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The best live TV streaming services: Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and more

If you’re thinking of cutting the cable cord, it’s never been a better time, and networking and streaming giants are falling all over themselves to provide the best alternatives for live TV streaming. From Hulu with Live TV to Sling TV to YouTube TV, there are a number of ways to watch televised events live or catch up on your favorite network shows without paying for cable.

Each of these services has its own price tag and list of special features to stand out from one another. However, differentiating between them as a consumer can feel overwhelming. We’ve done our best to simplify the shopping process for you and explain the best live TV streaming services available today.

Editor’s note: Each streaming service has conditional rules dictating the major networks it carries. Some markets have access to live network channels, including local programming, while others will be on-demand only. In some select locations, one or more of the networks — or even an entire live TV streaming service — may not be available. Check each service’s website for availability in your area.

Hulu with Live TV

Hulu with Live TV.
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Price: Beginning December 8, 2022: $75 per month for Hulu with Live TV (Ads), ESPN+ (Ads), and Disney+ (No Ads), or $70 per month for Hulu Live TV (Ads), ESPN+ (Ads), and Disney+ (Ads). A premium plan for $83 per month is available and ditches ads on both Hulu Live TV and Disney+ while they remain on ESPN+. For full details see our explainer on Hulu with Live TV.

Free trial: seven-day free trial

Included major networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW

Supported devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Mac, Nintendo Switch, select Roku and Roku TV models, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Echo Show, Xbox consoles, and web browsers

Number of simultaneous streams: two at home; Unlimited Screens add-on ($10) allows for unlimited at home and three on mobile.

Who it’s for: Hulu users looking to upgrade to livestreaming TV — and just about everyone else.

Where you can watch: U.S. only

As one of the original streaming titans with a specialty in content made for TV, Hulu was always destined to be a force in the live TV streaming game. Today, it’s the second-largest live TV streaming platform, trailing only YouTube TV’s 5 million subscribers with a highly respectable 4.1 million paying users as of the second fiscal quarter of 2022.

Hulu’s basic $70 per month plan (also referred to as Hulu + Live TV) gives subscribers 90+ live channels. You will get ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, either live or on-demand depending on your location, plus dozens of other popular channels, which Hulu lists in full on its website. The service also added ABC News Live, CBSN, and Cheddar to bolster its news lineup. You can also add a sports add-on for $10 per month that includes NFL RedZone and five other additional live sports networks.

Hulu with Live TV also provides 12 different sports channels, including ESPN, CSN, and Fox Sports 1.

Hulu with Live TV also presents some stiff competition when it comes to sports, providing a variety of channels, including ESPN and Fox Sports 1. Hulu with Live TV lets users follow their favorite sports teams from the NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLS, MLB, and NHL and record their games, provided they’re available. You can also use your Hulu + Live TV login information to sign in to the ESPN App to access live ESPN coverage via ESPN Plus.

Sweetening matters further, Hulu + Live TV subscribers have full access to Hulu’s full on-demand streaming library and Hulu original content, essentially coupling a basic Hulu subscription ($8 per month as of October 10, 2022) with live TV. Note that this is the ad-supported version of Hulu, so you’ll need to add another $7 if you want the no-interruptions Premium plan. This gives the service a serious edge for current Hulu subscribers. Hulu’s on-demand library of TV shows is already very good, with some of the best original TV series around.

Hulu’s guide and curation also are worth mentioning. Hulu allows users to organize the programming into a favorites tab and control content suggestions by removing items from their watch history or by selecting the Stop suggesting this option on recommended content they’re not interested in. Learn more about Hulu with Live TV in our comprehensive guide.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV selections.

Price: $65 per month for 85-plus channels; add-on packages range from $3 to $40.

