With so many options for streaming, how can you even begin to know which ones are worth your time and money? The struggle is real! So we’ve compiled a list of the best streaming apps and devices available today.
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In late 2022, streaming viewership finally overtook cable TV, with 34.8% of viewers streaming versus 34.4% watching cable and 21.6% watching broadcast networks, according to Nielsen. But do these trends and figures mean streaming is more cost-effective? The answer to that question depends on your individual needs and preferences. Does streaming actually save money?
Is It Cheaper to Have Cable or Streaming?
There really isn’t a straightforward answer to this question: it all depends.
For those who want a large selection of channels and live television, cable television may be the way to go. But, if you only want to pay for what you watch, a streaming service may be the better option. Many streaming services offer cheaper monthly subscriptions than cable packages, and you can opt for ad-free options for an extra cost. They even have options to stream some movies almost immediately after opening weekend, saving money on movie theater tickets.
But all things considered, the average American spends almost as much on streaming services as on basic cable. A study by Parks Associates indicates that 25% of Americans subscribe to nine streaming services, and half of Americans subscribe to four, while getting get a relatively inexpensive streaming service of even $4.99 a month or is possibleless, they can add up quickly. Figure out what you want to watch, where you can watch it, and what’s the most cost-effective way to do so.
What Apps Can You Get on TV?
With Smart TVs or streaming devices that access full Internet browsing windows, the better question might be what apps aren’t available on TV! Most smart TVs are full of streaming apps and work well with streaming devices, including Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, and Roku. Some of the most popular apps offer a diverse selection of movies, TV shows, and original content, including live-action and on-demand options.
But in today’s world, you can find highly niche TV apps, as well. Are you a fan of Broadway? You could check out Broadway HD. Could you watch history documentaries forever? Then the History App, which is available for free, could be a great option. More than likely, you can find a TV app that will serve up programs on just about anything.
What Is the Best App for Watching Free TV?
The best app for watching free TV will vary depending on your preferences and whayou wantor in a streaming service. There are multiple options available, but these are some of our favorites for free TV.
- Pluto TV offers ad-supported live television and on-demand options. While they don’t create original content, they’ve got a vast library of favorite TV shows and movies.
- Tubi is another free streaming app with over 45,000 movies and TV shows, including family favorites like Duck Dynasty, the Flintstones, and Garfield.
- Amazon Freevee (formerly IMDB) features several Amazon original series, favorite movies, and TV shows.
- YouTube might commonly be associated with shorter homemade videos, but if you look hard enough, you can also find a lot of professionally-produced TV shows and movies. The trick is curating their substantial amount of content.
Pros and Cons of Streaming Apps
Streaming apps have revolutionized the way we consume media. One of the biggest advantages of streaming apps is their convenience – users can access their favorite movies, TV shows, and music from anywhere, anytime. Streaming apps can potentially be more affordable than traditional cable or satellite TV subscriptions.
However, these apps require a reliable and fast internet connection, which can be problematic in areas with poor connectivity. Additionally, many popular streaming apps are subscription-based, which means users must pay a monthly fee to access their content. There are also concerns about the environmental impact of streaming, as it requires significant amounts of energy and can contribute to climate change.
How to Choose the Best Streaming App
When choosing a streaming app, there are four primary factors to consider: content, ease of navigation, cost, and compatibility.
First, identify what type of content you want to watch. Are you looking for specific movies, TV shows, or live sports? Let that decision narrow down the options, and find an app that caters to your interests. For example, each streaming platform offers different family-friendly content that parents can enjoy with their children. Even if a streaming service is a great deal, if you never watch those shows, you’re wasting your money.
Second, consider the app’s user interface and ease of navigation. Look for an app with a simple, intuitive interface that makes it easy to find and watch content. Most streaming apps work well with an Amazon Fire TV stick. You can use that one platform on your TV to play most other services like YouTube, Netflix, or Apple TV.
Third, evaluate the cost of your streaming apps. While some streaming apps are free, others require a monthly subscription fee. How much are you comfortable spending? Many apps offer monthly payments, so don’t feel like you need to make a permanent decision. You might decide to use one app in January, then cancel and replace it with another one in February.
Finally, take into account the app’s device compatibility and streaming quality, making sure it works on your preferred device and provides high-quality streaming. These days, the vast majority of streaming devices will work with nearly every single TV app, so this is less of a concern than it might have been a few years ago.
What Is the Best Streaming TV Service?
With the seemingly infinite amount of content, as well as the way certain TV shows and movies might be available on one platform one month before switching to another the next, there’s no definitive answer to this question. Instead, here are a few questions to consider when choosing a service:
- What shows/movies do you like to watch? Where can you watch them?
- What’s your budget?
While some of the most popular streaming TV services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, and HBO Max offer discounts for annual subscriptions, you can usually subscribe for one month to watch that one thing you’re really interested in. So do your research and plan accordingly! You might even be able to get the best service for you by only subscribing to one service at a time before switching to another one.
Each of the following services features a diverse selection of movies, TV shows, and original content that you can pull up on your big-screen TV. They also have parental controls so you can restrict access to certain content and ensure that children only watch age-appropriate shows and movies.
