Saturday, April 20, 2024

9 Affordable Streaming TV Bundles That Can Replace Cable

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Editor’s Note: This story comes from CableTV.com.

With no contracts and simple-but-affordable packages packed with popular channels, streaming TV is an attractive alternative to cable TV.

But streaming TV also offers a unique customization opportunity: the ability to create your own streaming TV bundles tailored to your interests, while still saving you money over cable.

We compared plans, channel lineups, features, and more from top live TV and on-demand streaming TV services and used the data to build nine custom streaming bundles aimed at specific interests and lifestyles.

We also show our work, giving you the information needed to create your own mix-and-match action.

How we created these streaming bundles

Streaming apps
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Although we suggest different streaming bundles, we want you to be able to create your own dream streaming TV bundles, too.

Our tips on pricing, resolution, content, device compatibility, and customization options will help you.

Pricing

Pile of cash money in front of a TV with several streaming service subscriptions
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Below are the price ranges for the services we cover in this guide. We recommend ad-free plans for the best experience, so that’s what we use in our custom streaming bundles.

But if you don’t mind watching another Flex Seal spot in order to save a few bucks each month, go ahead and get the ad-supported plans. It’s your bundle, after all.

  • Amazon Prime Video: $8.99–$14.99/mo. or $139.00/yr.
  • AMC+: $8.99/mo. or $83.83/yr.
  • Apple TV+: $6.99/mo.
  • Arrow Player: $6.99/mo. or $69.99/yr.
  • Brown Sugar: $3.99/mo.
  • Criterion Channel: $10.99/mo. or $99.99/yr.
  • Discovery+: $4.99–$8.99/mo.
  • Disney+: $7.99–$13.99/mo. or $139.99/yr.
  • The Disney Bundle (Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+): $14.99–$24.99/mo.
  • ESPN+: $10.99/mo. or $109.99/yr.
  • Fandor: $5.99/mo. (or $3.99/mo. with Prime Video Channels)
  • Full Moon Features: $6.99/mo. or $59.99/yr.
  • Max™: $9.99–$19.99/mo. or $99.99–$199.99/yr.
  • Hi-YAH!: $3.99/mo.
  • Hulu: $7.99–$17.99/mo.
  • Hulu + Live TV/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle: $76.99–$89.99/mo.
  • Midnight Pulp: $4.99/mo. or $49.99/yr.
  • Mubi: $10.99/mo. or $83.88/yr.
  • Netflix: $6.99–$22.99/mo.
  • Night Flight Plus: $5.99/mo. or $49.99/yr.
  • Paramount+: $5.99–$11.99/mo. or $59.99–$119.99/yr.
  • Peacock: $5.99–$11.99/mo. or $59.99–$119.99/yr.
  • Philo TV: $25.00/mo.
  • Pluto TV: Free
  • Screambox: $6.99/mo. or $59.99/yr.
  • Shout! Factory TV: $2.99/mo. on Prime Video Channels
  • Shudder: $5.99/mo. or $57.99/yr.
  • Sling TV (Sling Orange): $40.00/mo.
  • Sling TV (Sling Blue): $40.00/mo.
  • Sling TV (Sling Orange + Blue): $55.00/mo.
  • Troma Now: $4.99/mo. or $49.99/yr.
  • Tubi: Free
  • Xumo Play: Free
  • YouTube TV: $72.99/mo.

About these streaming bundles

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  • Free trials: Most of our recommended streaming services have free trials ranging in length from 7–30 days. If you’re unsure about a service, take it for a test drive.
  • Customization options: You can customize them to adjust the price (and the content). See our customization suggestions for each bundle.
  • Resolution: Most of these services support 4K. Note: To watch Netflix in 4K, you’ll need the Netflix Premium plan ($22.99/mo.)
  • On-demand libraries: Not all streaming TV services advertise a specific library size, but the smaller ones tend to have several hundred titles and the larger ones have thousands to tens of thousands of titles.
  • Overlapping content: Redundant content is hard to avoid when bundling streaming TV services, but if you find excessive redundancies between any of these services, you can easily drop one.
  • Device compatibility: Most streaming TV apps support many of the same streaming devices, so you shouldn’t have trouble there.

Now, to paraphrase George Clooney in “From Dusk Till Dawn:” “Bundlers, let’s get bundlin’.”

Best streaming bundles in-depth

Woman laying on couch watching TV
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Sure you can go with a “prefab” streaming bundle, like the Disney bundle, but we like to get creative with our TV streaming here at CableTV.com.

Read on to see custom streaming bundles that we created for movie lovers, binge-watchers, sports fans, busy parents, and the budget-conscious.

