What’s the best live TV streaming service overall?
If you cut the cable connection, you may need to replace it with a live TV streaming service. Unlike on-demand platforms, live TV streaming services provide a live channel selection; however, Hulu’s live offering includes the Disney package and unlimited DVR. That is why Hulu Plus Live TV has been picked as our top supplier. This service is separate from live channels with on-demand Hulu and Disney Plus content to give you both. Its user experience is akin to that of its main rival, YouTube TV, and the service is now our top pick because of its layout and content assortment.
These Cancel-Anytime Live TV packages featured above allow you to watch local and national news and live sports and events. You only require a streaming device or a smart TV to get started. Regardless of your preference, various devices allow you to stream live channels, including CNN, NBC, ESPN, and Fox. It’s easy to get started. A technician is optional to visit your home.
We evaluated and tested these streaming services based on their features, cost, and number of channels. Pricing and channel availability are two things that are currently in flux. YouTube, for example, raised its prices by $8, Fubo by at least $5, and Hulu Plus Live TV is now $77. However, change is a part of the brave new world of internet-based live TV streaming. Continue reading if you need assistance choosing the finest streaming service or package. We’ll keep updating our top streaming service list as things change (which they regularly do).
Best live TV streaming services compared
|Hulu with Live TV||YouTube TV||Sling||Sling Orange & Blue||DirecTV Stream ($75)|
|Total Channels||85+ (with access to Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, Hulu on-demand)||100+||30+||45+||75+|
|Number of simultaneous streams||2 (pay an extra $10/month for more)||3||1 for Sling Orange, 3 for Sling Blue||4||Unlimited at home (3 outside home)|
|Cloud DVR||Unlimited||Unlimited||50 hours (pay $5/month for 200)||50 hours (pay $5/month for 200)||Unlimited|
|4K||No||Some content||No||No||Some content|
- Philo also tested live TV streaming services: This $25 live TV streaming service offers a wide range of channels, but it lacks sports channels, local stations, and major news networks. However, Cheddar and BBC News are accessible. Philo offers cable stalwarts such as AMC, Comedy Channel, Nickelodeon, and Magnolia Network (previously DIY), as well as lifestyle and reality programs. It now has unlimited cloud DVR and optional Epix and Starz add-ons. Most consumers would be better served by paying more for Sling TV’s superior service, but if Philo provides every channel you desire, it’s a good price. Check out our Philo review.
- Fubo: There’s a lot to like about Fubo; it has a diverse channel lineup, and its sports concentration makes it particularly attractive to football lovers of all stripes. For NFL, in part, it’s one of three services, along with YouTube TV and Hulu, featuring NFL Network and optional RedZone. Furthermore, it is appropriate for NBA, NHL, and MLB fans who live in an area serviced by one of Fubo’s RSNs. The most notable omission from Fubo’s list is the absence of Turner networks such as CNN, TNT, and TBS, particularly because the latter two broadcast a lot of sports content. The price rises to $75 (plus extra RSN fees), and the lost channels make it less attractive than YouTube TV or Hulu for most customers. Check out our Fubo review.
How to shop for cord-cutting live TV services
Each TV streaming service mentioned above offers a different mix of channels, so your first step should be to choose one that has your “can’t miss” cable channels and shows. Locally, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC are among the most prominent live channels. The finest area streaming service for you will feature most of what you enjoy watching, so it’s worth searching around. Only some services offer all of them in every area.
The live TV watch service lineups are in continual flux as networks compete for access to popular channels (highly rated original shows and regional sports networks are in great demand). There’s also the possibility that a specific cable channel may be removed from service once a network contract ends, as occurred in 2020 with regional sports networks.
These conversations result in further adjustments. YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu (several times), Philo, and DirecTV Stream have all hiked their prices in the past few years. Users could not download the YouTube TV app due to a contract disagreement between Google and Roku. At the same time, Disney channels were unavailable for two days due to a separate conflict. Adding to the unpredictability, less popular services are often just phased out – AT&T TV Watch TV, TVision, and PlayStation Vue are three instances.
These streaming services may be divided into two categories: cheap (prices ranging from $25 to $50) and premium (prices ranging from $70 and more, including local channels and supercharged cloud DVRs). That’s correct; all the services enable you to record and playback shows, just like a regular cable or satellite DVR, but they often have limitations.
Then there’s the multistream issue. If you wish to watch many programs simultaneously, for example, on your living room TV and a bedroom TV, the main TV, tablet, or other devices, make sure the video streaming service offers adequate simultaneous streams. Sling Orange only enables one stream to be seen at a time, and attempting to watch another is blocked. Other services have larger concurrent stream restrictions.
Make sure you have fast, dependable broadband access, particularly if many people view simultaneously on compatible devices. A 100Mbps download service will cost roughly $50 to $60 per month, and unfortunately, here is where the savings from cutting cable might be eaten up.
Every live TV service’s video streaming lags behind the “live” stream provided by your local cable TV or satellite provider by a few seconds to a minute or more. That means you can receive a hint of a score or a major play via Twitter, phone notifications, or calls from friends before you see the action on screen.
If you’re accustomed to 5.1-channel surround sound via cable or even OTA, you may be surprised to learn that YouTube is the only service that offers it for live broadcasts. Other services exclusively feature stereo sound on live channels, with 5.1 audio accessible for select on-demand content.