skip to main content

Best Live TV Streaming Services 2023: YouTube TV, Hulu Live, Sling TV, and More

YouTube TV is our favorite live TV streaming service, but our experts have picked the top 8 if that’s not your speed.

Editor's choice
YouTube TV
Channels:
100+
Streams:
3
DVR:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
Varies
Channels:
100+
Streams:
3
DVR:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
Varies
Best deals
Sling TV
Channels:
30–50+
Streams:
1–4
DVR:
50–200 hrs.
Free trial:
N/A
Channels:
30–50+
Streams:
1–4
DVR:
50–200 hrs.
Free trial:
N/A
Best value
Hulu + Live TV
Channels:
85+
Streams:
2
DVR:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
N/A
Channels:
85+
Streams:
2
DVR:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
N/A
Cheapest
Philo
Channels:
70+
Streams:
3
DVR:
Unlimited (1 yr.)
Free trial:
7 days
Channels:
70+
Streams:
3
DVR:
Unlimited (1 yr.)
Free trial:
7 days
Most sports channels
DIRECTV STREAM
Channels:
75–150+
Streams:
3–unlimited
DVR:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
5 days
Channels:
75–150+
Streams:
3–unlimited
DVR:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
5 days

We’ve ranked these live TV streaming services based on bang-for-your-buck value, features, reliability, and our most recent live TV streaming customer satisfaction survey results.

For the second year in a row, YouTube TV won our Editor’s Choice award for best overall live TV streaming service. It has a solid channel lineup at a decent price. And current YouTube TV customers are the most satisfied of all other live TV streaming service customers.

That said, maybe you’re looking for a cheaper service (Philo) or a lot of sports (DIRECTV STREAM). Read on to find the right service for you and your household.

Looking for on-demand video streaming services?

CableTV.com has reviewed and ranked the top on-demand streaming services, including Max™, Netflix, and Hulu in our Best On-Demand Streaming TV Services guide.

Best live TV streaming services

  • #1 YouTube TV – Editor’s choice, best for sports ($72.99/mo.)
  • #2 Hulu + Live TV – Best value ($69.99–$82.99/mo.)
  • #3 Philo – Cheapest ($25.00/mo.)
  • #4 DIRECTV STREAM – Most sports channels ($64.99–$154.99/mo.)
  • #5 Sling TV – Best deals ($40.00–$55.00/mo.)
  • #6 Vidgo – Good user experience ($69.99–$99.99/mo.)
  • #7 Frndly TV – Cheap skinny bundle ($6.99–$10.99/mo.)
  • #8 Fubo – Lots of foreign sports leagues and RSNs ($74.99–$94.99/mo.)

Need better internet speeds for streaming?

If you have multiple devices in your home using the internet simultaneously, or your internet speeds just aren’t up to snuff, you may not be getting the best streaming TV experience.

Enter your zip code to check out better speeds or prices available from internet providers in your area.

Please enter a valid zip code.
Get the latest streaming deals from Sling TV

Compare live TV streaming services

Service Price Channels Multiple streams Cloud DVR Details
DIRECTV STREAM $64.99–$154.99/mo. 75–150+ 3–unlimited Unlimited (9 mos.) View Plans for DIRECTV STREAM

Read DIRECTV STREAM review
Frndly TV $6.99–$10.99/mo. 40+ 1–4 Unlimited (3 mos.) View Plans for Frndly TV

Read Frndly TV review
Fubo $74.99–$94.99/mo. 140–215+ 3–10 250–1,000 hrs. View Plans for FuboTV

Read Fubo review
Hulu + Live TV $69.99–$82.99/mo. 85+ 2 Unlimited (9 mos.) View Plans for Hulu

Read Hulu + Live TV review
Philo $25.00/mo. 70+ 3 Unlimited (1 yr.) View Plans for Philo

Read Philo review
Sling TV $40.00–$55.00/mo. 30–50+ 1–4 50–200 hrs. View Plans for Sling TV

Read Sling TV review
Vidgo $69.99–$99.99/mo. 110–150+ 3 20 hrs. View Plans for Vidgo

Read Vidgo review
YouTube TV $72.99/mo.. 100+ 3 Unlimited (9 mos.) View Plans for YouTube TV

Read Youtube TV review

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We’ve named YouTube TV our best overall live TV streaming service because of its excellent channel lineup, unlimited DVR, and smooth performance, among several other factors. We also think that Hulu + Live TV is a great value because it offers both live TV and a fantastic on-demand library—the best of both worlds.