Free trial: five-day free trial

Included major networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW

Supported devices: Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, iOS, Nvidia Shield, Roku, Chrome web browser, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, Vizio SmartCast TVs, and select Samsung, LG, Hisense, and Sharp smart TVs

Number of simultaneous streams: three streams on six accounts

Who it’s for: those who are deeply devoted to Google and want a simple package.

Where you can watch: U.S. only

YouTube TV’s sole package costs $65 per month for new subscribers ready to ditch cable TV. Still, you may want to check its website to confirm which local channels are available in your area.

YouTube TV costs $65 per month for 100-plus channels, including all major networks (ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, and CW).

If you are eligible, YouTube TV includes major networks for you to get your fix of TV shows — ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, and CW — and a bevy of other popular channels at a reasonable price, and its local affiliate programming has also expanded and is now available to 100% of customers. It also has a large number of sports channels for the price.

Add-on networks include Showtime, Fox Soccer Plus, Shudder, Sundance Now, and Starz. In May 2020, YouTube TV also made HBO Max available on the service for an additional $15 per month.

YouTube TV users enjoy some of the most flexible cloud DVR support, allowing users to store unlimited hours of programming for up to nine months after recording, with standard pause/rewind and catch-up features available. If you have a Google Home device and a Chromecast, YouTube TV can be controlled with voice commands via Google Assistant. Similarly, Google Assistant can even inform you of what content is currently saved to your DVR. If you’re an Android diehard who uses Google’s ecosystem to its fullest, then YouTube TV may be the perfect addition. Read our YouTube TV guide for more info.

Sling TV

Sling TV interface.

Price: Sling Orange: $40 per month for 30-plus channels; Sling Blue: $40 per month for 40-plus channels; Blue + Orange: $55 per month for 50-plus channels; additional channel add-on packs and features range from $5 to $25.

Free trial: seven-day free trial

Included major networks: NBC and Fox networks

Supported devices: Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, Android, Apple TV, Airplay, AirTV, AirTV 2, Chromecast, iOS, Mac, Nvidia Shield, Select LG Smart TVs, LeEco devices, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray players, Chrome web browser, Windows, Xbox One consoles, Xfinity X1, Xiaomi Mi Box, ZTE devices, and Oculus devices.

Number of simultaneous streams: Sling Orange: one; Sling Blue: three; Orange + Blue: four

Who it’s for: customers who want a customizable, à la carte experience.

Where you can watch: U.S. only

Sling TV currently offers the most flexibility of all the live TV streaming services out there, at least when it comes to your content and pricing options. Sling TV uses an a la carte model, with base channel packages and a bevy of add-ons. The base packages, while largely similar, do have some major differences — ABC and Disney-owned channels (including ESPN, and therefore support for ESPN Plus) are only present in Orange, while Blue carries NBC, Fox, and other sports channels like NFL Network and NFL Redzone, and soon, the Big Ten Network.

If you want all of those channels, you’ll need to spring for the $55 package, which includes everything in Blue and Orange, or you can augment either package with add-on channels. Add-on packages also vary in pricing and included channels, depending on which package you’re subscribed to, but you can expect to pay between $5 and $25 per month for each.

In terms of bonus features, Sling TV is pretty standard, but it does have some unique standouts. The first is Game Finder, a search feature on the Sling TV website that finds live any upcoming sports content available for your channel package and region. There’s also a bandwidth limiter, which will help keep you from going over your data limits — streaming video content can eat up data quickly, after all, so this is a welcome feature.

Sling Orange subscribers will have access to a single stream, while Blue allows for up to three streams simultaneously. As for other features, video on demand, pause/rewind/fast-forwarding, and “catch-up watching” are content-specific. Sling recently added 50 hours of cloud DVR to the service’s built-in cost, so you pay nothing for the privilege to catch up on any missed broadcasts. For more room, users will have to add another $5 per month for 200 hours of cloud DVR. Despite the extra cost, the good news is that cloud DVR is available on just about every Sling-supported device except for the Xfinity X1, and your recordings stick around as long as you maintain your account. You can get the gist of everything Sling has to offer by reading our Sling TV guide.

