YouTube TV is among the most popular live TV streaming services in the United States, with more than 3 million subscribers at last count. (That number likely will drop a good bit as YouTube TV lost access to the Disney-owned channels on December 18.) But that doesn’t mean that you won’t at some point decide to test the waters elsewhere. The good news about these streaming services is that it’s as easy to pause or cancel them as it is to sign up for them in the first place.
The question, then, is what to try next. There’s a lot of overlap between the services, but not every service has all of the same channels or options as YouTube TV. Or maybe you’re looking to spend less, and pare things back accordingly. YouTube TV costs $65 a month, and some of its closest competitors also hit that price point. Others are less expensive.
That’s not to say that you’ll be able to replace YouTube TV at the same price. It’s hard to beat unlimited DVR, six profiles per account, and the ease of account management that comes with everything being tied into the Google ecosystem. You might have to pay more for the same channels. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a look.
So what are the best YouTube TV alternatives for your needs and your budget? Let’s break ’em down.
Hulu With Live TV
The Good: Comparable channel listing, access to the Hulu on-demand library. Part of the Disney Bundle.
The Less-Good: No 4K option for live content.
The Plans: Currently $65 a month if you don’t mind ads on the on-demand content before jumping to $70 on December 21. (If you want to get rid of ads, it’s $71 a month now and $76 after December 21.)
Hulu With Live TV actually is the most popular live TV streaming service in the United States, with upwards of 4 million paid subscribers as of November 2021. It has a comparable number of channels to YouTube TV — basically bordering on 100 or so, with a number of add-ons available, too.
Hulu With Live TV also has a couple of advantages over every other competitor. First is the Hulu on-demand catalog. You’ll have access to thousands of shows and movies as part of your subscription. (Yes, you technically can get Hulu With Live TV without access to the on-demand library, but the savings is minimal.)
The big leg up for Hulu With Live TV is that it’s under the Disney umbrella. And that means it’s always in the same conversation as the Disney Bundle. On its own, the Disney Bundle gets you Disney+, ESPN+ and the basic Hulu on-demand service for just $14 a month. Bringing Hulu With Live TV into the fold brings the price to $73 a month — or just a few dollars more than Hulu With Live TV on its own. You’re basically getting a third streaming service for free at that point.
We do have to talk about pricing, however. On December 21, 2021, Hulu With Live TV makes the move from $65 a month — same as YouTube TV — to $70 a month if you don’t mind advertising in the on-demand content, or $76 a month if you want to get rid of advertising. That extra $5 (or $11) a month is going to be tough for a lot of folks to swallow. But it’s also likely to drive more customers to the Disney Bundle, which is almost certainly part of why the price increase is happening in the first place.
The Good: Comparable channel listing, occasional games in 4K resolution. Multiple optional add-ons not available elsewhere. Burgeoning integration with sports betting.
The Tough: FuboTV is the smallest of the big players in this space, and it’s an uphill battle. Lacks the amount of 4K content as YouTube TV.
The Plans: The Starter plan is $65 a month for 110 channels; it’s $80 for Fubo Elite with 153 channels.
FuboTV probably is the biggest streaming service you’ve never heard of. It has a quarter of the number of subscribers as Hulu With Live TV. But it also has a comparable slate of channels, including your local broadcast affiliates. And its “Starter” plan hits a familiar price of $65 a month. That includes 110 channels, 250 hours of cloud-based recording, and the ability to watch on three devices at once. Fubo’s bigger plan hits $80 a month for 154 channels, 1,000 hours of cloud-based recording, and the ability to watch on as many devices as you want.
FuboTV also is one of the only services that gets you any sort of live content in 4K resolution. We’re talking Fox-produced sports, which remains decidedly less than what you’ll find on YouTube TV. But it’s also thrown in with your subscription fee and doesn’t cost any extra.
And if you’re into international sports, you’ll find more options on FuboTV than anywhere else.
The Good: Still as close to à la carte TV as you can get.
The Less-Good: It’s super easy to spend more than you thought with all the “Extras.”
The Plans: $35 each for either the Sling Orange or Blue plan, $50 a month if you want both. (Current deals have those at $10 each or $20 together for the first month.)
Sling TV is the third-most popular livestreaming service in the United States, with 2.5 million subscribers as of November 2021. It remains as close as you can get to being able to pick your own channels. That’s not to say that Sling is à la carte — it’s decidedly not. But its scheme lets you pick from either the Orange or Blue track, or both. Together, you still pay less than any of the services above. But you also get fewer channels.
You’ll bolster your basic package with Sling “Extras.” Those are additional cohorts of channels, with additional fees of $5 a month or so. That’s great because you can pick and choose what you care about. But it’s also structured so that you have to subscribe to a bunch of Extras if you want a full slate of channels, and that makes it easy to end up spending more than that initial $35 or $50 a month you thought you were shelling out. And that’s before you get into premium movie channels or international options. Just keep an eye on your bill.
Otherwise, Sling remains an excellent option and, like the other services is available, on pretty much any modern device.
The Good: Lots of channels. All the channels. AT&T customers may get great deals. Regional sports options.
The Less-Good: The price per channel isn’t great. No live 4K options.
The Plans: Things start at $70 for just 65 channels and get more expensive from there.
If you haven’t been able to keep up with all of the names DirecTV Stream has gone by in the past few years, you’re not alone. (And we get paid to do this.) Now that it’s been spun out from AT&T proper (but remains under the AT&T umbrella), it’s now known as DirecTV Stream. You also need to know that it’s been hemorrhaging customers the past couple years, and we don’t really have a great feel for how many are left — likely fewer than Fubo TV, however.
AT&T customers should take a long, hard look at DirecTV Stream, however, as there are some serious deals to be had, particularly if you’re able to bundle it with an AT&T internet plan. That’s not available everywhere, though, and then we have to start talking about hardware fees, and none of that is anywhere near as simple as a standard streaming service that lets you come and go as you please.
The Good: Can’t beat the price.
The Less-Good: Fewer channels than any other service, and it doesn’t have your local broadcast channels.
The Plan: $25 a month for 60-plus channels.
Philo long has been the low-cost service of choice, and as of November 2020, it had more than 800,000 subscribers to show for it. While it’s no longer $20 a month, the extra $5 isn’t that hard to swallow.
The only trick here is that it just doesn’t have all the channels that the other services have. Nor does it have your local broadcast channels. That can be solved with a relatively inexpensive over-the-air antenna setup, though. And if the rest of the channel lineup has what you need, you can save some real money here.
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