Last year, we produced a quick guide on how you can watch Purdue if you decided to get rid of cable, but didn’t want to deal with the not-so-legal streams. While many of the popular streaming services haven’t changed their line-ups, their prices have changed since last year and may offer different services. In last year’s article, I also shared a few things you need to keep in mind before cutting the cord and switching to streaming, which I will share again:
- You need to have a fast internet connection: Since you won’t have a cable box, these channels are coming in through your existing internet supplier, just like Netflix. Therefore, it is best to have a fast and reliable internet connection. You don’t want to miss a double-reverse flea flicker just because your stream is buffering. Also, you’ll want to double check and see if your internet plan has a monthly data limit, as you could reach it depending on what else you are doing online.
- Unless you have a smart TV, you need another device to watch TV on your TV: As appealing as these services can be, you may have to hunch over your laptop to watch TV. Some smart TVs come with built-in or downloadable apps to watch these TV streaming services, but if you don’t have one, or if the app isn’t supported, you are going to need to purchase a Fire TV, Roku, or something similar. Of course, you could always stream through your laptop with some of these services and hook it up to your TV via an HDMI cable. And to go with the first point, I recommend connecting the device to your router with an Ethernet cable to avoid any issues with your Wi-Fi.
- You may need to get a TV antenna: Remember the bunny ears your TV used to have growing up? Well, the bad news is that you may need to get an antenna for your TV to pick up local channels. The good news is that digital antennas are not bunny ears, but usually slim items that can be put up on your wall or window. Some of the streaming services provide your local TV channels (NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS), but only in some areas. And of course, some places, like Lafayette, are too far away to pick up most of the local channels by antenna.
I’m not trying to discourage you from cutting the cord (as I am also a cord cutter), but I think it’s important to keep some of these in mind. Depending on where you live, it might be cheaper to still bundle TV and internet than pay for standalone internet and streaming TV. But of course, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).
Similar to last year, I am going to have three categories: Best, Meh, and Avoid options. These are based on what channels they provide that usually show Purdue sports (BTN, FS1, ESPN). Additionally, for this year’s “Best” options, I will include the streaming services that include CBS Sports Network, as they are showing the Purdue @ Nevada game next Friday. Of course, these also include free trials, so if you want to get a free trial just to watch the Nevada game, I won’t judge.
All the options below include local channels (YMMV), BTN, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FS1, and FS2 (though Purdue has yet to have a game on FS2). Some of these services offer multiple packages. Here, I am listing their cheapest ones that include all the channels listed above.
PlayStation Vue (Core Package) , $54.99/month, 5-day free trial This is the original and probably the crème de la crème of TV streaming packages, especially if you like to DVR anything on TV. You can record an unlimited amount of content on their “cloud DVR” and skip through commercials, but they are only saved for 28 days. I had Vue through basketball season last year, and had a decent time with it. I did experience streaming issues through their app for Fire TV, but was able to watch events through ESPN and FOX’s streaming apps (logging in with my Vue account) without too many problems. You are able to stream on multiple devices (up to 5) at once, and you can sometimes use this away from your home location for a few days, but I’ve heard mixed reviews about that (best to stick to WatchESPN/FoxSportsGo while traveling).
PS Vue is ending services at the end of January 2020 and is no longer accepting new subscribers.
Hulu + Live TV, $44.99/month, 7-day free trial
Hulu perhaps offers the best bang for your buck when it comes to the streaming services. It is the cheapest of our best options, includes Hulu’s on-demand library that rivals Netflix, and also offers a DVR. But of course, there is a catch that may be a big negative for some of you: commercials can not be skipped through their DVR service unless you pay an extra $15/month. Given all the damn commercials featured during the games now, this could be a huge negative if you’re the kind of person who likes to record the game, do some work, and come back later to watch everything in the span of an hour and a half. Personally, I don’t use my DVR that much, so this isn’t the biggest negative for me, but I know a few people who really do depend on theirs.
YouTube TV, $49.99/month, 5 to 7-day free trial (does vary)
This is the literal middle ground between Vue and Hulu, both with price and content. Obviously, the channels here are nearly identical, but it does have a better DVR option than Hulu, and maybe better than Vue with storage for up to 9 months. YouTubeTV might be the most popular service out there. As I mentioned with Vue, I have a FireTV, and unfortunately YTT was not an option for me as Google and Amazon continue to feud, though it looks like that might be resolved quickly as their website says their streaming app should be on FireTV soon.
AT&T TV Now (Max Package), $70/month, includes 7-day free trial (formerly DirecTV Now)
If you want to shell out the big bucks, AT&T TV Now is your best option. Yes, it is expensive, but it does include quite a bit, including HBO and Cinemax. Sure, irrelevant for Purdue sports, but if you were already paying for a separate HBO account post-Game of Thrones, then you may want to consider this option. However, I did have issues trying to find AT&T TV sign in options on WatchESPN and FoxSportsGo. Some still had it listed as DirecTV Now, while some just had AT&T, but did not specify which streaming service it was referring to (see the Avoid options). Sometime to keep in mind, especially while you’re on the go.
These options might suffice during the year, but are missing a few channels. However, they also have some good deals that make them significantly cheaper than the rest.
Sling TV (Orange+Blue Package), $40/month (40% off first month). Does not include local channels, BTN, or CBS Sports Network
Just like Vue, Sling is one of the original stream services. It’s cheaper than the previous options, but is missing BTN and CBS Sports Network for the season opener at Nevada. They are currently running a promotion where your first month is 40% off (new customers only), and they also have deals where if you prepay two or three months of Sling, you can receive a free TV antenna and/or AirTV/Roku. Maybe not a bad deal if you have another viable option for BTN and CBS Sports.
fuboTV, $54.99/month, 1-week free trial. Does not include any ESPN channels, some local channels.
This one seems to be the opposite of Sling, as it includes BTN, FS1, some local channels, and even CBS Sports Network, but does not include any of the ESPN channels. So while that seems like a bad option, just like Sling, there are ways to make this cheaper than the Best options, especially if you can find another viable way to watch the ESPN channels. Both American Express and Chase credit cards have offers with fuboTV that give you a credit when you use that card to pay for your subscription. If you have cards with Amex and/or Chase (or elsewhere) that offer these credits, you may want to look into it.
What to Avoid
AT&T Watch TV
Given that AT&T now has two options, it’s important to make sure you are picking the right service. This option is free for those who have a wireless plan through AT&T ($15/month standalone), BUT this version does NOT include any of the sports channels. This is one to avoid if you plan on watching any Purdue Athletics on TV, or most sporting events in general.
Just like AT&T’s 2nd tier option, this cheap ($20/month) option is one to avoid as it does not include any sports channels.
So which one should you pick? Well, I can’t make that decision for you. Personally, I would push you towards the “Best” options, but maybe for your wallet, the “Meh” ones may be best. In the end, you need to decide what works best for you, as some of these options may or may not include other channels that you want as well outside of sports. Maybe you want one that you can downgrade to a cheaper package during the offseason. Maybe you don’t have a device that supports some of these streaming services.
Thankfully, all of these are pretty easy to cancel, so you can do what I did and only subscribe to these from September through the end of March Madness. It’s getting easier to cut the cord compared to a few years ago, but the cost savings aren’t as good as it used to be. Ultimately, you’re the one that has to make the decision that will keep you and your wallet happy.