7 Budget-Friendly Streaming Services

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Inflation is ruining everything, even our at-home entertainment options. According to KPMG’s 2022 Media Consumer Survey, one in five consumers is canceling at least one streaming service as a result of inflation, and nearly four in 10 say they will cancel if inflation doesn’t cool down

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As consumers are cornered into paring down their streaming services, it’s important to know which ones are the most cost effective — and what exactly they deliver — so people can decide which service is best for them. 

Here’s a look at seven budget-friendly streaming services.

 Pluto TV

  • Price: Free 
  • Ads: Yes 

“Pluto TV is one that you don’t hear as much about, but it’s probably the best free ad-supported service on the market,” said Chris Brantner, head streaming analyst at Sportscriber. “It’s set up like a cable TV guide so you can scroll channels. There are all sorts of channels playing on-demand shows and sports fight channels. There are also news channels and movies on demand.”

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Sling TV 

  • Price: $40 a month (targeted at cord cutters) 
  • Ads: Yes

“When discussing affordable streaming services, it’s useful to break them into categories,” Brantner said. “First, if you’re looking for a channel bundle that functions as a replacement for live cable TV, Sling TV is the most affordable. With Sling TV, you can get up to live channels for $40 a month, or you can choose their larger packages for $55 for 47 channels,” Brantner said. “This gives you access to live channels ranging from ESPN and NFL Network to CNN and TNT. It’s ideal for someone who wants to watch both sports and news programming live.” 

Hulu 

  • Price: $7.99 a month 
  • Ads: Yes 

“There are a couple of tiers of plans: Ad-supported is $7.99 per month, while ad-free is $14.99 per month,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “An ad-supported student plan is also available for those that qualify for just $1.99 per month. The offerings on these plans include things like past and current TV shows, including the most recent episodes of some shows available to watch the day after airing. There are also new and classic movies and original series, as well. Examples include ‘Bob’s Burgers,’ ‘Prey’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.'”

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Apple TV+

  • Price: $6.99 a month 
  • Ads: No 

“Apple TV+ is one of the most affordable streaming services you can get,” said Sudhir Khatwani, the founder of The Money Mongers. “It is the home of Apple Originals, along with many award-winning series and movies.”

Khatwani adds that you can also get three months of free Apple TV+ service when you purchase a new Apple device.

Netflix (Basic) 

  • Price: $6.99 a month 
  • Ads: Yes 

“One of the most affordable streaming services has got to be Netflix, with its ‘Basic with ads’ plan,” said Andrew Gonzales, co-founder and president at BusinessLoans.com. “This is a good option if you plan to use Netflix on one supported device at a time, which is often the case for solo users and smaller households. Though you can watch in HD, certain shows and movies are unavailable on this plan due to licensing restrictions. However, at just $6.99 per month, this plan is almost three times cheaper than Netflix’s premium offering.”

Peacock TV 

  • Price: $4.99 a month 
  • Ads: Yes 

“The best advantage of Peacock TV is it offers [80,000+] hours of streaming,” said Daniel Apke, CEO and co-founder of Land Investing Online. “If you want a premium account, you pay $4.99 per month to access movies, including live sports and events, like WWE, Premier League and ‘Sunday Night Football.’ There’s a premium plus tier for $9.99 per month for ad-free streaming, which also gives you the option to download and watch selected shows offline.”

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ESPN+ 

  • Price: $9.99 a month 
  • Ads: Yes, for live games 

“If you’re just looking for sports content, ESPN+ is one of the least expensive,” Brantner said. “For $9.99 a month, you get the best of what ESPN has to offer, including live ‘Monday Night Football,’ college football, UFC prelims and more. You can also save by paying $99 annually.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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