Best live TV streaming services in detail

We’ve given you a quick overview of the best live TV streaming services, now let’s dig a little deeper into our Editor’s Choice awards and why we ranked the services the way we did.

cable-tvs-editors-choice-badge

YouTube TV: Editor’s Choice

Price:
$72.99/mo.
Channels:
100+
Simultaneous streams:
3
Cloud DVR storage:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
Varies

Pros

  • Unlimited DVR
  • Sleek interface and search

Cons

  • Higher price tag
  • No A&E or Lifetime

YouTube TV, YouTube’s live TV streaming service, combines the most familiar interface on the planet with an impressive array of entertainment, sports, and add-on channels. All hail our new Google overlords!

We’ve named YouTube TV our best overall live TV streaming service because of its ease of use, superior performance, and fat channel lineup. It’s a little more expensive than most of the others, but we think it’s worth the price.

Meanwhile, upsides to YouTube TV include unlimited—yes, unlimited—cloud DVR storage that keeps recorded shows for up to nine months. YouTube TV’s search function is also among the best in live TV streaming, thanks to its Google integration.

YouTube TV offers just one package, a $72.99/mo. deal that delivers mostly complete live local channel lineups in over 100 markets and on-demand versions where select networks are absent (like The CW). YouTube TV is also the only live TV streaming service that carries PBS and PBS Kids, and it offers 15 premium add-on channels ranging from Max to FOX Soccer Plus.

As for sports, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, CBS Sports Network, and Big Ten Network are all included with YouTube TV. It also carries some regional sports channels, in addition to NFL Network and NBA TV.

But there are some holes in YouTube TV’s entertainment channel lineup. It lacks channels like A&E, Lifetime, and VICE. What is a life without The First 48, Married at First Sight, or wall-to-wall F*ck, That’s Delicious episodes? We’re asking for a friend.

YouTube TV’s recent price hikes irked customers as well, even though they also gained over a dozen new channels—including Comedy Central, Paramount Network, and BET. In 2021, TeenNick, MTV2, MTV Classic, and three more were added to YouTube TV, pushing the channel count to over 100 in some markets.

We think YouTube TV is the complete package when it comes to live TV streaming, hence our best overall ranking.

netflix streaming platform. on tv on top of entertainment unit
YouTube TV on a smart TV. Image credit: CableTV.com.

YouTube TV device compatibility

YouTube TV is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, LG TVs, Roku, Samsung TVs, Vizio TVs, and Xbox consoles.

See what real customers have to say about these streaming services

Live-TV-Streaming-Banner-Desk
Editor's choice for best value

Hulu + Live TV: Best value

Price :
$69.99–$82.99/mo.
Channels:
85+
Simultaneous streams:
2
Cloud DVR storage:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
None

Pros

  • Full Hulu on-demand experience
  • Disney+ and ESPN+ included

Cons

  • No AMC, BBC America, or IFC
  • No MLB, NBA, or NHL networks

When you think of Hulu, you probably think of The Handmaid’s Tale—or maybe Palm Springs if you’re into romantic quantum time-travel comedies.

Beyond original dystopian dramas, thinky comedies, and next-day broadcast releases, Hulu has also taken a swing at live TV streaming with its imaginatively titled Hulu + Live TV. Despite the name, the crew here at CableTV.com likes it so much we’ve named it our best value streamer.

