The season premiere of The Bachelor season 22 kicks off at 8pm ET/7pm CT on January 1, 2018
Whether The Bachelor is your guilty pleasure show or you’re legitimately invested in watching contestants find love in front of an audience of millions, there’s no denying the ABC hit show is a force to be reckoned with.
The show is embarking on its 22nd season, and this time, it will focus on eligible hunk Arie Luyendyk Jr., whom we first met in 2012 on Emily Maynard’s season of The Bachelorette. Which of the lucky women did he pick in the finale? We’re going to have to wait and watch to find out.
If you’re one of the millions of Bachelor fans who’s sick and tired of getting raked over the coals by your pay-TV provider, we have good news. It’s easier than ever to break up with your cable company and still watch ABC, thanks to the huge wave of online streaming options now available. But like Arie, you’ll have to make a choice based on your personal preferences, tastes, and interests. To help you pick, here are our rankings for the best streaming services for watching The Bachelor this season.
Guide to watching The Bachelor Season 22
Live a Little
A brief note about antennas
For the purpose of this page, we are focusing on streaming services. However, as you look at each service that made the list and weigh what’s available in your area versus what each provider offers in your region, keep in mind you can always supplement with a digital antenna.
Digital antennas allow you to pick up channels in your area, so you can usually use an antenna to pick up any local channels you don’t get with your streaming service. And since you don’t have to pay a monthly fee, an antenna is probably the closest you’re going to get to watching The Bachelor for free.
If you are considering getting a digital antenna instead of a streaming service, be sure to pick the right one for your needs. We like the Mohu Leaf 50 for most households, but it may not be right for everyone.
#1 YouTube TV: Decent channel count, unlimited DVR, and a lower price to boot
What we like: Best ABC live local channel access and an unlimited DVR
Drawbacks: Limited device compatibility and less availability
Who it’s perfect for: Fans of The Bachelor who want to archive complete seasons of their favorite shows
When narrowing down the options for streaming The Bachelor, we have to give the first rose to YouTube TV. YouTube TV has unlimited DVR space, offers more ABC affiliate channels than any other streaming service, and delivers smooth streaming and solid picture quality.
The one big caveat with YouTube TV is the service isn’t available everywhere yet. If it’s not available in your area, we’d recommend checking out our #2 choice, DIRECTV NOW.
YouTube TV pricing
YouTube TV is moderately priced at just $35 per month. That’s definitely one of the cheaper options on our list—yet another reason it made first place.
Another thing we like about YouTube TV is that it doesn’t offer multiple package tiers. Sure, that means less customization, but it also means you get everything YouTube TV has to offer with the added complication of researching different packages. Plus, this arrangement makes YouTube TV especially economic for The Bachelor fans who are also sports fans, as the package includes a few sports channels you’d normally have to pay upwards of $45 a month for with any other service.
Watching The Bachelor with YouTube TV
As we’ve already mentioned, YouTube TV offers access to more ABC livestreams than any other streaming service. In fact, at last count, YouTube TV offered ABC local affiliates in 74 markets nationwide. That’s nearly twice as many as the next-highest provider, and YouTube TV is available in only 83 markets.
If you do happen to live in an area where YouTube TV doesn’t offer a livestream of The Bachelor, the service also offers ABC On Demand, so you can watch on your own schedule. And since the service is an extension of YouTube—a media giant that’s been bolstering its video streaming infrastructure for thirteen years now—you can count on your streaming experience being smooth and easy to navigate.
YouTube TV DVR service
YouTube TV has, without a doubt, the best DVR of any streaming service currently available. With this service, you get a truly unlimited DVR.
There are no limits on your storage space and no time limits before your content expires. You can archive whole seasons of your favorite shows and watch them at your leisure. And the best part is it’s included in the cost of your package—no add-ons or upcharges.
YouTube TV device compatibility
YouTube TV is still a pretty new service, so it doesn’t have the broad device compatibility you’d expect to see from a more established provider like Sling TV. Plus, the service is owned by Google, so it initially offered only Chromecast compatibility. Fortunately, you can now enjoy the service on more devices, and Google plans to expand device compatibility even further in coming months.
Even so, if you’re planning to use an Apple TV or Roku for your streaming service, you might want to check out a different service. Here’s the complete list of compatible devices for YouTube TV:
#2 DIRECTV NOW: Lots of ABC stations but no DVR
What we like: Widespread ABC availability and cheap premium channels
Drawbacks: Still no DVR, though it’s supposed to be coming soon
Who it’s perfect for: Bachelor fans who don’t live in an area with YouTube TV
If YouTube TV is the person we take on a one-on-one date, DIRECTV NOW is the runner-up in our affections—the one we want to single out during the group date. Apart from YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW offers the most ABC affiliate stations nationwide. So if you live in an area where YouTube TV isn’t available yet, DIRECTV NOW is the next logical choice.
