cord cuttingcold cutting

In the digital age, the way we consume media is rapidly evolving but cord-cutting seems to be here to stay. Traditional cable and satellite TV, once the mainstay of home entertainment, are increasingly being replaced by streaming services. This shift, known as “cord-cutting,” has been gaining momentum over the past few years, driven by a combination of cost, convenience, and a desire for more personalized viewing experiences. As we move into 2023, the trend shows no signs of slowing down. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the best streaming services for cord-cutters, helping you make an informed decision based on your individual needs and preferences.

The Cord-Cutting Phenomenon

Cord-cutting is more than just a trend; it’s a significant shift in the way we consume media. According to TechJury, an estimated 95.1 million people in the US are expected to cut the cord by the end of 2023, representing 35.9% of the US population. By 2026, this number is projected to rise to 80.7 million households, indicating that the cord-cutting movement is here to stay.

Viewers can be categorized into three types: cord-cutters (those who cancel their cable or satellite subscriptions), cord-trimmers (those who reduce their TV packages), and cord-nevers (those who have never paid for cable or satellite subscriptions). Each group has its own motivations and viewing habits, but all contribute to the decline of traditional cable and satellite TV.

The impact of cord-cutting on traditional TV is significant. In Q3 of 2022 alone, Pay-TV lost about 785,000 subscribers, up from a net loss of 650,000 in Q3 of 2021. By 2030, it is expected that the prevalence of cable and satellite TV would have decreased by 7%.

Revisiting the Smart TV Experience

While the discussion so far has revolved around the best streaming services, it’s also worth noting that the hardware you use to access these services can greatly impact your viewing experience. In a separate analysis, we delved into the realities of using smart TVs, particularly ones enabled with Android TV or Google TV.

The results were, to put it mildly, underwhelming. While these devices boast seamless integration and a host of pre-installed apps, the reality is often fraught with bugs, sluggish performance, and a clunky user interface. A case in point is the YouTube TV app on Google TV enabled smart TVs, which proved to be a real disappointment in terms of both functionality and user experience.

So, what’s the solution? If you value a smooth, hassle-free streaming experience, investing in a standalone streaming device can make a world of difference. Devices such as Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Firestick, or Google TV stick offer more stable performance, faster navigation, and an overall more user-friendly interface. They may represent an extra upfront cost, but the benefits they deliver, especially when using services like Sling TV, YouTube TV, and DirecTV streaming, are well worth it.

Remember, the best streaming service in the world won’t make up for a sub-par viewing experience. So, choose your hardware as carefully as you choose your streaming service, and enjoy your digital entertainment the way it’s meant to be.

Cost Comparison: Streaming vs. Cable

One of the primary drivers of the cord-cutting movement is cost. Streaming services often provide a more affordable alternative to traditional cable or satellite TV subscriptions. But how do the costs actually compare?

CNET’s analysis reveals that the cost of streaming can vary widely depending on the services you choose. For instance, if you subscribe to multiple streaming services to access a wide range of content, your monthly costs could quickly add up, potentially exceeding the cost of a basic cable package.

However, streaming services offer a level of flexibility that traditional cable can’t match. With streaming, you can customize your subscriptions based on your viewing habits, adding or dropping services as your needs change. This flexibility, combined with the potential cost savings, makes streaming an attractive option for many viewers.

Top Streaming Services for Cord-Cutters: Ranked

Choosing the right streaming service can be a daunting task, given the multitude of options available. To help you navigate this landscape, we’ve ranked the top streaming services for cord-cutters in 2023 based on their offerings, cost, and user experience.

1. Hulu Plus Live TV

Ranking at the top of our list is Hulu Plus Live TV. This service offers a robust lineup of channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, TNT, and TBS, and provides unlimited DVR storage. Additionally, subscribers gain access to Hulu’s extensive library of on-demand content. Despite a price increase to $74.99 per month for the bundle with ESPN Plus and ad-free Disney Plus, the service’s comprehensive offerings and the convenience of having live TV and on-demand content in one place make it the best option for most cord-cutters.

2. YouTube TV

Coming in second is YouTube TV. This service is a popular choice among cord-cutters, offering a wide range of channels and unlimited DVR. It has the best apps of the group and was the first big service with unlimited DVR. The service costs $65 per month, making it a more affordable option than Hulu Plus Live TV while still offering a comprehensive selection of channels.

3. Sling TV

Sling TV ranks third on our list. It offers a flexible and affordable option, with a starting price of $40 per month. To get to that low price, you pick either Sling Blue or Sling Orange, each offering a decent channel lineup. Sling Orange + Blue combines them both, so you can get ESPN channels and local FOX and NBC affiliates. While it doesn’t offer as many channels as Hulu or YouTube TV, its affordability and flexibility make it a great option for budget-conscious viewers.

4. DirecTV Stream

DirecTV Stream comes in fourth. While it offers a wide range of popular channels and controls many regional sports networks, its higher price point is a significant drawback. The entry-level price will be $75 per month in June 2023, and if you want those regional sports networks, you’re paying $99 per month for its Choice plan. This makes it a less cost-effective option for many viewers, despite its comprehensive channel offerings.

