The Disney Channel was launched in 1983 as a premium channel add-on to cable packages. It played second fiddle to Nickelodeon for years before finally overtaking its rival for the first time in 2012. Your kids probably love The Disney Channel, and thankfully you don’t need cable to keep them supplied with new episodes of Bunk’d.
In a hurry? The Disney Channel is not available via antenna but it is widely supported by streaming services. Here are our favorites:
- FuboTV: With 100+ channels, it offers something for everyone. FuboTV allows you to try out its service free for 7 days.
- Sling TV: Probably the best streaming service in terms of customization with a super low price. Save 50% on your first month of Sling TV.
- DIRECTV STREAM: Provides everything you expect from cable with many options. A 5-day free trial is now available for DIRECTV STREAM.
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Table Of Contents
How to Watch The Disney Channel Live Without Cable
The Disney Channel has constantly updated its formatting and programming over the years to keep up with the times. Currently, its shows are aimed at 6- to 14-year-olds. The preschool-targeted Disney Junior is for the 2 to 7 set. And Disney XD goes for kids 6 to 11.
The Disney Channel is a pay channel (as opposed to a “free-to-air” or “over-the-air” channel, like ABC or CBS). If you want to watch it, you need a subscription to a pay TV service. That used to be a cable company.
But these days you can just as easily (more easily, in fact) get your TV through the internet by signing up with a streaming live TV provider. You get all the same channels, but for less money and without any contracts or locked-in periods.
Which ones carry your favorite mouse’s channel? Check it out below.
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Streaming Services With Disney Channel
The good news for Disneyphiles is that the Disney Channel is ubiquitous among TV providers. The only major live TV streaming service that doesn’t carry it at all is bargain service Philo. But don’t worry, you still have a couple of lower cost options in Sling TV and Vidgo. Read on for details.
FuboTV is a sports fan’s dream, especially American soccer fans who are sadly neglected by a country that prefers football (the pigskin kind). Fubo has over 105 channels in its base Starter package (about a third of them are pure sports) for $69.99/mo after a 7-day free trial.
All plans include 750 hours of cloud DVR storage, streaming on up to 10 screens at once, and over 100 events in 4K. On the other hand, they’re missing the WarnerMedia channels (including the Turner channels, which means missing some NBA and MLB playoffs games) and A&E (which also includes Lifetime and History). What they do have is all three Disney channels, Nick and Nick Jr, and Universal Kids all included in their base package.
For more, see our FuboTV review.
DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) is dedicated to making your transition to streaming live TV as painless and non-disruptive as possible by making it as much like cable as possible (but still contractless and cheaper).
The interface is tight, they have great local network coverage, and they have the biggest selection of regional sports networks around. Its base Entertainment tier has over 75 channels, including all three Disney channels, plus Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Freeform, and PBS Kids, for $69.99/mo. Probably the best selection of kids channels in any base package, to be honest. Also, they throw in unlimited DVR storage and streaming on 20 devices in your home at one time.
See our DIRECTV STREAM review for more information.
The big selling points of Sling TV are flexibility and affordability. The Disney Channel is included with Sling Orange. It is $35/mo for over 30 channels, which you can only watch on one screen at a time.
Disney Junior and XD are both available in the Kids Extra, which is $6/mo additional and also has NickToons and TeenNick. This makes Sling a less ideal choice if you have multiple Raven-Symoné fans.
For more information, see our Sling TV review.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV is a solid all-around cable replacement service. It’s true that it’s one of the more expensive options, starting at $69.99/mo, but, in addition to over 85 live channels and Hulu’s own on-demand library, you get Disney+ and ESPN+.
Hulu Live also includes unlimited cloud DVR, up to 9 months of storage and streaming on 2 devices at one time. AMC channels are missing from the lineup, but you get all your local network stations and pretty much everything else you can think of. All three Disneys are there, along with Nick, Nick Jr, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Freeform, and Universal Kids.
