TV streaming services – visual preview like a set-top box?

This TechHive article (below) is a useful roundup of OTT services.

One thing that’s predictable is price increases (not discussed in article). The typical monthly cost stands near $70, which reminds me of my cable bill years ago (and paying for so many channels that I’m not interested in or dropping channels that I do want).

One of the challenges for these services is providing features across multiple streaming platforms and devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, AT&T TV streaming box, Google TV (Chromecast); smartphone apps such as Google TV (formerly YouTube TV); and even via Web browsers.

• TechHive > “The live TV streaming issue no one’s talking about” by Jared Newman, Cord-Cutter Confidential (Apr 28, 2021) – Some streaming services make a chore out of ad skipping by omitting a visual preview.

(quote) One thing I’ve learned from writing about cord-cutting is that people are particular about their DVRs. If a streaming service’s DVR doesn’t provide the same creature comforts as cable set-top box, it can be a dealbreaker.

Visual preview is the perfect example. With cable, you can typically see a thumbnail preview while fast forwarding or rewinding through recorded programs, so you know exactly where you’ll be after hitting play. Over the years, I’ve gotten a bunch of messages from readers who won’t tolerate any live TV streaming service that lacks this feature.

[My 5-star ratings based on feature discussed in article]

• Philo *****
• Sling TV ****
• YouTube TV ****
• Hulu ***
• AT&T TV **
• Fubo TV *


  1. Below is a summary of the basics of OTT recording options. See the complete article for more complicated options.

    • Tech Hive > Cord-Cutter Confidential > Streaming video DVR explained > “Is there a DVR for streaming video?” by Jared Newman (Apr 30, 2021) – A common question with a complicated answer.

    If we’re talking about live TV streaming services – that is, those that provide a bundle of cable channels over the internet – then yes, DVR is available with all of them. Instead of saving shows to your device, these services store their recordings in the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere. Still, not all services have the same idea of what an online DVR should be.

    Sling TV offers 50 hours of recording time for free, and charges $5 extra per month for 200 hours.

    Hulu + Live TV provides 50 hours of recording time, and charges $10 per month for 200 hours.

    • The DVR in Hulu’s $65 per month live TV package doesn’t allow you to skip commercials. For that, you’ll have to spend $10 per month extra on Hulu’s expanded DVR, which also includes more storage.

    FuboTV provides 250 hours of recording time, and charges $5 per month extra for 1,000 hours.

    YouTube TV, AT&T TV, and Philo approach streaming DVR differently.

    • They allow you to record an unlimited number of programs, but you can only store them for a limited time. YouTube TV saves shows the longest, at nine months, AT&T TV stores them for 90 days, while Philo stores programs for 30 days.
  2. Here’s another article by Jared Newman covering OTT streaming TV services. Cable TV channel bundles, as he notes, are bloated; but I find my YouTube TV bundle bloated as well, with lots of promotion for add-on extras.

    And my cost is hardly a “fraction of the cost” of cable. And without Tennis Channel as well.

    Over-the-air (OTA) broadcast TV (with local but limited channels) is the only option for some that may be a fraction of the cost of cable.

    I prefer to focus on features like no need for a cable box, cloud DVR, and streaming flexibility – device mobility – even via Web browsers; but even there, some cable TV services may be competitive.

    The article contains a useful chart which lists device support for each of the current live TV streaming services.

    • Tech Hive > “Cord cutting: A beginner’s guide” by Jared Newman (Apr 30, 2021) – How to save money on TV entertainment without driving yourself crazy.

    Now that we’ve established the basics, if you were to ask me for the simplest, easiest way to cut the cord, I’d probably tell you to sign up for YouTube TV and Netflix (my favorite live and on-demand streaming services respectively), buy Chromecast with Google TV (my favorite low-cost device that supports both of those services), and be done with it.


    • Should I cut the cord?
    • Cord-cutting basics
    • My short and sweet recommendation
    • Streaming services: Choose your path
    • How to choose a live TV streaming service
    • On-demand entertainment alternatives
    • Should I buy a TV antenna?
    • How to choose a streaming device

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