Ditching Cable is not an easy feat. For one, cable has just for so long been a utility that you know you kind of have to have. But in the last couple of years, that became less and less true. With streaming video services like Netflix becoming such juggernauts it was just a matter of time, before traditional Cable would start to become outdated.
And that’s where we are right now: You, like most people, are probably thinking about finally cutting the cord. But like most, you probably don’t quite know where to start.
The market can be kind of confusing, but let me assure you, it’s worth it. Ditching Cable has tons of advantages: For one, you can safe a ton of money. There are no more 12, 24, or even 36 month contracts, instead you have one, highly flexible monthly bill. We have actually written up a whole article on why streaming video is better than cable.
How to find the best Streaming Service for Live TV
We have taken a look at the seven most prominent and arguably best Live TV streaming services. Besides the price point, their offerings differ greatly when it comes to the amount of channels they carry. Another thing you have to keep in mind is DVR cloud storage, which is basically the amount of shows or movies they will let you save for later viewing. Unlike traditional cable, you usually don’t have a hard-drive, that saves your media directly, rather, it will be saved online. How much, can vary greatly, from 20 hours to a completely unlimited amount, everything is possible.
One thing, that your choice of Live TV service won’t be able to influence, is your internet speed. A fast and reliable internet connection is key for enjoyable Viewing-experiences through streaming. So you really want to make sure, that you are covered in that area.
In order to help you make the right decision, we have created a quick little quiz, that will help you make a decision. The quiz, of course, isn’t a substitute for getting into the weeds and doing your research, but together with the rest of the article, it should give you a very good idea on what service might be for you.
All Info on Live TV Streaming Services in One Place
To make everything easier on you we have created a chart with the most important information. That way you can easily compare the different offerings. After the chart you will find a quick summary of each service, as well as their most important advantages and disadvantages.
|Sling TV||Youtube TV||Hulu with Live Tv||Playstation Vue||DirecTV Now||Fubo TV||Philo|
|Price tiers||Sling Orange (29 Channels): $25/month; Sling Blue (42 Channels):$25/month, both: $40/month||$50/month||$44.99/month||Access: $45/month, Core: $49.99, Elite: $59.99, Ultra: $79.99||Plus: $50/month, Max $70/month||Standard: $54, Family: $59.99, Entertainment: $64.99, Ultra: $74.99||$20|
|Ad-ons/prices||Sling TV DVR $5 Comedy Extra ($5): |
Heartland Extra ($5)
Hollywood Extra ($5):
Kids Extra ($5):
Lifestyle Extra ($5)
NBA League Pass ($29)
News Extra ($5)
HBO $15, Cinemax $10, Starz $9, Showtime $10 total, and an Epix three-pack is $5. Documentary channel CuriosityStream is also available for $6, Up Faith & Family is $5
Sports Extra ($10)
|Shotime $11, Soocer Plus $15, Shudder $5, Sundance Now $7, NBA League Pass $40||Enhanced DVR: $9.99, remove ads: $4 HBO: $14.99, Cinemax: $9.99, Showtime: 10.99,Starz: $8.99, Espanol $4.99, Entertainment: $7.99||Sports Pack ($10)|
Showtime ($11): The standalone sub for Showtime.
