Best TV Service for 4K

Best 4K Cable Service
  • Dedicated 4K channels
  • Live Sports (including NFL)
Best 4K Streaming Service
  • 4K pioneer
  • Largest selection of 4K content

So you’ve finally done it, you’ve chosen a TV that is 4K ready. With a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, (8 million pixels in total!) 4K technology offers four times the number of pixels as Full HD (1,920 x 1,080).

But now that you have your 4K ready TV, how do you make use of it? After all, it’s no good having the capacity to watch TV in ultra-high definition, if you don’t have anything to watch. You’ll want to know DIRECTV 4K channels, DISH 4K channels, or the best streaming service for 4K.

Finding providers that offer programs and films in 4K is essential, but unfortunately, 4K technology is still relatively new. This means that TV providers are going to lag behind when it comes to creating and broadcasting Ultra HD content. So, what are the best options on the market?

Best TV Providers for 4K

When you’re looking to watch the maximum TV in 4K, the best place to start is with your TV provider. Unfortunately, the amount of 4K content available through TV providers is limited. It’s therefore super important that you shop wisely and select a provider who is ahead of the game. 

So, let’s look at your options in more detail:

DIRECTV

Plans Number of channels 1st Year Price (2nd Year and beyond) View plan
SELECT 155 $50 ($81) View plans
ENTERTAINMENT 160 $55 ($93) View plans
CHOICE 185 $60 ($110) View plans
XTRA 235 $70 ($124) View plans
ULTIMATE 250 $75 ($135) View plans
PREMIER 330 $125 ($189) View plans

If you have a 4K TV and want to make the most of it, DIRECTV is a smart choice. Unlike some other providers, there are multiple DIRECTV 4K channels: 104, 105, and 106. The programming on these channels is inconsistent though. For instance, Thursday Night Football is available on channel 105, but outside of Thursday nights during the football season, you will just need to check what’s going to be on the channel. Channel 104 is supposed to have programming 24/7, though, so there should always be something to watch at the very least. 

There are also movies and documentaries available to watch, as well. Some of which you can buy/rent as part of the DIRECTV Cinema program while others are available and can even be recorded (just make sure you have the room on your DVR since 4K does take up more space).

So, how much does DIRECTV 4K cost? 

All of DIRECTV’s packages from SELECT and up are supposed to include the above 4K content. 

And, do you need anything extra to watch 4K TV with DIRECTV? 

Apart from a 4K TV and DIRECTV subscription, all you need to watch 4K programs via DIRECTV is a DIRECTV 4K receiver: Genie DVR (model HR54 or higher). Luckily, this is included in your package.

However, if the 4K TV you’re using is not directly connected to the Genie DVR, you’ll need a 4K Genie Mini to connect it. This is not included by default in your DIRECTV package.

DISH Network

Plans Number of channels Price for First Two Years (After) View plan
Top 120 190 $59 ($79) View plans
Top 120+ 190+ $69 ($85) View plans
Top 200 240+ $79 ($95) View plans
Top 250 290+ $89 ($105) View plans

Unlike DIRECTV, DISH Network doesn’t offer its own dedicated DISH 4K channel, however, it does offer a limited number of 4K programs via its normal channels, and has a range of 4K movies available to download. 

Whilst the 4K options provided with DISH are fairly limited, the provider is compatible with Netflix; brilliant news for anyone who is looking to team their TV provider with a top-notch streaming service.

So, how much does DISH Network cost?

DISH can actually cost different amounts depending on where you live. However, I checked numerous zip codes using their plan finder and they were all the same as in the above chart. 

Your contract is for 2-years, so you will pay the cheaper price for that duration, then once your contract is up– if you want to keep DISH– then you will pay the higher price.

And do you need any special equipment? 

To watch 4K on DISH Network, you will need DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR.

XFINITY

XFINITY, similar to DISH, doesn’t have a lot of native 4K content. That being said, they do have some various live sports, much like DIRECTV (no NFL though, only MLB and college football). They also let you connect to Netflix and YouTube access 4K content on those services. 

Technically, if you have a Smart TV, this might not be a huge boost, but it’s definitely nice that you don’t even need to switch inputs. Most of the info you need to have about XFINITY’s 4K services can be found on their website

With packages starting at $49.99 per month, there are definitely better options for viewing 4K TV on the market. Perhaps it would be best to leave XFINITY alone for now?

So, what’s the takeaway?

With its dedicated 24/7 4K channel, DIRECTV is the clear winner in terms of the best TV provider for 4K TV. However, DISH Network is also a good option for 4K TV owners, as long as you are willing to add a Netflix subscription to your entertainment budget (which we get into more below). Unfortunately, XFINITY is best avoided for now.