You can get a lot for about the same cost as your average cable subscription — and avoid hidden fees and long-term contracts.

Only the Best

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The best live streaming service + the best on-demand service

  • Includes: YouTube TV, Max
  • Live channels: 85+
  • Total price: $92.98/mo.

If you’re short on time to shop for TV plans, you can go right for the good stuff. CableTV.com named YouTube TV the best live TV streaming service of 2023 and singled out Max as the best on-demand streaming service.

YouTube TV has 85+ live channels, three simultaneous streams, six user profiles, unlimited cloud DVR storage (recordings expire in nine months), and a healthy on-demand library (they don’t advertise its exact size).

Max, of course, is all on-demand TV and movies. It comes with a wealth of licensed (like “Friends”) and original content and three simultaneous streams — but no live channels or DVR.

You’ll have plenty to watch with these two services — all for the price of a mid-tier cable or satellite TV package.

Customize the Best

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Save $4.00/mo. by signing up for Max with ads.

The #9 Combo

Apple TV+
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Nine top streaming TV services for the couch potato who needs everything:

Are you the best couch potato? Do you derive energy from the cool, blue light of your TV? Before you cut the cord, you probably splurged on your cable provider’s top-tier package so you’d have every channel, even the premiums. Our #9 Combo, made up of nine services, has you in mind.

With YouTube TV’s 100+ live channels (plus three streams and unlimited DVR) and the other services’ on-demand content, you’ll have an all-killer, no-filler menu of live TV channels plus a multitude of movies and shows to watch.

And you get all that for the same price as cable and satellite TV providers’ most stacked packages. Plus, you won’t have to worry about contracts, equipment rental fees, and other cable hassles.

So the #9 Combo is an outstanding value. But if the price is still too high, you don’t have to use YouTube TV. You can substitute a cheaper live TV streaming service or even drop one or two of the on-demand streaming TV services to lower the #9 Combo’s price.

Customize the Combo

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  • Try Philo instead of YouTube TV and get 70+ live channels, 3 streams, and unlimited cloud DVR with a 1-year storage limit (saves $47.99/mo.).
  • If you’d rather get the Hulu + Live TV/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle instead of YouTube TV, it has 85+ channels, 2 streams, unlimited cloud DVR, and a ton of on-demand content (adds $4.00/mo.).
  • Students save 50% ($7.49/mo.) on Amazon Prime and get a free 6-month trial.
  • Upgrade to Netflix Premium for 4K UHD support plus 2 more streams (adds $7.50/mo.).

Binge-a-palooza

Netflix
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For users serious about their TV series

Do you like movies but love devouring TV series like popcorn chicken? Binge-a-palooza gathers the best streaming TV services for prolonged periods of popping.

All six services have stacks of highly rated licensed and original series, plus tons of movies for days when you have to, ugh, do something besides loaf around.

When you consider that it costs only $87.43 a month, it’s a steal.

Customize the Binge-a-palooza

Amazon Prime Video on a TV
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  • Get only Disney+ instead of the Disney Bundle (saves $11.00/mo.).
  • Get only Hulu instead of the Disney Bundle (saves $7.00/mo.).
  • With Amazon Prime’s student discount, you get 50% off after a free 6-month trial (saves $7.49/mo.).
  • Add Philo to get 61+ live channels (adds $25.00/mo.).
  • Add Peacock Premium Plus for live NBC shows and a larger on-demand library (adds $11.99/mo.).
  • With Netflix Premium, you can have two more streams and 4K UHD support (adds $7.50/mo.).
  • Pick up an over-the-air (OTA) antenna to get live local channels (one-time fee starting around $25.00).

Endless Film Festival

Shudder streaming service logo on a tv
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Because movies = life

There are those among us who would spend all day in a darkened theater, losing ourselves in silver screen magic while shoving nachos into our gobs. For you, I suggest the Endless Film Festival.

With these seven services, you can catch obscure art-house gems, classics from all eras, cult films/midnight movies, newer releases, summer blockbusters, and more.

And, just like the Binge-a-palooza, the price is right at about $75-$85 a month — but it can get even better.

Customize the Endless Film Festival

The Criterion Channel streaming service on a laptop
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  • Choose annual subscriptions to save on the Criterion Channel (saves $2.66/mo.), and Shudder (saves $1.24/mo.).
  • If you have Prime Video, you can add more cult films (and TV series) with Prime’s ad-free version of Shout! Factory TV (adds $2.99/mo.)
  • Another cheap Prime Video add-on is Fandor, which gives you even more arthouse and cult films (adds $3.99/mo.)
  • Students save 50% ($7.49/mo.) on Amazon Prime and get a 6-month free trial.
  • Netflix Premium gets you 4K UHD support plus 2 more streams (adds $7.50/mo.).