The service has its downsides, though. While it’s working on a beta version of its DVR, it still hasn’t released the official thing. So if you’re looking for a TV streaming option that will allow you to record episodes of The Bachelor, DIRECTV NOW probably isn’t a good choice for you.
DIRECTV NOW pricing
DIRECTV NOW offers multiple plans with prices as high as $70. Fortunately, ABC is available on the most basic plan, Live a Little, which costs just $35 per month. That’s the same price as YouTube TV and a little less expensive than PlayStation Vue or Hulu with Live TV.
Where DIRECTV NOW really shines, though, is in its premium channel add-ons. If you’re a Bachelor junkie who also considers themselves a Game of Thrones fan, DIRECTV NOW is probably the cheapest way to get all the content you want. It offers premium channels like HBOⓇ for just $5 per month (each). Considering most other streaming services charge $15 a month per premium channel, that’s an absolute steal.
Watching The Bachelor with DIRECTV NOW
As we mentioned above, DIRECTV NOW offers the second-highest number of ABC stations nationwide—46 at our last count. And if you do happen to live in an area where the service doesn’t have a deal with your local ABC affiliate, you can always watch full episodes of The Bachelor on demand.
As far as picture quality goes, DIRECTV NOW is pretty middle of the pack. In our experience, it’s a bit more dependable than Sling TV, but it lacks the overall smoothness and clarity you get with YouTube TV or PlayStation Vue. Long story short: it’s a fair choice for watching The Bachelor live or on demand, even if it’s not our #1 pick.
DIRECTV NOW DVR service
There’s not a lot to say about DIRECTV NOW’s DVR service because it hasn’t officially launched yet. Select users have been beta testing a version of the DVR for the past few months and report they get 100 hours of storage space at no extra charge. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee the finished product will offer the same amount of storage or be included in the package price.
DIRECTV NOW representatives have said the company expects to roll out the DVR early in 2018, so we’ll keep you updated when we learn more. In the meantime, DIRECTV NOW customers are stuck watching The Bachelor live or later on demand.
DIRECTV NOW device compatibility
DIRECTV NOW is available on all the most popular streaming devices, with a couple of notable exceptions. Currently, there’s no DIRECTV NOW app for Android TV devices, so if you have any smart TV with Android TV built in, you’re out of luck.
The service also lacks compatibility with gaming consoles, so Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo users who don’t want to buy a new device may want to try YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, or Hulu Live instead.
#3 PlayStation Vue: A little pricey but a good overall experience
What we like: Great streaming quality
Drawbacks: A little on the expensive side without as many local ABC stations as others
Who it’s perfect for: Fans who want to record the most recent episodes of The Bachelor for later
PlayStation Vue is like the fan favorite contestant who doesn’t make it into the finale. In general, we love PlayStation Vue for its incredible streaming quality, solid DVR, and easy interface. But ultimately, we have to rank it third because it offers fewer ABC stations than YouTube TV or DIRECTV NOW. It also costs a little more, though we think it’s a pretty good bargain considering the sheer number of channels it offers.
PlayStation Vue pricing
At $39.99 per month, PlayStation Vue is certainly one of the more expensive options on our list. But we feel you get good value for the price you pay, especially since one of the biggest reasons for the higher price is that it costs more for PlayStation to provide the infrastructure you need to enjoy the smoothest streaming experience available. In our opinion, it’s worth paying the extra $5 per month if it means you don’t have to sit and wait for your livestream to buffer every 30 seconds.
Watching The Bachelor with PlayStation Vue
Consider its extensive livestreaming infrastructure, it should come as no surprise PlayStation Vue offers one of the smoothest streaming experiences available. Everything’s fast, smooth, and easy to use. That means you won’t have to deal with your service cutting out on you during the most suspenseful moment of the latest Bachelor episode.
The only real downside to PlayStation Vue when it comes to watching The Bachelor is its ABC availability. The service currently offers access to 28 local ABC stations across the country, which is fairly good but not quite as good as YouTube TV or DIRECTV NOW. We’d definitely recommend checking the local channel availability for your area before signing up.
PlayStation Vue DVR service
PlayStation Vue’s DVR service isn’t perfect, but we like it on the whole. With this service, you can add shows and channels to your Favorites list, and the DVR will automatically record anything from that show or channel. So if you add The Bachelor to your Favorites, it’ll DVR every episode for you (including reruns). If you add ABC to your list, it’ll automatically record every show on ABC.
