As the coronavirus quarantine drives entire nations of people to seek refuge indoors, you may have recently found yourself with a lot of free time and little to do. While there’s no shortage of on-demand streaming services to keep you entertained, what if you’re looking for something a little more … present? To help pass the countless minutes of solitude, we’ve assembled a list of affordable ways you can tune in to live TV. Most of these options are compatible with a wide range of devices, including Android phones, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, and more, unless otherwise noted.
Hulu + Live TV ($55/month)
Hulu — a service that got its start by making television shows re-watachable one day after airing — has grown its business model over the years so that it can accommodate a larger range of viewers. With Hulu + Live TV, subscribers get access to Hulu’s huge library of shows, plus a mountain of popular live TV channels like NBC, ABC, ESPN, and CNN.
You can try out Hulu + Live TV free of charge for 7 days. Once your trial period is up, the service will set you back $54.99 per month.
YouTube TV ($50/month)
Although YouTube’s main focus has always been on community-generated content, the video streaming giant has recently branched out into more professional endeavors. Alongside offerings like YouTube Premium and YouTube Music, YouTube TV gives subscribers access to 70+ live TV channels, including NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and many more.
YouTube TV claims that it can save cord-cutters up to $700 a year and has zero hidden fees like those you’ll find with many cable and satellite providers. You can try it out now for free, and if you enjoy YouTube TV, the service will cost you $49.99 per month.
Sling TV (Starting at $30/month)
Representing one of the earliest contenders in the cord-cutting war against cable and satellite providers, Sling TV offers a series of different packages to meet your live TV needs.
The Sling Orange package has 30+ channels, including ESPN, Disney, and A&E for $30 a month with the first month coming in at only $20. The Sling Blue package is also only $30 a month with an introductory $20 price tag, and it includes access to 45+ channels like USA, Bravo, and TNT. For the ultimate viewing experience, users can purchase Sling Orange + Blue, which provides access to 50+ channels at $45 a month, and the first month is just $35. Each option comes with a 14-day free trial so that you can decide if the service is worth keeping.
Philo may not have the brand recognition that YouTube and Hulu can boast, but it does have some pretty strong selling points. For starters, Philo is the cheapest option in our list (aside from the free solutions), coming in at only $20 per month. Subscribers also get access to 59 live channels, including AMC, BET, MTV, and Comedy Central. Finally, it also comes with a 2-day no obligation free trial with five more free days of access after inputting your billing information. You can learn more about Philo by clicking here.
Pluto TV (Free)
The old adage says that there’s no better price than free, and Pluto TV delivers. This service boasts 250+ free television channels — plus thousands of movies — at zero cost to users. You won’t find your local channels on Pluto TV, but you will have access to NBC News, CNN, and CBSN, as well as special versions of Comedy Central, BET, and more. You can try out Pluto TV for free right now by following this link.
Digital antenna (Free + hardware)
Just like the old-school rabbit ears of yesteryear, a digital antenna is one of the easiest ways to connect your TV to the outside world. Not only are there no recurring subscription fees to keep it running, it’s also easy to set up. Simply attach the antenna to your television, scan for digital channels in your area, and voila! You’ll have all of your local stations in crisp, clear digital definition. If you’d like to pick up a digital antenna, there are some pretty affordable options over at Amazon.
HDHomeRun (Free + hardware)
Unlike the other solutions listed in this roundup, HDHomeRun utilizes a tuner to receive over-the-air television signals from an antenna and disperse them throughout the home over Wi-Fi (802.11n or better is recommended). This allows anyone within the home to access live TV on any of their devices, wherever they are inside the space.
To tap into the free local television channels in your area, you can pair an HDHomeRun Connect Duo (starting at $95.99, $4.99 off) or Quatro (starting at $229, $20 off) with a digital antenna (sold separately). After you have this hardware all set up, there are no recurring subscriptions or fees to watch your local channels. To learn more about how to get HDHomeRun up and running in your home, visit their website here.
How are you staying entertained?
In unprecedented times such as these, it’s important to find little ways to make your stay at home as enjoyable as possible. A bit of TV entertainment is a fantastic way to escape from the stressors of the outside world, but it’s certainly not the only solution. What hobbies have you picked up to pass the time? Leave a comment and start a conversation below.