streaming Service Channel Comparison and Content Library Comparison

How do we compare streaming service channels? First, we want to know the number of channels in each package. Then we want to know what kind of channels each streaming service offers. Are popular channels like ESPN and TNT included? What about the less popular channels that you still want to watch? What kind of viewer will most enjoy the service? For instance, Sling TV and fuboTV are geared more toward sports fans, even though there’s plenty of non-sports content as well. If you don’t believe us, take a look at Sling TV’s channel lineup and fuboTV’s channel lineup. There are a lot of pleasant surprises on each list.

On the other hand, there’s Philo, which keeps prices low by avoiding the most pricey sports and cable news channels. If you glance at Philo’s channel list, you’ll find that it contains networks like HGTV, Food Network, and Comedy Central. You won’t find ESPN and CNN, though, so make sure your streaming TV services comparison is a thorough one.

And here’s what we’ve found, as you’ll read in our comparisons: One of the best in this category is Sling TV, which makes it easy to build a bundle that you want to watch. It’s easy to get access to well over 100 channels through Sling TV. Another good option is a DIRECTV Stream subscription. DIRECTV Stream offers four packages, all of which have a wide range of programming.

Choosing Between Streaming TV Options

When you’re launching a TV streaming service comparison, remember that most people can get by just fine with one live TV streaming service. You may have to look through a lot of them to find the best one for you, but there’s a good chance you’ll be able to zero in on a service that meets all of your viewing needs. Most people who decide upon a Sling TV subscription don’t also subscribe to fuboTV. You can if you want to, but it’s still a good thing to keep in mind when you compare TV streaming services.

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