Spectrum TV Stream Review


      Live TV streaming

      Sizeable on-demand content library

      Budget streaming option

      Lacks local channels

      No sports content

      Requires Spectrum internet contract

The online video streaming market is an ever-growing space with hundreds of options for people cutting the cable TV cord. Among the newest services on that list is Spectrum TV Essentials, from Charter Communications. It offers up to 60 live channels and access to an on-demand content library.

The new Spectrum TV streaming service provides an over-the-top (OTT) video option to the company’s internet-only customers. However, the service is only available to people that use Spectrum’s internet services and customers in select markets, which means potential subscribers will need to check eligibility before signing up.

The Spectrum TV Essentials channels list includes popular entertainment, lifestyle and news networks. Content is supplied by programming partners such as A&E, AMC, Discovery, Hallmark and Viacom.

Channels On Spectrum TV Essentials

The Spectrum TV Essentials channels list includes entertainment options like A&E, Animal Planet, Comedy Central, Discovery and three Hallmark channels. Its offering is built around Verizon-owned channels such as BET, CMY, MTV, and Nickelodeon. It omits popular Disney channels that are commonly found on other similar streaming services, such as ABC, FX and National Geographic.

Subscribers also gain access to the company’s own local news services, which are available in Charlotte, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, Tampa and other select markets.

Spectrum TV Essentials service does not have local news networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, The CW, Telemundo or Univision. National and international news is supplied by BBC America, BBC World News and Bloomberg. Subscribers will also have to look elsewhere for local and regional sports networks such as CBS Sports Network, ESPN and FOX Sports.

The full Spectrum TV Essentials channel lineup is:

  • A&E
  • AMC
  • American Heroes Channel
  • AXS TV
  • BBC America
  • BBC World News
  • BET
  • BET Her
  • BET Jams
  • BET Soul
  • Bloomberg
  • Cheddar
  • CMT
  • CMT Music
  • Comedy Central
  • Cooking Channel
  • Destination America
  • Discovery
  • Discovery Family
  • Discovery Life
  • DIY
  • Food Network
  • Game Show Network
  • Hallmark Channel
  • Hallmark Drama
  • Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • HD Net Movies
  • HGTV
  • History FYI
  • IFC
  • Lifetime
  • Lifetime Movie Network
  • Logo
  • MotorTrend Network
  • MTV
  • MTV2
  • MTV Classic
  • MTV Live
  • MTVU
  • Newsmax TV
  • Newsy
  • Nickelodeon
  • Nick Jr.
  • Nick Music
  • Nicktoons
  • Outdoor Channel
  • OWN
  • Science Channel
  • TLC
  • Travel Channel
  • Viceland
  • Weather Channel
  • WE TV
  • What To Watch On Spectrum TV Essentials

    In addition to the live channels listed above, Spectrum TV Essentials subscribers gain access to the company’s library of on-demand content. This is available through the Spectrum TV app or via web browsers.

    Spectrum’s on-demand library includes access to shows from all the channels available on the live service, as well as on-demand movies and the option to subscribe to additional content providers. Some premium channels and new release movies require additional purchases.

    Action movie fans have plenty of top-quality viewing available through the on-demand service. This includes Keanu Reeves in John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, Liam Neeson in Taken, all three of The Hunger Games films and Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in White House Down.

    The on-demand service offers plenty of science fiction options, including the entire Star Wars franchise through TBS. Superhero lovers can choose from films like Justice League, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman. Family favorites include Disney’s Frozen II, Zac Efron voicing a part in animated adventure Scoob and Jim Carrey in Sonic The Hedgehog.

    There are several good horror movies available through the service such as Brahms: The Boy II, Gretel & Hansel, The Grudge and The Turning. Spectrum subscribers looking for a little comedy are also in luck thanks to the American Pie franchise movie American Reunion, Adam Sandler in Grown Ups and Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler starring in The House.

    Spectrum’s on-demand service also provides access to premium channel add-ons, which enables subscribers to add channels like HBO, SHOWTIME and Starz to their viewing lineup.

