Infographic: Here’s the Difference Between 5 Top Streaming Services for Live TV

What to look for when cutting the cord

Animation: Dianna McDougall; Sources: Getty Images, iStock

When it comes to choosing a service to help them cut the cord, consumers are picky eaters who want what they want, when they want it.

“On a fundamental basis, viewers are now highly individualized,” said Peter Orlik, director and professor for the School of Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts at Central Michigan University. “Broadcasters and programmers have to realize ‘TV’ no longer refers to a particular type of hardware. It’s just video content.”

There’s been a rise in users of smart TVs and connected devices, like Apple TV or Roku, and Orlik thinks marketers would be wise to advertise on as many platforms as possible and embrace the digital conversion quickly.

Services like Hulu and Sling TV—known as skinny cable bundles—offer viewers live TV and on-demand programs without a traditional cable subscription. And they’re growing. But no one is quite certain who is actually watching TV on these alternative methods. Nielsen research offers a window: TV-connected devices make up roughly 23 percent of average weekly video minutes viewed by adults ages 18-34, which is more than double that of PCs, smartphones and tablets combined.

Since the field of skinny streaming options keeps widening, we took a look at the five biggest competitors and the differences between each, including packages, prices and add-ons. (You can click through each chart to find more information about specific channels.)

Charts: Dianna McDougall

A recent study by Convergence Online indicates cable bundles will continue to crush broadband subscriptions, predicting a loss of 2.11 million TV subscribers in 2017. Already, nearly a quarter of households have cut the cord. Meanwhile, U.S. OTT access revenue is expected to rise to 35 percent this year to $11.2 billion. That shift won’t hurt advertisers as long as they can measure the audience, Orlik said.

“Advertisers will find other ways if broadcast and cable networks start to move into the streaming or OTT space,” Orlik added. “It’s a matter of finding a comfortable measurement across platforms. They won’t care if their message is getting across through cable channels or not.”