With the greatest proportion of total TV viewership across streaming platforms, Netflix still reigns as a streaming king. Its vast selection of TV shows, movies, and original content on demand is a must-have for any TV and movie lover. They also host great family-friendly content, including “The Magic School Bus Rides Again,” “Carmen Sandiego,” “VeggieTales in the House,” and “The Who Was Show.” Whether you’re watching a family movie on the big screen or a cooking show on your phone, Netflix has something for everyone! Subscriptions start at $6.99 for basic with ads and go up to $19.99 monthly for premium.
Disney+ is the ultimate destination for Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies (which feature beloved characters like Iron Man and Loki). Older kids (of all ages) and teens will love Star Wars-related content like the Mandalorian), and fans of documentaries will enjoy National Geographic. Disney+ also offers classic family-friendly movies like “Dumbo” and “The Lion King” and TV shows like Bluey, Chip ‘n’ Dale: Park Life,” or “The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”
Similar to Netflix, you can also stream your favorite shows anywhere with an internet connection or download them to watch later. It offers a free trial and a monthly subscription starting at $6.99. Be sure to look for special offers! For example, o2 customers currently get six months of Disney+ for free.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon’s streaming service offers many TV shows and movies, including many Amazon originals. In terms of family-friendly content, Amazon Prime hosts shows such as “Just Add Magic,” “Pete the Cat,” and “The Stinky & Dirty Show.” Prime Video is included with Amazon Prime, which costs $12.99 per month and offers a free trial.
Hulu has a mix of live television, on-demand content, and original series. Family favorites include Blippi, Curious George, Little House on the Prairie, and The Odd Squad. The platform offers a new series on a monthly basis, a free trial, and a monthly subscription starting at $7.99 for basic with ads, going up to $82.99 per month for no ads, plus live TV with Disney+ and ESPN. Since Disney owns Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN, you can sometimes get discounts on all three.
If you’re a fan of NBC and like to watch live sports, Peacock might be the streaming service for you! With a wide range of television series, movies, and live sports, including NFL games, you can watch nearly anything. Some kid-friendly picks include Angelina Ballerina, Baby Einstein, and American Ninja Warrior, Jr. It offers a free tier with limited content and a premium tier with ad-free viewing and more content starting at $4.99 per month.
This app is a great way to access your favorite TV shows and movies, including Apple’s original content. Family-friendly favorites include A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Helpsters, and Full House. It is available on Apple TVs and on devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, and Roku. Plans start at $6.99 per month.
HBO’s streaming service contains a wide range of popular TV series and movies, like the newest additions to the DC and the Harry Potter universes. Family-friendly favorites include the Magnolia Network Collection from Chip and Joanna Gaines, Sesame Street, and TCM with lots of classic movies. It offers a free trial and a monthly subscription starting at $14.99.
YouTube’s live television streaming service connects to a smart TV to provide a wide range of television channels, including sports, news, and entertainment. The service is expensive and costs $64.99 per month, but it’s a cheaper and more robust option than many cable services.
Paramount+, formerly CBS All Access, has a wide range of content, including live sports, news, original series, and movies. You can find many favorite shows from CBS, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, and more. Some of our favorites for younger kids include Paw Patrol, Backyardigans, Blues Clues, and Dora the Explorer.
Best Streaming Devices
These devices will all give you a high-quality 4K way to watch your favorite shows, movies, and sports. You can also use your favorite gaming console as a streaming device if you don’t want to invest in another electronic device. Consider one of these as a way to consolidate and navigate all of your other streaming apps.
Apple TV (4K)
Apple TV provides a high-fidelity video streaming experience for the family. If you can download an app from the app store, you can watch it on your Apple TV, so it’s compatible with nearly all TV and streaming apps.
This streaming device and accompanying app offer a huge selection of TV shows, movies, and live television via Sling, including many free options. It is a popular choice for those looking for an affordable streaming option with a price tag starting at $29.99.
If you’re an Android user, this streaming device might be the answer to your viewing needs! Android TV works with your existing devices to stream high-quality imaging on your TV. Whether you’re a gamer, music lover, or TV watcher, this device does it all!
Amazon Fire TV Stick
No matter which TV app you’re watching, chances are, you can do so via an Amazon Fire TV stick. Just connect the device to your TV, use your remote, and start watching your favorite shows. For Amazon Prime users, it’s extremely easy to purchase any additional streaming services or apps through this platform.
Google TV, which works in conjunction with Chromecast, elevates the video quality of all of your streaming content. You can use this small digital media player that connects to your TV’s HDMI port to cast your content from mobile devices or computers on your TV. That way, you can stream media from popular platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play.
Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy the Show
Streaming apps and devices have transformed home entertainment, and there’s not one clear winner when it comes to the best TV app or streaming platform. Consider your personal preferences, budget, and the type of content you’re interested in, and find the app that most closely aligns with those. Whether you’re looking for a free option or are willing to pay a monthly subscription, you’re bound to find one of several streaming services that will meet your needs. As the streaming wars rage on, who knows how these services will evolve and what new offerings will debut in the future!
What streaming service(s) do you use? Let us know on social using #getfamilyapp