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TV & streaming

Cut the cord: Best streaming options for $20, $30 and $50 per month

Cord-cutting isn’t just a passing craze anymore. In the second quarter of 2020 alone, more than 1.3 million homes dropped cable or satellite TV. And based on streaming platform performance during the pandemic, that number will only grow.

Despite its popularity, cord-cutting won’t always save you money. Prices have gone up for streaming platforms across the board — and exclusive rights mean you’ll probably end up paying for several platforms instead of one. Tap or click here to see which streaming services are worth the money.

But, if you know what you’re doing, you can get all the shows you want without shelling out hundreds of dollars. All it takes is figuring out what exclusives you want and bundling the right platforms together. We’ll show you how to get the most from your favorite streaming services without breaking the bank.

The best streaming options for a $20 monthly budget

The days of Netflix versus Hulu versus Amazon are over. Now, there are all sorts of competitors ranging from cable-TV platforms like Peacock to specialty networks like HBO Max.

And with more options comes more content for you to enjoy. To get started, let’s look at platforms that offer a range of programming from some of the biggest TV networks.

STREAMING GEAR: Tap or click here to see which streaming devices are best for your home.

CBS All Access is owned by Viacom, which includes content from Comedy Central, MTV, BET Nickelodeon, Paramount and more. It throws in sports as well — including NFL games on CBS’s schedule through 2022 that are broadcast in your area, plus the upcoming Super Bowl. It even has NCAA basketball and PGA golf tournaments, too.

Better yet, you get more than 100 films from Paramount. Tap or click here for the complete list.

To keep to the $20 monthly budget, choose the ad-supported version of CBS All Access for $6 per month. You’ll get ads right before your content, but keeping them gives us more wiggle room for other platforms.

Next up is Peacock Premium, which includes more than 20,000 shows and movies from NBC Universal. You can also watch currently-airing shows a day after they broadcast, so you won’t miss the prime-time lineup.

Peacock also has exclusive rights to the Olympic and Paralympic games. These have been postponed for 2020, but should all go as planned, they’ll be back on schedule in Tokyo next year.

Peacock’s ad-supported version comes to $5 a month. This includes next-day access to NBC’s current lineup, along with content from Bravo, Syfy, Telemundo, USA Network and Universal Studios.

Finally, let’s wrap up our streaming package with the tremendously popular Disney+. This streaming network includes almost all of Disney’s decades-spanning catalog, as well as a number of hit shows from Fox like The Simpsons.

And, of course, you get access to the entire Marvel Studios catalog and the Star Wars saga — as well as fan-favorite series “The Mandalorian.” To bring Baby Yoda and friends into your living room, Disney+ costs $7 monthly.

Let’s tally it up:

  • CBS All Access: $6
  • Peacock Premium $5
  • Disney+ : $7

    Monthly total: $18

All this content for less than $20. It almost feels like cheating.

The best streaming options for a $30 monthly budget

If you thought the above package was jam-packed, the $30 tier will blow your mind. The trick here is bundling.

In our plan above, we only subscribed to the basic $7 Disney + service. The next tier up includes much much more: access to Hulu and ESPN.

For $6 more per month, you get content from ABC, AMC, Bravo, CBS, E, Fox, Fox Sports, FX, NBC, NFL Network, Oxygen, PBS, Syfy and USA Network. Your subscription also includes baseball, college football, soccer, hockey and UFC fights.

Plus you get access to Hulu’s original programming like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Little Fires Everywhere” without a separate subscription. With the premium package, the Disney + membership is $13 per month.

To round things out, you can add Apple TV+ for $6. Apple’s streaming platform is filled with exclusive shows you can’t find anywhere else like “See” and “The Morning Show.”

Alternatively, you can opt for the ad-free versions of CBS All Access or Peacock. Both of these plans run for $10 per month, leaving you with $10 leftover. To stay under $30, you can only choose one.

  • CBS All Access: $6
  • Peacock Premium: $5
  • Disney + with Hulu and ESPN : $13
  • Apple TV+: $6

    Monthly total: $30

    or
  • CBS All Access ad-free: $10
  • Peacock Premium: $5
  • Disney + with Hulu and ESPN: $13

    Monthly total: $28

    or
  • CBS All Access: $6
  • Peacock Premium ad-free: $10
  • Disney + with Hulu and ESPN: $13

    Monthly total: $29

The best streaming options for a $50 monthly budget

If you can make it work, $50 a month gives you much more flexibility. You’ll even have room for platforms like Netflix or HBO Max.

Netflix runs $9 monthly for a basic subscription, and includes thousands of hours of hit films and exclusive streaming content like “The Umbrella Academy.” HBO Max, on the other hand, costs $15 per month, and includes all currently-airing HBO content, HBO hits like “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones” and the Warner Brothers catalog.

You also have the option to go totally ad-free with your CBS All Access and Peacock subscriptions.

  • CBS All Access ad-free: $10
  • Peacock Premium ad-free $10
  • Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN: $13
  • Netflix basic: $9

    Monthly total: $42

    or
  • CBS All Access ad-free: $10
  • Peacock Premium ad-free $10
  • Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN: $13
  • HBO Max: $15 per month

    Monthly total: $48

    or
  • CBS All Access ad-free: $10
  • Peacock Premium ad-free $10
  • Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN: $13
  • Netflix basic: $9
  • Apple TV+: $6

    Monthly total: $48

    or
  • CBS All Access ad-free: $10
  • Peacock Premium ad-free $10
  • Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN: $13
  • Netflix Premium: $16

    Monthly total: $49

These are our favorite custom-built plans, but feel free to mix and match subscription options to your liking.

Many cord-cutters like to round things out with an antenna to pick up local channels. This Amazon basics model gives you full HD 1080p digital quality without the need for cable and can easily pick up broadcasts within a 60-mile radius. It’s a good budget option that gets the job done.

If you want the best of the best, though, go with a Mohu antenna. Here’s a terrific one you can use inside or outside to get all the major networks. It’s multidirectional so aiming is necessary but simple to do, and it’s easy to install.

And for even more streaming content, you can pad out your new package with some free services like Sony Crackle, Vudu and IMDB TV. They don’t cost a cent to use, and each of them contains hundreds of hit movies you can binge.

Tap or click here to see our favorite free streaming services.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all on streaming, media companies find new ways to pull you back in. And don’t be surprised if your streaming subscriptions become the best way to watch new Hollywood movies in the near future. Tap or click here to see how Disney’s live-action Mulan is making its feature debut on Disney+.

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research, as we may earn a very small commission. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

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