The Mondo Bundle

Woman hypnotized by watching her TV
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Keepin’ it (mostly) weird

*Prime Channel — requires Amazon Prime Video subscription.

Real movie hounds know there’s more to cinema than blockbusters and Oscar winners. You frequent the local arthouse to screen the really good stuff, which comes in so many different flavors. And while you prefer to watch films in a theater, you have a massive collection of physical media and, of course, streaming services.

For you, we present the Mondo Bundle, a customizable world of streaming cult cinema.

With 17 on-demand streaming services, around 50,000 titles (40,000 from Prime Video), and even a few live TV channels, the Mondo Bundle is the biggest custom streaming bundle we’ve created. Look at the genres it includes:

  • Action
  • Animation
  • Anime
  • Art
  • B-movies
  • Blaxploitation
  • Biker movies
  • Classroom educational
  • Concerts
  • Creature features
  • Cult classics
  • Documentaries
  • Eurocult
  • Exploitation
  • Extreme horror
  • Foreign
  • Giallo
  • Grindhouse
  • Late-night comedies
  • Martial arts
  • Mondo movies
  • Music documentaries
  • Musicals
  • Post-apocalyptic/doomsday
  • Schlock
  • Sci-fi
  • Slashers
  • Spaghetti westerns
  • Z Movies (aka So-bad-it’s-good)

The Mondo Bundle also has a pretty hefty price tag at $100.85 a month. Fortunately, you can slash that price — in some cases, by up to 32% — with the following customization options.

Customize the Mondo

Man watching TV excited to be saving money
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  • Save $35.52/mo. by choosing annual subscriptions for Arrow Player, Brown Sugar, The Criterion Channel, Fandor, Full Moon Features, Kino Cult, Midnight Pulp, Mubi, Night Flight Plus, Shudder, and Troma Now. Note: This is practical only if you can spend $701.86 upfront. Or save $14.47/mo. by doing annual subs on only the services that have the biggest discounts — Arrow Player ($4.00/mo.), the Criterion Channel ($2.66/mo.), Fandor ($1.82/mo.), Full Moon Features ($1.99/mo.), Arrow Player ($4.00/mo.), and Mubi ($4.00/mo.). This way, the up-front cost drops to $313.84.
  • Save $22.49-$25.95/mo. by using the free, ad-supported versions of Brown Sugar, CONtv, Fandor, Kino Cult, Midnight Pulp, and Shout! Factory TV. But you’ll lose access to some titles and have to watch ads.
  • If you don’t want or you already have Amazon Prime, drop it and save $14.99/mo. — but see next.
  • If you drop Prime, you’ll need to subscribe to Fandor directly (adds $5.99/mo.) and use the free version of Shout! Factory (saves $2.99/mo.). That’s still a net savings of $11.99/mo.
  • If you don’t want a full Amazon Prime membership, you can save $6.00/mo. by getting only Prime Video.
  • Students save 50% ($7.49/mo.) on Amazon Prime and get a 6-month free trial.
  • If you want all the movies — not just cult classics — and tons of original series, you can add Max (add $15.49/mo.), Netflix (add $15.50/mo.), and Paramount+ with SHOWTIME (add $11.99/mo.).

The Babysitter

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Neutralize the kiddos while you work from home

  • Includes: Sling Orange w/ Sling Orange 4 Extras Deal add-on (incl. Kids Extra Pack), Disney+, Max
  • Live channels: 45+
  • Total price: $82.98/mo.

Are you a parent working from home? Then you know how tough it can be to balance work and parenting duties. I dedicate The Babysitter to you.

Yeah, TV isn’t Mary Poppins — but when you need a couple of uninterrupted hours of work time, that mesmerizing box is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

The Babysitter starts with Sling TV — CableTV.com’s Best for Channel Add-Ons. With the Sling Orange plan and its 4 Extras Deal add-on ($13 a month), which includes the Kids Extra Pack, you’ll have Baby Jr., Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Duck TV, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, and TeenNick.

Yes, that creates some live-channel overlap with Disney+, but the reason you want Disney+ in this bundle is for its on-demand content.

Max has loads of family-friendly movies and shows, all organized into age groups and even content “hubs” for networks and studios like Sesame Workshop (Sesame Street), Cartoon Network, Studio Ghibli, and Looney Tunes. You can also create a profile for each child, which lets you customize parental controls according to each kid’s age/maturity level/chore-completion status.

