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Best TV Streaming Apps for Cable Cutters: Money-Saving Review

Entertainment

With so many people fleeing cable for streaming TV services, we wanted to know which of these services had the best apps. We tested 10 streaming services to find our readers the best value.

Published:
Updated:
11 min read
Best TV Streaming Apps for Cable Cutters: Money-Saving Review

Introduction

The success of TikTok shows people love to watch videos on their phones. But the failure of mobile-video service Quibi may suggest we don't want to pay for it. Still, many TV streaming services offer apps for subscribers who want to catch up with content on-the-go, so we tested 10 of these apps in search of the best value. In the end, YouTube TV ($64.99/mo) offered the best app experience for live TV, while Disney+ ($6.99/mo) had the best on-demand service. Here's how we chose:

Our Pick

Best all-around live TV app

  • Try it FREE! Watch and DVR live TV from 85+ channels, including sports networks.

    3.8 Ratings 133K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    Free
    Free

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YouTube's cable alternative has tons of channels and features for those who want to ditch cable.

Why we chose YouTube TV:

  • The subscription price of $64.99 per month includes tons of content.
  • Easily navigable, with sections for family, news, sports, movies, various genres
  • Has lots of short-form, on-demand content — it is YouTube, after all. You can watch short videos in spare moments, saving you time.
  • Topical sections like “conversations on racial injustice” help viewers keep track of important issues.
  • Live TV Guide shows you everything that’s on in real-time so you can find what you want to see.
  • Don't have time to watch? Record shows you want to see and save them for later.
  • Simple and intuitive viewing experience -- screen flips to landscape with a tap for easier viewing
Best for: Living the couch potato life even when you're far from the couch. Read YouTube TV's Full Review
Runner Up

Best for kids and kids at heart

  • The best of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic

    4.2 Ratings 902K+ Reviews 50M+ Downloads
    Free In-App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases

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The Disney Plus app is a great choice for parents or anyone who loves Disney (Or Marvel. Or Star Wars. Or any of the company's many properties.)

Why we chose Disney+:

  • Great deal for lots of content: $6.99 a month (or $12.99 in a bundle with Hulu and ESPN.)
  • Gorgeous app showcases the extensive content library.
  • Since Disney owns tons of properties, there are lots of options here: New and classic Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, as well as lots of movies and special options like Hamilton and Taylor Swift’s new studio special.
  • While we don’t necessarily recommend watching Avatar on your phone, the video quality is really good.
  • Has good some good shorter programming that is probably more consistent with what you would actually use the app for — watching something in a waiting room or line.
  • Of course, lots of excellent children’s programming. This app could be a life-saver for parents who need to calm a bored or upset child.

Best for: delighting your child (or yourself).
Read Disney+'s Full Review
Also Groovy

Best free live TV

  • Watch Free TV! 100+ channels and 1000’s of Movies and TV Shows Free!

    4.5 Ratings 696K+ Reviews 50M+ Downloads
    Free
    Free

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Are we cheating by adding a totally free live TV app to this list? Maybe. But we just had to test it after hearing all the hype, which it definitely lived up to. It's a great choice for people who want to watch TV occasionally and don't want to pay for it.

Why we chose Pluto TV:

  • 100% free live TV. While it does have lots of ads, so do the live options that you pay for, so you really can’t beat the price point here.
  • Good video quality, easy to navigate interface.
  • Surprisingly has many popular channels, including news channels, options for kids, local news offerings, classic, home improvement, and comedy.
  • While the library is not as expansive as a service like Netflix or Hulu, Pluto does have a fairly large collection of on-demand movies and shows.
Best for: catching up with news or talk shows any time, any place.  Read Pluto TV - Free Live TV and Movies's Full Review
Also Groovy

Best cable alternative

  • The best live and on demand TV

    4.4 Ratings 255K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    Free
    Free

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Sling is a great deal for a cable alternative and comes with extensive DVR storage. 

Why we chose Sling:

  • With subscription prices as low as $30 per month, Sling is a great deal.
  • Lots of live and recordable TV channels, including TBS, AMC, Comedy Central. HGTV, The Food Network, CNN, Disney Channel, and many more.
  • Extensive selection of sports channels included in basic package, with more available as add-ons.
  • On-demand library includes TV shows, movies, and family content.
  • Easy to record programs for later and find them in your library. The service includes 50 hours of DVR cloud storage.
Best for: sneaking a glance at the game wherever you are.  Read SLING's Full Review
Also Groovy

Best content options (to go with your free shipping)

  • Watch TV shows and movies including award-winning Amazon exclusives.

