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Best TV Streaming Apps for Cable Cutters 2021

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.

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Best TV Streaming Apps for Cable Cutters 2021
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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 141K+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    Free Feature Rich Fresh
    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 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! 100s of channels and 1000s of Movies and TV Shows Free!
    4.5 Ratings 977K+ Reviews 50M+ Downloads
    Free Feature Rich Fresh
    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

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)

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: Live TV & more

    3.8 Ratings 141K+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    • Cable-free live TV. No cable box required.
    • Watch major broadcast and cable networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, ESPN, AMC, Univision, HGTV, TNT and more, including your local news and sports 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, Galavisión, Golf Channel, MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube, MLB Network, NBA TV, NBCSN, NFL Network, Olympic Channel, SEC Network, Univision, UniMás and more

    ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
    AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, BET, BET Her, Bravo,CMT, Comedy Central, Comet, CourtTV, Cozi TV, Dabl, Decades, Discovery, E!, Food Network, Freeform, FX, FXM, FXX, Galavisión, IFC, Investigation Discovery, HGTV, MotorTrend, MTV, MTV2, MTV Classic, Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, OWN, Oxygen, Paramount Network, Pop, QVC, Smithsonian Channel, SundanceTV, SyFy, TBS, TCM, TLC, TNT, Travel Channel, TruTV, TV Land, Univision, UniMás, USA, VH1, WE tv, NewsNation, YouTube Originals, and more

    NEWS
    BBC World News, Cheddar, CNBC, CNBC World, CNN, Galavisión, HLN, MSNBC, NBCLX, Univision, UniMás, and more

    KIDS
    Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Nick Toons, PBS Kids, Teen Nick, Universal Kids

    SPANISH LANGUAGE
    Galavisión, Telemundo, Universo, Univision, UniMás and more

    Sports and premium networks like our Sports Plus add-on now with 20+ channels included, HBO Max, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and more 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+ 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
    $7.99 - $79.99 per item
  • Also Groovy

    Pluto TV - Free Live TV and Movies

    4.5 Ratings 977K+ Reviews 50M+ Downloads
    The leading free streaming TV and movie service is available to you! Watch 100s of live TV channels and 1000s of movies and TV shows, all streaming free. Pluto TV also offers over 45 channels in Spanish, including native language and dubbed movies, reality TV, telenovelas, crime, sports and more. Pluto TV is 100% free and legal: no credit cards, contracts, or bills.

    Pluto TV has the best in hit movies, cult classics, and blockbuster films. You’ll find something for everyone on Pluto TV, with hits like “Total Recall,” “Last Holiday,” and “Rango,” cult classics like “Pulp Fiction” and “Hot Rod,” and more. Looking for rom-coms? We’ve got “Legally Blonde,” “Overboard,” and “Two Night Stand.” Fiending for frights? Horror movies such as “Cloverfield,” “Hellraiser,” and “Child’s Play” are guaranteed to keep you up all night. ¿Le gustan películas? Ve “Forrest Gump” y “Guerra Mundial Z” en español.

    Choose from our library of 1000s of on-demand movies and TV shows or from our 27 exclusive movie channels including:

    The biggest hit movies
    -Full seasons of your favorite shows
    -Chilling true crime and drama series
    -Hilarious comedy shows and stand-up specials
    -Spanish-language movies & shows
    -The wildest reality TV shows
    -The latest breaking news
    -Live sports, classic games, news and analysis

    Your favorite shows are streaming 24/7 on Pluto TV. Catch full seasons of CSI, Star Trek: The Next Generation, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Narcos on their own channels, and watch classics like Survivor, Kenan & Kel, Beavis & Butthead, Unsolved Mysteries and more whenever you want.

    Check back often so you don’t miss the great new movies and shows we’re adding to our on-demand library every day from top content providers like Paramount, CBS, MGM, Sony and Lionsgate! Binge on 1000s of movies and TV shows any time you want!

    Ditch the bill. Download Pluto TV to start watching free TV today.

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

    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, Paramount+, 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
Compare All Apps

The 411 from our Appventurer

  • Although they have raised the price a few times since launch, YouTube tv keeps adding more and more channels to their lineup. It’s still a much better alternative to your typical “bloated” cable package like Comcast

Caroline Rothnie
Written by:

Caroline Rothnie

Best TV Streaming Apps for Cable Cutters 2021

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