For $69.99 or $75.99 a month, in addition to on-demand Hulu content, Hulu + Live TV gives you over 75 live cable channels and, depending on your area, a near-complete local network lineup. As of December 2021, either Hulu + Live TV plan includes the Disney+/ESPN+ bundle to take the sting out of its recent price hike.

That all sounds good until you scan the cable channels and notice favorites like AMC, IFC, and BBC America are nowhere to be found. Other streaming services lack these channels, too—we recommend making up the difference with Philo, which carries them all for just $25 a month.

Sports fans, on the other hand, are treated to ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, and NFL Network, plus TBS and TNT, with Hulu + Live TV. It also offers a generous number of regional sports networks and a handful of college sports channels. However, MLB, NBA, and NHL pro sports networks are missing.

Hulu + Live TV’s cloud DVR now affords you unlimited storage space and will keep your recorded shows for nine months (just as YouTube TV does). It’s a nice upgrade, but Hulu + Live TV still only allows two simultaneous streams.

Still, we think Hulu + Live TV provides the best live TV streaming value for the price. Access to all of that cool Hulu on-demand content (including the FX originals library, which is like a premium add-on in and of itself) seals the deal.

woman sitting on floor in front of a tv using the remote
Hulu on a smart TV. Image credit: CableTV.com.

Hulu + Live TV compatible devices

Hulu + Live TV is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, LG TVs, Nintendo Switch, Roku, Samsung TVs, Vizio TVs, and Xbox consoles.

cable-tvs-editors-choice-TV-cheapest-badge

Philo: Cheapest

Price:
$25.00/mo.
Channels:
70+
Simultaneous streams:
3
Cloud DVR storage:
Unlimited (1 yr.)
Free trial:
7 days

Pros

  • Inexpensive pricing
  • Channels unavailable elsewhere

Cons

  • No sports or local channels
  • Few add-ons or upgrades

Looking for live news and sports?

Well, Philo ain’t for you then, but there’s still hope. Sling TV is also very cheap ($40.00–$55.00/mo.) and comes with a bigger variety of channels, including ESPN and CNN.

What’s more, Sling TV packages are a lot cheaper than almost every other live TV streaming service and most cable TV packages.

You can also add channel packs at a reasonable price to customize your Sling TV package and get more of the live entertainment you want. Check out our Sling TV channels guide for more information.

Don’t care about sports or local channels? Philo—named after television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth—might be the budget live TV streaming answer for you.

There’s only one Philo package, which carries over 60 channels for $25 a month. It includes A&E, AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, VICE, and Hallmark (a unicorn channel that’s hard to come by in streaming), among many others.

You might recognize some of those as the popular channels missing from other live TV streaming services. So what gives?

By connecting the red conspiracy strings on the corkboard, you’ll find Philo is co-owned by the four major media companies that also own the channels usually absent from other live TV streaming services. With a few exceptions, those companies keep their channels exclusive to Philo for live TV streaming. An inconvenient situation, for sure.

The very things that keep Philo’s subscription rate low are also its biggest minuses: you can’t stream local channels or sports. Both those channel types are expensive to carry, so Philo decided to be the outlier among live TV streaming services and just go with lifestyle and entertainment channels. If you want more than that, you’ll have to sign up for a second live TV streamer or buy an HD antenna.

If you like recording and hoarding your favorite shows, however, get this: Philo’s cloud DVR will store your unlimited recordings for a full year, three months longer than even YouTube TV. So you can take your time analyzing those Ancient Aliens episodes.

Compared to live TV streaming apps like Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV, Philo is a bare-bones affair—but, for only $25 a month, there’s still plenty to like about the service.

Philo device compatibility

Philo is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.

Philo deals

See current Philo deals.

Fubo: Lots of foreign sports leagues and RSNs

Price:
$74.99–$94.99/mo.
Channels:
140–215+
Simultaneous streams:
3–10
Cloud DVR storage:
250–1,000 hrs.
Free trial:
7 days

Pros

  • Excellent sports coverage
  • Solid entertainment channel lineup

Cons

  • Expensive plans
  • No TBS, TNT, CNN, or Cartoon Network

Fubo promises “live sports and TV without cable,” delivering “the perfect mix of sports and entertainment.” It’s an expansion on the service’s initial mission to be “the Netflix of soccer,” which still fits.