DirecTV Stream

DirecTV Stream front page.

Price: Entertainment: $70 per month for 75-plus channels; Choice: $90 per month for 105-plus channels, including HBO Max and regional sports channels; Ultimate: $105 per month for 140-plus channels including regional sports networks; Premier: $150 per month for 150-plus channels; add-on channels and features available from $5 per month; additional cloud DVR space for $10 per month.

Free trial: seven-day free trial

Included major networks: ABC, Fox, NBC, CBS

Supported devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Mac, Roku, Chrome web browsers, Safari, and Xbox One console.

Number of simultaneous streams: unlimited in-home

Who it’s for: those who don’t mind trading features for lots of channels.

Where you can watch: U.S. only

Formerly known as DirecTV Now, then AT&T TV Now, and then AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream is another service with high channel counts and multiple package tiers, and it’s close to the experience you’ll get with cable or satellite when it comes to available channels.

Along with the rebranding, DirecTV Stream has revamped or added a number of features. DirecTV Stream now offers unlimited cloud DVR storage for new customer s who sign up online. Recordings are saved for nine months, and you’re allowed a max of 30 episodes of single series, for some reason. If you hit that limit, the first episode is deleted to make more room. You can also record multiple things at once, which is a step up from other DVR offerings.

While AT&T TV offered just two simultaneous streams, DirecTV Stream allows you to stream on unlimited devices provided they are all on your home network. If you share the account with multiple people, you’ll still be limited to just three simultaneous streams when you’re not on the same network.

Additionally, DirecTV Stream now offers the DirecTV Stream device, which is similar to a Roku or Apple TV box. This box gives you access to thousands of apps with a voice remote that can manage all of your entertainment and smart home devices. It’s a nice touch for people who just want all of their entertainment in a single, central hub.

Philo TV

Philo TV, best live TV streaming services.

Price: $25 per month for new subscribers for 69 channels plus free channels; add-ons start at $3 per month.

Free trial: seven-day free trial

Included major networks: zero

Supported devices: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, iOS, Chrome, Chromecast, Roku, and Android TV.

Number of simultaneous streams: three

Who it’s for: lovers of popular cable channels who don’t mind skipping local networks and sports.

Where you can watch: U.S. only

Philo, like nearly every other service listed here, gives you a long list of popular cable channels to watch live over the internet. Though it no longer offers the ultra-cheap $16-per-month package for new subscribers, its sole $25-per-month option remains a compelling offer. It differs significantly in what content it supports, though — or, more accurately, doesn’t support. Despite boasting a bunch of channels, including Viacom-owned favorites like MTV and Comedy Central, the four major networks — Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC — are not carried by Philo, nor is anything from ABC’s parent company, Disney. That means, along with no local affiliates, there is also no ESPN. When it comes to local stations, though, many viewers can get them over the air with a simple (and affordable) HD antenna.

Feature-wise, Philo is similar to the other services above (and cheaper to boot). DVR access allows for unlimited recording and storing content, though your DVR content will only stick around for a limited time — 30 days, in this case. Another feature Philo includes is the ability to access content from paywalled apps for channels carried by Philo. For example, since Philo’s channel package includes AMC and Nickelodeon, you’ll be able to download and watch through the dedicated AMC and Nickelodeon apps at no extra charge by signing in with your Philo account.

Philo does lack the comprehensive app and device support of its rivals. For a long time, only Roku, iOS devices, and the Chrome browser were supported, but the service came to Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV devices in recent years and is now available on Chromecast, plus an app for iOS/Android. Philo claims even more devices are on the way, but for now, the truncated device support is a drawback. That said, if you have a supported device and don’t mind skipping sports and the big networks (or can find them with an antenna), Philo is one of the more affordable ways to get live TV. For more on the service, check out our Philo guide.

Amazon Prime Live Channels

Amazon Live TV navigation screen.

