Within the last couple of years, seniors have begun to jump on the streaming services bandwagon in larger and larger numbers. Though the majority of them prefer pay-TV over streaming, the number of baby boomers watching TV online is growing. When researching the best streaming services for seniors, there are several issues that we’ve take into account in order to make some recommendations. We’ll lay those out for you here in this article, and hopefully, we’ll be able to clear up confusion and help you make an informed choice.
Two choices stand out when recommending streaming services for seniors. If you’re comfortable with cable TV and how it works, we recommend Sling as a start. If you’re ok trying new things, give Hulu a shot. But, news and entertainment are very personal for some, so keep reading for more details.
Live TV watching has apparently gone down for all age groups except 55 and over. However, the data shows that seniors are watching TV, while also giving streaming a chance. This seems to make sense, since organizations such as the AARP are encouraging people to switch to streaming in order to save money in articles with titles such as, “Who Needs Cable?”
One sensible way to give cord cutting a try as a senior or anyone not sure about the lifestyle, is cord shaving. It’s a way to “dip your toe” into being a cord cutter without ditching cable entirely until you’re ready.
Also, think about your home entertainment experience as a whole. Make sure that your equipment is giving you everything you want out of your content and music streaming for you and your family. For instance, if you find yourself having a hard time hearing the TV or you watch movies and TV shows late at night after others have gone to bed, you might want to pick up a good set of headphones for TV viewing.
What do seniors want out of streaming TV?
This article is here to take the mystery out of online streaming services. It will also, hopefully, answer a few questions about which service is the best fit for you.
So what makes a streaming service a good choice for seniors? We thought about that and came up with a few specific criteria. Seniors are clearly not afraid of technology or in any way as inept as they are sometimes portrayed to be. They’re also not only looking for the “latest” episode of Murder, She Wrote (available on Peacock, fuboTV, and Philo by the way).
Taking some of these assumptions and adjusting them as needed, we hope to discover some realistic criteria for this list. If anything else seems important for us to consider, please let us know in the comments below.
Our basic criteria
The interface of the service must be relatively easy to learn and navigate for a human of normal intelligence.
The service should have a good variety of programming, including some older programs or family shows that might appeal to seniors.
Affordable to start:
There should be a very affordable way to get set up and watching shows and movies, even if there happens to also be a pricey “premium” option as well.
Service should be portable:
Also, the service should have an app that makes it possible to watch as close to “anywhere” as possible. If you couldn’t load it on a computer, a phone, a tablet, and a TV streaming device, it didn’t make the cut.
For those looking for a streaming service that is most similar to pay-TV, Sling might be a good choice. There are two basic packages with Sling: Orange and Blue. Each package offers different channels that you can watch live and on-demand. The packages are listed on their website for only $35 a month. Depending on what channels you watch the most, you might choose a specific package. In general, this is a great deal for those looking for something similar to cable TV but are tired of paying the cable price.
Sling also offers add on packages that include smaller, genre-specific channels such as comedy, sports, and news. Add-ons vary in price but typically start at $6 per month.
Sling is supported on multiple devices: computers, smartphones, smart TVs, Roku, and the Amazon Fire Stick to name a few. Once in the app, the home page looks similar to Netflix or Amazon Prime and is easy to navigate.
One downfall to Sling is differentiating the packages. Sling Orange has 33 channels (on our last count), and you’re limited to one stream at a time (one device can watch at a time). Sling Blue, on the other hand, has 44 channels (on our last count) and three simultaneous streams. Or you can combine Orange and Blue for $50 a month and have up to four simultaneous streams.
Whichever package you go with, the amount of local stations is limited, which is another downfall. So, you’ll most likely need to install a digital converter and an antenna for local channels. The choice is simply dependent on which channels are a priority for you.
The interface for Sling felt the most like my old cable TV interface. I didn’t love it, but it was more than reasonable to get around and find what I wanted once I got used to it.
Sling is pretty much just regular cable TV programming. You will have access to some “on demand” programming as well, but it’s basically older episodes of shows currently on cable.
If you watch news, The Food Network, The History Channel, and other options like that, you’ll be just fine with Sling.
If you go with just Orange or Blue, it’s really affordable. Replacing cable TV for $35 / month is a great deal. There are higher priced options, but the great thing is that it does feel more like a la carte pricing because you have more control over choosing what you pay for.
Hulu is known for being a great service to keep up on current hit network TV shows. For those who don’t need live TV, but still want to watch new TV, Hulu might be a great idea. The subscription is $5.99 per month for the most basic plan which includes all the major network channels like ABC, CNN, Fox, Discovery, Travel Channel, and the Food Network. They also offer original content, like The Handmaid’s Tale, and a lot more.
So, for a fraction of your cable bill, you can stay updated on your favorite current shows. Since Hulu is such a big name in the streaming service market, you can watch it on almost any device or TV. I have to say, this is definitely one of my biggest recommendations for streaming services to replace TV. I never run out of things to watch on Hulu.
If you’re a fan of sports, however, you might want to look elsewhere, since Hulu doesn’t really offer anything with their basic plan. Their new plan, Hulu + Live TV, is where you can find live games, plus more than 50 channels. It is quite pricey though at $64.99 a month.
Hulu’s interface is fine. It isn’t amazing, but it does have a “My Stuff” menu option that allows you to create a personal playlist of sorts and keep track of shows and movies you want to watch.
Honestly, the main issue with the interface is the amount of content that Hulu has available. It can be time consuming to look through shows with the number of movies and series they have available. Not a terrible problem to have.
As mentioned, there’s a lot. Lots of current shows, and a really nice collection of old classics as well. You’ll see the latest episodes of SNL, all of Seinfeld, as well as I Love Lucy, The Rockford Files, and The Bob Newhart Show.
Hulu also has a good amount of foreign programming.
Super affordable. You can get a plan going with Hulu for $5.99 / month. And, as mentioned, there’s the live TV option for $64.99 / month as well.
If you’re simply looking for some great quality content to enjoy, Netflix has a large array of both movies and shows. Though it has fewer current shows than Hulu, Netflix’s selection of movies and older TV shows is broad. They offer shows like The Twilight Zone and The Andy Griffith Show and a larger collection of top films than many other streaming services for $8.99.
Netflix is also arguably one of the more intuitive streaming services, with a home page and menu that are relatively easy to navigate. Set up is also easy; all you need is a WiFi or a mobile connection. This means you can watch on your computer or almost any streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick which connects directly to your TV.
One downside is the lack of current TV shows. Typically, if Netflix has a deal with a show, the newest season is only added to the website after the full season has aired on television. This means you have to wait months, compared to a day with Hulu. Netflix also offers no plan for watching live sports or events. In order to get sports, you’d have to use Netflix in tandem with a live streaming service.
As a bit of a side note, it’s also somewhat true that much of the recent programming on Netflix is aimed at folks who skew a little younger. A lot of the new shows released lately are directed at Millennials. If that’s the kind of programming you’re into, this could be your solution.
Not bad. It forces you into genres more than I like, but overall the interface is easy to understand and navigate. They also have a “My List” menu option that allows you to keep favorites and shows you want to watch for quick access.
Netflix has some amazing programming. Some of their original series are a lot of fun. The Queens Gambit is one recent hit that I would have no trouble recommending. There are also a lot of shows for fans of science fiction and fantasy; however, many of these feel not quite mature enough for my tastes.
Overall, there is a lot to choose from in terms of programming on Netflix. It’s becoming clearer, however, that the newer original series are aimed at a younger audience.
Still very affordable. At $8.99 / month, you can stay busy watching a lot of content before you exhaust your options with Netflix.
This is the newcomer of the bunch, and I still haven’t had enough time to really dig into it yet. However, even with that said, I would still recommend checking this one out. It has a lot of good content, even at the free level.
You can watch on the Peacock website, and you can install their app on Apple devices, Roku, and some others.
Peacock didn’t technically make the list as it’s not yet fully available for Fire TV Stick, but I’ll update this article once it is.
Yet another option for streaming TV and movies is going directly to the network’s app or website. So many channels like ABC, CBS, and NBC have libraries of videos to stream for free online that you can download onto a device for easy watching on the go.
More and more channels are allowing viewers to watch the newest episodes of their series online. Though you might not get all the older episodes of a show, the newer ones are usually available to watch after they air on TV. One big issue with relying on network apps is that you might have to download and navigate many different apps to have the same amount of selection that would rival Hulu or Netflix.
It all depends. Since you’ll have to install and learn each app separately, each one will have its own pros and cons.
This is dependent on the network you go to. This is really a lot more like installing a new app for each channel that you want to watch. If you only watch a couple, you shouldn’t have any problems. If you want to jump around a lot, it could get tedious finding the shows you want to watch.
Usually this is free. While the cost can’t be beat, make sure you are up for the hassle of managing the apps separately.
Best Streaming Services for Seniors – Wrap Up
Depending on what your interests and priorities are, some services might better fit your needs than others. If TV is important, then Sling and Hulu might be a fine choice. However, if you’re simply looking for an array of great content, Netflix might be suitable.
If I had to make one recommendation to start with, I’d say try Hulu. They have a lot of great content, a really good price, and their interface is one of the easiest to deal with.
One other thing to remember is that these are month to month services. You can absolutely try one for a month, and if it doesn’t suit you, cancel and move on. This is one of the things I love most about cutting the cord. You have a lot more freedom of choice. And as seniors steadily shift to streaming, the cable companies are taking note.