MSNBC is NBC’s politics channel, and it’s a great place to turn for congressional goings-on, Supreme Court decisions, and more. That’s the kind of live political coverage that you can’t find on Netflix or Hulu – but that doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck as a cord cutter. It’s possible to watch MSNBC online as a cord cutter, though your legal paths won’t be free. Here’s how to watch MSNBC without having to go crawling back to the cable companies.
How to Watch MSNBC Online Without Cable
As mentioned in the introduction, you can legally access live MSNBC broadcasts without cable – though you generally can’t do so for free. Your best bet for watching MSNBC without cable is a skinny bundle. Skinny bundles are similar to cable in a lot of ways: they offer live broadcasts of network channels, you can change the channels and (sometimes, depending on the service) DVR the content, and so on. But, as the name suggests, skinny bundles are a little trimmer around the waist than their legacy counterparts. Unlike cable and satellite bundles, skinny bundles can have as few as 20 or 30 channels. Skinny bundles are also delivered “over the top” (OTT), meaning over the internet – which is why they’re an option for cord cutters, who get rid of cable while (usually) preserving their internet service. Best of all, the bundles aren’t the only things that are slimmed-down relative to cable – the prices are, too.
Let’s take a look at your options for watching MSNBC without cable.
Hulu is best-known for its video on demand service, which is similar to (and competes with) Netflix. But the streaming company has entered the skinny bundle market as well with their Hulu with Live TV service. Happily for fans of the network, Hulu’s take on the skinny bundle includes MSNBC. Hulu’s take does not, however, include tiers or big add-on packages: there’s just a base package of 55+ channels for $39.99/month (you can add premium channels like HBO, though). You can read our full review of Hulu with Live TV here.
Sling TV works a little differently than most of the competition: instead of dividing its content into tiers, Sling TV uses an à la carte model that has you first choose from its “base packages” and then add “add-on” packages, which are small, relatively cheap, and stuffed with channels grouped together by categories. The result is a very customizable service. The tricky thing for MSNBC fans, though, is that MSNBC is available only through the “News Extra” package for Sling Blue. That means you’ll have to choose Sling Blue ($25/month) over the slightly cheaper Sling Orange and then add the News Extra package ($5/month), which will bring your total bill to $30/month – which, thankfully, is still quite cheap for a skinny bundle. Check out our review of Sling TV here.
fuboTV is a skinny bundle service that was once best-known for its soccer content. MSNBC has the occasional soccer match (NBC pushes Premiere League programming beyond NBCSN and NBC on busy days, such as the wild final match day of each season), but that’s not exactly what it’s known for. It’s on fuboTV because the service has re-launched since those early soccer-focused days, and now offers a wide range of channels for $39.99/month. fuboTV still claims it has an edge in sports, but non-fans will still find plenty to watch, so don’t be turned off by the service’s sports-heavy branding. To see what we thought of the service, check out our review of fuboTV here.
Like some competitors, PlayStation Vue offers several tiers of service, ranging from small and cheap to huge and pricey. For our purposes here, though, it’s a bit academic: PlayStation Vue includes MSNBC in all of its packages. The cheapest of those is the Access package, which costs $39.99 per month. PlayStation Vue also has a cloud DVR feature, which isn’t true of all of its rivals. PlayStation Vue’s free trial is a little shorter than most of its competitors’ (it clocks in at 5 days instead of a week), but it’s still a good way to get to know the service, and you can always learn a little more by reading our review of PlayStation Vue here.
DirecTV Now is a skinny bundle that offers MSNBC as part of its cheapest package, “Live a Little,” so you can get access for as little as $35/month. Of course, if you so desire, you can upgrade to one of DirecTV Now’s larger packages. This service offers several tiers, with the largest packages rivaling cable and satellite deals in terms of channel selection. Regardless of which package you choose, you won’t have to pay right away, because DirecTV Now offers a one-week free trial to new subscribers. For more information on DirecTV Now, just check out our complete review of the service.
Like many other news networks, MSNBC has its own YouTube channel. This channel is generally only good for on-demand content, as MSNBC usually waits until after its segments air and then posts them online. And not all of MSNBC’s programming is available for replay on YouTube. With that said, though, there’s a lot of MSNBC content available on the service. And for large events, news networks like MSNBC sometimes offer live streaming on YouTube.
YouTube is free, which is good; it also has ads, which is not. If you’d rather it be paid than have ads, good news: YouTube offers a premium service called YouTube Red, which gets rid of the commercials – for a price. You can read our review of YouTube Red here and can sign up for the service’s free trial here.
Can I Watch MSNBC on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast?
All of the apps above are great ways to watch MSNBC without cable. But do they work on major streaming devices like Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast? The answer, happily, is a resounding “yes.” The major skinny bundles feature impressive platform support, and if you own a modern streaming device from a major manufacturer you will be able to choose from at least three or four of the ones listed above. YouTube, meanwhile, has apps for every one of the major streaming boxes. So you can indeed watch MSNBC on your Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast, and the ways to do so are listed above!
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