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The Cheapest Way To Stream All Your Favorite Shows And Movies

tv streaming

There are somewhere between one to two billion content streaming services available now. It’s crazy how many companies want you to pay a monthly fee to watch movies and TV shows or listen to music from them.

Let’s “desert island” this topic and see if we can’t narrow the choices down a bit to help you save some money stop subscribing to services just out of knee-jerk reaction.

Selection – it’s all about those originals and exclusives

Netflix has too many originals to list out, but some of its standouts include: Stranger Things, The Crown, Master of None, Jessica Jones, Black Mirror, House of Cards, 13 Reasons Why, and Narcos.

Hulu is newer to the originals game, but they get it and have some along with some exclusives: Handmaid’s Tale, Seinfeld, The Mindy Project, and 11.22.63.

Amazon Prime hasn’t slouched on originals, including: The Grand Tour, Lore, The Lost City of Z, The Big Sick, Electric Dreams, Mozart in the Jungle, and The Man in the High Castle.

While Sling TV does offer any original content, it might provide you an exclusive opportunity to watch things like Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. The basic, lowest-priced Sling TV package includes channels like: ESPN, AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, the Disney Channel,TNT, IFC and A&E.

Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal are all consistently close to the amount of music each service offers. While they each have gotten exclusive releases in the past, none have been forever and typically don’t last longer than a year at the very most.

YouTube Red has a lock on a bunch of top tier YouTube creators so you want the latest and greatest from Roman Atwood or Rhett & Link you’ll probably be seeing red in your future. YouTube Red’s new show Cobra Kai, however, which is the continuation of The Karate Kid movie looks amazing and almost worth a subscription for it alone.

YouTube Red also includes access to YouTube Music to stream music without ads and with the YouTube app not as the front-most app (which is a big deal).

Availability – what devices can I watch my shows on?

Netflix: Even your toaster can now play Netflix. Seriously though, it would be a shorter to mention devices that can’t play Netflix.

Hulu: iOS, Android, Web, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, TiVo, Xbox, Playstation

Amazon Prime: iOS, Android, Web, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, TiVo, Xbox, Playstation

Sling TV: iOS, Android, Web, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox One

Spotify: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Web, Android Auto, CarPlay, Sonos

Apple Music: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Android Auto, CarPlay, Sonos

YouTube Red: iOS, Android, Chromecast, Android TV, Apple TV, Xbox, Wii U, PlayStation, Roku

Price –  OK, how much is all this gonna cost?

Spotify: $9.99/month

Apple Music: $9.99/month or $99/year

Tidal: $9.99/month (standard quality) $19.99 (lossless quality)

Amazon Prime Video: $8.99/month
YouTube Red: $9.99/month

Netflix: $10.99/month (default streaming option)

Hulu: $7.99/month
Sling TV: $20/month (~25 channels) $25/month (~40 channels)

Here’s where things get tricky. While each of these streaming services typically reside between $10-$20/month, there are some ways to combine multiple ones and save a few bucks.

  • Spotify + Hulu = $12.99/month [Savings of $4.99]
  • Amazon Prime Video = free [With the purchase of Prime two-day shipping $99/year]
  • T-Mobile = free MLB TV subscription
  • Prime Video + HBO = same cost [Even though Amazon lets you watch HBO through Prime Video, there’s no cost savings to the bundle. Bummer.]

Choose 3!

To maximize value and variety, I’d go for 1 music service, 1 on-demand video service, and 1 live TV service. Here are the 3 services I’d pick:

Spotify + Hulu = $12.99/month

Sling TV = $20/month

Total = $32.99/month

Gotta have a music service so if I pick Spotify I can save $5/month by also picking Hulu for access to a bunch of rad TV shows and new(er) movies. Sling TV (Orange) gets me ESPN as well as History Channel, TBS, and a bunch of other live broadcast TV channels.

What would you pick?