Remember when TV was as simple as choosing a cable package and living with it? With today’s astonishing variety of streaming offerings, getting the most for your buck requires piecing together different apps and services to meet your various needs. The trick is doing so mindfully.

Savings strategy: Subscribe to a premium service to watch a particular show or movie, then drop it and subscribe to another. It’s very easily done and keeps you from amassing unused subscriptions.

Here are the best services for different types of programming…

Premium streaming services. There is only one way to watch the hottest new shows and movies, and that’s by subscribing to a premium service such as Amazon Prime, HBO’s Max, Netflix, Hulu or Disney+. Opting for an ad-­supported version can bring considerable savings. The best deal now is the ad-supported version of Max, which offers diverse content for $9.99/month. Save even more with an annual subscription for $99.99.

Local news. Your best way to access local news may not be streaming at all, but instead by purchasing an antenna and tuning into local stations over the air. Recommended antenna brands: Mohu and ClearStream. You can get a good one for $60 to $70 from,, or from a big-box electronics store. The antenna plugs into your HDMI port. Visit to make sure you will get the channels you want.

24-hour news. Unfortunately, the major news channels offer their full content only on such cable-replacement services as YouTube TV, DIRECTV Stream and Fubo, which are priced at about $65 to $100 per month. You can get limited CNN content on Max. If you’re looking for a broad take on events: Free Haystack News lets you curate a constant feed of stories from a mix of national and international sources. NewsON, also free, works similarly but with local news from all over.

Sports. An old-school antenna will get you what’s on network TV, but the cheapest way to get ESPN (along with ESPN 2 and ESPN 3) is by spending $40/month (or more) on the cable-replacement service Sling TV, which also delivers a slew of other channels. For the regional sports network dedicated to your local teams, visit that network’s website to see if it offers a stand-alone app (typically around $20). Otherwise, you’ll have to shell out for cable-replacer Fubo TV ($80 to $90/month, excluding its Latino plan, which offers Spanish language channels), a streaming app that gives you a viewing experience similar to watching cable-TV.

General entertainment and lifestyle. If you love shows about cooking, nature, house-flipping and the like, the most content for the lowest price is available at Discovery+ ($4.99/month). Philo ($25) can be thought of as a cable-­replacement for people who don’t care about news and sports—it offers more than 70 cable channels both via live TV and on demand. Even cheaper is Frndly (starting at $7/month), with about 40 channels including Hallmark, Lifetime, INSP and The Game Show Network.

Don’t forget free stuff. Programming is available via “free ad-supported ­streaming television” providers (FASTs) such as Pluto TV, Freevee, Tubi and Xumo. They’re a boon particularly for nostalgia viewers, people who go off the beaten path and those who don’t mind waiting a few weeks to watch a new episode.

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