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TV Tech: What's the Surest Way to Find Your Shows?

Streaming and live TV services offer the path to picking a content lineup that's perfect — for you

remote pointed at smart tv with streaming app icons

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En español | As TV hardware keeps improving (4K screen resolution! smart TVs! sound bars! five separate remotes!) content production and streaming options are at least keeping pace. There are thousands of streaming channels and services available, and various ways to access all or some of them.

Listed below are the most comprehensive offerings: Any one or combination of these services offer a good start on your path to achieving peak sound and vision.

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin in "Frankie and Grace" on Netflix

Melissa Moseley/Netflix

"Grace and Frankie"


Cost: $9-$16/month, depending on video quality and number of devices.

Started as a movie service, hence the name. But Netflix has also made a huge push into original content—TV series, comedy specials, documentaries and feature films. It plans to have more than 1,000 original shows and movies available by the end of this year. Buzzy shows include The Crown, Stranger Things, Grace and Frankie, One Day at a Time, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, plus “reruns” of series that aired elsewhere, like Breaking Bad.

Emilia Clarke in "Game of Thrones" on HBO Go


"Game of Thrones"


Cost: $15/month.

Yes, you can get HBO’s prestige shows, such as Game of Thrones, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Westworld, without a cable subscription, plus a strong selection of movies.



The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video

Sarah Shatz/Amazon

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

Amazon Prime Video

Cost: $9/month as a standalone service; $13/ month or $119/year as part of Amazon Prime subscription (which includes other perks like free shipping on many products). 

Highlights include original shows such as The Man in the High Castle and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, plus Amazon Studios movies like Manchester by the Sea and The Big Sick, which make their way to the service shortly after a theatrical run. Prime also has dabbled in live sports programming, such as Thursday NFL football, plus tennis and volleyball.

The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu

George Kraychyk/Hulu

"The Handmaid's Tale"


Cost: $8/month with commercials; $12 for no ads.

The best service if you love network TV shows (and some cable shows) from the past and present. All the seasons of Seinfeld are here, plus The Simpsons and Star Trek. And, unlike Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can also get many network and cable shows in their current seasons (the others are usually a year behind). Original series include The Handmaid’s Tale and The Looming Tower.

"I Love Lucy" on CBS All Access

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

"I Love Lucy"

CBS All Access

Cost: $6/month with commercials; $10 for no ads.

A good option if you’re into current CBS shows, such as The Big Bang Theory or NCIS, or classic TV (more than 10,000 episodes of shows including I Love Lucy, The Odd Couple, Taxi and The Twilight Zone). The service also offers some original series, such as Star Trek: Discovery and The Good Fight. Some live TV is also part of the service, including news and NFL football.

Not Quite Cable (And Not Quite the Cable Bill)

You can now get popular channels such as ESPN, CNN and HGTV through an internet connection, often for less than a cable subscription.

Sling TV: $25/month, 30 channels

The basic plan includes ESPN, ESPN2, TNT and TBS. It’s good for sports viewing. You’ll need an antenna for local channels.

Philo: $16/month, 37 channels

Don’t care about sports? Not having those channels makes this a cheaper option. There are no local channels.

YouTube TV: $40/month, 70 channels

Not the video-clips site—it’s a separate pay service with live programs and about a dozen sports networks.

DirecTV Now: $40/month, 60 channels 

No satellite dish is required. It includes the popular Hallmark Channel. Local channels are available in some areas.

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