The Fubo Pro package, at $74.99 a month, offers 140+ live TV streaming channels, including entertainment staples like FX, AMC, Syfy, and Comedy Central. The Elite plan, $84.99 a month, adds about 30 more channels to the mix.

fuboTV’s Ultimate plan, at $94.99 a month, nets you 215+ channels, including SHOWTIME. It also comes with a DVR upgrade to 1,000 hours. For a beyond-complete live TV streaming experience, Ultimate is the way to go.

Even with the addition of ESPN channels, fuboTV’s niche sports programming is where it’s at, especially if you’re really, really, really into soccer (you know who you are). That impressive channel count is mostly soccer networks that even hardcore fans might not recognize. And, with fuboTV’s sports add-on packages, you can get even more.

Around the same time Fubo added ESPN channels, making it a sports powerhouse, it lost a suite of WarnerMedia channels: TBS, TNT, CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, HLN, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies, truTV, and Boomerang. That’s a serious chunk of missing entertainment.

Fubo is also an expensive live TV streamer, with nearly the same monthly cost as a cable or satellite subscription. You get a lot with Fubo, but you’ll definitely pay for it.

Fubo compatible devices

fuboTV is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, and Samsung TVs.

Sling TV: Best deals

Price:
$40.00–$55.00/mo.
Channels:
30–50+
Simultaneous streams:
1–4
Cloud DVR storage:
50–200 hrs.
Free trial:
None

Pros

  • Inexpensive plans
  • Tons of rotating deals
  • Plenty of add-on packages

Cons

  • Limited local channels
  • Limited DVR storage

In terms of interface and channel options, Sling TV is similar to Hulu + Live TV. Its basic plans are cheaper if somewhat confusing, but overall Sling TV is highly customizable with multiple available add-on packages—including one for the kiddies.

The Sling Orange (30 channels for $40 a month) and Sling Blue (40 channels, also for $40 a month) packages aren’t bad for casual TV viewers. But more demanding viewers will likely want Sling Orange + Blue (50 channels for $55 a month), since it’s the most complete basic, no ad-ons package Sling TV has to offer.

The Orange + Blue package has kids’ channels Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, and Nick Jr. For $5 more a month, you can add the Kids Extra package, which includes Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick, Boomerang, BabyTV, and DuckTV.

Sling TV’s cable channel lineup is strong—and with add-on packages, it gets even better, especially for sports (mom and dad need some to watch, too). If you have the patience to navigate the color-coding, Sling TV is a solid service.

Of course, like other live TV streaming services reviewed here, Sling TV doesn’t have everything. Local channels are lacking; many markets get only FOX or NBC affiliates. And figuring out Sling TV’s local coverage requires more than a glance, unfortunately. At least Sling TV is proactive about helping customers use antennas to get local channels by offering several deals on the equipment.

But Sling’s TV’s rotating monthly deals and add-on channel package options—there are over 30 of them—should grab the attention of customizers who like to tweak their TV lineups to their own tastes and save a little cash along the way.

Sling TV device compatibility

Sling TV is available on AirTV Player, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, LG TVs, Roku, Samsung TVs, Vizio TVs, and Xbox consoles.

cable-tvs-editors-choice-TV-best-for-sports-badge

DIRECTV STREAM: Most sports channels

Price:
$64.99–$154.99/mo.
Channels:
75–150+
Simultaneous streams:
3–unlimited
Cloud DVR storage:
Unlimited (9 mos.)
Free trial:
5 days

Pros

  • Big channel lineups
  • All premium add-ons available

Cons

  • Expensive plans
  • Hidden regional sports fees

Like many legacy media providers, DIRECTV leaped into the streaming boom quickly. After several iterations, DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) has since evolved into a decent streaming version of its satellite TV service, complete with unlimited cloud DVR—but it’s not cheap.