Price: free with the $15 per month Prime subscription; premium channels range from $3 to $25 monthly for more than 400 livestreaming channels across 20 providers.

Free trial: 30-day Amazon Prime trial

Included major networks: none

Supported devices: live channel features only available on Amazon Fire TV

Number of simultaneous streams: none

Who it’s for: Amazon Prime users who want to consolidate their apps and monthly bills to a single location.

Where you can watch: U.S. only

Amazon Prime has a long list of perks for its members, but one of the lesser-known incentives is the ability to augment your Prime Video library with a handful of curated TV channels. It’s not quite like cable or other live TV providers; Prime simply offers a small number of channels currently supported by just Fire TV.

Amazon Fire TV users can browse live channels via an On Now menu, which includes a programming guide so you can see what’s next. Some of the free (with ads) services that don’t require a subscription include Xumo, Freevee (formerly IMDb TV), and Amazon News. There is also a small number of premium channels available — including CBS All Access, HBO, Cinemax, Starz, Showtime, Epix, and PixL — if you’re subscribed to them through Amazon Prime’s channels. (Amazon also offers niche options like BritBox, PBSKids, and PBS Masterpiece.)

The biggest perk of Amazon Prime Live Channels, however, is that it integrates with a wide range of services, including many on this list. For different fees, you can access other subscription services like YouTube TV, Sling TV, Tubi, Pluto TV, Philo, Prime Video Channels, Prime Video Live Events (like Thursday Night Football), and more. Plus, because it’s all directly integrated into Amazon’s ecosystem of connected devices, you can check what’s on the premium Prime add-on channels just by talking to Alexa. It may not be a game-changer, but it’s helpful.

Amazon also is increasingly involved in live sports streaming, with the company most notably offering several games per year from the NFL, NBA, and MLB — some for free — across Amazon Prime and its game-streaming platform, Twitch. And with Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of huge film and TV company MGM, the library now includes its list of more than 4,000 movies (including the James Bond franchise) and 17,000 hours of TV programming.

For now, this isn’t quite an option for supplanting a subscription to more well-rounded services like Sling TV or Hulu with Live TV, but it is a worthwhile Prime feature that will hopefully continue to grow and evolve.

Pluto TV

Pluto TV, best live TV streaming services.

Price: Free

Included major networks: none; CBSN, NBC News, CNN, and MSNBC news programming available.

Supported devices: Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Roku, web browsers; select Sony, Samsung, HiSense, and Vizio Smart TVs under the WatchFree brand.

Number of simultaneous streams: none

Who it’s for: live TV streaming newbies who want to see what all the fuss is about.

Where you can watch: U.S. and U.K.

Now owned by ViacomCBS, Pluto TV might be a new name to some, but the service has been quietly plugging along since 2013 and today has more than 72 million active users as of Q3 2022, making it the largest free TV streaming service in the U.S. Like the other services on this list, it has become a solution for those who want easy access to a library of both live and on-demand content — everything from TV series to movies to popular internet content creators. Unlike the others, however, Pluto TV is entirely free.

Pluto TV features live channels, including CBSN, Bloomberg, MSNBC, Sky News, movie channels, and live sports, plus music streaming channels.

No, really. For the cool price of zero dollars a month, Pluto TV will provide you access to select content from more than 100 live channels, including, CBSN, Bloomberg TV, MSNBC, Sky News, movie channels, and live sports, plus 35 music-streaming channels. New additions include Pluto TV sitcoms, offering a selection of aging comedies like 3rd Rock from the Sun and The Lucy Show, and the Spanish-language channel Pluto TV Cine. Dog The Bounty Hunter even gets his own channel. Users also will enjoy a library of on-demand content.

You’re likely thinking, “What’s the catch?” The answer is simple: ads. Pluto TV is entirely ad-supported. These ads are not skippable, and some have found them intrusive, but it may be a worthwhile price to pay for totally free content.