Español Pack ($5):
Fox Soccer Plus ($15):
|ads||yes, same as TV, sometimes skippable||skippable||yes, very intrusive, removing costs extra||skippable||yes, sometimes skippable||yes, often repeated||sometimes skippable|
|Simultanious streams||1 to 3||3||2 (extra $9 for unlimited)||5||2 (extra $5 for 3)||Standard: 2; Family/Ultra: 3||3|
|Channels||Sling Orange: 29, Sling Blue 43||79||60+||Core: 55, Ultra (+ HBO and SHO)||Plus: 45 (+HBO), Max: 60 (+HBO and SHO)||Normal: 83, Ultra: 103||58|
|Notable missing channels||Missing channels (Sling Orange): Fox, NBC, Bravo, FS1, FX, MSNBC, USA Network|
Missing channels (Sling Blue): ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN
|A&E, Comedy Central, History, Lifetime, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, Nickelodeon||AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, MLB Network, MTV, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, Nickelodeon||A&E, Comedy Central, History, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon.||&E, AMC, BBC America, Animal Planet, Discovery, HGTV, History, Lifetime, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone||ABC, Disney Channel, Freeform||ABC; NBC, FOX, The CW, TNT, CNN, ESPN|
|Available on platforms||Roku, Apple TV (2015 and newer only), Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Xbox One, Android TV, Channel Master, Samsung Smart TV|
Mobile devices Android phones and tablets, iOS phones and tablets (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), PC and Mac
|Android TV |
All Vizio SmartCast TVs
Samsung & LG smart TVs (2016 models and newer)
HiSense TVs and Apple TV 4K
Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X
Roku: All Roku TVs, Roku Ultra, Roku Streaming Stick+ Roku Express/Express+ Roku Premiere+, Roku Premiere, Roku 4, Roku 3 and Roku 2
|Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, iPhone/iPad, Web Browsers, Android Phone/Tablet, Xbox, Nintendo, Samsung Smart TV, and LG Smart TV||PlayStation 3 and 4, Amazon Fire TVs and tablets, Apple TVs and iOS devices, Android TVs and mobile devices; Google Chromecasts; Roku players and TVs; and all popular mobile browsers.||PC using browsers, like Google Chrome or Safari (iPhone/Mac), Amazon Fire TV, Roku TV, iOS and Android devices.||Apple TV, Roku, Android TV devices and Amazon Fire TV, PC, iPhone, Android, Chromecast||Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, web, iOS, and Android Chrome|
|DVR Cloud Space||50 hours for additional $5||Unlimited||50 hours, 200 hours with Enhanced DVR||unlimited for up to 28 days||20 hours||30 hours, 500 hours with Family- or Entertainment plan||Unlimited for up to 30 days|
Sling TV was the first service to launch with streaming-based live TV in the US and it’ still a great choice, thanks to a very affordable price and solid offering of channels.
The interface is not really the most exciting part of the platform. It’s functional but bland and depending on your device can be pretty slow. Other platforms have definitely played more with how to present it’s content in a useful and immersing way. One example is On-Demand content, from services like HBO or FX, which sometimes can’t be searched and is generally hard to find. It really depends, though, on the platform. On video-streaming devices like Roku or Apple TV Sling TV works pretty well, while it can be a pain to navigate on consoles.
What Sling TV does really well is packaging. Rather than buying one expensive package, you can choose out of different options (that are still way cheaper than cable). There are two different packages: Sling Orange, with about 30 channels for $20/month and Sling Blue with 45 channels for $25/month. And you can add extra channels onto that.
DVR is not included, you have to pay $5 per month for an extra 100 hours of Cloud storage.
The video quality is good but unfortunatly you can’t adjust it on single streams, if for example, you are experiencing buffering. Instead you have to navigate the menu and set quality for all streams. Also the platform doesn’t explicitly tell you the quality. Generally, buffering and loading is something that’s not uncommon on the platform, although it of course very much depends on the quality of your internet connection.
- Very cheap
- Different bundle-types
- Available on many platforms
- No simultaneous streams
- Few local stations
- Cloud DVR costs extra
- Lackluster interface (and search feature)
Hulu entering the Live TV market, really changed the game. As a video-streaming platform more similar to Netflix it really distinguishes itself with a great interface and over-all design. On your home screen Hulu shows you your preferred channels and shows and makes it pretty easy to find what you are looking for. The search also works really well.
Another thing that really sets it apart is it’s own library of on-demand titles and exclusive shows. Even without Live TV Hulu already has hundreds of shows, often with full seasons.
Already included, you will get 50 hours of Cloud DVR, however unlike other services you can’t fast-forward through ads on Hulu unless you pay an extra fee. And it has to be said, Hulu ads are some of the most annoying and long ads. And again, you have to pay extra to remove them.
Unlike other services, Hulu does a great job of adapting the quality to match your internet connection in realtime. Therefore, buffering usually isn’t as much of an issue as with other platforms.
Sign up for Hulu with Live TV here! Full disclosure: We are part of the Hulu Affiliate Program.
- Relatively cheap base price
- 50 hours DVR storage
- Works on almost every platform
- Great Originals (like The Handmaid’s Tale)
- Very helpful customer service
- Annoying ads, that can only be skipped for additional $10
- Confusing interface
- Not as many channels as many others
YouTube TV just recently got into streaming Live TV and does a very solid job. It offers over 70 channels, which is a lot compared to other platforms and thanks to it’s unlimited DVR recording, you can safe more content than you could ever watch.
