The fact that there are more ways to watch the Smithsonian Channel’s award-winning space, history, science, nature, and pop culture documentaries than ever before is yet another reason to drop your cable provider. Several big-name streaming services carry Smithsonian. In addition to that, the Smithsonian Institution debuted its very own streaming service at the end of last year.
Read on to learn everything you need to know to watch the Smithsonian Channel without cable.
If you love sports as much as Smithsonian Channel documentaries, you may want to give fuboTV a try.
fuboTV is different from the major streaming service providers because it’s a relatively new business that was founded in 2015. The other streaming services are owned by corporations like AT&T and Google.
Originally, fuboTV was a niche streaming service that specialized in streaming soccer matches and other international sports that can be hard to access in the US. However, over the past several years fuboTV has added several cable TV staples to its lineup. In addition to the Smithsonian Channel, fuboTV also carries FX, National Geographic, Cartoon Network and more.
Another benefit of fuboTV is that the service has always focused on bringing its customers higher quality streams. Several of fuboTV’s sports channels now broadcast in 720p and 1080p. A few months ago, fuboTV started beta testing 4K streams.
Channels and pricing
In addition to the Smithsonian Channel, fuboTV offers channels like Bravo, BBC America, History Channel, Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, Sundance and SyFy. This selection– combined with fuboTV’s collection of rare sports channels– makes fuboTV one of the most unique streaming services around.
Fubo Fubo Extra Fubo Latino Fubo Português
Price $44.99/mo. $49.99+ $17.99/mo. $19.99/mo.
Channels 75+ 90+ 15+ 5+
Simultaneous Streams 2 2 2 2
Fire TV Support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Roku Support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sign Up 7-DAY FREE TRIAL 7-DAY FREE TRIAL 7-DAY FREE TRIAL 7-DAY FREE TRIAL
The main thing holding fuboTV back from becoming the go-to streaming service for sports fans is the fact that it has yet to reach a deal with Disney to broadcast ESPN channels. That tradeoff may be worth it if you’re more interested in soccer than NFL football.
As mentioned above, fuboTV is ahead of the game when it comes to high-quality streams. Several sports channels are available in high definition. In addition to fuboTV’s 4K beta program, the company is working on a new feature called synthetic streams. Not much is known about how this feature will work, other than it will give fuboTV users a more customized experience.
Yet another benefit of fuboTV is that the company has invested in forming TV Everywhere partnerships. If you’ve ever visited a cable TV channel’s website or used a TV channel app, you may have noticed that much of the content is locked. You can unlock many TV sites and apps using your fuboTV credentials. One of the apps that you can access with fuboTV credentials is Smithsonian Channel Plus.
fuboTV’s main downside when it comes to features is its somewhat stingy simultaneous stream limit. Most other streaming services allow at least three people to access one account at the same time, but fuboTV’s limit is two. However, this disadvantage is somewhat offset by the fact that fuboTV has excellent TV Everywhere support.
fuboTV has apps for Apple TV, iOS, Android, Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. You can also watch fuboTV with any type of web browser.
- Living room devices: Android TV, Apple TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
- Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Devices based on Fire TV, Roku and Android TV.
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
- Game consoles: None.
- Desktop browsers: fuboTV recommends Chrome.
PlayStation Vue– a streaming service developed by Sony– is another option for streaming the Smithsonian Channel live.
The main advantage that it has over fuboTV is that it has more mainstream appeal. PlayStation Vue does have ESPN and several other Disney-owned channels. PlayStation Vue also shines when it comes to account sharing. Up to five different devices can stream from one account at the same time.
Despite what PlayStation Vue’s name suggests, the streaming service is available on a wide variety of TV devices and web browsers.
If you have mainstream TV taste and you plan on sharing your account with friends or family, PlayStation Vue is worth a look.
Channels and pricing
With plans starting at $45, PlayStation Vue is a bit pricier than most other streaming services. Furthermore, Smithsonian Channel is not included with PlayStation Vue’s cheapest plan. You’ll need to level up to the $50 Core plan to unlock it.
Though PlayStation Vue’s plans are somewhat expensive, they’re still much cheaper than paying traditional cable TV providers– and you do get a generous number of channels with each plan. PlayStation Vue also has better features than the competition.
- Access: 45+ channels for $45 per month.
- Core: 70+ channels for $50 per month.
- Elite: 94 channels for $60 per month.
- Ultra: 96 channels, including HBO and Showtime, for $80 per month.
Few other streaming services let their customers stream to five different devices at the same time. Another generous feature is the unlimited cloud DVR, which allows you to record as much TV as you want without having to be concerned about running into caps or restrictions.
There are roughly 50 TV Everywhere sites and apps that you can unlock with your PlayStation Vue credentials. Device support is also quite good. The most notable absence is Xbox, which makes sense. Microsoft likely doesn’t want to encourage Xbox users to sign up for PlayStation Vue because PlayStation is one of the software giant’s main competitors in the video game console space.
- Living room devices: Apple TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
- Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Televisions based on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Roku.
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android, Amazon Fire Tablets and iOS.
- Game consoles: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
- Desktop browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge.