DIRECTV STREAM looks and navigates much like its satellite TV counterpart. More importantly, it also carries more RSNs (regional sports networks) than other live TV streaming services, like Bally Sports, YES, MASN, Altitude, ROOT Sports, and AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.

In the negative column, DIRECTV STREAM is pricey and suggests you rent its proprietary set-top box to operate (though apps are available for devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV). That’s a very satellite move.

But, if you’re determined to sidestep contracts, ditch the dish (scraping snow off a satellite receiver in the dead of winter sucks—we feel you), and keep your RSNs, DIRECTV STREAM is a relatively painless gateway into the world of full-time streaming TV. It’s no bargain, though—prepare your wallet for a hit.

DIRECTV STREAM compatible devices

DIRECTV STREAM is available on the DIRECTV STREAM device, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, and Samsung TVs.

Need all the sports all the time?

Basketball, football, baseball, hockey, soccer, MMA, pro wrestling—we have it all covered in our How To Watch Live Sports and Best Streaming Services for Sports guides.

Vidgo: 100+ channels

Price:
$69.99–$99.99/mo.
Channels:
110–150+
Simultaneous streamings:
3
Cloud DVR storage:
Up to 20 hrs.
Free trial:
N/A

Pros

  • Large channel lineup
  • Social TV feature

Cons

  • Limited Cloud DVR
  • Popular channels missing

The relatively new Vidgo is a live TV streaming service that carries 110–150+ channels for $69.99–$99.99/mo. It also has an exclusive “Social TV” chatroom where you can interact with like-minded TV fans on the service and a Spanish-only plan option.

Vidgo is mostly about sports and family programming, featuring a full suite of Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Freeform, and more. It also carries the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, and beIN Sports—channels that are hard to come by in streaming.

While Vidgo gives you 110–150+ channels to stream, there are several popular channels—like TBS, TNT, Syfy, Bravo, and USA Network—missing from its lineup.

Besides not featuring popular WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal channels, Vidgo has limited on-demand capabilities and a terrible Cloud DVR upgrade available with select plans.

But, as a viewing experience, Vidgo is simple and streamlined (especially for mobile viewing). If you don’t need a fat array of channels or a lot of Cloud DVR storage, it’s a decent deal.

Vidgo compatible devices

Vidgo is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, and Xbox One.

Frndly TV: Good skinny bundle

Price:
$6.99–$10.99/mo.
Channels:
40+
Simultaneous streamings:
1–4
Cloud DVR storage:
Unlimited (3 mos.)
Free trial:
7 days

Pros

  • Low pricing
  • Unlimited DVR

Cons

  • Small channel lineup
  • No local or sports channels

Frndly TV (or “Friendly”) is a live TV streaming service aimed at older viewers and families on a budget. It carries 40+ live channels, but only 10 we’d consider essential: A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, fyi, VICE, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama, and The Weather Channel. The rest is, well, filler.

The upside: Frndly TV’s most expensive Premium plan is just $10.99 a month, which comes out to around $1.00 apiece for those popular channels. The Premium and Classic ($8.99 a month) plans also include unlimited cloud DVR storage (for three months), while the Basic plan gives you live and on-demand programming from the same 30 channels for a dirt-cheap $6.99 a month.

Due to its limited channel count and lack of local and sports channels (Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel are as sporty as Frndly TV gets), we don’t think Frndly TV competes against our editorial pick for cheapest live TV streaming service, Philo. But, if its 10 core popular channels are all you want, Frndly TV is worth taking for a free seven-day trial spin.

Frndly TV compatible devices

Frndly TV is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku.

On-demand streaming services at a glance

Look, we realize that most folks these days prefer their shows on demand so they can watch them after the kids go to bed or to avoid going out on Friday night.

If the benefits of having a live TV streaming service don’t make sense for your household, check out our Best On-Demand Streaming Services guide or scroll down to read a little about some of the most popular on-demand streaming services.