One drawback to this bundle is that Sling TV doesn’t carry a lot of local broadcast affiliates. But you can get those channels by purchasing an OTA antenna. You can get one for as little as $30, but Sling TV will give you one free if you prepay for two months of service.

Customize the Babysitter

Sling TV
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  • Sling Blue is the same price as Orange, but it doesn’t have Disney Channel — fortunately, you’ll still have that huge Disney+ on-demand library. And with Sling Blue, you can add the a la carte Kids Extra pack for $6.00/mo. instead of 4 Extras (saves $7.00/mo.).
  • If your budget’s super tight, Sling Free has Cartoon Network, DuckTV, Kabillion, Pocketwatch, and Ryan Friends (saves $53.00/mo.).
  • Instead of Disney+, you can add the Disney Bundle (Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+) for tons of additional on-demand content (adds $14.99-$24.99/mo.).
  • Maybe you run a Nickelodeon household. In that case, you’ll want Paramount+ with SHOWTIME for on-demand access to “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Blue’s Clues,” and more (adds $11.99/mo.).

Sportsball Domination

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The most sports for the best price

  • Includes: Sling Orange + Sling Blue with Sports Extra add-on
  • Live channels: 66+
  • Total price: $70.00/mo.

Sling TV is easily the most affordable way to get your live sports fix. The Sling Orange + Blue package ($55 a month) alone gives you access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, FS1, NFL Network, TBS, TNT, and USA Network.

If you prepay for three months, you’ll also get a free OTA antenna so you’ll have sports content from your local broadcast affiliates.

That’s a lot of sportsballs bouncing around, so you could stop there. But sports fans go hard, so they’ll probably want to add Sling’s Sports Extra Pack for Orange + Blue.

You’ll get 20 new sports portals—including beIN SPORTS, FS2, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL RedZone, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network, Tennis Channel, and more.

You should also download the free Pluto TV and Xumo Play apps to get beIN SPORTS Xtra, Big Sky, CBS Sports HQ, CBS Sports Golazo Network, FOX Sports, Fubo Sports Network, GolfPass, NBC Sports, NFL Channel, PGA Tour, Pluto TV Sports, and World Poker Tour.

Customize Sportsball Domination

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  • Football fans could get only Sling Blue ($40.00/mo.) and its Sports Extra add-on for both NFL Network and NFL RedZone. You’ll lose ACC Network, ESPN, ESPNews, ESPNU, Longhorn Network, and SEC Network, among others, but save $19.00/mo.
  • Selecting only Sling Orange ($40.00/mo.) and its Sports Extra add-on won’t include FS2, Golf Channel, NFL Network, and NFL RedZone — but you’ll save $19.00/mo.
  • Add Peacock Premium Plus ($11.99/mo.) for more Premier League, Big Ten, WWE, IndyCar, NASCAR, PGA Tour, and Olympic coverage.
  • Paramount+ with SHOWTIME ($11.99/mo.) will level up your soccer experience with live UEFA Champions League, NWSL, and Series A matches. You’ll also get content from the NFL, PGA Tour, and March Madness.
  • If you love college sports and the NHL, a standalone ESPN+ subscription ($10.99/mo. or $109.99/yr.) offers live games from the NCAA’s best conferences as well as out-of-market NHL matchups.

The Thrifty Bundle

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For when times are tight

If you’re cutting the cord for financial reasons, you can get a ton of TV on the cheap with the Thrifty Bundle.

Philo has 70+ channels, three streams, and unlimited DVR for $25 a month. Tubi adds thousands of on-demand movies and shows — plus a good selection of live TV channels, including some local FOX affiliates.

And, if you add an OTA antenna (a one-time purchase starting around $25), you’ll get your local channels and subchannels at no extra cost per month.

Then, download the Pluto TV and Xumo Play apps for another 200+ live channels — completely free, for a total of 261+ channels plus whatever your OTA antenna picks up.

Customize the Thrifty

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  • Qualifying students — both new and existing subscribers — can get Hulu Basic (regularly $7.99/mo.) for $1.99/mo. (adds $1.99/mo. to bundle price).
  • Add Netflix ($15.49/mo.), and you’ll get a ton of on-demand content while paying only $40.50/mo. You could even add Max ($15.99/mo.) and pay only $56.49 monthly.
  • Cox internet customers with the Panoramic Wifi Gateway can get a Cox Contour Stream Player for $5.00/mo.

Freebie the Love Bundle

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For when times are really tight

  • Includes: Various free streaming apps
  • Live channels: 200+ (not including antenna channels)
  • Total price: Free (except for the antenna)

When your budget’s super tight, there’s a whole lot of free streaming TV out there.