Another way to access the Smithsonian Channel is through Hulu with Live TV. One of the biggest advantages that Hulu with Live TV has over the competition is its large catalog of on-demand movies and shows. All Hulu with Live TV subscribers get complimentary access to Hulu content. Its interface will seem familiar to you if you’ve ever used Hulu before.
Channels and pricing
Like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV has one base subscription plan for everyone. Prices start at $45 and increase from there depending on what features you want. Other channels that are similar to the Smithsonian Channel include Animal Planet, A&E, Bravo and Discovery Channel.
Hulu with Live TV is the only streaming service on the market that offers unlimited simultaneous streams. However, there’s a catch: you have to pay $15 a month for it. If you don’t sign up for the unlimited simultaneous stream add-on, you’ll have to make do with two simultaneous streams instead.
All Hulu with Live TV subscribers can record up to 50 hours of TV programming. If you want more recording time, you can pay $15 more to upgrade to 200 hours.
As mentioned above, Hulu with Live TV offers a generous number of on-demand shows and movies to all Hulu with Live TV subscribers. All Hulu with Live TV subscribers get full access to the main Hulu site.
Hulu recently partnered with Nintendo to create a Hulu with Live TV app for Nintendo Switch. Most other TV devices have Hulu with Live TV apps, as well. One of the only platforms that don’t have Hulu with Live TV apps is the PlayStation.
- Living room devices: Apple TV, Chromecast, Apple TV.
- Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Samsung and LG smart TVs.
- Mobile devices and tablets: iOS and Android.
- Game consoles: Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch.
- Desktop browsers: Chrome, Edge, Safari 10+, or Firefox 15+.
YouTube TV has a basic channel lineup compared to other streaming services, but it makes up for that with its above-average feature set and best-in-class local broadcast station coverage. If YouTube TV has formed partnerships with your local broadcast affiliates, you can get all your TV through your YouTube TV app. This eliminates the hassle of switching your TV inputs back and forth when you want to watch local news programs.
Channels and packages
Don’t confuse YouTube TV with YouTube Premium. These are two different subscription services with no overlap. YouTube Premium is an ad-free version of YouTube itself. It gives you access to YouTube’s own original content, but not to live TV streaming.
YouTube TV’s base subscription plan costs $40, which makes it competitive with Sling TV, Philo and similar low-cost streaming services. In addition to the Smithsonian Channel, you’ll get roughly 70 other channels when you subscribe.
However, you’ll have to pay a bit more to expand your channel lineup if you want premium channels. One potential downside to mention here is that YouTube TV doesn’t offer HBO– only Showtime, Starz and a few others.
Features and extras
With unlimited recording, YouTube TV’s cloud DVR feature is just as competitive as PlayStation Vue’s. On the other hand, YouTube TV only supports three simultaneous streams. This probably won’t be much of a downside for small families, but if you intend to share your account with a large number of people this limitation might become an annoyance.
When it comes to device support, YouTube TV is about average. There are YouTube TV apps for most platforms except Amazon brand TV devices. The reason for this is that YouTube and Amazon have not been getting along very well lately. Several years ago, a feud between the two companies motivated Amazon to pull the YouTube TV app from its app store.
- Living room devices: Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
- Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain models from HiSense, LG, Samsung and Sharp as well as televisions based on Android TV and Roku.
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
- Game consoles: Xbox One.
- Desktop browsers: Chrome.
Smithsonian Channel Plus
Smithsonian Channel Plus is a new streaming service from the Smithsonian Institution. Access only costs $5 per month. But if you subscribe to fuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue or YouTube TV, you can get in for free.
Smithsonian Channel Plus just debuted a few months ago. Smithsonian Networks President Tom Hayden provided this comment about the new streaming service to Deadline shortly before its release:
“We are thrilled to be able to bring Smithsonian Channel’s acclaimed programming to new audiences in an easily accessible way at a time when viewing habits and consumption are rapidly changing. With a deep and varied programming library, including one of the largest offerings of 4K UHD content, launching Smithsonian Channel Plus allows us to super-serve viewers who love documentaries and series across a wide variety of genres.”
Perks of Smithsonian Channel Plus include an ad-free live stream, on-demand content, 4K streams and apps for a wide variety of devices including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android, iPad, iPhone and Amazon Fire tablets.
Where to Find On Demand Smithsonian Channel Content
If you’re only interested in a small number of Smithsonian Channel shows and you don’t want to buy a subscription to a streaming service, you may want to try searching for your favorite titles on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu or Fandango Now. Many downloadable episodes of popular Smithsonian Channel shows are available there.
What’s the Best Way to Watch Smithsonian Channel Without Cable?
If you have any interest in soccer and other sports that are more popular abroad, fuboTV makes a lot of sense because it has sports channels that you can’t get anywhere else.
Out of all the streaming services listed above, PlayStation Vue comes very close to replicating the traditional cable TV experience with its large selection of channels and support for many popular premium channels. However, it is somewhat pricey compared to the competition.
YouTube TV is probably your best bet if you want to save money or if you don’t own a TV antenna. Because YouTube TV has made deals with most of the broadcast affiliates, chances are good that you’ll be able to use the streaming service to tune into local news broadcasts.