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Services At A Glance
Best for live TV and on-demand streaming: Hulu + Live TV
Best for sports fans: Fubo
Best for replacing cable: YouTube TV
Large on-demand library with 85+ live channels
20+ sports channels
100+ channels with a cable-like guide
100+ total channels
Variety of add-ons
Comes with Disney+ and ESPN+ at no additional cost
Seven-day free trial
Up to 14-day free trial
As more and more viewers cut the cord and leave traditional cable behind, streaming services are swooping in to scoop on subscribers. Many of these streaming platforms offer a cable-like experience, and some even enhance it with vast libraries of original content.
Each live TV streaming service has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some are easier on the wallet, while others are made to meet the demands of even the savviest sports fan. Wondering which one is right for you? Read on to find out.
Before you compare streaming TV services, it's important to identify what you want to watch. Some live TV streaming services shine when it comes to live sports, while others are your go-to for lifestyle channels. You may also want to check out the cost and availability of add-ons if you can't go without things like premium networks and generous DVR space.
When you're comparing your options, take an inventory of how many simultaneous streams are allowed and whether the service includes any exclusive, original programming. You don't want to sign up for a streaming service only to discover one of your deal-breaker features is missing.
To help you choose, let's take a closer look at some of the most popular options.
Best for live TV and on-demand streaming: Hulu + Live TV
Number of channels: 85+
Simultaneous screens: Two
Offline viewing: Yes
Hulu + Live TV boasts an impressive catalog of live programming and on-demand content. Sports, local news, and most of today's top networks are all available, and there's a surprisingly deep roster of award-winning exclusive shows, including The Handmaid's Tale, The Bear, Only Murders in the Building, and more. You'll also find exclusive movies, like Prey and Fire Island available on-demand. Plus, you'll have full access to the complete Disney+ library and an array of sports programming on ESPN+.
Several sought-after features are only accessible as premium add-ons, such as more than two simultaneous streams or premium channels such as Showtime and Starz. Once you add up all the extras, you may find out you're spending as much as you did on cable.
What to watch on Hulu + Live TV
Live sports are a big draw of Hulu + Live TV, and you can watch most of your favorite teams across the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and more. Aside from that, we'd recommend checking out originals such as Palm Springs, Castle Rock, Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Nine Perfect Strangers,Life & Beth, A Teacher, and more. You'll also be able to watch many TV shows from major networks like ABC and FX when they stream the next day after airing live.
Fubo was designed for sports lovers. This streaming platform reserves a hefty chunk of its 100 channels for professional and collegiate leagues. If you're a cord cutter who doesn't want to give up live sports, this is your answer. Fubo has essential channels like ESPN and ESPN2, but that's just the beginning. You'll also find NBCGolf, FS1, Big 10 Network, and even Fubo's own sports network. It also recently added Bally Sports networks.
You'll enjoy your other cable standards, like HGTV, MSNBC, Disney Channel, FX, and more. Fubo also offers a seven-day free trial and streaming on up to 10 screens on the same home network.
With Fubo, there's no offline viewing, so if you're on the go with no internet, you won't be able to watch anything. There also might be restrictions on your local access channels. The live TV streaming service notes that regional restrictions apply to broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, and Fox.
What to Watch on Fubo
Fire up this live TV app so you can watch sports, sports, and more sports. You'll get ESPN, ESPN2, The Golf Channel, FS1, NFL Network, and more. Fubo offers access to just about any sport you want to watch, including NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, along with major sports events like the Super Bowl and the Triple Crown.
Sling TV's Orange and Blue plans make it possible to narrow down your channel selection to better fit your interests and budget. You can also purchase both plans for just $55/mo. Sling TV offers 50 hours of DVR storage to hold all your recorded episodes and it's compatible with a number of popular devices, like Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, and Google Chromecast.
One particularly unique feature that Sling has is Watch Party. Even if your friends or family members don't have Sling, you can invite up to three guests to a Watch Party and view your favorite shows together online. Sling also features numerous add-ons that allow you to further customize your service with sports, news, family, and other programming.
Channel selection is Sling's biggest weakness, with Sling Blue at 39 channels and Sling Orange at 31 channels. Even when you get the combined Sling Orange & Blue plan for 43 channels, you still aren't getting nearly as many channels you would with other streaming platforms like Hulu or YouTube TV. It's also hard to come by local programming, as not all local channels are available in all markets. Sling TV also doesn't offer offline viewing.
What to watch on Sling TV
There are plenty of popular channels on Sling Blue like FX, FS1, and USA Network. Sling Orange carries ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, and Disney. Both plans offer staple networks like CNN, Comedy Central, HGTV, and more.
If you're strictly looking to replace cable, YouTube TV is a solid choice. You'll get many of the channels you had with your cable plan -- including sports networks to watch NFL, MLB, and NBA games -- plus unlimited DVR space. The DVR function also allows you to fast-forward, pause, and rewind. The price clocks in around what most cable packages might cost, though it is now one of the most expensive options. Also, because YouTube TV falls under the Google umbrella, you can program your Google Home to control it. YouTube TV also offers a free trial, though the length varies by Google user.
YouTube TV is good for replacing cable but not necessarily for on-demand streaming of other content. You can access some on-demand content based on your YouTube channels, but you won't have the caliber of original content you'll find on a service like Hulu.
What to Watch on YouTube TV
Most anything you'd watch on cable is also available on YouTube TV. You have access to local programming on channels like ABC, NBC, and Fox, as well as cable faves like Disney, Discovery, and Food Network.
Your local channels and on-demand selection will vary based on your location, but with more than 100 channels to choose from, there's a little bit of everything. You can even add on premium channels like HBO, Starz, and Showtime, as well as niche sports channels like ESPNU and the Fox Soccer Plus. YouTube TV has one of the most robust lineup of add-ons available.
Philo is one of the most budget-friendly streaming services with live TV. For just $25/mo., you get more than 70 channels and a massive on-demand library. You can create up to 10 profiles on your Philo account, which makes it very easy to share with family and friends. You even have access to unlimited DVR, and add-ons start at just $3/mo. Philo also offers a free seven-day trial, so you can explore the service before you pay anything.
Philo doesn't include local channels or sports programming. That means Philo isn't the best replacement for viewers who want to watch their favorite teams or their local news. It won't serve as a complete cable replacement like YouTube TV. Plus, despite the large catalog of on-demand content, Philo hasn't invested in original programming as Hulu has.
What to Watch on Philo
Philo offers plenty of popular channels like Discovery, Food Network, A&E, and more. Though you aren't getting local channels and sports, there's still a lot to watch among these more than 70 channels, especially for this low monthly price. The on-demand library includes more than 70,000 titles, so you won't soon run out of options for entertainment. You can also add Starz for $9/mo., MGM+ for $6/mo, or Philo's Movies Plus add-on for $3/mo.
If you truly want a replacement for cable, the best options are YouTube TV, Fubo, or Hulu + Live TV. With each of these live streaming platforms, you'll get a large collection of local channels and cable channels.
For a more all-encompassing option, Hulu + Live TV will also provide a vast streaming library of more than 40,000 TV episodes and movies — along with Disney+ and ESPN+ — for slightly less than YouTube TV (which offers no original content). Although all three services offer unlimited DVR space, we think the on-demand library and channel selection makes Hulu + Live TV the best all-around choice. If you want a more sports-focused, cable-like experience, try Fubo.