The Best Live TV Streaming Services for Cord Cutters

Live TV Streaming Services

All the cool kids are getting rid of their cable and satellite subscriptions and replacing them with an online live TV streaming service.

While some people find that Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video are good enough, sometimes you just can’t miss watching The Bachelor or your favorite sports team live.

If you’ve decided to become a cord cutter, which live TV service should you subscribe to?

We Recommend

After testing six live TV streaming services for more than 100 hours, we recommend the DIRECTV NOW “Live a Little” $35 plan for most people and the PlayStation Vue “Core” $45 plan for sports fans.

🏆 Top Pick

$35 / month
DIRECTV NOW “Live a Little”

The DIRECTV NOW “Live a Little” $35 base plan is a great choice for most people. It includes all local channels and 34 of the top 35 cable channels. It’s also great for adding HBO $5.

However, there is no DVR recording capability until late-2017.

🏈 Sports Pick

$45 / month
PlayStation Vue “Core”

The PlayStation Vue “Core” $45 plan is a great choice for sports fans. It has all of the national sports channels, 3 of the 4 pro networks (MLB, NBA, and NFL), and all of the major college sports networks.

It also includes most local channels and unlimited cloud DVR storage.

DVR Alternative

If you need to record content, the PlayStation Vue “Access” $40 base plan is a good alternative to our Top Pick. It’s cloud DVR comes with unlimited storage space (for up to 28 days).

It includes most local channels and 27 of the top 35 cable channels.

💰 Budget Pick

The Sling TV “Blue” $25 plan is a good choice for anyone looking to save some money. It comes with 19 of the top 35 cable channels and a decent set of sports channels.

Sports fans should consider Sling’s “Sports Extra” $10 add-on, which includes channels like NBA TV, NFL RedZone, and NHL Network.

Plans & Prices

All of the services have a free trial, usually for 7 days. PlayStation Vue only gives you 5 days. YouTube TV has a 14-day trial.

Sling TV offers a free Roku device if you prepay for a couple months of service when you sign up. YouTube TV gives a free Chromecast when you pay for your first month.

Plan Free Trial Offers
DIRECTV NOW $35 “Live a Little” 7-Day Free Trial Free Apple TV 4K or Roku
w/ 2 or 4-month subscription
$50 “Just Right”
$60 “Go Big”
$70 “Gotta Have It”
fuboTV $40 “Premier” 7-Day Free Trial ⚪︎
Hulu Live TV $40 “Hulu Live TV” 7-Day Free Trial ⚪︎
Philo $16 “Base” 7-Day Free Trial ⚪︎
$20 “Plus”
PlayStation Vue $40 “Access” 5-Day Free Trial ⚪︎
$45 “Core”
$55 “Elite”
$75 “Ultra”
Sling TV $20 “Sling Orange” 7-Day Free Trial Free Roku
w/ 2-month subscription
$25 “Sling Blue”
$40 “Sling Orange + Blue”
YouTube TV $35 “YouTube TV” 14-Day Free Trial Free Chromecast
w/ 1-month subscription

Channels

The DIRECTV NOW “Live a Little” $35 base plan has a great channel selection and is very affordable: it has ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and 34 of the 35 most popular cable channels (OWN is the one absent channel).

The PlayStation Vue “Core” $45 is a great upgrade plan for sports fans: it has all of the national sports channels, 3 of the 4 pro networks (MLB, NBA, and NFL), and all the major college sports networks.

DIRECTV fuboTV Hulu Philo PS Vue Sling YouTube
$35–$70 $40 $40 $16 $40–$75 $20 $25 $35
Total Channels 60–80–100–120 65 55 37 50–60–85–90 30 40 45
Local ABC
CBS
Fox
NBC

CBS
Fox
NBC
ABC
CBS
Fox
NBC



ABC
CBS
Fox
NBC





Fox
NBC
ABC
CBS
Fox
NBC
Top 35 Cable 34–35
of Top 35
14
of Top 35
22
of Top 35
17
of Top 35
25
of Top 35
14
of 35
19
of 35
13
of Top 35
National Sports 6–7 3 7 ⚪︎ 7 4 5 5
College Sports 1–5 3 4 ⚪︎ 1–6 1 ⚪︎ 5
Pro Sports 0–3 2 ⚪︎ ⚪︎ 0–3 ⚪︎ 1 ⚪︎
Regional Sports ≥ $50 ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚪︎ ≥ $45 ⚪︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎

Features

Most services include a cloud DVR, which lets you record streaming content to watch at a later time. DIRECTV NOW does not currently have DVR recording. Although Sling TV has an excellent DVR, it charges $5/month for it.

Almost every service lets you stream content to at least 2 devices at the same time. “Sling Orange” is the one exception; it only lets you stream on 1 device.

Hulu Live TV and Sling TV are the only services that have parental controls.

DIRECTV fuboTV Hulu Philo PS Vue Sling YouTube
$35–$70 $40 $40 $16–$20 $40–$75 $20 $25 $35
Cloud DVR ⚪︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ $5 $5 ⚫︎
Cloud DVR Capacity ⚪︎ 30 hrs 50 hrs Unlimited
30 days
Unlimited
28 days
50 hrs 50 hrs Unlimited
8 months
Simultaneous Viewing 2
streams
2
streams
2
streams
3
streams
5
streams
1
stream
3
streams
3
streams
On Demand ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎
TV Everywhere App Access ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚪︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎
Parental Controls ⚪︎ ⚪︎ ⚫︎ ⚪︎ ⚪︎ ⚫︎ ⚫︎ ⚪︎

Tech Specs

All of the services have relatively similar video quality. Hulu Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV have the most reliable connections.

DIRECTV fuboTV Hulu Philo PS Vue Sling YouTube
$35–$70 $40 $40 $16–$20 $40–$75 $20–$25 $35
Video Resolution 720p
60 fps
720p
30/60 fps
720p
30 fps
-
-
720p
60 fps
720p
30 fps
720p
30 fps
Streaming Reliability Average Below Average Great - Great Below Average Great
On Demand Reliability Below Average - Great - - - -
Audio Stereo Stereo Stereo - Stereo Stereo Stereo
Live Delay 20 sec 15 sec 30 sec - 20 sec 55 sec 25 sec
Channel Switching 2.5 sec 3.5 sec 3.5 sec - 2.0 sec 5.5 sec 1.5 sec