Meet Freebie the Love Bundle, which is a fancy name for using all of the free streaming TV services that you can find, along with an OTA antenna for local channels.

Almost all of it is ad-supported, but you’ll be able to watch so many movies and shows, live and on-demand.

  • Crackle
  • FilmRise
  • Freevee
  • Fubo Sports Network
  • Kanopy
  • Midnight Pulp
  • Pluto TV
  • Xumo Play
  • The Roku Channel
  • Sling Freestream
  • Tubi
  • VUDU
  • … and more

A downside of Freebie is that you’ll watch a lot of ads and do a lot of leapfrogging between apps on your phone and computer. But free is free.

Customize Freebie

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  • If you’d like to have your local channels, buy an OTA antenna ($30 and up).
  • Cox internet customers that also have the Panoramic Wifi Gateway can get the Contour Stream Player for $5/mo.
  • Many streaming devices support most of these free apps. The Amazon Fire TV Stick is one such device.

Prefab streaming bundles

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When we first published this piece, the only streaming TV bundle was the Disney bundle with Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Now there are three. Let’s check ’em out.

AMC+ bundle

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AMC+ ($8.99/mo.) isn’t billed as a bundle but it includes BBC America, IFC, IFC Films Unlimited, Sundance Now, and Shudder.

For perspective, the regular monthly prices for Shudder ($5.99 a month), IFC Films Unlimited ($5.99 a month), and Sundance Now ($6.99 a month) total $18.97. (You can’t subscribe to BBC America or IFC directly.)

That’s more than double the cost of AMC+, so you’re getting a seriously good deal for a huge catalog of on-demand movies and shows.

But AMC+ has the same cons as Prime Video Channels: You can only use the AMC+ app, which is just okay — and it doesn’t show you all of the content available on the other included services.

This is especially noticeable and frustrating if you’re a Shudder fan.

The Disney bundle

Family watching TV
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With the Disney bundle, you can get Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $14.99-$24.99/mo.

This bundle gives you a slew of on-demand movies, shows, and sports that will please everyone in your household.

Or, if you’d like to add 70+ live TV channels and 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, you can get a bundle with Hulu+Live TV, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $76.99–$89.99/mo.

Paramount+ with SHOWTIME bundle

Three women friends watching TV
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The Paramount+ with SHOWTIME plan ($11.99/mo.) has your live local CBS feed and every on-demand movie and show from the SHOWTIME and Paramount+ libraries.

With these two platforms combined, the bundle is almost — but not quite — as good as Max.

Next up are some streaming bundles FAQ.

What are the best streaming bundles?

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You won’t find official, provider-offered streaming service bundles with internet, TV, and phone service because streaming TV services offer only TV.

But there are two Hulu bundles: one combines Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $14.99 a month (or $24.99 a month without ads), and the other has Hulu + Live TV, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $76.99 a month (or $81.99 a month without ads).

Where can I find streaming bundle deals?

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Streaming TV services offer only TV, so you won’t find traditional bundles with internet, TV, and phone service. But you can get bundles of streaming TV services.

  • AMC+ ($8.99/mo.): Includes thousands of hours of content from AMC, BBC America, IFC, IFC Films Unlimited, Sundance Now, and Shudder.
  • Disney Bundle (Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+) ($14.99/mo. with ads, $24.99/mo. without ads): Tons of on-demand movies, shows, and sports for people of all ages.
  • Hulu+Live TV with Disney+ and ESPN+ ($76.99/mo. with ads, $69.99/mo. without ads): Everything in the Disney Bundle (above) plus 85+ live channels and an unlimited cloud DVR.
  • Paramount+ with SHOWTIME ($11.99/mo. without ads): Every on-demand movie and show from the deep Paramount+ and SHOWTIME libraries, plus your live local CBS feed.

Does HBO Max have a bundle deal?

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Discover+ and HBO Max merged into a single service in 2023 called Max ($9.99–$19.99/mo. or $99.99–$199.99/yr.). If you want only Discovery+, it remains available for $4.99–$8.99/mo.

Is there a Netflix and HBO Max bundle?

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Yes, eligible Verizon myPlan subscribers can get Netflix and Max for $10 a month. Both streaming services have ads, but you’ll save $6.98 a month.

Methodology

Investing
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Our TV experts have logged hundreds of hours — and counting — researching and testing live and on-demand streaming TV services.

We compare them based on plans, pricing, features, functionality, device compatibility, and more — including, for this piece, how the services complement each other in these custom streaming TV bundles.

To learn more about our methods, see our How We Rank page.

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