Do you want to watch live TV from the Internet? Cable TV may sound like a landline these days: an unnecessary expense tied to outdated hardware. All the cool kids and a lot of adults today are ditching cable TV wires.
If you want to join them but don’t want to completely ditch live TV, you’ve come to the right place. Live TV streaming services like Sling TV and YouTube TV allow you to watch most if not all of your favorite TV channels – from ABC to CBS to CNN to ESPN to Fox News to Nickelodeon – via the Internet. This will probably cost a lot less than you would pay the cable company.
Prices start at $15 per month with no additional fees or contracts. Instead of a box of cables and the monthly fee to rent them, you’ll be using an app on your Smart TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV. And you can watch at home or on the go with your phone or tablet, or even through your PC browser.
These services have a lot of benefits – no cable fees, no other contracts, yay! But trying to save can be caused by other downsides such as internet fees, DVR restrictions, buffering, and a lack of things to watch, especially live sports. And like cable television, the costs of these services continue to rise.
With all that in mind, here’s a guide that encourages the new world to embrace live TV over the Internet.
In this article, we will take a look at each of these live streaming services. We reveal the strengths and weaknesses you’ll find when using one, and list their pricing and features. All to help you decide which live TV streaming service you should use.
1. Hulu + Live TV
Hulu offers its package – for $6 per month, you can access its huge library of on-demand TV series and movies. If you want to watch live TV, you will need to pay $45 per month.
Subscribers will have access to more than 60 major channels, including ABC, FOX, TNT, ESPN, FOX Sports, National Geographic, Discovery, CNN, CNBC, Disney and Cartoon Network. Among the notable missing channels are BBC America, AMC, NFL Network, and Nickelodeon. Available add-ons include HBO for $15, Cinemax for $10, Showtime for $11, and Starz for $9.
The biggest letdown of Hulu is the DVR. Although the $45 basic package includes a DVR feature, you cannot use it to fast-forward ads. To get this privilege, you will need to purchase the enhanced Cloud DVR add-on for an additional $10 per month.
There’s also an entertainment add-on (with channels like DIY Network, FYI, and Lifetime) for $8 and a Spanish language package for $5. The ability to watch an unlimited number of simultaneous streams (instead of just two) costs $15/month.
2. YouTube TV
YouTube TV costs $50 a month. Therefore, you get access to an extensive list of the best channels from all Internet TV providers.
Premium channels such as ESPN, FOX Sports, MLB Network, CNN, and Disney are all included. But like Hulu, there is no NFL network or Nickelodeon. A&E, Comedy Central, and History are also absent.
YouTube TV is also the best service if you watch a lot of local TV. Region-specific FOX, CBS, ABC, and NBC versions are available in most markets.
You can create six YouTube TV accounts under one subscription, but only three simultaneous streams are allowed at the same time. There is also a free DVR feature. Impressively, it has no storage limits.
FuboTV has earned a reputation as the best live streaming service for sports fans.
It offers a large number of sports-focused channels in the US and abroad, including beIN Sports, NBCSN, FOX Sports, TyC Sports, TUDN, ELEVEN Sports, NFL Network, NBA TV, The Tennis Channel, GOL TV and FOX Soccer Plus and The Golf Channel, The Olympic Channel, and PAC 12. The notable exception is ESPN, although co-founder and CEO David Gandler says it’s on its way:
“As a startup, we obviously talk to everyone. At some point, when it makes sense for both sides, an ESPN deal will pay off. ”
Channels means you can watch an amazing array of competitions. The NFL, MLB, PGA Tour, Premier League, MLS, Liga MX, F1, MotoGP, Tour de France, Boxing, Wimbledon, FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Olympic Games, and all others Fully covered.
But non-athletic lovers should not be excluded. For a $55/month subscription, you also get FOX, A&E, FX, Nickelodeon, National Geographic, CNN, FOX News, NBC, AMC, MTV, History, and a host of other major entertainment channels.
Several channel add-ons are available, including Adventure Channels, Showtime Channels, Latino, NBA League Pass, Cycling Channels, and more entertainment channels. The DVR costs $10 per month, and the Family Sharing feature is $6.
