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  • After you cut the cord, you’ll have more than a dozen options for streaming services you can use, all with varying channel lineups, on-demand offerings, live TV programming, and price points.
  • Think about your favorite TV shows and channels, and then try to find the best streaming service — or two or three — that meet those needs, while staying in your budget.
  • We break down the best streaming services to help you choose. Our top picks include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Hulu TV, DirecTV Now, Fubo TV, HBO Now, Starz, and more.

Depending on how much you love TV, cutting the cord may be a difficult choice. For example, if you have a Homer Simpson love of TV, the suggestion of cutting the cord would cause off-the-chart, red level panic … at least if there were no backup plan.

Streaming TV is that backup plan. With streaming TV, you’ll still receive many of your favorite channels and programs, just without the big bills of cable and satellite TV. After all, the average monthly cable or satellite TV bill costs $85 to $100, according to USA Today.

Think of a streaming TV service as a skinny version of traditional pay-TV services from cable and satellite providers. You won’t receive all of the channels and perks you receive with a cable or satellite subscription, but you’ll save some money on your overall bill, as long as you have all of the equipment you need.

Streaming services also allow you to start and stop the service at any time, whereas not all live TV allows that. Some satellite and cable TV providers also still require you to sign a long-term service contract, and most streaming services don’t force you into a contract. We’ve broken down the 15 best streaming services to help you make the right choice for your particular needs, but first, a word on how streaming services work.

How do streaming services work?

Whereas cable TV signals enter your home through a dedicated line and satellite TV signals enter it over the air, streaming TV services enter your home through your internet connection.

You need reasonably fast internet speeds of at least 25 to 50 Mbps to use streaming services, and if your TV is not a smart TV, you need a streaming stick or box like the Roku Streaming Stick, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, or another streaming stick (You can read all about the best streaming sticks and boxes here).

Streaming services typically costs less than a full TV subscription, even though they offer many of the same channels and on-demand video options. Some streaming services also offer live TV functions, though not all do.

The New York Times says the best way to figure out whether streaming services are for you is to ask yourself which shows and channels you’re most interested in watching. List all of your favorites, and then look for a service that matches your list.

What kinds of TV shows, movies, and videos do streaming services offer?

Streaming services come in many forms. Some, like Netflix, offer only pre-recorded, on-demand shows and movies, while others, like YouTube TV, offer live TV programming. Others offer both live TV and on-demand shows.

  • Live TV: A live TV streaming service carries popular channels you’re already familiar with through your cable or satellite TV subscription. Live TV streaming services have current TV shows available as they air and they often offer some on-demand content, too. Examples include Sling TV, Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, and DirecTV Now.
  • On-demand: On-demand streaming services give you the option of watching old TV shows and movies that may have debuted anywhere from a few days before to a few decades ago. These services don’t give you access to specific channels, but access to specific shows. If your favorite show is on AMC at 9 p.m. on Sunday, you cannot watch it live with an on-demand streaming service. Examples include Netflix, Hulu (non-live version), and Amazon Prime Video.
  • Channels as streaming services: Just like you can add HBO, Showtime, Starz, and other premium channels to your cable or satellite TV service, so, too, can you add these channels to your streaming services. Their most popular content often isn’t available on other streaming services, so these channel-specific services act like add-ons. Examples include HBO Now, Showtime, Starz, ESPN+, and CBS All Access.

As content providers start running their own streaming services, they may pull their content from other services. If Company X starts its own streaming service, pulling a popular sports channel and a popular kids channel off all other streaming services, are you going to subscribe to Company X’s service, canceling your other subscription?

As we outline the 15 best streaming services below, understand that these services are constantly changing. They are adding and losing programs and channels, changing prices, and offering different sign-up perks. So continue checking back for the latest information.

Here are the best streaming services:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.