Friday, March 15, 2024

No, you don't really need a live streaming package. Probably.

Nearly three years ago, I asked the question: Do you really need a live streaming package?

I spent a long time not really answering the question. What I eventually said was "if you want one, get one." And that really doesn't answer the question.

Of course, it's true that if you want one, you can get one. But, do you really need one? No.

In the last three years, free live streaming services have expanded, so you have a lot more options. But the question is really about cable-like services, such as YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, Sling TV, Fubo, Vidgo, and the like.

If you want cable, but watch it streaming, then those services will give you that. They are simply streaming versions of cable TV. They have much the same content as cable: live TV (well, not so much with Vidgo, and even less with Sling), and the major cable channels.

But, if you want the same type of programming that you get on cable, you don't really need a pay TV service such as those streaming packages.

Pluto TV, Tubi, Roku Channel, Plex, Crackle, Sling Freestream, as well as platform specific options such as Live TV from Fire TV and Google TV devices, offer much of the same type of content as a pay TV streaming service.

Note that I say ":same type of content" rather than "same content." To explain what I mean, let's first look at the top cable channels of 2023.

  1. NBC
  2. CBS
  3. ABC
  4. Fox
  5. Fox News
  6. ESPN
  7. Univision
  8. MSNBC
  9. Ion
  10. HGTV
  11. TNT
  12. Hallmark Channel
  13. Telemundo
  14. TBS
  15. History
  16. TLC
  17. INSP
  18. Discovery Channel
  19. USA Network
  20. Food Network

The first four are the major broadcast networks. I'll skip those, at least for now. I'm looking at the major FAST (Free Ad Supported Television) services:

  • Pluto TV
  • Tubi
  • Xumo Play
  • Freestream
  • Local Now
  • Roku Channel
  • Plex
  • Crackle

At 5 is Fox News, while MSNBC is 8. Those FAST services have lots of news channels. Ion (9), Hallmark (12), INSP (17), Discovery (18), and Food Network (20) have content of the type that can be found on the FAST services. In fact, apart from the broadcast networks, only ESPN with its live major sports coverage doesn't have a substitute channel on the FAST services.

If you want ESPN, then yes, you need a pay TV live streaming service. If you want the major broadcast networks, you can get an antenna, or subscribe to a live TV streaming service.

If you don't care to watch those five channels, then you can find the same type of content on a FAST service.

My Streaming Life doesn't involve a pay TV service most of the time. I do like ESPN during college football season, but the rest of the time, I don't care for that channel. I have an antenna. I don't need a pay TV live streaming service. Maybe you don't either.

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