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How to Stream Smithsonian Channel Live Without Cable

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If you are interested in nature, science, and history, Smithsonian Channel is for you. But you don’t need a long-term subscription to enjoy this “cable” channel. Read on to learn your options!

In a hurry? These are our three favorite services for getting Smithsonian Channel without cable or satellite:

  • Fubo: With 150+ channels, it offers something for everyone. Fubo allows you to try out its service with a free trial.
  • DIRECTV STREAM: Provides everything you expect from cable with many options. A 5-day free trial is now available for DIRECTV STREAM.
  • Philo: Super inexpensive live TV streaming service with 7-day free trial.

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Unfortunately, we don’t know a streaming service in that offers this TV channel. But if you’ve already paid for the right service, and just can’t watch because of your location, there is an easy way to get the sports, movies, and TV you deserve. You need a VPN, like one of the following.

  1. ExpressVPN: Known as “The VPN that just works,” it combines remarkable ease of use with with state-of-the-art power, speed, security, and privacy. Get three extra free months when you sign up for a year. Unleash your streaming with this top-rated VPN.
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If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to begin, you’ll find all the answers in our full VPN guide.

The Smithsonian Channel offers an intriguing selection of programming about various topics, ranging from animal-focused shows to historical episodes to the explaining of how things work, such as trains and factories.

Simply put, this is a great channel for those who want to learn about the world. And its shows tend to be a nice balance of being relaxing, engaging, interesting, and thought-provoking.

Fortunately, cord-cutters have several options available for streaming this channel. Read on to learn them all.

Sign Up for a Free Fubo Trial

Smithsonian Channel Basics

The Smithsonian Channel is an inspiration of the Smithsonian Institute, a Washington-based collection of museums and education and research facilities. The National Zoo is included in its facilities. It is the world’s largest complex of this type.

The Institute got its start in 1846 and was previously known as the United States National Museum. But that moniker was put to rest in 1967.

The channel by that name was launched in 2007. It is owned by Paramount Global and, unsurprisingly, much of its content is also available online at Paramount+ ($4.99/mo).

Note that despite the channel being named for a United States-based institution, its programming includes a significant amount of content that is unrelated to the US.

Smithsonian Institute
Cropped from Smithsonian Institution Building by Victor R Ruiz under CC BY-SA 2.0.


The types of programming available on the Smithsonian Channel consist of an interesting mix. Here is a selection of some of the shows that are broadcast on it.

  • Aerial America: This series provides a beautiful from-above look at a location in the US, generally a state but sometimes a different specific destination instead. The views are generally from helicopters.
  • Air Disasters: The show investigates various in-air tragedies and near-tragedies.
  • Big Cat Country: One of the Smithsonian Channel’s favorite animal-focused shows. It features storytelling about lions as they go through their lives’ trials and tribulations.
  • Mighty Planes: Aviation lovers regularly tune into this program, which features detailed insights into a specific aircraft or a collection of them.
  • Mighty Ships: The Smithsonian Channel also looks at some of the greatest ships of the past and brings their details to your screen. Each episode follows a ship on a journey while doing so.
  • Mystic Britain: Those wanting to learn as much as they can about Great Britain’s mystic past and mysterious sites should check out this show. For example, its first episode was named “Witches and Demons.”
  • Secrets Unlocked: The world’s past is full of secrets, and this show helps unlock those.
  • Wild Castles: If castles interest you, this is a show that is well worth checking out. Unsurprisingly, the series’ focus is outside of the US. Its premiere episode featured Germany’s famous and beautiful Heidelberg Castle.

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If you can’t watch your favorite movies and shows because of your location, a VPN will allow you to get the access you are entitled to, plus extra security and unequalled privacy. Check out our VPN Guide for everything you need to know, including our top pick ExpressVPN.

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Other brands worth checking out include Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost.

Stream Smithsonian Channel

Smithsonian Channel is not available over-the-air (OTA) so the only way to get it is through a streaming service. Thankfully, there are a number of great options.


fubotv logo

The Smithsonian Channel is included with the base plan of FuboTV ($74.99/mo) as well. Also in that package are channels such as National Geographic, Travel Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Investigation Discovery, and USA. It also has a great collection of sports channels including almost two dozen that are focused on international soccer.

All Fubo plans come with 1000 hours of cloud DVR and simultaneous streaming on 10 devices. For details, see our FuboTV review.

Sign Up for a Free Fubo Trial


philo logo

Philo is your go-to service for saving money. For $25/mo, you get over 60 channels, a few of them being Smithsonian Channel, AMC, BBC America, BBC World News, IFC, and WE tv. You also get unlimited cloud DVR and you can stream on up to 3 devices.

For everything you need to know, see our Philo review.

