As cord cutting becomes more popular, television networks have responded by bringing their popular cable channels online. That means you no longer need expensive cable or satellite TV service to watch local news, sports, and your favorite shows.
But with all this competition comes more confusion. Between Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and others, cord cutters have a lot to think about. Each service has its own quirks and caveats, and their channel lineups (and increasingly, their prices) are constantly changing.
We created this guide to make your decision easier. It compares the features of all the current live TV streaming packages, lists which devices each supports, provides a complete list of side-by-side channels, and provides our basic recommendations. It also shares the latest live TV streaming news and links to our in-depth reviews, where you can learn more about how each package works.
[ Further reading: The best media streaming devices ]
The best streaming TV service
YouTube TV may not meet the needs of everyone who cuts the cord, but even at $65 per month, we think it’s the best way to go for local stations, live news, national sports, and a wide selection of entertainment channels. It also includes cloud DVR service that can record an unlimited number of shows for up to nine months. If you’re looking to replace cable TV with something cheaper, this is still your safest bet.
What sets Hulu’s $65 per month live TV package apart from others is the inclusion of Hulu’s on-demand service (normally $6 per month), which includes a huge catalog of shows from the network, plus original shows like The Handmaid’s Tale Y rock castle. Hulu’s interface can be busy, but it ties everything together in a way that encourages discovery, and the service can be expanded with more DVR storage and additional simultaneous streams, if you’re willing to pay.
Best streaming TV service for sports fans: AT&T TV
At $85 a month for its “Choice” package, AT&T TV isn’t a particularly good deal for cord cutters, but as of this writing, it’s the only way to get regional channels from Fox Sports (soon to become Bally Sports) or YES Network. No cable or satellite TV service. It also includes NBA TV and MLB Network for good measure.
Sports fans served by regional NBC Sports networks are in luck here, as they can opt for cheaper services including YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and Fubo TV (all starting at $65 per month). Otherwise, AT&T TV wins by simply covering local sports in most markets.
The best family-oriented streaming service
fans of the Star Wars saga could be interested in seeing the new Disney service just to watch the mandalorian, but there’s plenty of other great content to be had here, drawn from Disney’s wide and deep library of movies and TV shows. We reviewed the top five of the shows originally developed for Disney+ and were blown away.
Other options to consider
sling tv it’s an intriguing option if you’re using an antenna to get local channels, because it doesn’t pack much local coverage on its own. As such, its starting price of $35 per month is much lower than other packages, and you can add channel packages that might otherwise be cost-prohibitive. On the downside, integrating local over-the-air channels with the Sling app requires additional hardware. Also, some channels, like the Fox Sports regional networks, are not available at all with Sling TV.
AppleTV+ Apple is one of the most cash-rich companies on the planet and has poured a ton of money into developing its first streaming TV service, which launched in November 2019. The service is one of the least expensive at just $ 4.99 per month. but there isn’t much content in these early days, and not much to impress our reviewer.
fuboTV it’s a $65 per month program that was once marketed as sports-focused. However, in recent years, its channel mix has become more similar to that of its competitors, most notably with the addition of ESPN, Disney and ABC channels. Still, the lack of WarnerMedia-owned channels like TNT and TBS leaves some sporting events out of reach.
vein it’s the biggest package you can get with No sports channels. As such, it’s only $20 per month, with channels from AMC, Viacom, Discovery and A&E. Philo is a good add-on if you can get prime time shows and sports from an antenna.
tv friendly offers about a dozen channels for $6 per month, most notably Hallmark Channels and The Weather Channel. If those channels are missing from any larger package you’ve chosen, this could be a great add-on.
Live TV streaming and channel guide features
Ready to dig deeper? Below you will find even more information to help you make your decision.
Let’s start with the local channels. In certain markets, especially those outside of cities, live streaming may not be available due to ongoing rights negotiations with local broadcast affiliates. Instead of those local sources, most streaming packages offer prime-time on-demand programming from the major streaming networks they carry. (The one exception is YouTube TV, which has opted to stay out of markets where it can’t offer live local coverage.)
Here’s a rundown of the packages that work on each of the major streaming platforms (click to enlarge to readable size):
As for features, the chart below shows how each live TV streaming service compares on DVR, simulcasts, ad skipping, out-of-home access, and more:
And here’s a chart showing all the channels you can get through streaming TV packages, along with the minimum price you’ll need to pay to get each one. If you see a “+” sign, that means the price is in addition to the cost of a base package. It’s a large graphic that you can click to zoom in and make it more readable.
Reviews of our TV streaming package
For deeper dives into each streaming package, check out the reviews below.
Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this summary is subject to change to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to the text or our final review verdict will be noted.