Read about all the details in our Hulu + Live TV review.
Vidgo is the service that poses the intriguing question. What happens if you offer a live TV service with lots of family channels, conservative news networks, family programming, and college sports but hardly any local channel coverage, no DVR or on-demand, and no channels from AMC, Warner, or NBCUniversal?
The jury’s still out — Vidgo remains a fairly small player in the live streaming game — but with over 100 channels for $59.95/mo, they are an option. They’ve got all three Disney channels, Nick, Nick Jr, and TeenNick, plus Kids Street, Freeform. And you can watch on up to 3 screens at once.
See our Vidgo review.
Other Ways to Stream The Disney Channel
YouTube TV: A Hulu + Live TV-like service that costs slightly less but also doesn’t have near as much on-demand backup. It carries all three Disneys, though it was missing them for a few days in December, a victim of its third carriage dispute in 2021.
Hulu: Considering it’s owned by Disney, it doesn’t have as much Disney stuff as you’d expect. I’m guessing Disney doesn’t want Hulu competing too much with Disney+. It has a handful of shows from each of the three channels, but you are probably best getting the Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle for $13.99/mo.
Disney Now is Disney’s app for its pay TV subscribers. It uses the TV Everywhere app to let you log in with your TV provider credentials to watch the live channels or on-demand episodes.
All of the above streaming services do support TV Everywhere for Disney, but it’s not free and it’s not a stand-alone subscription.
Disney+ is to Disney what HBO Max is to HBO/WarnerMedia. It has all the various properties Disney owns, in one place (which is a lot, including ABC, Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, FX/20th Century, and National Geographic). It also includes Disney+ exclusive originals like The Mandalorian, Loki, The Beatles: Get Back, and High School Musical: The Musical – The Series.
No live channels, but enough entertainment to keep you busy for months — maybe years.
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Streaming Devices for Disney Channel
The most popular streaming devices are supported by all the services:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android mobile
- Apple TV
- iOS (iPhone,iPad)
- Web browsers.
Except for DIRECTV STREAM, all the services support Android TV-powered TVs. All but Vidgo support Samsung smart TVs. FuboTV, Sling TV, and Hulu + Live TV support Xbox gaming systems. Hulu also supports the PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.
See our streaming reviews for complete lists of supported devices.
The Disney Channel is awesome, but your cable company is decidedly not. But you’ve got lots of options beyond cable to keep watching The Wizards of Waverly Place and The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. So go ahead and cancel the cable.
What is the difference between Disney Channel and Disney+?
The Disney Channel is Disney’s live channel (also called a “linear” channel) on which it airs original first-run TV series, movies, and a few 3rd-party shows. In other words, it’s a mix of Mickey Mouse and friends, classic Disney movies, and the kind of live-action kid-focused shows (usually screwball sitcoms where grown-ups are the butts of the joke or action sitcoms where the kids are the heroes) like KC Undercover, Sidney to the Max.
Disney+ is Disney’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink on-demand streaming service, encompassing every brand they own and a few they’re just licensing. Disney+ has Marvel superheroes, National Geographic nature specials, and Star Wars movies and shows for all ages alongside more traditional Disney/Pixar stuff like Encanto, Frozen, Soul, Onward, and Luca.
What channels besides Disney provide good family/kid content?
Nickelodeon is probably the other biggest producer of kids entertainment. Nick includes Nick Jr for the little ones and TeenNick for older kids plus NickToons featuring just animated shows and NickMusic which is 24-hour kids pop music. PBS Kids tends to have a more educational bent, like the math-themed Odd Squad.
Freeform, formerly The Family Channel, specializes in content for parents and kids, and The Hallmark Channel has long been a haven on the dial for wholesome programming for the entire family.
How can I stream additional entertainment channels online?
If you would like to watch other entertainment channels see the detailed list below:
How can I stream other family and kids channels?
Here are our options for watching other family and kids channels:
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That’s it — you’ll save money, gain control, and enjoy TV more!