Try Philo Free for 7 Days



With the DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) Ultimate plan ($119.99/mo), you get access to the Smithsonian Channel as well as 130+ other channels such as the Weather Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, USA, TNT, TBS, and History.

Alternatively, you can add the Movies Extra Pack ($5/mo) to a lesser plan, such as Entertainment ($79.99/mo). That add-on also includes 8 other channels including Crime & Investigation and Hallmark Drama.

All plans come with unlimited cloud DVR as long as you sign-up online and streaming on unlimited devices at once. Get more information in our DIRECTV STREAM review.

Get DIRECTV STREAM Free for 5 Days

Hulu + Live TV

hulu logo

Hulu + Live TV ($76.99/mo) includes the Smithsonian Channel in its base plan. Also included are channels such as History, Travel Channel, TBS, TNT, and ESPN. In addition, note that this subscription includes access to Disney+ and ESPN+.

This plan comes with unlimited cloud DVR, 9 months of storage and allows you to stream on two devices at the same time. See our Hulu + Live TV review for more information.

Try Hulu + Live TV Today!

YouTube TV

youtube tv

YouTube TV ($72.99/mo) is another streaming service that provides access to the Smithsonian Channel. Other networks that you can watch through it include Investigation Discovery, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, and Bravo.

Smithsonian Channel Homepage
Smithsonian Channel homepage.

Other Ways to Watch Smithsonian Channel

The live TV streaming services offer the only ways to live stream Smithsonian Channel. But there are other ways to what Smithsonian Channel content:

  • Paramount+: A significant amount of Smithsonian Channel programming may be streamed through this for $4.99/mo. This also includes content from other CBS channels as well as the full Star Trek catalog and UEFA Champions League matches. Try Paramount+ for free! See our Paramount+ review.
  • Smithsonian Channel App: Provides numerous videos related to this network, shorter ones generally being available to all and longer ones usually necessitating logging in with your TV provider. However, do note that a relatively small selection of full episodes is available for viewing here as well. You can do the same at SmithsonianChannel.com.
  • YouTube: One option for viewing Smithsonian Channel content for free is by visiting the network’s official YouTube channel. Many videos, usually shorter ones, are available there.
  • Purchase: Another alternative, which works best if you are simply looking for a specific show or a small selection of shows, is to buy access to episodes, which can be done through online platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video.

Watching Smithsonian Channel on TVs and Other Devices

All major live TV streaming services support most of the popular devices today.

Other than DIRECTV STREAM, all the services we’ve discussed work on smart TVs based on Android TV as well as LG, Samsung, and VIZIO models. They all support Chromecast devices. They allow you to cast video from your phone or browser to your TV. This is an easy and popular way to watch.

All the services support the popular “stick” devices Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku. The same goes for mobile devices based on iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android.

As for gaming consoles, All but DIRECTV STREAM support the Xbox One. Hulu and YouTube support the PlayStation. And Hulu also supports Nintendo Switch.

Check our streaming reviews for complete lists of supported devices because we’ve only listed the most popular.

Sign Up for a Free Fubo Trial

Superpower Your Live TV Streaming With a VPN

You can’t beat a VPN for privacy, security, and access. We have used them for years as an important part of our streaming toolkit and we recommend ExpressVPN. Other brands worth checking out include Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost.

i See our VPN Buyer’s Guide for complete information on how to choose the best VPN for your needs.

Wrapping Up

Those looking to watch shows such as Big Cat Country, Mighty Ships, and Wild Castles are going to enjoy settling in for an evening of Smithsonian Channel viewing. If you just want to watch the shows, check out Paramount+ ($4.99/mo). If you also want the live channel, we recommend Hulu + Live TV ($76.99/mo).


Is the Smithsonian Channel free?

To receive access to most Smithsonian Channel episodes and its live broadcast, a charge is required. You could just pay $4.99/mo for access to Smithsonian Channel programming through Paramount+. Meanwhile, if you are set on free content, your best option is most likely its official YouTube channel. If you want the live channel, your cheapest option is FuboTV for $69.99/mo.

Can I subscribe to the Smithsonian Channel directly?

You cannot subscribe to the Smithsonian Channel directly, but you can watch many of its shows on Paramount+ ($4.99/mo). However, you will need to subscribe to a multi-channel streaming service in order to enjoy this channel’s regular programming as it is being broadcast on television.

What happened to Smithsonian Channel Plus?

Smithsonian Channel Plus had been a streaming service that had offered Smithsonian Channel content directly to its subscribers. However, it was brought under the Paramount+ umbrella, and that content can now be watched there as well as shows from channels such as CBS, BET, MTV, and Comedy Central for $4.99/mo.

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That’s it — you’ll save money, take back control, and enjoy TV more!

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