Some people don’t believe evil exists in this world. Those are usually the people who’ve never been on the phone with Comcast for two hours trying to figure out why their bill jumped up a whole zero that month. Seriously, they’ve got as many Worst Company in America awards as EA.
Yet they still have 22.3 million poor souls going to them for TV service. That’s barely smaller than Canada. The real crazy thing is that there are so many better options out there and they don’t even require a cable guy to come into your house.
Every day, more and more people are cutting the cord and sticking it to the cable companies by getting their TV needs met by internet streaming services. Netflix might be the gold standard, but in 2016 you have way more options. Here are a couple of them.
Hulu Plus ($7.99 monthly)
While “Hulu and Hang” might not have the same ring to it, the service’s massive archive of TV shows is bigger than Netflix’s and has many more currently airing TV shows on account of being co-owned by Disney, FOX, and NBC. Downside is, unless you have a premium account, you’ll be dealing with 10-30 second ads throughout your videos. But hey, still better than watching actual TV, right?
What to check out: The Path premiered just this March and is great to watch if you’ve ever seriously wondered who would win in a fight: Jesse Pinkman or Dr. House. It stars Aaron “Science, Bitch!” Paul, Hugh Dancy, and True Detective’s Michelle Monaghan (from the good season.) It follows the goings on at the compound of a fictional cult called the Meyerist Movement as its various adherents deal with the absence of their leader who’s undergoing cancer treatment.
Amazon Prime Video ($8.99 monthly)
Amazon has got its hands in a lot of different pies: drones, bookstores, worker exploitation, etc. But one of their most aggressive projects has been expanding their Amazon Prime library of instant video content with a whole shitload of original TV shows. In the past couple of years, they’ve greenlit almost thirty pilots and many of their recent ones have gotten a full season order. If you aren’t a fan of TV shows about alternate Nazi universes or Ron Perlman going full Death Wish on some gangsters, well, you could always go back to your Kindle, NERD!
What to check out: Based on a British show of the same name, Mad Dogs is basically The Hangover meets Breaking Bad meets Heart of Darkness. When four middle-aged college buddies go to see their rich friend in the beautiful coastal nation of Belize, they expect sun, sand, and pretty Latinas. What they get instead is embroiled in drug deal gone wrong and decades of built-up resentment against each other boiling over as they struggle to make it home alive. Plus, Billy Zane is in it, he’s a cool dude.
HBO Go ($15 monthly)
Previously, HBO’s instant streaming service Go was only available to cable subscribers. However, over years of Game of Thrones topping Most Pirated Shows lists, the good folks at the Home Box Office realized maybe they were ignoring a significant market of people. Flash-forward to April 2015, and they launched HBO Now, a separate streaming service available on the App Store that you didn’t need cable to use. More than a year since the service launched, Now is going strong and is now available for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The slogan “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” has never been truer than in 2016.
What to check out: Uh, Game of Thrones, obviously. However, since Now gives you access to HBO’s vast library of awesome TV, you have no excuse not to check out classics like The Wire, The Sopranos, or Deadwood. One show you absolutely have to check out is Rome. It only lasted two seasons, but that was mostly because it turned out to be hideously expensive to rebuild ancient Rome for TV. It followed two soldiers, uptight Vorenus and super-bro Pullo, who followed Julius Caesar as he clashed with Pompey and the Senate for control of Rome. In some ways, it was a precursor to Game of Thrones in that it contrasted vicious political backstabbing with deep character relationships, and some pretty fucking awesome displays of violence that would make Ramsay Bolton blush.
PS Vue ($50.00-$80.00 monthly)
Originally available in only a few cities, Sony’s internet TV service went national just last month. Vue offers up to 80 channels including FX, AMC, and Comedy Central. Best part is that all you have to do to use it is download the app on your PS3 or PS4.
What to check out: Vue doesn’t have any original content, yet, but it is available on mobile devices. Including your IPhone and IPad. Plus, all your info is stored on the cloud, so you can start watching on your PS4, go out and continue your show on your phone.
Sling TV ($20.00 monthly)
Another Internet TV service a la Vue, for only $20 bucks a month with no contract you get channels, including some stuff you could only otherwise get with satellite or premium cable, including ESPN. However, before you get all excited over $20 bucks for premium sports, you should know that Sling TV doesn’t have DVR service. If you want to record the game, you’re going to have to dust off your mom’s VCR.
What to check out: Like Vue, Sling TV doesn’t have original content at this point. However, it’s compatible with a huge range of devices so you and your roommates won’t have to fight over who gets to use the one TV it’s connected to.
Crunchyroll ($6.95-$11.95 monthly)
If you know the difference between an onii-san and an onii-chan, and if it irks you when people call any giant robot “a Gundam,” then Crunchyroll is the service for you. One of the few streaming services that deal exclusively in anime, Crunchyroll has a huge amount of content including all 948 episodes (and counting) of One Piece. While much of their selection is free, if you want to watch shows at the same time they come out on Japan then you got to pay premium for their simulcast service.
What to check out: Whether you’re new to the whole anime thing or an old hat, Fate/Zero has something for everyone. Plot-wise, imagine that if instead of a bunch of whiny teenagers, The Hunger Games was fought between the seven biggest, baddest heroes from human history and mythology for control of the Holy Grail. Combine that with some slick animation and meaningful, character-based plotting and you have a hell of a show. By the end, you’ll wish you were friends with Alexander the Great too.
Crackle (Free…with Ads)
Owned by Sony, Crackle is a pretty good all-around service with a selection of movies, TV shows, and original content you won’t find elsewhere, all for free. However, it’s ad supported so if you can’t stand having your show or movie interrupted for thirty seconds, you may want to go elsewhere.
What to check out: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is exactly what it sounds like. Created and hosted by the great Jerry Seinfeld and filmed on a dash cam, the show is pretty much just two funny people sitting in a car cracking jokes and talking about what it’s like to make people laugh for a living.