    Four features of Spectrum TV

    Spectrum TV Costs And Plans

    Spectrum TV Essentials costs $14.99/mo., but customers must also be signed up to a Spectrum internet package in order to access the streaming offering. The Spectrum TV Stream service, by comparison, costs $24.99/mo. for access to fewer channels.

    Watching Spectrum TV On Your Devices

    Streamers can watch the Essentials service through the Spectrum TV app, which is compatible with popular mobile devices, computers, game consoles and streaming devices. Mobile users can watch the service on Android and Apple iOS phones and tablets as well as Amazon Kindle Fire devices. Desktop PC and laptop viewers can watch online via their web browser on the Spectrum TV website.

    The service is also accessible via internet-connected TVs, such as Apple TVs and Samsung Smart TVs. And gamers can watch the service on their Xbox One. However, the Spectrum TV app is not compatible with the Amazon Fire TV range of streaming sticks and Amazon Fire TV Cubes, nor is it available on non-Samsung smart TVs.

    User Experience

    Spectrum TV Essentials provides a relatively standard streaming experience. Shows can be watched in up to 1080p high definition (HD,) but most live channels are limited to 720p HD. The quality of streaming that users can access will be largely defined by their internet speed.

    Spectrum TV Essentials’ live programming includes commercials during shows, as does the on-demand content. Spectrum TV Essentials does not currently provide a Cloud DVR service to its users, but 50 hours of storage space can be added for a further $4.99/mo.

    Subscribers can watch the service from anywhere using the Spectrum TV app, which enables them to continue watching their favorite shows on their mobile devices. However, the service only provides one simultaneous stream at any time. Users can also create a Watch List, which enables them to save content to watch at a later date.

    Parental Controls

    Like most budget live streaming services, Spectrum TV Essentials does not provide any parental control settings or any way to ensure that kids are only able to watch age-appropriate content.

    However, when accessing the Spectrum TV on-demand service, there is support for parents with the company’s Common Sense Media Ratings. These include a suggested age icon, which advises viewers of the youngest appropriate age for each movie or TV show on the platform. In addition, it also advises whether titles contain drinking or drug use, strong language or violence.

    On-Demand Library Interface

    The Spectrum on-demand service enables users to browse thousands of movies and TV shows and purchase or rent new and popular movies from the Video Store. On-demand content can also be saved to users’ Watch Lists for viewing at a later date. The on-demand library provides details that help guide viewers’ movie selections. This includes various icons and information about movies, including reviews from Flixster and audience and critics’ ratings from Rotten Tomatoes.

    Can I Cut the Cable TV Cord With Spectrum TV Essentials?

    Spectrum TV Essentials provides a good streaming service for people looking to cut the cable TV cord, but it will not appeal to everyone. For starters, anyone who likes to consume movies and TV shows on Amazon Fire TV streaming devices or non-Samsung smart TVs will find their device is not compatible with the service.

    An important consideration is that Spectrum TV Essentials is only available to existing Spectrum Internet customers. The relatively appealing price point of $14.99/mo. does not include the cost of subscribing to the company’s online services.

    Therefore, people who are already Spectrum customers who want an online video streaming option will see this as a good alternative that saves them considerable amounts on the company’s cable services. But anyone not looking to switch internet providers and make a move to Spectrum would be better off looking at one of the many standalone video streaming services.

    The live TV streaming service offers a decent selection of entertainment and lifestyle channels along with Spectrum’s own programming. This should appeal to anyone whose TV preferences include dramas, food shows and sitcoms. However, Spectrum TV Essentials does not provide access to local news and sports networks from the likes of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. One option to get around this is to supplement the service with a TV antenna. These typically cost around $30 and enable users to access local ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC channels.

    The on-demand element of the Spectrum service could make it an appealing standalone option for people looking to cut the cord on cable TV. Subscribers get access to thousands of movies and TV shows, which they can watch either at home or on-the-go on a mobile device through the Spectrum TV app. However, some premium content and new movies require additional purchases.

    Users could also bundle the live TV service with an on-demand option like Disney+, Hulu or STARZ. While people looking for an unbundled live TV service could look to fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV or Sling TV.
    Current as of June 2020*

    Malin Curry

    Article Author

    Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site's editor.

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