The DVR is unlimited in terms of storage space, so you don’t have to worry about the latest Bachelor episode being deleted to make room for other recordings. However, there is a four-week time limit on how long you can keep recorded content. So if you record the latest Bachelor episode, you have to watch it within 28 days.
If you’re a big-time Bachelor fan, it’s unlikely you’d let an episode sit unwatched for that long, but if you do, it’s not all bad news. You can also watch episodes on demand for as long as ABC makes them available (usually until a new season starts).
PlayStation Vue device compatibility
One of the best parts about PlayStation Vue is that you don’t need a PlayStation console to use the service. PlayStation Vue is actually available on a wide variety of devices, including popular video players like the Roku and Apple TV. However, it is true PlayStation Vue is the only livestreaming service available on PlayStation consoles. So if you have a PlayStation and don’t want to buy another device, PlayStation Vue is not just your best bet—it’s your only option.
#4 Hulu with Live TV: Great for watching classic TV and other on-demand options when you’re not watching The Bachelor
What we like: Decent ABC availability and lots of on-demand choices
Drawbacks: Confusing interface
Who it’s perfect for: Fans of The Bachelor who frequently binge-watch nostalgic 90s shows
Hulu has been a giant in the streaming industry for ten years now, but its livestreaming TV service is still pretty new—so new, in fact, that it’s still in beta testing. Despite being a newcomer to the live TV streaming scene, though, Hulu with Live TV is still making a pretty big splash thanks to its great local channel availability, on-demand inclusions, and original programming.
Hulu with Live TV pricing
Hulu Live offers a basic $39.99-per-month plan and a $43.99-per-month No Commercials plan. The latter features the same channels and on-demand offerings as the basic plan but with no commercials during on-demand shows only. You’ll still have commercials while watching The Bachelor and other shows live.
Watching The Bachelor with Hulu with Live TV
At last count, Hulu Live offered 33 ABC local stations nationwide. That technically puts it above PlayStation Vue (which offers 28), but we had to demote Hulu Live to our #4 spot due to its poor interface.
Unlike other services, Hulu Live doesn’t categorize and display content according to its type (e.g. live, on demand, or recorded). Instead, it displays content based on what it thinks you would like, lumping live and on-demand content together. That makes it really hard to actually figure out what you want to watch at any given time. You have to sift through multiple menus, channels, and shows before you’re actually able to tune in, and frankly, the whole experience made us madder than watching . . . well, the entire Nick Viall season.
To be fair, once you’re actually able to find and start watching the show, the streaming quality is fairly good. On-demand programming is especially clear and largely devoid of hiccups. Livestreams aren’t quite as clear as YouTube TV or PlayStation Vue, but it’s not riddled with buffering breaks or glitches.
Hulu with Live TV DVR service
On paper, Hulu’s DVR looks pretty decent. You get 50 hours’ worth of recording space included with your package, plus the option to upgrade to 200 hours of storage for an additional $14.99 per month. We think that’s a little overpriced for just 200 hours, especially when you consider fuboTV’s DVR upgrade gets you 500 hours and costs $5 less per month.
We’d be able to forgive Hulu for that if it weren’t for the sheer frustration we feel every time we try to use the DVR. In using the DVR, we found it often doesn’t record what you want, and it’s virtually impossible to schedule an isolated recording. Ultimately, fans of The Bachelor are probably better off watching the show on demand.
Hulu with Live TV device compatibility
Considering how new Hulu Live still is, it offers compatibility with a surprisingly high number of devices, including gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It is also the only live TV streaming service that offers Nintendo Switch compatibility. However, it is not available on Android TV devices or PlayStation consoles.
#5 Sling TV: A good price, assuming you can actually get ABC
What we like: Low starting price with lots of customization options
Drawbacks: Extremely limited ABC availability
Who it’s perfect for: Bachelor fans on a budget who live in an area where Sling offers ABC
We’re giving our final rose to Sling TV, largely because it is still the cheapest way to watch The Bachelor—if it carries ABC in your area.
Sling TV’s streaming quality is hit or miss depending on your internet connection, and you’re unlikely to get all the channels you want unless you happen to live in one of the few areas with local channel offerings, so it’s not an ideal offering. But it still makes our list because for certain households, it might be the best fit.
We strongly recommend taking advantage of the service’s free trial period to see if the service will ultimately work for you.
