How to choose the best premium channels

Family watching tv premium channels together

In the beginning of TV, we had a handful of broadcast channels with and a lot of commercials to support a thin supply of programming. As things opened up with more TV stations and increased choices of cable TV, a broad selection of specialized programming was born. Now, our choices seem unlimited with the streaming services through providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Home Box Office Inc., Hulu and many others.

Premium channels used to only be offered as extras and add-ons to standard TV packages. But today, they can be subscribed to as special, paid-for packages offered for TV or streamed online through apps. They’ve become a gateway for us to go deeper into our interests, creating an appetite for more and better original series and movies, documentaries, old favorites, sports, specialty interests — the list goes on.

The choices are spectacular, but our pocketbooks can only bear so much viewing pleasure and pricing that can easily add up. If you happen to be an avid aficionado of the best TV and streaming content, this article can help you choose the best premium channels for your tastes, whether it’s SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, HBO Max, EPIX, The Movie Channel, Starz or others.

What are premium TV channels?

Premium channels allow TV customers to enjoy the latest NFL and NBA games, Hollywood movies, 3D animated series, British crime dramas, original series (such as Outlander or Pennyworth) and a library of family-friendly options. In addition, they produce original programming that sweeps awards shows (think Game of Thrones) and lead many to wonder if we’re in a new golden age of TV.

Premium channels often come at an extra price (or can be included in a premium TV package), but they typically provide extra value with the quality and extent of their programming as well as the lack of advertising. The growing demand to have premium channels stream online — and sometimes to multiple devices — has been amplified by the growing prevalence of reliable broadband internet.

The problem is that since there’s so much choice out there for premium channels — representing billions of dollars in production costs — it can sometimes be hard to know where to begin. Before you commit to an add-on premium package to your existing services, a little research can help ensure you get what you really need.

What premium channels are best for you?

To decide which premium and related channels are best for you and your family (or your couch buddies), you should start by taking a careful look at your current viewing habits and what you really like and want more of. Then, consider the available premium channels and see which ones offer the content that matches your viewing pleasures. Often, your choices include:

Premium sports channels

You can catch more games with sports packages, such as:

  • MLS Direct Kick: If you love Major League Soccer, this is the place to come to watch the games of the 30 U.S. and Canadian teams, playing 300-plus regular season out-of-market matches.
  • MLB TV: You can stream your favorite Major League Baseball team’s out-of-market games or all teams through different packages, and you can view the games live or on-demand on supported devices. This is sometimes included with the MLB Extra Innings TV package.
  • NBA League Pass: This gives you live games all season and on-demand access to full-game replays of professional basketball games immediately after they air. A premium service allows you to stream on two devices at the same time.
  • fuboTV: Although monthly fees can be hefty, this streaming service has a dazzling array of sports choices. Its coverage includes 50 different sports channels, with more available through its Sports Plus add-on. The mix of domestic and international coverage ranges from soccer and golf to tennis and the Olympics.

    Premium movie channels

    Whether you want original programming, blockbuster movies, family favorites, award-winning documentaries, action-packed thrills or quiet but deep dramas, some of the best choices for premium movie channels include:

    • HBO Max: You can get WarnerMedia’s HBO programming live and on-demand, plus use the HBO Max app to stream a great collection of movies, shows, documentaries, animated shows and new Max originals, appealing to everyone from preschoolers to adults.
    • SHOWTIME: You can watch live programming or catch up with on-demand on your TV, tablet, phone or computer. Showtime Networks Inc. subscribers can also download full episodes and movies to their mobile devices and watch them offline, whenever and wherever they want.
    • EPIX: As the name suggests, EPIX is all about big entertainment — big movies, big concerts, big get the idea. Its thousands of titles include hit Hollywood movies, critically acclaimed original series and much more.
    • CINEMAX: Blood-pounding thrills, take-no-prisoner comedies, hair-raising action — CINEMAX channels have something to keep everyone happy. Although it specializes in movies, CINEMAX also has original series, documentaries and various special features.

    On-demand shows & movies

    On-demand TV shows and movies — sometimes called video on demand or VOD — allow you to watch select content on your own schedule, enabling you to play, pause, fast-forward, rewind and re-watch the content as much as you wish. Usually, you subscribe to an on-demand service with a monthly subscription fee.

    For example, with Frontier® Fiber TV, you can get access to thousands of on-demand shows and movies through our ever-expanding library. You can choose from approximately 150,000 on-demand entertainment choices in categories, such as:

    • Free On-Demand
    • Kids Zone
    • New Releases
    • Frontier Movie Deals
    • Pre-Order Movies
    • Zona Latina
    • Events
    • Subscriptions

    For an extra monthly fee, you can also have Frontier’s Whole Home DVR, allowing you to watch TV programming on up to 10 TVs in your home, recording up to 12 hours of shows simultaneously, with a whopping 12TB of storage space.

    Many programming services also offer both live programming airdates and on-demand content. For example, Hulu offers a mix of streaming live TV shows and a selection of on-demand new and classic shows.

    If you like thought-provoking documentaries, CuriosityStream — a service from the founder of the Discovery Channel — provides documentaries on topics from space exploration to ancient civilizations or current topics like the coronavirus and more. If you’re more into popular NBC network shows and a great collection of streaming movies, you’ll want to check out Peacock. Its free tier of streaming content boasts more than 13,000 hours of programming, while its premium service has more than 20,000 hours.

You get the snacks, we've got the channels


Deciding what premium TV content you want

For the best premium content viewing experience, you should balance what you want to see with cost. For example, with sports, you have many choices that can add up quickly, costing you hundreds of dollars per month potentially if you go too subscriber happy.

So, is there a particular sport and league you want to watch, and even a single team you would like to follow? The more specific you are about what you really want, the better chance you have to keep pricing under control and new add-ons to a minimum.

If you like to watch a lot of hit movies and original programming, then choices like Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO Max might be good. However, if you want something more specialized, such as old and new favorite British murder mysteries, then Acorn TV is a good bet.

Watch your favorites on the go

Another important thing to consider when choosing premium channels is the availability of an app that allows you to stream content wherever you are. Frontier® TV Everywhere allows you to watch live TV shows on the go, check listings and download shows and movies to enjoy offline on your computer, smartphone or tablet.

You can also use your Frontier ID to sign in for exclusive content from other top streaming apps (provided you have subscriptions to those services directly or through Frontier).

Discover what Frontier TV can offer you

With Frontier TV, you have access to the best premium programming out there. Whether you want to tune into one of the top news networks, see live games, watch local programming, have access to thousands of on-demand shows and movies or watch your choices on the go with an app, Frontier has TV services to cater to most entertainment wishes.

Frontier TV plans vary by location. Check availability and plans to see what great premium channel viewing options you can access.