4. DirectTV Now
DirecTV Now is another of the most popular live TV streaming services. Two packages are available – Plus for $50/month and $70 max.
DirecTV Now’s biggest selling point is the inclusion of HBO’s full selection of channels in the $50 entry package. Other top channels on the Plus plan include ABC, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CNBC, CNN, MTV, FOX, ESPN, TNT, and USA Network. There is no AMC, BBC, Discovery, MLB Network, NBA TV, or NFL Network.
All addons are available for Spanish language channels, international channels, Showtime and Starz.
The big downside is the DVR, which only stores recordings for 30 days.
5. PlayStation Vue
Don’t let the name fool you. PlayStation Vue is available to anyone, not just Sony game console owners.
Four packages are available, with an increasing number of channels available. Basic Access Plan for $50 per month. Then there’s Core for $55, Elite for $65, and Ultra for $85.
Generally, the basic plan is for entertainment channels only (though you’ll get FOX Sports, CNN, and ESPN). Core adds sports channels (beIN Sports, FOX Sports West, CBS Sports, ESPN News and ESPN U), Elite adds more movie channels, and Ultra offers premium channels like HBO and Showtime. There is also a Spanish language add-on for $5 per month.
If you own a PlayStation 4, you can stream up to four channels at the same time on one screen.
6. Sling TV
The five live TV services we’ve looked at so far start at around $50 a month. If you want a cheaper streaming service, Sling TV is a solid option. It is the least expensive internet TV provider that still offers some sports channels. Two packages are available for $25 per month: Sling Blue and Sling Orange.
Unfortunately, Sling has been deliberately challenging with its lineup of channels in each package. For example, ESPN is on Orange, but FOX Sports and NBC are on Blue. Similarly, ABC and Disney are on Orange, but USA Network and Bravo are on Blue. You’ll need to sign up for the Dual Pack ($40) for the full set of content.
Even if you subscribe to the combo plan, there are still some key channels missing. ABC, CBS, FOX News, and Nickelodeon are not available.
DVR for $5 a month. Add-ons include Kids Channel, News, Lifestyle, Latin, Hollywood and International. Each add-on starts at $5.
7. Philo TV
We’ll end with some live TV streaming services. First up, Philo. It costs $20 per month and provides access to a host of popular channels such as AMC, BBC America, MTV, History, Hallmark, and A&E.
In fact, it offers more channels than the more expensive Sling packages. The problem for many people will be the lack of sports channels. There is no FOX Sports, no ESPN, no NBC. There are no local channels and none of the big local news channels like CNN.
If you want to add a bunch of live TV to your on-demand apps, Philo is decent. But if you’d like to be able to use the app to watch all your favorite premieres, you’ll be out of luck.
Another cheap live TV streaming app is WatchTV. It is operated by AT&T. AT&T also owns DirecTV, so WatchTV can be considered the budget version of its older brother.
At just $15 per month, it’s hard to argue with the price of WatchTV. Some AT&T customers may get the service for free, depending on which plan they have.
WatchTV only has 37 channels. It’s the smallest offering out of all the live TV apps on this list by a distance. There are no local channels, no sports channels, and no DVR feature.
Oddly enough, WatchTV offers AMC, HGTV, and BBC America, all of which are missing from the DirecTV lineup. And if you want video on demand, WatchTV has covered over 15,000 TV series and movies.
What is the best live TV streaming service?
The two most important deciding factors when choosing which streaming TV provider to use are: 1) price and 2) channel choices.
In terms of value for money, YouTube TV offers the most premium channels for the price. However, if you want a complete set that’s similar to your cable package, PlayStation Vue’s Ultra plan is the way to go. If sports are your thing, then FuboTV is the best option.
Ultimately if you’re looking for what’s on a budget, Sling Blue and Orange are a lot better than Philo and WatchTV thanks to the inclusion of some sports content and local channels.
If you want to learn more about live TV, check out our articles detailing how to unblock live TV broadcasts when you’re abroad and the best live sports streaming sites.