Good morning everyone. My wife and I have Comcast Xfinity internet and cable TV at home and I was considering cutting the cord to save money on our cable TV subscription. I don’t really watch live TV (news or sports), but I do love watching recorded TV shows from our DVR (mostly reality TV and sitcoms). I have the Comcast Xfinity Stream app on my iPhone and love that I can download any show from our DVR onto the app (also works great on our iPad). I can watch TV shows on my commute to work (on the train and ferry) and when I travel on a plane. Having the shows pre-downloaded vs. streaming to my iPhone is really important to me since I do not have unlimited 4G/5G data, WiFi on my commute and on planes is slow, and some spots have no cell or WiFi signal at all.
In my experiment, I tried to replace Comcast Xfinity cable TV with Sling TV, Hulu, and CBS All Access. My experiment did not go as smoothly as I had hoped, but I will show you what I learned from these 3 streaming services and apps (and their shortcomings, from my perspective).
On the Comcast Xfinity Stream app, I can view all of our DVR recordings (except for TV shows that were recorded more than a month ago). I can download the TV shows to the app and I have 1 month to watch the shows on the app before the shows will be deleted from the app and returned to the DVR (I cannot watch TV shows on my DVR if they are currently downloaded to the app). As you can see, there are 12-15 TV shows that we watch on a weekly basis (some with more than 1 episode).
I then created a spreadsheet to see all the TV shows we watch (some are not in-season right now) and grouped them by TV network.
There is a great website called JustWatch that will tell you which streaming service you can use to watch a particular TV show or movie. Just type the TV show or movie into the top search box to get started.
One of my all time favorite TV shows is Survivor. When I searched for Survivor on JustWatch, it shows a total of 40 seasons (I’m not sure why, since they are currently airing season 39). But as you can see, Hulu has 34 seasons and Amazon Prime Video has 19 seasons. When I click on Season 39, it says CBS All Access has the first 3 episodes (episode 3 just aired). There are also a few other services like FandangoNOW and VUDU that can be used to buy the whole season, if you want to own the whole season. I repeated the process for the other CBS shows I watch and they were all available on CBS All Access.
I did more searches for the rest of my TV shows. Modern Family airs on ABC and is available on Hulu. Saturday Night Live airs on NBC and is also available on Hulu.
Last but not least, Million Dollar Listing New York airs on Bravo and is available on Sling TV. 90 Day Fiance airs on TLC and is also available on Sling TV.
I then added a section to my spreadsheet that showed which streaming service worked with each cable network. There is some overlap between networks (Hulu and Sling TV, Hulu and CBS, etc.) but it looked like I definitely needed these 3 streaming services to watch all of our favorite TV shows.
I checked my Chase and American Express account to see if there were any Chase Offers or AMEX Offers for these 3 streaming services and found offers for Sling TV and CBS All Access (a Hulu AMEX Offer comes around every few months). Luckily, there is a Sling TV AMEX Offer that is good for $10 off $25 and can be used up to 3 times before December 31, 2019.
To make things a little complicated, Sling TV offers 2 packages: Orange and Blue. Some network channels are on the Orange plan and some are on the Blue plan. If you want all the network channels, you can get the combo plan. They also have add-on packages like sports, news, movies, Cloud DVR, etc.
Because Bravo and TLC were both on the Blue plan, I just got that plan. I downloaded the Sling TV app and was excited to use the Cloud DVR (50 hours of Sling TV recordings). I assumed that I could download the Cloud DVR recordings from my Sling TV account to the Sling TV app, just like my Comcast Xfinity app.
I set up my Sling TV Cloud DVR and had several TV shows scheduled (see the Scheduled tab). After the TV shows were recorded, I could watch them in my Recent tab. Unfortunately, I could only stream the TV shows from my Sling TV account, not download the TV shows to my Sling TV app. This was a major bummer and deal breaker for me :(
Hulu has been around for years and was the streaming service I was the most familiar with before this experiment. Hulu recently launched their Hulu + Live TV plan, but that plan is $44.99 / month. Besides that plan, Hulu has 2 streaming plans to choose from (Hulu with no ads for $11.99 / month and Hulu with ads for $5.99 / month). I decided to go with Hulu with no ads.
I downloaded the Hulu app and was excited to see that Hulu with no ads offered TV shows that could be downloaded to the Hulu app. Sweet!
I spent a few minutes liking TV shows on Hulu to build the My Stuff library. I liked Saturday Night Live, 20/20, Bless this Mess and many other shows. Strangely, I was able to download Saturday Night Live to the Hulu app, but I could not download 20/20 or Bless this Mess.
After looking at the Downloads tab, I learned that only certain TV shows are downloadable. Unfortunately, not all the TV shows I like are downloadable. This was a major bummer and deal breaker for me :(
CBS All Access has 2 streaming plans to choose from (limited commercials for $5.99 / month and commercial free for $9.99 / month). I decided to go with the commercial free plan.
I downloaded the CBS All Access app and was excited to use the app because it said you can download TV shows with the commercial free plan. Sweet!
Things started out great, I could download the latest episodes of Survivor, but I was not able to download 60 Minutes or CBS Sunday Morning from the CBS All Access app. This was a major bummer and deal breaker for me :(
At the end of this experiment, I felt like I was lied to and dissapointed by Sling TV, Hulu & CBS All Access. All 3 streaming services and apps had the ability to download some TV shows, but none of them could offer downloads on all the TV shows I wanted. After this failed experiment, I decided that paying a premium for Comcast Xfinity was worth the money for the convenience. If you are fine with streaming TV shows directly to your phone, tablet, computer, or TV, then these apps can be great and save you a ton of money. But if you are like me and like to pre-download your TV shows to the app, then these apps will leave you dissapointed. If you have any questions about using Comcast Xfinity cable TV, Sling TV, Hulu, or CBS All Access, please leave a comment below. Have a great day everyone!