Do you need Disney’s TV and movies to keep the kids, or the kid in you, happy? Cutting the cord does not have to mean giving up on Duck Tales or Paw Patrol. Let’s take a look at eleven ways you can keep watching the Disney Channel without cable.

 

Live TV Services

Disney treats streaming TV services just like cable companies. These alternatives to cable stream live TV over the internet rather than through a dedicated cable. That lets you watch TV on a wide range of devices in your home and even when traveling.

 

DirecTV Now

DirecTV Now streaming TV
Source: DirecTV Now

You can get an industry-leading number of channels through DirecTV Now — as long as you’re willing to pay for them. Fortunately, the entry-level “Live a Little” plan includes all three Disney channels.

  • Live a Little: 60+ channels / $35 per month.
  • Just Right: 80+ channels / $50 per month.
  • Go Big: 100+ channels / $60 per month.
  • Gotta Have It: 120+ channels / $70 per month.

DirecTV Now’s feature set is still a work-in-progress. The number of simultaneous video streams, for example, just increased from just two to a maximum of three. Later in the year, DirecTV Now will finally let its customers record programming through a cloud DVR.

Beyond set-top boxes and mobile platforms, DirecTV Now does not support many streaming platforms.

  • Living room devices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: None.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
  • Game consoles: None.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome and Safari.

Shortcode TV Subscription Desktop Directv black 700px

 

Hulu with Live TV

Hulu on Nintendo Switch
Source: Hulu

Hulu introduced its TV streaming business in early 2017. Hulu with Live TV offers such a good value that, reportedly, nearly half a million people have signed up.

A single $40 monthly subscription delivers more than fifty channels, including all three Disney channels. What really drives the value, though, is Hulu with Live TV’s inclusion of Hulu’s original on-demand service in the price.

Beyond that, subscribers get a cloud DVR, support for multiple devices at a time and an industry-leading number of platforms that have Hulu apps.

  • Living room devices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Nexus Player, Roku and TiVo.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain models from LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Amazon Fire Tablets, Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8
  • Game consoles: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari.

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue has TLC
Source: PlayStation Vue

Sony’s PlayStation Vue offers a great deal for a lot of people, including Disney fans. All three Disney channels are part of PlayStation Vue’s entry-level “Access” subscription.

  • Access: 45 channels for $40 per month.
  • Core: 60 channels for $45 per month.
  • Elite: 84 channels for $55 per month.
  • Ultra: 87 channels, including HBO and Showtime, for $75 per month.

While the entry-level pricing is higher than DirecTV Now’s, PlayStation Vue’s features make it a much better deal. The subscription includes a cloud DVR as well as industry-leading support for five devices at a time.

Despite its value, PlayStation Vue struggles to compete with its rival streaming services. It may all be in the name. You don’t need to own a PlayStation gaming console to use PlayStation Vue. Actually, Sony has apps for many platforms.

  • Living room devices: Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: None.
  • 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.

Xfinity Instant TV

Comcast Xfinity Instant TV
Source: Xfinity

Cord-cutters are making business tough for the cable companies. Facing declining subscriber counts, many cable companies are getting into the streaming business themselves.

Comcast’s Xfinity Instant TV streaming service does give you all three Disney channels… for a price. Here’s how the monthly expense breaks down:

  • Local broadcast service: $10
  • Broadcast fees: “up to” $8
  • Kids & Family Expansion Pack: $10
  • Taxes and other fees: Check your statement. Often.

Watching Disney through Xfinity Instant will cost you at least $28 a month. Adding lifestyle, news and sports expansion packs will drive that monthly cost beyond $80.

Another weakness of the Xfinity Instant service is its lack of apps. You can only stream to Android or iOS devices or to the Roku.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV has World Series
Source: YouTube TV

YouTube launched its own live TV streaming service in 2017. Cord-cutters have been slow to warm up to YouTube TV despite its interesting features and competitive price.

In exchange for a $35 monthly payment, YouTube TV streams up to fifty channels including the three Disney channels.

Local TV is a particular strength of YouTube TV’s offering. You’ve got a better chance of getting your local stations on YouTube TV than with any other service.

YouTube TV’s cloud DVR lets you record as many programs as you want and keeps them for nine months. Families can create as many as six profiles, each with their own recommendations and favorites. However, YouTube TV only lets three devices at time stream.

  • Living room devices: Android TV (but not the Xiaomi Mi Box), Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain models from LG and Samsung.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
  • Game consoles: Xbox One.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome.

On-demand Services

DisneyNow is the best option for watching Disney Channel content on-demand. However, you can get a few TV shows and a lot of movies with a subscription to a video-on-demand service.

Hulu

Disney Channel on Hulu
Source: Hulu

Other than the DisneyNow app, Hulu is the best place to watch Disney TV shows on-demand. You’ll find a nice selection of Disney content on Hulu, all for reasonable rates.

  • Hulu Streaming Library: $7 per month.
  • Hulu Streaming Library With No Commercials: $11 per month.

Finding Disney content on Hulu is pretty easy. The website and apps all have dedicated landing pages for each Disney channel.