The other caveat is that the majority of these channels aren’t actually TV channels but internet channels, meaning stuff from websites and online creators like IGN, CNET, and Cheddar rather than from traditional TV channels. You’ll still get those, too, but you won’t find any of the major prime-time networks or cable favorites like Comedy Central, Syfy, or FX here. Still, major broadcasters are beginning to show up, like CNN, which has its own channel of curated highlight segments pulled from its live cable TV offering.

You also won’t find many special features, either — no DVR, no user profiles (though you can easily sign up for multiple free accounts), etc. Still, PlutoTV has a solid collection of free, curated TV, film, music, and internet video content, and it’s available on a respectable number of platforms. For those considering the dive into online TV streaming, Pluto TV is a good first dip of the toes.

For a more in-depth examination, head over to our PlutoTV explainer.

FuboTV

Fubotv basketball.

Price: $70 per month for Fubo Pro, $80 per month for Fubo Elite, $100 per month for Fubo Ultimate, $33 per month for Fubo Latino.

Free trial: seven-day free trial

Included major networks: NBC, CBS, Fox, CW, and AMC

Supported devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Google TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, Vizio’s SmartCast TVs, and web browsers.

Number of simultaneous streams: “unlimited” (actually 10) with all plans except Latino, which is capped at two.

Who it’s for: those who mainline live sports but still want access to entertainment and lifestyle content.

Where you can watch: U.S., Canada, and Spain, though only a handful of channels are available outside of the U.S.

A few of the previous services have been notable for their sports content (YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV, in particular), but if sports are one of your primary interests, you’ll want to look into FuboTV. This is another relatively new service that has been gaining some recognition for the niche it appeals to. By the third quarter of 2022, FuboTV had 1.23 million paid subs, a massive growth from 2021. That may not be the millions of subscribers boasted of by Hulu and Sling, but it is substantial.

FuboTV offers a multitude of plans, but it looks like it’s gotten rid of its Fubo Starter base package, making the Pro plan the cheapest tier. For $70 per month, the Pro package offers 135 channels and more than 100 sporting events, 1,000 hours of cloud DVR space, plus the ability to use what FuboTV calls “unlimited screens,” 10 devices at once on your home internet connection, plus two outside of the house “on the go.” The Elite package bumps the cost up to $80 for 199 channels (including 42 entertainment channels from Fubo Extra and 12 News Plus channels), 1,000 hours of cloud DVR space, unlimited screens, and a guarantee of 130+ live events in 4K. The Ultimate package is $100 per month and includes 237 channels and all the same features as the Pro plan, plus it adds Showtime and the Sports Plus add-on that includes NFL Redzone.

FuboTV also offers a wide array of add-on plans for all kinds of users. The plans include a healthy mix of both sports and non-sports channels, such as NBC Sports Network, NFL Network, NBA TV, and the Pac-12 Network on the sports side, along with staples like HGTV, FX, and widespread local network channel support on the other.

One notable way in which FuboTV differs from every other service on this list is that it is currently the only service to offer streaming in 4K resolution with HDR10 high dynamic range. Content is limited, but you can generally expect many major sporting events and championships to have 4K feeds. Fubo keeps a running schedule of its Ultra HD programming on its website, so refer to that if you’re looking for something to take advantage of your new crystal-clear TV.

It does contain plenty of sports extras, though. Both of the subscription packages allow for optional monthly add-ons, such as:

  • 26-channel Sports Plus with NFL Redzone ($11 per month)
  • Eight-channel International Sports Plus ($7)

FuboTV wasn’t too well-rounded when it first launched, but it quickly evolved, increasing its focus on entertainment options. It’s still probably not for everyone, but hardcore sports fans and even casual soccer fans might want to take a look — especially if you need your sports fix in 4K.

If you want to know more about FuboTV, our FuboTV guide will give you a more in-depth picture of all it has to offer.

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