Google Chromecast is a deceptively simple-looking device that connects to your TV. But once installed, Chromecast gives you all kinds of entertainment options ranging from on-demand video to live TV streaming services and more. In addition to premium paid services, there are several high-quality free options to explore as well.
Read this guide to learn everything you need to know about how to cut the cord with Chromecast.
Live TV streaming services
Nearly every cable TV channel you can think of is now available via the internet. The cable replacers listed below surpass the classic cable TV experience with live cable TV streams, built-in recording features, slick interfaces and large channel menus. Another benefit: all of the services listed below are much cheaper than the plans your local cable TV company offers.
Do you like watching college basketball, soccer and other sports that most local cable companies don’t typically support? If your answer was yes, check out fuboTV. Half of the 90+ channels you get when you sign up are sports channels– and many of those are channels that you can’t ordinarily get through a typical cable TV subscription.
fuboTV’s Android app is compatible with Chromecast. Another way to cast fuboTV is through the Google Chrome web browser. Just go to the fuboTV website, log in, then click the Chromecast icon to cast your live TV feed to your Chromecast.
The main downside of fuboTV is that it still has yet to sign a deal to broadcast ESPN. On the other hand, it’s the only live TV streaming service that carries all the March Madness games. It’s also the only streaming service that supports 4K, 60 frames-per-second streams. If you spent a few extra dollars to get a Chromecast Ultra 4K, fuboTV could be the best live TV streaming option. Currently, only a handful of events are broadcast in 4K, but fuboTV plans to expand its 4K support this year.
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With more than 20 different channel add-on packs available, Sling TV is the most customizable streaming TV service out there right now. When you sign up, you have to choose at least one of two different $25 base plans: Sling Orange and/or Sling Blue. Both plans have around 30 channels. Once you buy a base plan, you can add additional channels by purchasing channel add-on packs. Their prices range from $5/month to $10/month.
Like fuboTV, Sling TV’s Android app is compatible with Chromecast, so you can cast directly from any Android phone. You can also cast from any computer by logging into the Sling TV website with the Chrome browser.
Great Value$40.00/ month
Sling Orange + Blue
The main downside of Sling TV is that its features have a ton of restrictions. For example, you have to pay $5/month extra to record TV, and even if you upgrade you won’t be able to record any Sling Orange channels. Sling TV’s account sharing policy isn’t so great, either. You can’t watch Sling Orange channels at all if someone else is using your account to watch Sling Orange. When you watch Sling Blue, you can only stream to two other screens.
Hulu with Live TV
If you already subscribe to the on-demand platform known as Hulu, you may want to consider upgrading to Hulu with Live TV. With Hulu with Live TV, you get 60+ live TV channels in addition to the full catalog of TV shows and movies that you get with a basic Hulu subscription. The main subscription costs $45 and prices go up from there if you add on additional feature expansions. For $15 extra each month, the Unlimited Streams expansion lets you stream to as many screens as you want.
If you want to save yourself the hassle of switching between your over-the-air antenna and your Chromecast, you may want to check out YouTube TV. Because YouTube TV has the best local broadcast station coverage, chances are high that you’ll be able to get all your TV through the YouTube TV app. YouTube TV is owned by Google, so of course it has great support for Chromecast. Features like unlimited cloud DVR recording, a deep sports channel lineup and support for up to six individual profiles sweeten the deal.
On-demand streaming services
With the exception of Hulu with Live TV, most live TV streaming services only offer a small selection of on-demand content. To fill that gap, you may want to consider buying a subscription to one or more on-demand video services. Today, there is a wide range of on-demand services available. Some cater to horror fans and other niche demographics, but others carry popular TV shows and movies. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorite on-demand services that work with Chromecast.
CBS All Access
CBS All Access offers not only 10,000+ episodes of CBS shows, but also a live feed of your local CBS station. This lets you tune in and watch local sports games without an over-the-air TV antenna. It’s a particularly useful app if you’re a Sling TV subscriber, because Sling TV doesn’t carry any of the local CBS affiliate stations. Along with previously aired shows, you also get access to exclusive CBS originals like Star Trek: Discovery and Twilight Zone. The subscription only costs $6/month after the free trial, unless you upgrade to the commercial-free subscription option for $10/month.