Best Streaming Services for 4K

Sometimes, the 4K programs available via your TV provider just aren’t enough and you find yourself wanting more. With streaming giants like Hulu Live TV, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video all offering an exciting range of 4K content to choose from, investing in a streaming subscription can be a fantastic way to increase the amount of Ultra HD TV you watch.

But, it can be hard to choose which streaming service to purchase. So, let’s look at each of the top providers in a little more detail:

Hulu Live TV

After a shaky start that saw Hulu removing all its 4K options last year, the service has taken small steps to up its game. This year, Hulu 4K content sees many of the streaming giant’s originals available in 4K. None of their content is available with HDR, so you will only get normal 4K streaming here. 

Live shows on the Hulu + Live TV package will only be streamed in 720p. 

So, how much does it cost?

Hulu plans start at just $5.99 per month, but that’s with ads. Without ads, it is $11.99; for your own sanity, go without ads. There are also HBO, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, and STARZ add-ons available. The good news? Unlike Netflix, Hulu doesn’t charge extra for 4K streaming!

If you are interested in also having the ability to watch live TV, then Hulu + Live TV is the way to go; however, this will cost $44.99 per month. 

And do you need any special equipment?

According to Hulu’s own support page, these are the supported devices for 4K streaming:

  • Apple TV (5th generation or later)
  • Chromecast Ultra
  • Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
  • LG TVs (2017-2018 UHD models)
  • Xbox One

Some speculate they might add support for the PlayStation 4 Pro back. They are also supposed to be working on their computer streaming services.

Netflix

As one of the first providers to offer 4K content, Netflix is something of a pioneer in the streaming world. 

Today, the streaming service offers a fantastic variety of 4K entertainment. All of the service’s major original series now being shot in 4K, they have released some fantastically immersive nature documentaries, and the range of 4K movies on Netflix is growing rapidly.

So, how much does it cost?

To take advantage of Netflix’s 4K offerings, you need the Premium Plan. This option comes in at $16 per month.

And do you need any special equipment?To watch 4K TV with Netflix, you will need either a 4K Ultra HD TV or a compatible 4K Ultra HD TV connected to any of the recent 4K-capable Roku streamers, Amazon Fire TV Cube, or Chromecast Ultra.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime 4K includes a good selection of series and films, along with an additional rotating selection of movies. This content is available ‘free’ (as long as you have an Amazon Prime subscription!). If you want more options, you can opt to buy individual 4K titles, with prices starting at around $20.

So, how much does it cost?

4K content is included “free: for all Amazon Prime customers. Amazon Prime can be paid for annually for $119 per year (average of $10 per month) or monthly at $13 per month. Optional additional content starts at around $20.

And do you need any specialist equipment?To watch 4K TV with Netflix, you will need either a 4K Ultra HD TV, or a compatible 4K Ultra HD TV connected to either a 4K-capable Roku streamer, Nvidia Shield TV streamer, Apple TV 4K, or Amazon Fire TV 4K-capable streaming devices.

So, what’s the takeaway?

Although it has had issues in the past, Hulu is a good budget option for your 4K needs. Netflix is more expensive but offers a more in-depth service with a huge range of 4K content, and Amazon is great for customers who already use Prime (however, the one-off charges for additional content can make this option the most expensive all round).

Recap

Whilst 4K TV is exciting, it is still relatively new. This means that you need to shop around for the best TV provider and consider adding a streaming service to your entertainment budget if you want to make the most of your Ultra HD viewing experience.

There isn’t currently much choice when it comes to TV providers, but DIRECTV and DISH Network are both good value options. At the moment, XFINITY isn’t a great choice for watching 4K TV, due to its seriously limited offerings, and the restrictions it places on who can view its 4K content.

When it comes to streaming 4K content, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon all offer attractive options. Though Hulu experienced problems last year, they are growing rapidly. Netflix is a 4K pioneer, but their premium plan is required to make the most of what they have on offer. And finally, Amazon offers a good service that is free for Prime subscribers, but some of their 4K content must be purchased separately and this can easily add up.

Q&A

Q. What is 4K TV?

A. Also known as Ultra HD and UHD TV, 4K TV has a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. This is a massive 8 million pixels in total. The high pixel count makes 4K colors deeper and more vibrant and allows you to enjoy even the smallest details on your TV.

Q. What internet speed do I need to stream 4K?

A. Though individual providers vary, it is best to ensure internet speeds of at least 30 Mbps for your 4K TV.

Q. What 4K TV is best on the market?

A. A great breakdown of the best 4K TVs available on the market can be found here: Best 4K TV 2019: Your Definitive Guide.

Luke Pensworth Written by: Luke Pensworth

Luke is the managing editor and site manager of Dailywireless. As a wireless enthusiast/consumer, he reviews a lot of services based on his own experience. Disgruntled as he may be, he tries to keep his articles as honest as possible.

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