5. FuboTV

FuboTV ranks fifth on our list. It markets itself as the live TV streaming service for sports fans and offers a wide range of sports channels. However, it lacks certain channels like TNT for NBA live streams and TBS for MLB live streams. Its price is $70 per month, making it more expensive than some of the other options on this list.

6. Philo

Philo comes in last on our list. While it is the most affordable live TV service at $25 per month, it offers a limited selection of channels. It doesn’t include major news networks like CNN, FOX News, or MSNBC, and it doesn’t have any sports networks. This makes it a less versatile option compared to the other services on this list.

In the next section, we’ll delve into the impact of sports on cord-cutting and how different streaming services cater to sports fans.



Hulu Live TV Logo
Hulu Live

youtube TV
Youtube TV

Sling TV
Sling TV
Price$74.99/month$65/monthStarts at $40/month
Number of Channels60+85+30-50 (depending on package)
DVRUnlimitedUnlimited50 hours (expandable)
On-Demand ContentYesYesYes
Sports ChannelsYesYesYes (with Sling Orange + Blue)
News ChannelsYesYesYes (with Sling Blue)
Local ChannelsYesYesYes (in select markets)
Streaming QualityUp to 4KUp to 1080pUp to 1080p
Supported DevicesMost smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and streaming devicesMost smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and streaming devicesMost smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and streaming devices
Free TrialYesYesYes

The Impact of Sports on Cord-Cutting

Sports programming is a significant factor in the cord-cutting decision for many viewers. Live sports events are one of the few types of content that viewers still prefer to watch in real-time, making them a crucial offering for any TV service. However, the availability of sports channels varies widely among streaming services, and this can significantly impact their appeal to sports fans.

DirecTV Stream

DirecTV Stream stands out for its extensive sports offerings. It controls many regional sports networks, making it an excellent choice for fans who want to follow their local teams’ games. However, its higher price point—$75 per month for the entry-level package and $99 per month for the Choice plan that includes regional sports networks—may be a deterrent for some viewers.


FuboTV markets itself as the live TV streaming service for sports fans. It offers a wide range of sports channels, including international sports. However, it lacks certain channels like TNT for NBA live streams and TBS for MLB live streams. Its price is $70 per month, making it a more expensive option than some of the other services on this list.

Hulu Plus Live TV and YouTube TV

Both Hulu Plus Live TV and YouTube TV offer a good selection of sports channels, including ESPN, making them solid choices for sports fans. However, they don’t have the same level of sports coverage as DirecTV Stream or FuboTV.

Sling TV

Sling TV offers a decent selection of sports channels in its Sling Orange + Blue package, including ESPN channels and local FOX and NBC affiliates. However, its sports offerings are not as extensive as those of DirecTV Stream or FuboTV.


Philo does not offer any sports networks, making it the least appealing option for sports fans.

The Future of Cord-Cutting

As we look ahead, the trend towards cord-cutting shows no signs of slowing down. The convenience, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of streaming services make them an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional cable and satellite TV. However, as the market becomes more saturated, streaming services will face new challenges and opportunities.

The Challenges

One of the main challenges for streaming services is the increasing competition. As more services enter the market, each offering its own unique content and features, viewers are faced with a bewildering array of choices. This could lead to subscription fatigue, where viewers feel overwhelmed by the number of subscriptions they need to maintain to access all the content they want to watch.

Another challenge is the rising cost of content. As streaming services compete for viewers, they are investing heavily in original content to differentiate themselves. This increases their costs, which could potentially be passed on to viewers in the form of higher subscription fees.

Diving into the Digital Future

While the transition from traditional cable to streaming services presents certain challenges, it’s an evolution charged with opportunities. The surging tide of cord-cutting has not only thrown open the gates to a wider audience spectrum but also paved the way for fresh, exciting possibilities in content delivery and consumption.

Streaming platforms like Sling TV, YouTube TV, and DirecTV streaming offer a level of adaptability that the conventional cable system could never match. They’ve turned technology into their playbook, creating unique user experiences through personalized content recommendations, interactive shows, and experimenting with unconventional content formats.

In this streaming revolution, we evaluated six leading platforms on a number of parameters like pricing, channel count, DVR storage, and device compatibility. Sling TV, YouTube TV, and DirecTV streaming were rated top for their balanced mix of affordability and content variety. These platforms have successfully leveraged technology to offer greater personalization and a user-friendly interface that makes it easier for viewers to discover and enjoy content.

But the rankings are not set in stone. In the constantly shifting landscape of streaming, a service’s ability to innovate and provide high-quality content and value for their subscribers is key. The ones that remain focused on continually improving user experience and diversifying their content portfolio are the ones that will rise to the top.

As the curtain lifts on the future of television, we, the audience, are in the enviable position of being both spectators and beneficiaries. We’re witnessing a seismic shift in how we consume entertainment, and it is streaming services that are leading this revolution. The future of cord-cutting not just looks promising, it’s already here, rewriting the rules of the game, one stream at a time.

By Alan Wood

Musings of an unabashed and unapologetic liberal deep in the heart of a Red State. Crusader against obscurantism. Optimistic curmudgeon, snark jockey, lovably opinionated purveyor of wisdom and truth. Multi-lingual world traveler and part-time irreverent philosopher who dabbles in writing, political analysis, and social commentary. Attempting to provide some sanity and clarity to complex issues with a dash of sardonic wit and humor. Thanks for visiting!

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