Sling TV pricing
One of the biggest complaints about cable TV is that you wind up paying tons of money and getting hundreds of channels you never watch. Sling TV was built to be the answer to this problem. It offers a bare-bones base package for a bare-bones price, and then it allows you to customize your plan with add-ons you’ll actually watch. That way, you pay only for what you want.
The downside to this is Sling TV’s packages are a bit complicated. The service offers three plans: Sling Orange, Sling Blue, and Sling Orange + Blue. Sling Orange includes ESPN, the Disney Channel, and AMC (among others), while Sling Blue includes Fox, NBC, and the NFL Network (among others). Only by getting the most expensive package (Sling Orange + Blue) can you get all the base package channels available. To complicate matters even further, ABC is available only with the Broadcast Extra add-on, which can be added only to Sling Orange or Sling Orange + Blue (it’s not available with Sling Blue packages).
Basically, this all leaves Sling TV customers with two options for watching The Bachelor. First, you can sign up for the cheapest package (Sling Orange) and add Broadcast Extra. The total for this option is just $25 per month, so it’s definitely cheaper than YouTube TV or DIRECTV NOW. However, since the Sling Orange package doesn’t include Fox or NBC, you’ll still miss out on a lot of popular TV.
The second option is to sign up for the Sling Orange + Blue package and add Broadcast Extra. The total for this option is $45 per month, which makes it even more expensive than PlayStation Vue or Hulu Live. However, with this option, you’ll get all the most popular TV channels.
In the end, Sling can be cheaper than the other options on our list. But honestly, we feel like it’s too much drama for even the most hard-core Bachelor fans to suss out which package works, which ones don’t, and which add-ons you need just to get the basic channels that are automatically included with other services.
Watching The Bachelor with Sling TV
Perhaps the most important reason why we couldn’t rank Sling TV higher on this list is its extremely limited ABC availability. As of this writing, Sling TV offers ABC in only eight markets nationwide. That’s it—eight. That’s mind-blowingly small considering YouTube TV offers nearly 10 times as many local ABC channels.
As far as picture quality goes, we’ve gotten mixed results. On a fast internet connection, the streaming quality is about the same as DIRECTV NOW or Hulu Live. But on a slower cable connection, we’ve experienced lots of glitches, buffering, and long loading times.
As we’ve said already, the low cost for this service could make it a totally viable option for some households. But we’d strongly recommend checking on local channel availability before signing up and taking advantage of that 7-day free trial period to make sure the service works well with your internet connection.
Sling TV DVR service
Sling TV service does not include a cloud DVR. However, you can purchase 50 hours of cloud DVR storage for another $5 per month. Unfortunately, 50 hours can fill up very quickly, especially if you’re archiving new seasons of the The Bachelor in addition to other shows, and there’s no option to upgrade for more storage.
Sling TV device compatibility
If there’s one thing Sling TV does really well, it’s device compatibility. Sling TV is available on pretty much every video player, as well as on Macs, PCs, Android devices, and iOS devices. It’s also available on the Xbox One, though no other gaming consoles.
Other legal, on-demand options for watching The Bachelor
Hulu on demand
If you don’t care about watching this season’s Bachelor episodes live, you can always sign up for a Hulu plan. With the original Hulu service, The Bachelor episodes won’t be available live—just on demand the day after they air. Hulu plans cost $7.99 per month (or $11.99 a month with a No Commercials plan), so as long as you don’t mind hearing spoilers from other Bachelor fans at the office the next day, it’s a good, cost-efficient solution.
Side note: If you’re the type of Bachelor fan who can’t get enough of the show, Hulu is also a great way to watch The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise online.
Another method for watching The Bachelor episodes online is to simply go to the ABC official website. There you can view a comprehensive season episode guide and watch on-demand episodes of the show the day after they air.
You can also use the site to watch The Bachelorette online, as well as episodes of Bachelor in Paradise and even the weekly wrap-up show After Paradise. The site has a fleshed out comments section where you can gush over the latest drama with fellow fans. Just beware Bachelorette and Bachelor spoilers.
Watch ABC app
If watching TV on the go is more your speed, you can also download the Watch ABC app on your phone or tablet. With it, you can watch ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette online on demand, but not live. But if you’re looking to watch Bachelor in Paradise, Bachelor Canada, or After Paradise, you’re out of luck. As of this writing, none of those shows are available via Watch ABC.
Will you accept this rose?
Since live TV streaming is such a new thing, the big players in the industry are constantly changing their offerings, so be sure to check back here for updates as the season commences.
For now, though, we’re curious—which of these services do you feel the deepest connection with? Let us know in the comments what you’re using to watch The Bachelor online this season. Happy streaming!