    4.5 Ratings 5M+ Reviews 100M+ Downloads
    Free In-App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases

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If you already have a subscription to Amazon Prime, you should definitely check out their video library.

Why we chose Amazon Prime Video:

  • Free with Prime subscription ($199 per year or $12.99 per month), or $8.99 per month on its own.
  • Lots of programming included with Prime — now including some live sports.
  • Access to Amazon original programming, including Transparent, The Man in High Castle, and others.
  • Great content library for kids will help keep them engaged and occupied.
  • In addition to what’s included with Prime, you can find lots of additional programming available to rent or buy that you can watch on the app as well. Find shows and movies that aren't available anywhere else.
  • Many premium cable channels are available as add-ons, so you can find all your favorites in one place.
Best for: getting the most out of your Amazon Prime perks. 
Read Amazon Prime Video's Full Review

Everything We Recommend

  • Our Pick

    YouTube TV - Watch & Record Live TV

    3.8 Ratings 133K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    • Cable-free live TV. No cable box required.
    • Watch major broadcast and cable networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, ESPN, HGTV, TNT and more, including your local sports & news channels.
    • Watch on your smartphone, tablet, computer, smart TV, or game console, and on your big screen via Google Chromecast, Roku player & TV, and Apple TV.
    • Cloud DVR without DVR storage space limits. Each recording will be stored for 9 months.
    • 6 YouTube TV accounts per household. Everyone gets their own login, recommendations and DVR.
    • No commitment, no contracts; cancel anytime.
    • Start your free-trial today.

    Over eighty-five networks are available in YouTube TV:

    BROADCAST
    ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and more

    SPORTS
    CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports RSN (regional), ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, Golf Channel, MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube, MLB Network, NBA TV, NBCSN, NFL Network, Olympic Channel, SEC Network, and more

    ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
    AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, BET, Bravo,CMT, Comedy Central, Comet, CourtTV, Cozi TV, Decades, Discovery, E!, Food Network, Freeform, FX, FXM, FXX, IFC, Investigation Discovery, HGTV, MotorTrend, Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, OWN, Oxygen, Paramount Network, Pop, QVC, Smithsonian Channel, SundanceTV, SyFy, TBS, TCM, TLC, TNT, Travel Channel, TruTV, TV Land, USA, VH1, WE tv, NewsNation, YouTube Originals, and more

    NEWS
    ABC News Live, BBC World News, Cheddar, CNBC, CNBC World, MSNBC, NBCLX and more

    KIDS
    Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, Universal Kids

    SPANISH LANGUAGE
    Telemundo, Universo

    Sports and premium networks like HBO Max, SHOWTIME and STARZ are also available for an additional monthly charge.

    Availability:
    YouTube TV is available nationwide in the United States.

    For more information, please visit our Help Center.

    Terms of service: tv.youtube.com/tv/terms
    Paid terms of service: tv.youtube.com/tv/paidterms
    Privacy policy: tv.youtube.com/tv/privacy

    Enjoy cable-free live tv now!
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    No
    No
  • Runner Up

    Disney+

    4.2 Ratings 902K+ Reviews 50M+ Downloads
    Disney+ is the streaming home of your favorite stories. With unlimited entertainment from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic, you’ll never be bored. Watch the latest releases, Original series and movies, classic films, throwback TV shows, and so much more.

    Stream and download Original Series like The Mandalorian, and fan favorites like The Simpsons, Marvel’s The Avengers, and Frozen. There’s always something new to discover.

    With Disney+, you get:
    • A premium ad-free experience
    • Access to new releases, timeless classics and past seasons of your favorite TV shows
    • Exclusive new Originals from the creators of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic
    • GroupWatch, a way to watch Disney+ together, even when you’re apart
    • Unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices
    • Over 100 titles in 4K UHD and HDR
    • The ability to watch on four screens at once at no extra cost

    For help with Disney+, please visit: http://help.disneyplus.com.
    For our Subscriber Agreement and other policies please visit: https://disneyplus.com/legal.

    Your California Privacy Rights: https://privacy.thewaltdisneycompany.com/en/current-privacy-policy/your-california-privacy-rights/
    Do Not Sell My Information: https://privacy.thewaltdisneycompany.com/en/dnsmi/

    The content available on Disney+ may vary by region. Some titles shown above may not be available in your country.

