DirecTV, Hulu & YouTube to become online TV providers in 2017
The outlook for live streaming TV looks pretty bright in 2017. Even if it may be pregnant with uncertainty.
PlayStation Vue and Sling TV are trailblazers in the live streaming TV market, giving customers choice in places where there was once little or no competition.
Cable companies like Comcast, Time Warner and Spectrum should be worried. The drumbeat of people refusing to pay higher prices is getting louder. Those customers are in synch with a generation of cord nevers, people who just aren’t interested in traditional cable for home entertainment.
DirecTV Now hopes to step into the fold to capture that market. Hulu and YouTube are expected to get into live TV streaming business by 2017 as well, following trailblazers like PlayStation Vue and Sling TV.
There are still a lot of unknowns behind what exactly DirecTV, and its fellow competitors will be offering. DirecTV execs say that their serving will offer 100 channels for $35. Sounds pretty good.
Hulu will reportedly be offering an “ambitious slate of upcoming originals,” within the coming months. The current price for Hulu streaming could be about $30 a month. But what will you get for it? Good question. Live streaming services like PlayStation Vue and Sling TV are already forming must-haves for consumers.
Here are five frequently asked questions and answers you may want to consider before trying out a live streaming TV service.
Does live streaming TV require a contract?
For now, the answer is no. The two main players offering live streaming TV right now, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, allow you to cancel at anytime. But contracts may be something to keep an eye out for once new players hit the scene. The recent deal Sling TV struck with Apple, requiring a three-month commitment comes close to being a contract. Some cable companies still insist to sign you up for a year or two of service. I won’t mention any names …coughcoughComcastcoughcough. Hopefully, contracts will soon become a thing of the past. Given the amount of competition that’s coming into the live streaming market, nobody should have to sign a contract to get decent deal. We have a comparison guide if you are thinking about trying out PlayStation Vue or Sling TV.
What are skinny bundles?
The term “skinny bundles” refers to a pay-TV subscription with fewer channels at a lower price. The term was coined by traditional cable companies. But the term skinny bundle is used a lot in discussions about live streaming TV platforms. That’s because services like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue offer a select number of channels for as little as $20 to $30 per month. DirecTV Now plans to offer 100+ channels for $35 per month.
Price point can be a slippery slope. You want as much as you can get for the $20 to $50 dollars a month that you’re willing to part with. With so many options like Netflix, HBO Now and Starz up for grabs at the buffet of subscription-based TV, you can really pack it on. And you can end up paying just as much as you did with cable. To avoid this, make a list of what you really watch versus channels you think are cool, but don’t ever watch. Be sure to include your significant other when you draft your new Constitution of TV watching.
What are free TV streaming options?
There’s a wide variety of free programming with apps that don’t cost you a dime. PBS, Crackle (for movies and original programming) and of course, YouTube. If you look around at the number of apps offered by Roku or Amazon for their Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, you can set yourself up with plenty to watch. Make sure you also look into what over-the-air antenna options work best for you. TV antennas are finding a new, second life with the advent of digital transmissions broadcasting high-def quality programming. If you’re joining the growing number of cord cutters in the U.S., this is probably new territory for you. So take your time to learn the lay of the land before rushing out and buying a new streaming device.
Can I DVR shows on Sling TV, PlayStation Vue?
One one live streaming service currently offers a DVR feature. PlayStation has a “cloud-DVR” where you can essentially bookmark what you want to “record” and watch later. Sling TV has no option to DVR a show. With PlayStation Vue, there’s no limit to the amount of programs you can add, but they’re only saved for 28 days. How DirecTV Now, Hulu, YouTube and others preparing to offer live streaming will handle the DVR needs of customers remains to be seen.
Should I buy a Roku or something else?
If you’ve been asking yourself questions like, “Should I buy a Roku vs an Apple TV?”, without a good answer, don’t worry. There are plenty of excellent guides and reviews on the web that can help you. We have a few here on this site.
You can read our take on the best Roku device, and why we prefer Amazon Fire TV for live streaming. We also have reviews on the best WiFi routers, and best cable modems to get help you get started. Just remember, it’s the little details that count.
I bought an Amazon Fire TV instead of a Roku because I was primarily interesting in streaming PlayStation Vue for live TV.
Fire TV has a much better user interface for PS Vue than a Roku, which is the more popular and well-known device. Roku also lacks any on-demand features for PS Vue. It’s unknown which streaming devices will work with DirecTV. With Hulu and YouTube, that will be less of a mystery. Both platforms already appear on nearly every major streaming device on the market. Of course, you’re needs may be very different.
Regardless of what you choose for a media streamer, you will want to make sure all of that equipment can handle multiple devices simultaneously.
Your cable modem and router should be able to deliver a solid stream of data to a couple of TVs, a laptop and an Xbox One all at the same time to keep a happy household. We’re fans of the Netgear R6400 and R7000 for a wireless modem. For a cable modem, we really like the Arris SURFboard SB6183.
Contrary to what a lot of cable salespeople will tell you, having the right hardware is often a lot more important than having a broadband plan with some insane triple-digit Mbps plan. You can read all about how to lower your Internet bill here and here. Good luck!