feature image via shutterstock
feature image via Time.
We’ve written about watching the Olympics without cable before, but what about everything else? All the shows we recap here, for instance? The sportsball that aren’t the Olympics, like every time the USWNT plays? Or your problematic fave that you know is bad but can’t stop watching? One thing’s for certain—cable seems excessive. But what saves you money WHILE ALSO getting what you want? This was the question I got from Heather Hogan this week when YouTube launched their new TV service. I personally did not know the answer, so I went looking. Let’s start with what we’re comparing everything to:
Regular Plain Ole Cable
Cost: An average of $103 per month. Obviously, this is going to vary based on your location. But be careful when looking it up with cable providers in your area — the prices listed are introductory offers and will go up after the first year. Cable can also be hard to cancel, so it costs you something in time you’ll never get back while on the phone with a cable company as well.
What does it get you? The most robust offering of live TV channels of anything we’re looking at here. I looked up how many channels per month I would get — it’s 125. It also gets you access to on demand the ability to pause and rewind. It doesn’t automatically get you premium channels like HBO or Showtime — getting those seems to cost about $20 more per month in my area.
How gay is this? Ultimately, the gayest. For a butt-ton of money a month, you get the sports, you get most of the shows we talk about that run on a broadcast network, and for a bit more, you can get premium channels. But! There’s a lot of white noise, so to speak. A lot of bullshit and shitty, misogynistic shows. And no amount of cable will buy you Netflix and/or Hulu Originals.
Verdict: While cable gets you a lot of what you could want to watch, it’s overwhelming and expensive. Let’s see if we can do better.
Cost: $35 per month, includes a complimentary Chromecast.
What does it get you? An array of 40 channels and the ability to watch them live AND DVR them with no storage limit. You can watch on your TV if you’ve got a Chromecast, and you can watch on iOS, Android and all y’all’s computers. For that price, you get six entire accounts, each one with its own DVR library. And, unlike cable, you can cancel anytime you wish. There’s a 30-day free trial so you can see if it’s right for you.
How gay is this? It almost doesn’t matter how many gay things you get, YouTube’s gay score is severely impacted by the fact that it still censors LGBT content. However. Many shows we talk about on Autostraddle are included, with the exception of those on AMC, BBC, Cartoon Network and Starz, and those Netflix and Hulu originals. And, with ESPN, ESPN 2, Fox Sports and a number of other sportsy-sounding channels, you also get the sportsball, which I understand is fairly gay according to my sportier compatriots.
Verdict: If you can stomach paying a service that explicitly caters to those who think gay people are inappropriate for children, this is very cheap and somewhat gay, and the idea of six accounts is perfect for your chosen family. I cannot personally get over it, however, and I watch a lot of YouTube. But until they rectify and apologize, I won’t be giving them my money from my bank account.
Cost: $7.99 per month for limited commercials, $11.99 per month for no commercials. Showtime is available for an extra $8.99 per month either way.
What does it get you? A lot of hours of television shows (thousands, they say), both current and previously aired, across a bunch of networks. Whether or not it’s on Hulu depends on the show. It also gets you Hulu originals, which aren’t tremendously gay, but The Handmaid’s Tale is coming this month and, to be honest, it looks like it’s worth the entire subscription price by itself.
How gay is this? When I filled out my profile, the first thing Hulu showed me was Steven Universe, which is, in my opinion, the gayest thing on television. So pretty dang gay! But! You’re gonna be gay and also behind everyone else, and sometimes curtailed to clips. Hulu has never been the best at offering things as they air.
Verdict: If you want to play catch up on stuff and watch Hulu originals, then go for it. Otherwise, you might want to consider—
Cost: Multiple tiers, but the most popular plan is $9.99 per month.
What does it get you? 125 million hours of movies and TV shows, available on an ever-rotating basis. All plans are completely ad free, which is a breath of fresh air, frankly. You also gain access to Netflix originals, and we all know they’re KILLING it right now.
How gay is this? That varies based on what’s on Netflix at the moment, but it seems like every show with queer characters heads to Netflix eventually. Among the Netflix Originals, you’ve got Orange is the New Black, One Day at a Time and The Get Down. And these are VERY gay shows that you can’t get anywhere else. One Day at a Time is delightful, let me tell you. My wife and I watched it over tea each morning the week it came out. So their original content is VERY GAY, is what I’m saying. But for other shows, you have to wait for stuff to hit Netflix, and sometimes it doesn’t stay forever — like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was removed from the streaming service this month.
Verdict: Netflix is making itself into a service that one almost has to have in order to talk about the state of television. If you like television as a medium and are interested in some of the best our golden age has to offer, then Netflix. If the idea is the most gay for your buck, Netflix is all about original content with believable queer characters across all sorts of genres.
Cost: The most expensive plan is $74.99 per month. Their core plan is $44.99 per month.
What does it get you? The most expensive plan gets you 90 channels plus a couple premiums, like HBO and Showtime. You also can stream on five devices at once and you’ve got a cloud DVR, though it does not appear to be unlimited (you can save them for 28 days after they air). You can watch on a bunch of different devices (browser, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast and some iOS and Android devices) and do not need a Playstation to do so. You can cancel anytime. The core plan gets you 60 channels.
How gay is this? Not shitting you, this plan gets you every broadcast show we talk about here except Black Sails. That includes Doctor Who on BBC America and Steven Universe on Cartoon Network. Plus, with even more sportsy-sports channels like ESPN and other things where people play sports (seriously, I feel like a dog walking on her hind legs when I talk about sports), y’all sports queers can also enjoy this. In fact, if you don’t care about premium and movie channels, you can go with the core plan! You still get sports! The only things Playstation Vue doesn’t get you, regardless of plan choice, are Netflix and Hulu originals.
Verdict: If Netflix and Hulu originals aren’t important to you, this is the one. I have no idea why this service isn’t already slaughtering cable, actually.
Cost: The most expensive plan is $40 per month.
What does it get you? The ability to watch 51 channels live on a variety of devices. That’s it. No DVR, no bells and whistles.
How gay is this? Not super gay — we’re missing some pretty big ones, like Grey’s Anatomy and The Real O’Neals, Supergirl, and Rachel Maddow. It does have some sportsy stuff, but anything without Maddow… yeah, that gay score is hit pretty hard when you don’t have Maddow. Plus it seems like you can only be gay on broadcast television’s schedule; Sling does not seem to be advertising any DVR capability.
Verdict: Eh. For the money, go for YouTube.
Okay, so let’s say you are a Heather Hogan and you want to get everything we talk about on Autostraddle AND some of that sweet, sweet sportsball. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Subscribing to Playstation Vue, Netflix and Hulu will do that with only one exception: Black Sails. And I’m pretty sure they just killed the queer character on that anyhow. Going with the most expensive Vue, that is still ten dollars cheaper than the average cable bill AND all those services are easier to use and cancel should you need to. If you needed to pick one, the most gay for your buck is Playstation Vue. If you could go for two, Playstation Vue’s core plan and Netflix will run you $65 per month. So what about you? Do you disagree? Do you think I should’ve talked about Amazon? Please let me know in the comments below.