    Start streaming your favorite movies and TV shows now!
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    $6.99 - $79.99 per item
    $6.99 - $80.99 per item
  • Also Groovy

    Pluto TV - Free Live TV and Movies

    4.5 Ratings 696K+ Reviews 50M+ Downloads
    Welcome to a whole new world of TV.

    Watch 250+ channels and 1000s of movies free!

    Drop in to hundreds of channels streaming the latest movies, binge-worthy TV shows, breaking news, live sports and more. Always on. And always 100% free!

    Watch hit movies like Big Fish, Zodiac, Legally Blonde, The Big Short and more anytime you want with Pluto TV on-demand.

    Get up-to-the-minute headlines from major news outlets including: CNN, NBC News, CBSN, and TODAY. You can even access local coverage from CBSN New York and CBSN Los Angeles.

    Relive iconic moments and classic games with a 24/7 NFL Channel, and don't miss a minute of the biggest sports action with Fox Sports, MLS, and more. Plus, live sports are at your fingertips from beIN Sports Xtra and Big Sky.

    Your favorite shows are playing 24/7 with channels dedicated to Baywatch, Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, Leverage, Cold Case Files and more. Catch up on wild reality with MTV’s The Hills, The Challenge, VH1 Love + Hip Hop and all the latest and greatest unscripted shows.

    Can’t get enough true crime? Solve the case with retro classics like Unsolved Mysteries and Forensic Files, and witness the action from inside the courtroom on Court TV.
    The best part? You’ll never have to pay for Pluto TV. No credit cards. No bills. No contracts. No signup. Just open the app, drop in, and watch for free.
    Pluto TV is free TV.

    * Privacy Policy and Your California Privacy Rights: https://corporate.pluto.tv/privacy-policy
    * Do Not Sell My Personal Information: https://viacomprivacy.com
    * Terms of Use: http://corporate.pluto.tv/terms-of-use
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    No
    No

    SLING: Live TV, Shows & Movies

    4.4 Ratings 255K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    SLING is a streaming service with the best of live TV, both free and paid, streamed to you on any device. And with 200+ channels, SLING has something for everyone. It’s the live TV you love for half the cost of cable. Plus, watch over 85,000 movies & shows on demand.

    Programming Available From SLING TV:

    With free channels like ABC News Live and premium cable networks such as CNN, FOX News and MSNBC, Sling keeps you informed while you stay safe inside. Entertainment networks like, Bravo!, LIfetime and HGTV mean SLING TV has something for everyone.

    NEWS | Stay up-to-date and informed with plenty of news channels like CNN, FOX News, CNBC, MSNBC and Bloomberg.

    ENTERTAINMENT | Stay in & SLING in with entertainment for the whole family. Sign up and get Bravo, Freeform, A&E, Investigation Discovery, TBS and TNT.

    LIFESTYLE | With SLING TV, you can get your DIY fix with HGTV and satisfy your cravings for new recipes on Food Network. Plus, we have plenty of other lifestyle channels like TLC, Hallmark and Discovery.

    KIDS’ SHOWS | Keep the kids happy and the Saturday morning cartoon tradition rolling with Disney and Cartoon Network.

    SPORTS | Catch the latest news, analysis and feature films of your favorite sports on ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, and a whole lot more.

    INTERNATIONAL | SLING TV is one of the best international streaming services in the U.S., offering programs in 22 languages including Spanish, Hindi & Arabic.

    So what’s the hold up? Download the app today and start SLINGing.

    Please note: This app features Nielsen’s proprietary measurement software that will allow you to contribute to market research, like Nielsen’s TV Ratings. Please see www.nielsen.com/digitalprivacy for more information.
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    No
    No
    Watch movies, TV, and sports, including Amazon Originals like The Boys, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan as well as recommendations just for you.

    App features:
    • Download videos to watch offline.
    • Follow your favorite actors and directors to receive notifications for videos featuring them as they become available on Prime Video (US only).
    • Rent or buy new-release movies and popular TV shows (availability varies by market).
    • Cast from your phone or tablet to the big screen with Chromecast and Fire TV.
    • Multi-user profiles allow creating personalized entertainment experiences.
    • Go behind the scenes of movies and TV shows with exclusive X-Ray access, powered by IMDb (availability varies by market).
    • 100+ channels like HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, CBS All Access, Cinemax, and more are available for Prime members to add—no extra apps to download and no cable required (availability varies by market).
    Cost
    Free
    Free
    In-App Purchases
    $0.99 - $100.00 per item
    $8.99 per item

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Best TV Streaming Apps for Cable Cutters: Money-Saving Review

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