Amazon Prime Video

If you already have Amazon Prime to take advantage of the free shipping and annual Prime Day deals, you might as well check out Prime Video. Its original offerings include critically acclaimed shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Good Omens, and The Boys, and award-winning movies like One Night in Miami.

Prime Video comes included with the standard Amazon Prime price of $14.99 per month, but if you’re not ordering enough packages to justify the whole thing, you can subscribe to Amazon Video as a standalone for $8.99 per month.

Disney Plus

Disney+ has two main draws: the first is the steady stream of Disney originals from the company’s almost-scary collection of intellectual property, including Marvel and Star Wars. If you’ve missed out on Turning Red, Moon Knight, and The Mandalorian, Disney+ has some required watching for you.

The second draw is the library of previous Disney (and Marvel and Star Wars) releases, which might not be as tempting for you if you’re not a kid or someone looking for a trove of nostalgia. But it’s worth throwing into a bundle with Hulu and ESPN+: Disney+ on its own is $10.99 per month (without ads), and all three services together are $19.99 per month.

Max

Where Disney+ is the hub for Marvel and Star Wars, Max (formerly HBO Max) is great for fans of Warner Brothers content, including Cartoon Network, Studio Ghibli, DC, and the newly added Discovery+. Max also has a growing number of originals, even if some, like Infinity Train, Tuca & Bertie, and Doom Patrol, started their lives on other services.

As the name might suggest, Max carries all your favorite content, too, whether you’re more of a Succession–head, a Barry fan, or have an Adam Driver–level obsession with Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver.

Max has three plans: Max Ad-Lite is $9.99 monthly (or $99.99 annually) for 1080p HD resolution, 5.1 surround sound, 2 streams, and no offline downloads. Max Ad-Free is $15.99 monthly (or $149.99 annually) for everything in Ad-Lite plus 30 offline downloads.

The third plan, Max Ultimate Ad-Free is $19.99 monthly (or $199.99 annually). It includes everything in Ad-Free plus 4K UHD resolution, Dolby Atmos sound, two additional streams (four total), and 100 offline downloads.

We recommend Max Ad-Free instead of Ad-Free Ultimate. If you have a 4K TV, it will upscale 1080p content to near-4K UHD quality—and 30 offline downloads should be plenty to work with for most users. But you might miss the two additional streams.

(Psssstkeep an eye out for Max deals from other providers.)

Netflix

We usually assume that most people who would want Netflix have it by now since it’s known for being the OG streaming service. But in recent months, the company has experienced a very public loss of subscribers, so maybe you’re looking for a sign to come back.

We like Netflix for its library of currently-airing originals, including Stranger Things, The Umbrella Academy, and The Witcher. However, its non-original library seems to shrink with every new competitor. (You have the expired Netflix/CW deal to blame for all of those canceled CW shows, by the way.)

There’s never a dull moment in the new release schedule at Netflix, though, and even though it seems to cancel projects with little abandon, it’s a good fallback for those nights when you just want to watch something new.

Netflix plans range between $6.99 and $19.99 per month.

Peacock

Peacock is the newest on-demand streaming service on this list, but it’s been quietly growing its collection of original content. You might not recognize the names of its shows like those of other platforms, but check out our Peacock Originals guide for a list of recommendations.

Aside from original content, Peacock is also the home to various live sports, including WWE and the Premier League. And of course, as NBCUniversal’s darling child, it hosts NBC content like SNL and reruns of The Office.

The best part? Peacock’s lowest tier is a whopping $4.99 per month. You won’t get live access to your local NBC station until you upgrade to the $9.99 monthly plan, but that’s still a great price in 2023.

What to look for in a live TV streaming service

Does the service offer a free trial?

One of the ever-so-wonderful perks of streaming TV services is the free trial period. Unlike cable or satellite, streaming TV services don’t have installation appointments or contracts, so taking a service for a spin is simple and costs nothing. The trial windows are brief (usually seven days) but adequate.

Is cloud DVR space included?

