The Oscars are now in the rearview mirror, which means you’re probably looking for the best ways to check out all of the movies that generated huge amounts of buzz during Hollywood’s annual back-patting extravaganza. Many of those movies will end up on streaming services, while others will be easy to watch on cable. So which services should you choose?
Cutting the cord was supposed to make it easier to get content you love without the expenses and complicated fees attached to cable or satellite TV. But as more video services have come on line, and prices fluctuate, it’s hard to know whether to ditch cable.
Out of all of your options, a 60-Mbps internet plan with Netflix’s (NFLX) Standard plan is likely best for a two-person home. You get two-screen viewing, plenty of bandwidth to connect to the web and stream at the same time, and tons of quality, Oscar-winning content.
That doesn’t mean you should skip out on Hulu or Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video. Many households access more than one streaming service. It really comes down to the content you want to watch, and how you want to watch it.
As for a standard cable subscription, it doesn’t make sense when you realize that pricing and fees for cable tend to increase on a yearly basis. Stick to streaming.
Cable and internet
Comcast’s (CMCSA) Xfinity is the largest cable provider in the U.S., so I chose that company to stand in as the TV and internet provider in these scenarios. As for the speed of the connection you’ll need, consider that Netflix recommends at least a 1.5-Mbps (megabits per second) connection to stream its content. For HD videos, you’ll need 5 Mbps and 25 Mbps for 4K video.
If you’re also downloading large files, playing online games, and connecting a slew of other devices to the web, you’ll want to ensure you have plenty of bandwidth to get online. I tend to err on the side of safety and opt for 100 Mbps, but I also have several internet connected devices in my home, and stream video from multiple sources at once. If you’re not a streaming addict, a connection at about 60 Mbps should do.
Xfinity’s offers include:
Xfinity has two solid offers, one that gets you internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps and 125 channels for $59 per month for one year and $79 for the following year, and another that gets you speeds of up to 100 Mbps and roughly 10 channels for $39 per month for a year. But here’s the rub. You also have to pay $18.25 per month in broadcast and sports fees for both plans. And that $49 per month option jumps to $89 per month after a year. So in reality you’re looking at:
100 Mbps and 125 channels for $78.24 per month for 12 months and $98.24 thereafter.
100 Mbps and fewer than 10 channels for $58.24 for 12 months.
Cutting out cable
If you want to ditch the cable, but still have internet access, you can opt for internet-only plan. Unfortunately, they don’t look quite as appealing up front.
105 Mbps for $94 per month with no long-term agreement.
60 Mbps for $34 for one year.
Internet and over-the-top cable
If you want to cut the cord, but still want access to your favorite channels, you have a number of alternatives. Over-the-top cable providers include Hulu Live TV, Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Youtube TV, Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now. To better calculate your pricing, let’s assume you choose a 60-Mbps plan for $34.
Hulu Live TV
Hulu TV will get you more than 70 channels in New York, though channels vary by region.
Hulu Live TV: $44 per month.
Hulu and first year of internet: $78.
Google’s YouTube TV offers more than 70 channels in New York.
YouTube TV: $40 per month.
YouTube TV with internet: $74
Sony PlayStation Vue
Sony’s PlayStation Vue is one of the most underrated cable alternatives available. To be clear, you don’t need a PlayStation console to use the service. You can access it on your browser, iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon, and Apple TV devices.
PlayStation Vue 50 channels: $44 per month.
PlayStation Vue 75 channels: $49 per month.
PlayStation Vue 97 channels: $59 per month.
PlayStation Vue 97 channels with HBO and Showtime: $79 per month.
PlayStation Vue 50 channels with internet: $78
PlayStation Vue 75 channels with internet: $83
PlayStation Vue 97 channels with internet: $93
PlayStation Vue 97 channels and HBO and Showtime with internet: $113
Sling TV is also a solid over-the-top cable offering that lets you score top channels on the cheap. Sling’s Orange and Blue plans have different offerings at the same price. Orange gets you three ESPN stations, while Blue features more local channels. Both offerings, and the combined Blue and Orange option, also let you choose additional channels a la carte-style.
Sling Blue plan with 34 Channels: $25 per month.
Sling Orange plan with 47 channels: $25 per month.
Sling Blue and Orange combined: $40 per month.
Sling Blue with internet: $59 per month.
Sling Orange with internet: $59 per month.
Sling Blue and Orange with internet: $74
Finally, DirecTV Now offers over-the-top television with a base plan getting you more than 65 channels, a secondary plan that gets 85 channels, a 105-channel plan, and a 125-channel option. You don’t have to be an existing DirecTV customer to use DirecTV now.
DirecTV Now with 65 channels: $40 per month.
DirecTV Now with 85 channels: $55 per month.
DirecTV Now with 105 channels: $65 per month.
DirecTV Now with 125 channels: $75 per month.
DirecTV Now with 65 channels and internet: $74 per month.
DirecTV Now with 85 channels and internet: $89 per month.
DirecTV Now with 105 channels and internet: $98 per month.
DirecTV Now with 125 channels and internet: $109 per month.
On-demand video streaming
If you don’t care about getting live TV your best bet is to go with one of the major on-demand streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. If you’re going this route and still want access to your basic over-the-air network channels, I suggest buying a digital antenna for about $25 on Amazon.
Netflix is the king of streaming, and for good reason. It offers original, award-winning content you can’t get anywhere else, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to subscribe. A Basic plan gets you single-screen viewing and standard-definition content costs just $9 a month. Step up to the Standard plan and you’ll get 2-screen viewing and high-definition content for $13 per month. Finally, there’s the Premium plan, which offers 4-screen viewing and 4K content for $16 per month.
Netflix Basic plan: $9 per month.
Netflix Standard plan: $13 per month.
Netflix Premium plan: $16 per month.
Netflix Basic plan and internet: $43 per month.
Netflix Standard plan and internet: $47 per month.
Netflix Premium plan and internet: $50 per month.
Hulu, meanwhile, is currently $8 with ads, but will drop that to $6 in February. So with the $6 plan, you’ll pay $45 for your first year with a 60 Mbps internet plan and $81 through your second year.
You can also get Hulu without ads for $12 per month, which will cost $51 for the first year of your internet contract and $87 the second year.
Hulu with ads: $6 per month.
Hulu without ads: $12 per month.
Hulu Live TV: $45 per month.
Hulu with ads and internet: $40 per month.
Hulu without ads and internet: $46 per month.
Hulu Live TV and internet: $79 per month.
Amazon’s Prime Video comes included with your monthly or yearly Amazon Prime subscription. If you don’t want to subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can sign up for Prime Video on its own. With a 60 Mbps internet plan, that works out to $48 per month the first year and $84 per month after that.
Standalone Prime video: $9 per month.
Standalone Prime video and internet: $34 per month.
More from Dan: