If you’re thinking of cutting the cord and getting rid of cable, you might even be a bit hesitant to ditch your cable subscription because you’re a bit of a news junkie. Will you have to sacrifice your nightly ritual of watching the news because you want to save some serious cash? Will you miss out on having access to live coverage from CNN or CBS News? Hardly.
Cord cutters actually have more live streaming options for news than your typical cable subscription. We’ve rated what we consider the best news apps by the quality of journalism, ease of use and how often commercials are used by the news outlet. Our review was crafted using an Amazon Fire TV, but the ratings on these news apps also apply to a Roku.
Live streaming apps
CBS News: If you could only pick one app for your nightly news, CBS News Live 24/7 would probably be the way to go. Scott Pelley is among the most dependable nightly news anchors in the business, and CBS News delivers very consistent, in-depth coverage of breaking news, U.S. politics and international events. The best thing about the CBS News app is clearly the CBS News Live option, which will give you a live feed 24/7 just like the name of the app says. If you want to peruse a menu of individual news stories you can simply scroll through the menu with your remote and select what you want to watch. CBS News gets it when it comes to what viewers want – a crisp, round-the-clock live news feed without being barraged with commercials. (You don’t need a cable subscription to use this app.)
CNN go: What’s surprising about the new CNN go app is that essentially three live streaming channels rolled into one. Viewers get a live feed of CNN News, CNN International and HLN. The CNN go app features episodes of CNN’s shows like Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and documentary-style shows like The Eighties. CNN go requires either a cable subscription, or a subscription to PlayStation Vue, but it’s well worth downloading even if you already have CNN as a news channel via a live streaming TV subscription. CNN International gives you great coverage of what’s happening across the pond, but in far flung places like New Zealand. HLN does have news as well, but honestly it’s our go to for watching Forensic Files. The CNN go app has a nice bonus because for PS Vue subscribers you get an extra channel – CNN International – which is not included in your subscription. The app also provides more on-demand content than you may have with your cable or live streaming service. (This app requires a cable or PlayStation Vue subscription.)
Bloomberg TV: The latest take on the stock market and around-the-clock business news can be found on the Bloomberg TV + app, which also has a live feed that parallels its cable channel. Fans of Charlie Rose, which airs on Bloomberg TV and PBS, can also find a live feed of his infamous show where he sits down with newsmakers from around the globe.
Pluto TV: This app curates and tracks down a wide variety of news apps and news sources from the web and puts it all into one nifty cable-like menu. Sky News, an international news operation, RT America, MSNBC and NBC are among the vast offerings being drawn from places like YouTube, Vimeo and Bloomberg Television. (You don’t need a cable subscription to use this app.)
Best on-demand news apps
BBC News: After a recent retooling, the BBC News app has a unique breakdown among its peers, where viewers can select news by country or region. Being able to select news out of Australia or India is a neat feature and gives viewers an easier way to plumb stories from particular regions of the world. THE BBC News app also has categories for technology, health, environment and arts & entertainment. (You don’t need a cable subscription to use this app.)
PBS: Within the PBS video app, The PBS NewsHour is a great, non-partisan clearinghouse for national politics, investigative stories and international news. Based out of Washington D.C., the NewsHour takes the national newscast out of New York City and delves into topics viewers won’t see elsewhere. The NewsHour does a lot more in-depth reporting in the U.S. and internationally, often allowing reporters to spend weeks or months on a story. When there’s analysis from experts, it’s actually by people who have expertise in a particular field, flouting the typical talking-head nonsense that’s become in the norm in the television news biz. (You don’t need a cable subscription to use this app.)
NBC News: NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt has remained the top evening news program for the second quarter of 2016, but the NBC News app has a ways a to go before measuring up to CBS News Live 24/7. What’s both annoying and counterintuitive about the NBC News app is the number of commercials peppered between every news segment. What’s worse, it’s often the same commercial. Such a format suggests that Comcast (which owns NBC) has zero interest in offering its content outside of the traditional forum of cable television. It’s too bad too because since Holt has taken over the evening news slot, the show has amassed not only the most viewers but the captured the highly coveted age-25-to-54 demographic. Watching NBC News on other apps like Pluto TV, or even YouTube is slightly more satisfying and user friendly.
Having said all that, you don’t need a single app to capture the nightly news. You can simply build or buy a decent TV antenna to pull in an HD signal, and record whatever your antenna can catch via over-the-air transmissions with a TiVO Roamio OTA. Of course, you may want to research OTA recorders before taking the plunge and getting one.
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