Want to watch the best TV programming? It's going to cost you

Rick Bentley
The Fresno Bee (TNS)

There's a long list of quality television shows sprinkled over the network, cable, premium cable and online services. Because they are being delivered in so many different ways, watching them all is going to come at a price.
It's not like the past, when every TV show was broadcast over the air to be scooped up at no cost by viewers through their antennas. Even watching network programming through cable is not free. You can't watch "Orphan Black" on BBC America if you only have an antenna and only watch local networks for programming like "Designated Survivor."
Even a basic cable package doesn't always mean you will get a channel like the USA Network that offers "Mr. Robot."
Then there are the premium channels that charge extra, like HBO or Showtime. You will have to subscribe to those to see HBO's "Westworld." And there's also a charge for online services like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix if you want to see much-heralded streaming offerings such as "Marvel's Luke Cage."
All of this adds up. How much? Here's a look at what it would cost you to watch five superb programs. The prices are based on what is posted at each provider's website. Remember, there are always variations because the companies use financial incentives to attract customers, which means the prices could be lower depending on the deal you negotiate.
This list doesn't take into consideration items like a TV, antenna or Roku that you might need to watch. It only focuses on the cost from the providers.
Here's the approximate cost to watch five top TV shows getting buzz right now.
"Designated Survivor," ABC: This one's easy. Anyone who has an antenna can watch the Kiefer Sutherland political drama for free. The show is also available online at ABC.com. It's the best bargain of the bunch.
If you opt for one of the smallest cable plans through Comcast, DirecTV, DISH or At&T U-Verse, you will have to shell out between the $30.95 limited plan Comcast offers and the $50 that DirecTV and AT&T U-verse charge for their beginner packages.
Your cost: $0-$50.
"Mr. Robot," USA Network: If you want to watch what's happening with this mind-blowing series about the world of hackers, then your options are to subscribe to one of the bigger packages or the cable or satellite providers.
You could also wait until it is added to one of the online streaming services, but if you want to see each episode as it comes available, then traditional cable or satellite is your best option.
Both Comcast and DISH offer packages that include the USA Network for just a few pennies under $40. AT&T U-Verse subscribers have to go as high as $70 to get the channel.
Your cost: $39.95-$70.
"Orphan Black," BBC America: It takes an even larger cable package to be able to watch this series about cloning that won Tatiana Maslany an Emmy Award this year.
The lowest price is the Comcast package that costs $44.95, while the highest is the DISH lineup that costs $74.99. The other two cable companies fall between.
Your cost: $44.95-$74.99.
"Westworld." HBO: The new series based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie is shaping up to pick up the ratings slack for HBO when "Game of Thrones" ends. It's an intriguing mix of traditional Western and sci-fi.
The price to access the premium channel varies dramatically.
You could watch the series via your computer through the online service of HBO Now. That service runs $14.99 per month.
To see all it via cable or satellite TV, you will need to buy an additional package. In the case of Comcast, a premium channel can be added for $10 a month. DirecTV and AT&T U-verse provide the premium channels through packages that cost $125.
Your cost: $14.99-$125.
"Luke Cage," Netflix: Streaming services offer some of the best programming on TV. Netflix has become a major player with a lineup of series based on Marvel Comics characters and programs like "Stranger Things" and "Master of None."
These streaming services are also a way to see both new network and cable programs after they have debuted on their respective services. One of the other pluses is that many programs no longer in production, such as "How I Met Your Mother" or "Quantum Leap," are available for binge watching.
As long as you have the hardware to watch the streaming service, the cost to order Netflix is $8.99.
Your cost: $8.99
Depending on the path you take, to watch all five of these first-rate programs, the cost would be as low as $63.84 with a Comcast/Netflix combination. It could also be as high as $133.99 if you go with a combination of Netflix and either DirecTV or AT&T U-verse.

Evan Rachel Wood and Jimmi Simpson in an episode of HBO's "Westworld."