Most streaming TV services that offer live TV also include cloud DVR storage with the package. Like a physical DVR, though, they do have limits on space and time. Some give you as little as 10 hours, while some “unlimited” options will save your Hoarders episodes backlog for only a few months. Ironic.

Does the service carry local channels?

You may not think about local channels much, but they carry the shows you love live from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW . If a streaming TV service doesn’t carry local affiliate channels, you could miss out on those shows, as well as area sports, news, and weather.

If these are important to you, check the availability of local affiliates on streaming TV services you’re interested in. If they’re not available, a digital antenna can make up the difference.

Are your streaming device and apps compatible?

As we mentioned above, setting up and trying out a streaming TV service is as easy as downloading an app—but is that app available on your preferred set-top box or mobile devices? Most services reviewed here are available as smart TV apps, though we recommend streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku for better stability and performance.

YouTube TV is the best live TV streaming service

For overall channel inclusion, features, and performance, we think Youtube TV is more than worth its $72.99/mo. price tag—it’s the Cadillac (or Tesla, if you prefer) of live TV streaming services. Hulu + Live TV is a close second, and a great value when you factor in access to regular Hulu.

Philo is obviously the cheapest live TV streaming service, even though it does have some shortcomings. On the other end of the price spectrum, fuboTV is a killer service for foreign sports fans, and DIRECTV STREAM has its perks, too—namely, fat channel lineups and RSNs. At $69.99–$99.99/mo., channel-loaded newbie live TV streamer Vidgo is also worth a look.

Live TV streaming FAQ

What’s the difference between live TV streaming and on-demand streaming TV?

With live TV streaming, the operative word is “live”—it’s programming that’s being broadcast right now on TV networks. It’s the same as cable or satellite TV service, just streamed through the internet.

“On-demand” streaming means shows and movies can be called up whenever you want to watch them—as with Netflix, the biggest on-demand platform around (well, that and YouTube). Shows recorded with a physical or cloud DVR could also technically be called “on-demand.”

Do I need a fast internet connection for live TV streaming?

Whether it’s on-demand or live TV streaming, most services recommend a bare minimum of 7 Mbps of internet speed for streaming. But that speed is adequate only for a single stream and assumes that no one else is using the network at the same time—an unlikely scenario.

We recommend at least 25 Mbps of internet speed for smooth, non-buffered streaming and at least double that for 4K resolution or a household of multiple users (especially gamers).

Do sports blackouts apply to live TV streaming?

Unfortunately, blackouts for games in certain regions apply to live TV streaming just as they do for cable or satellite. It’s an understandable rule to protect local broadcasters and franchises from major network competition, but it still sucks come game time.

You can, however, get around local blackouts with live TV streaming—if your service and apps function with a location-masking VPN (virtual private network). It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it will work in some cases.

What's the cheapest way to stream live TV?

Some free, ad-supported streaming services like Pluto TV, Tubi, Sling Freestream, and the free tier of Peacock feature a limited amount of live TV content, as well as 24/7 looping channels of non-live content.

What is the cheapest live TV streaming service with local channels?

The least expensive live TV streaming service with local channels is Sling TV’s Sling Blue plan, which carries local FOX and NBC channels in most markets. To stream more local channels, you’d have to subscribe to a more expensive service (like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV) or purchase an over-the-air antenna to receive area broadcasts for free.

What is streaming TV?

Live TV streaming (and on-demand TV streaming) is television programming delivered over the internet instead of through traditional cable TV lines or satellite TV signals. In most cases, live streaming TV looks and functions the same as cable or satellite TV, minus numbered channels.

Which streaming services have local channels?

Live TV streaming services YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, DIRECTV STREAM, and Vidgo carry local channels in most areas (coverage varies by location). Philo and Frndly TV carry no local channels.

Methodology

Our experts employed thousands of hours of hands-on testing and crunched the numbers, rating these live TV streaming services on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction. Then we matched up the live TV streamers head to head to give a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

Don't miss an update

Stay updated on the latest products and services anytime anywhere.