Right now, the Disney Channel page lists live action shows like K.C. Undercover with all episodes from the first two seasons. The only animated series is the single-season show The ZhuZhus.

The Disney Junior page lists a full four seasons of Doc McStuffins and both seasons of Miles from Tomorrowland. Older kids who prefer Disney XD can watch the complete series of Gravity Falls and the first two seasons of Star vs. The Forces of Evil.

Netflix

Disney on Netflix
Source: Netflix

Disney announced it would eventually stop distributing its movies and TV shows through Netflix. For the time being, you can still get Disney content from Netflix, though.

Netflix’s catalog focuses on Disney’s movies. You can watch popular animated films like Moana, Mulan and Pocahontas. You’ll also find the live-action versions of Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book.

It takes some scrolling through the Netflix listings to find the handful of Disney TV shows. Among them are four seasons of Phineas and Ferb, four seasons of Liv and Maddie, and three seasons of Sofia the First.

Here are Netflix’s subscription fees:

  • Basic: One standard definition stream, $8 per month.
  • Standard: Two high definition streams, $11 per month.
  • Premium: Four ultra high definition streams, $14 per month.

Netflix ensures that just about any device that can stream video will have a Netflix app. Here is the latest list of supported platforms:

  • Living room devices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Nexus Player, NVIDIA Shield and Roku
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain models from Hisense, LG, Magnavox, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba and Vizio.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
  • Game consoles: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.

The Disney TV Channels

Disney has been part of American TV since the 1950’s. The Mickey Mouse Club defined the Baby Boomers’ childhood during the four years it aired on ABC.

Disney’s TV strategy in the Twenty-first Century focuses on its cable channels and streaming. It operates three networks on cable: the Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD. All of them are “ad-free” as long as you don’t count ads for Disney’s own products.

The Disney Channel

KC Undercover on Disney Channel
Source: Disney Channel

Disney Channel airs TV series and original movies for kids aged between nine and sixteen. That includes animated series like Elena of Avalor and Hotel Transylvania as well as live-action series like K.C. Undercover and Descendants 2.

You can also watch Disney movies developed specifically for Disney Channel like High School Musical 2 and Go Figure.

Disney Junior

Puppy Dog Pals on Disney Junior
Source: Disney Junior

Some of the programming on Disney Channel isn’t appropriate for young kids. Disney Junior provides age-appropriate viewing for kids younger than nine.

This channel is home to thirty-six shows like Doc McStuffins, Lion Guard and The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Disney XD

Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD
Source: Disney XD

Disney XD is home to content that’s edgier than what you can find on the other two Disney channels. Edgy in the Disney sense, of course. Gravity Falls, Star Wars Rebels and Duck Tales have a broad appeal to all sorts of kids… and adults.

DisneyNow App

DisneyNow app
Source: DisneyNow

Disney once offered separate apps as well as separate websites for each of its three channels. The individual websites are still here. Last year’s release of DisneyNow, however, consolidated everything under one umbrella.

Whether through the website or the DisneyNow app, you can watch all of Disney’s kid-centric content in one place.

Because a much wider range of people will be using the app, Disney created a profile system. You and your kids can customize the Disney Now experience by setting favorites and picking a Disney emoji.

Parents who want more control over the app for their younger kids can switch everything into Disney Junior mode. That ensures children only see age-appropriate content.

Who can use DisneyNow?

For the most part, DisneyNow is only available in the United States. Unlike many services, however, Disney extends its availability beyond the fifty states to include US regions and territories.

People living in Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have full access to the app. Although not part of the United States, Bermuda also gets Disney Now.

The only catch is Disney expects you to have a TV provider. Fortunately, you don’t need to have a cable subscription. Disney treats all the live TV services in this guide just like a cable TV provider. Your login credentials will unlock all of DisneyNow’s premium content.

Unless you subscribe to Sling TV. Only the people who subscribe to Sling TV’s Orange plan can get Disney’s TV channels. Since Disney’s apps can’t tell whether you’re an Orange or Blue subscriber, Disney will not accept Sling TV logins.

US military families who live on-base can access Disney Now when connected to a military-operated internet service. Disney and Hulu are the only streaming services that let military families tune in abroad.

DisneyNow device support

DisneyNow device support
Source: DisneyNow

Disney focuses on the most popular set-top box, tablet and mobile platforms. All of them share the same features with one exception. DisneyNow games are only available in the iOS and Android apps.

  • Living room devices: Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: None.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Amazon Fire, Android and iOS.
  • Game consoles: None.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome and Safari.

What people say about DisneyNow

You’ll find enthusiastic ratings in Google Play (4.3 stars) but a more subdued score in the App Store (3.2 stars). Roku owners (3.5 stars) are in the middle.

The most consistent praise and criticism are about content availability. People give good scores when their kids can watch their favorite shows. Bad scores roll in when shows aren’t there or disappear after a while.

Disney also got dinged when it replaced the separate Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD apps with a single DisneyNow app. People complain about profiles not syncing, missing content and instability issues.

Another thing that generates complaints is Disney’s requirement that you have a paid TV provider. If you don’t have a TV service, then you’re stuck watching clips, previews and a limited number of full episodes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t watch the Disney Channel without cable.