Streaming channels, the gifts that keeps on giving
Dec. 02, 2015
LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a story Nov. 25 about streaming services to consider as holiday gifts, The Associated Press erroneously reported that SlingTV doesn't make "Monday Night Football" available on tablets. It does.
Looking for a holiday present that's a perfect fit, procrastinator-friendly and a constant reminder of your generosity? Consider a gift subscription to one of the abundance of streaming choices that range from mainstream to niche.
Some, such as this year's new HBO Now or CBS All Access, may be welcomed by a cord-cutter whose New Year's resolution is to abandon traditional TV delivery. Others are alternatives to what's on cable or satellite.
Compatibility may be an issue in some cases. Although most major subscription-based offerings can be watched on any platform or device, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iPhones or iPads, there are some exceptions — and surprises.
With SlingTV, for example, you won't be able to watch ESPN's "Monday Night Football" on a phone (Verizon has locked up NFL mobile streaming rights) but you can catch the action on Amazon Fire, iPads and Android tablets.
And you can watch PlayStation Vue, which delivers live TV, movies and sports starting at $49.99 monthly, on devices other than a PlayStation, including Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV stick, and iPhone and iPad.
Some platforms are particularly expansive in what they include. Roku, along with offering many broad-based sites, also has the anime-focused Crunchyroll ($6.95 per month) and Korean drama site DramaFever (starting at 99 cents monthly).
Here are some other contenders to ponder. All prices may vary:
BIG BOX CHANNELS
Sling TV, with a starting $20 monthly fee for live TV that includes ESPN, AMC, A&E and TNT, offers add-on packages such as for Spanish-language networks including Univision ($5).
Hulu ($7.99 monthly with commercials, $11.99 without) carries current and past episodes of ABC, Fox and NBC network shows, originals such as "The Mindy Project" and cable fare from FX, AMC, Bravo, Comedy Central and others.
Netflix (starting at $7.99 monthly), has become known for original series including "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black," but also has a deep library of movies and TV shows.
Amazon Prime ($99 annually) has also added original series including "Transparent" and "The Man in the High Castle" to its thousands of movie and TV shows.
DRAMA KINGS AND QUEENS
It's not TV, it's HBO Now ($14.99) and Showtime streaming ($10.99), both introduced this year and delivering new series and other programming in tandem with their cable debuts, as well as complete past seasons.
CBS All Access ($5.99) offers current season episodes (one day after airing), local live CBS feeds from most major TV markets and will be home to a 2017 "Star Trek" reboot.
Every sport is king, depending on the channel. The offerings include "NFL Sunday Ticket" from DirecTV ($199 at the start of the season, now $99); MLB.TV Premium ($129.99 annually) for regular season games; NHL GameCenter ($159 annually) with live out-of-market regular season games; and DishWorld Sports ($10) for European football and other global sports.
Feeln ($3.99 monthly) combines Hallmark Hall of Fame movies featuring stories of love and family with other Hollywood movies and TV series, including children's shows, and original projects.
Shudder ($4.99 monthly) from AMC lives up to its name with horror films grouped under categories including "Monster Mash," ''Psychos and Madmen" and, for a diversion, "Alien Intruders."
IN THE KITCHEN
Tastemade ($4.99 a month for the ad-free version) is a food-and-travel channel that visits cultures and cuisines around the world and offers tips from expert chefs. And while a number of cooking channels are available free, a former TV star is taking the subscription route with her Paula Deen Channel, $4.99 monthly for cooking and lifestyle videos.
Acorn TV ($4.99 monthly) bills itself as the best of British television with an array of dramas, comedies and mysteries including "Brideshead Revisited," ''Agatha Christie's Poirot," ''Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries," ''Foyle's War" and "Jeeves & Wooster."
HEALTHY MIND, BODY
Gaia ($7.95 monthly) streams yoga, meditation and other "mind-expanding" programs for a more conscious life, while The Gymbox ($10 monthly) promises a variety of workouts, updated weekly, including kickboxing, Pilates, step aerobics and cycling.
Newly launched Smithsonian Earth ($3.99 monthly) streams nature and wildlife documentaries and series planned as separate from Smithsonian Channel content and available in an ultra-high-definition format on compatible devices.
KIDS, OR THE KID WITHIN
Sesame Street GO (some free content, $3.99 monthly, $29.99 annually for full access) houses full-length episodes of "Sesame Street" along with educational music videos from Sesame Workshop.
AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima contributed to this report.
Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/lynn-elber and she can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber
This story has been corrected to show that SlingTV users can watch "Monday Night Football" on tablets but not on cellphones.