The interface is not extremely feature-rich but very streamlined and easy-to-use. It shows you what’s going on on your favorite channels and what you might want to be aware of, that’s going on later. Also the search function is, as you would expect from a Google-products, really well done. The only downside, Youtube TV isn’t really well integrated to the rest of YouTube. So, switching between the Live programming and just YouTube can be a bit of a pain.
Quality of video really depends on your internet connection and YouTube generally does a good job adjusting it, to avoid buffering or streams cutting out.
- Works on a lot of platforms
- A lot of channels
- Unlimited cloud storage
- Good interface
- Relatively expensive
- Skipping commericals not always possible
First things first, even though it has Playstation in the name, Playstation Vue is actually available on most platforms. Unlike the other Live TV platforms, PS Vue has 4 different pricing models, called Access, Core, Elite, and Ultra. Basically, you start out with about 50 channels and get up to about 100, with the Elite plan including Pay-TV channels HBO and Showtime. There is also an extra Sports Pack that will cost you another $10 a month. What’s special for Playstation owners, if you are a PS Plus member you will actually get discounts on some of the channels and extra packages.
PS Vue’s interface is solid but not great. It looks sleek but it’s not as easy to use as some others and can get slow at times. The search function does its job fine, but again not quite as good, as say, YouTube TV, who really have the search functionality down.
The DVR feature functions a little different than others. Instead of hours or GB you get to save unlimited episodes of up to 500 shows, which can add up to A LOT. In that way Sony has been pretty generous.
Streaming works pretty flawlessly, with quality adjusting according to internet speed. Another nice feature is the ability to manually toggle your stream quality, which many competitors don’t have.
- Unlimited Cloud safes for a month
- Works on many platforms (no Playstation needed)
- Good interface
- Runs very smoothly
- No cheaper “slim” bundle
DirecTV is a well known cable company with a pretty decent Live TV streaming product, called DirecTV Now. It used to have a very large number of channels, that made it a great value, but unfortunately they recently had to cut about 30% of those. It does offer HBO, however, which is an pricey extra with most streaming companies.
In terms of the user interface there is quite a discrapancy between Roku users and Apple users, with the experience on Apple being far better and faster. Also they have by far the worst DVR feature, which only allows you to record 20 hours of content.
- Closest to “TV experience”
- HBO included in base-version
- Fewer channels compared to others
- Relatively pricey
- Bad Cloud DVR
Compared to the other, bigger TV streaming services, Fubo TV is more of a specialty service with a focus on live sports and news. It’s also the only service offering 4K HDR-streams for live sports.
Fubo has two price tiers, basic and extra, with basic offering more than 90 channels and extra rising to about 110 channels. Both packages offer 30 hours of Cloud DVR and you get to watch back live sporting events for up to 72 hours. There is an upgrade version though, that will give you 100 hours.
With its focus on sports, it delivers about 80% of regional sports networks, although it has to be said that ESPN is not part of FuboTV. In general Fubo TV has a comparatively huge amount of local programming.
You can sign up for FuboTV over here (we are part of their Affiliate program).
- Great for Live Sports
- 4K HDR streams
- Strong DVR features
- Good interface
- No ESPN
Philo is a very solid alternative to the more well known Live TV streaming services. It’s very cheap compared to the competitors but still has a nice line up of 45 to 58 channels. However you will be missing big stations such as ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC.
It’s hard to recommend Philo on its own unless you are specifically interested in its content mix. Philo is cheap enough that some might consider combining it with on-demand services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, which offer content across a wider range of genres.
The user interface is pretty well done, with both recommended titles and your last watched content displayed. Also, currently running shows will be shown with a bar, that tells you how much of the program you already missed, which is pretty useful. The search tool is also reliable and able to work with different levels of search quieries.
Thankfully, Philo offers an unlimited DVR function, which means you don’t have any limits on how much you can safe in the cloud. Every saved program will be available for 30 days. Through the on-demand service you sometimes have the possibility to watch a whole series or several seasons. You can also save shows and movies that aired up to 3 days ago.
In terms of performance, Philo seems to be a pretty smooth experience, as long as your internet connection works.
You can start a free trial and test it out for yourself (we are part of their Affiliate program).
- Simple interface
- Unlimited Ad-Skipps
- No “big” networks