The easiest way to use CBS All Access with Chromecast is with the Android app, which has a convenient built-in cast button. You can also log into your account with Chrome browser and cast from there if you like.
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Netflix is the home of Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, Bojack Horseman and all kinds of other critically acclaimed shows and movies. Another nice thing about Netflix is that there’s a 4K subscription option you can get if you have a Chromecast Ultra. The 4K subscription costs $12/month, but the basic subscription costs just $8/month.
If you purchased a live TV streaming service that doesn’t come with many premium channels, you may want to consider subscribing to HBO Now. This will give you the ability to cast shows like Game of Thrones, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Silicon Valley, Westworld and Curb Your Enthusiasm to your TV set. HBO Now recently started experimenting with live TV. As a result, you can now watch some of HBO’s marquee shows live through HBO Now. Both the iOS and Android version of the HBO Now app support Chromecast.
MUBI– an on-demand video service that caters to fans of art films– gets refreshed every 30 days. Once you sign up, you can use both the iOS app and the Android app to cast its content to your TV. After the free trial is over, MUBI costs $11/month.
Fandor is like MUBI, only it’s cheaper and has a larger library of content. You may have to dig around a bit to find something to watch, though, because there aren’t many curated lists and the interface could use some improvement. As is the case with MUBI, Fandor has apps for iOS and Android– and both apps work with Chromecast. Subscribing costs $6/month after the trial period ends.
Shudder has the biggest library of horror content ever compiled. Like MUBI and Fandor, Shudder has apps for iOS and Android and both of them work with Chromecast. After the free trial, the subscription costs $4/month.
Showtime’s iOS and Android apps both support Chromecast. Check out the free trial if you like shows like Dexter, Twin Peaks, Billions and other Showtime originals. You can also cast live boxing matches through the Showtime app. Showtime costs $11/month after the trial.
If you want access to newer movies and TV shows but you don’t want to pay $15/month for HBO, you may want to consider Starz. After the free trial, Starz only costs $8/month. Starz originals include titles like Black Sails, American Gods and Ash vs. the Evil Dead.
Free entertainment options
If you don’t like paying for entertainment, there are a growing number of free services that work with Chromecast. Most are supported by ads, but there are other options available as well. Here are some of our favorites.
Plex is source software that lets you stream content from your computer’s hard drive to your TV. Once you install Plex server on your computer, you can stream content to your TV via Chromecast. The core features are free to use, but you can get more features like live TV and a DVR if you upgrade to a paid plan.
Pluto TV is similar to fuboTV and Sling TV, only it’s supported by ads. In other words, you can use it for free. All of Pluto TV’s mobile apps support Chromecast, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a live TV app that doesn’t cost a thing. Another way to tune into Pluto TV with Chromecast is via Chrome browser.
Tubi TV is an on-demand movie and TV service that’s completely free to use and works with Chromecast. However, there’s a catch: you have to be willing to sit through occasional ads. Also, most of the movies are from the 80s and 90s.
Do you have a library card? If the answer was yes, give Hoopla a look. It’s an innovative new streaming service that lets you check out movies, audiobooks and other types of media via the internet. Its iOS doesn’t support Chromecast, but Hoopla for Android does.
Like Hoopla, Kanopy is a free virtual checkout library service. Both the iOS and Android versions of Kanopy support Chromecast.
Crackle was one of the very first free, ad-supported streaming services to hit the internet. Crackle for iOS and Crackle for Android both feature a built-in Chromecast button, which lets you quickly and easily stream content to your TV.
Vudu advertises that it gets new movies before they land on Netflix and other similar services. Though you’ll have to pay to watch the new releases, there is a significant amount of free content is available as well. Vudu has apps for iOS and Android and they both work with Chromecast.
The CW has two free streaming apps that are worth checking out: The CW and The CW Seed. Both are available on iOS and Android and they all support Chromecast. Shows that are available through this streaming service include titles like Riverdale, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Charmed.
Alex Munkachy is a freelance writer, game developer and hobby robotics enthusiast. You can find his blog about robotics news and reviews at robotfanatics.com.