Editor's Note: This story comes from CableTV.com.
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.
YouTube TV: Editor’s Choice
- Price: $72.99/month
- Channels: 100+
- Simultaneous streams: 3
- Cloud DVR storage: Unlimited (9 months)
- Free trial: Varies
- Unlimited DVR
- Sleek interface and search
- Higher price tag
- No A&E or Lifetime
YouTube TV overview
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/month 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.
YouTube TV considerations
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.
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.
Hulu + Live TV: Best value
- Price: $76.99-$89.99/month
- Channels: 85+
- Simultaneous streams: 2
- Cloud DVR storage: Unlimited (9 months)
- Free trial: None
- Full Hulu on-demand experience
- Disney+ and ESPN+ included
- No AMC, BBC America, or IFC
- No MLB, NBA, or NHL networks
Hulu + Live overview
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 $76.99-$89.99/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 a bonus, both Hulu + Live TV plans include the Disney+/ESPN+ bundle to take the sting out of the high price.
Hulu + Live considerations
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.
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.
- Price: $25.00/month
- Channels: 70+
- Simultaneous streams: 3
- Cloud DVR storage: Unlimited (1 year)
- Free trial: 7 days
- Inexpensive pricing
- Channels unavailable elsewhere
- No sports or local channels
- Few add-ons or upgrades
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.
Fubo: Lots of foreign sports leagues and RSNs
- Price: $74.99-$94.99/month
- Channels: 140-215+
- Simultaneous streams: 3-10
- Cloud DVR storage: 250-1,000 hours
- Free trial: 7 days
- Excellent sports coverage
- Solid entertainment channel lineup
- 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/month
- Channels: 30-45+
- Simultaneous streams: 1-4
- Cloud DVR storage: 50-200 hours
- Free trial: None
- Inexpensive plans
- Tons of rotating deals
- Plenty of add-on packages
- Limited local channels
- Limited DVR storage
Sling TV overview
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 (32 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 (46 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 $6 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 considerations
Sling TV’s cable channel lineup is strong — and with add-on packages, it gets even better, especially for sports (Mom and Dad need something 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.
DIRECTV STREAM: Most sports channels
- Price: $64.99-$154.99/month
- Channels: 75-150+
- Simultaneous streams: 3-unlimited
- Cloud DVR storage: Unlimited (9 months)
- Free trial: 5 days
- Big channel lineups
- All premium add-ons available
- 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.
Vidgo: 100+ channels
- Price: $69.99-$99.99/month
- Channels: 110-150+
- Simultaneous streamings: 3
- Cloud DVR storage: Up to 20 hours
- Free trial: N/A
- Large channel lineup
- Social TV feature
- 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/month. 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/month
- Channels: 40+
- Simultaneous streamings: 1-4
- Cloud DVR storage: Unlimited (3 months)
- Free trial: 7 days
- Low pricing
- Unlimited DVR
- 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 read on for 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+ 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 $13.99 per month (without ads), and all three services together are $24.99 per month.
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.
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 $22.99 per month.
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 $5.99 per month.
You won’t get live access to your local NBC station until you upgrade to the $11.99 monthly plan, but that’s still a great price in 2023.