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Best Live TV Streaming Services 2021

Cord-cutters, read before you stream: CableTV.com reviews and ranks the top 7 live TV streaming services in the US.

Best overall

Price: $64.99/mo.
Channels: 100+
Simultaneous streams: 3
DVR: Unlimited (9 mos.)

Best value

Price: $64.99–$70.99/mo.
Channels: 70+
Simultaneous streams: 2
DVR: 50 hrs.

Cheapest

Price: $25.00/mo.
Channels: 60+
Simultaneous streams: 3
DVR: Unlimited (1 yr.)

Best for sports

Price: $64.99–$79.99/mo.
Channels: 109–156
Streams: 3
DVR: 250–1,000 hrs.

Best for kids

Price: $35.00–$50.00/mo.
Channels: 30–50
Simultaneous streams: 1–4
DVR: 50 hrs.

Looking for on-demand TV streaming services? CableTV.com has reviewed and ranked the top on-demand streamers, including Netflix and HBO Max, in our Best On-Demand Streaming TV Services guide.

Live TV streaming is television carried over the internet instead of traditional cable or satellite connections—same programming, just delivered through different wires. You could call it “internet TV,” but live TV streaming just sounds cooler.

Live TV streaming services replicate the familiar look and feel of cable TV, and they’re mostly cheaper than cable or satellite service. That got your attention, didn’t it?

We’ve ranked these live TV streaming services based on bang-for-your-buck value, features, reliability, and our most recent live TV streaming customer satisfaction survey results.

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Best live TV streaming services

  • YouTube TV – Best overall ($64.99/mo.)
  • Hulu + Live TV – Best value ($64.99–$70.99/mo.)
  • Philo – Cheapest ($25.00/mo.)
  • fuboTV – Best for sports ($64.99–$79.99/mo.)
  • Sling TV – Best for kids ($35.00–$50.00/mo.)
  • DIRECTV STREAM – Large channel lineups ($69.99–$139.99/mo.)
  • Vidgo – 95+ channels ($55.00/mo.)

Compare live TV streaming services

Price Editorial rating Channels Multiple streams Cloud DVR Details
$64.99/mo. 4.5/5 100+ 3 Unlimited (9 mos.) View plans
$64.99–$70.99/mo. 4.2/5 70+ 2 50 hrs. View plans
$25.00/mo. 3.7/5 60+ 3 Unlimited (1 yr.) View plans
$64.99–$79.99/mo. 4.0/5 100–150+ 3–10 250–1,000 hrs. View plans
$35.00–$50.00/mo. 3.9/5 30–50+ 1–4 50 hrs. View plans
$69.99–$139.99/mo. 3.5/5 65–140+ 3 20 hrs. View plans
$55.00/mo. 3.8/5 95+ 3 N/A View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We’ve named YouTube TV our best overall live TV streaming service because of its excellent channel lineup, unlimited DVR, and smooth performance, among several other factors. We also think that Hulu + Live TV is a great value because it offers both live TV and a fantastic on-demand library—the best of both worlds.

Best live TV streaming services in depth

Best overall: YouTube TV

Price: $64.99/mo.
Channels: 100+
Simultaneous streams: 3
DVR: Unlimited (9 mos.)

Pros

  • Unlimited DVR
  • Sleek interface and search

Cons

  • Higher price tag
  • No A&E, Lifetime, or Hallmark

YouTube TV, YouTube’s live TV streaming service, combines the most familiar interface on the planet with an impressive array of entertainment, sports, and add-on channels. All hail our new Google overlords!

We’ve named YouTube TV our best overall live TV streaming service because of its ease of use, superior performance, and fat channel lineup. It’s a little more expensive than most of the others, but we think it’s worth the price.

Meanwhile, upsides to YouTube TV include unlimited—yes, unlimited—cloud DVR storage that keeps recorded shows for up to nine months. YouTube TV’s search function is also among the best in live TV streaming, thanks to its Google integration.

YouTube TV offers just one package, a $64.99-a-month deal that delivers mostly complete live local channel lineups in over 100 markets and on-demand versions where select networks are absent (like The CW). YouTube TV is also the only live TV streaming service that carries PBS and PBS Kids, and it offers 15 premium add-on channels ranging from HBO Max to FOX Soccer Plus.

As for sports, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Network, and Big Ten Network are all included with YouTube TV. It also carries regional sports channels, in addition to NFL Network, MLB Network, and NBA TV.

But there are some holes in YouTube TV’s entertainment channel lineup. It lacks channels like A&E, Lifetime, and Hallmark. Is a life without The First 48, Married at First Sight, or wall-to-wall Christmas movies even worth living? We’re asking for a friend.

YouTube TV’s 2020 price hike from $49.99 to $64.99 a month irked customers as well, even though they also gained over a dozen new channels including Comedy Central, Paramount Network, and BET. In 2021, TeenNick, MTV2, MTV Classic, and three more were added to YouTube TV, pushing the channel count to over 100.

We think YouTube TV is the complete package when it comes to live TV streaming, hence our best overall ranking.

YouTube TV device compatibility

YouTube TV is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, LG TVs, Roku, Samsung TVs, Vizio TVs, and Xbox consoles.

Best value: Hulu + Live TV

Price: $64.99–$70.99/mo.
Channels: 70+ channels
Simultaneous streams: 2
DVR: 50 hrs.

Pros

  • Full Hulu on-demand experience
  • ESPN and FOX sports channels

Cons

  • Spotty entertainment channel lineup
  • No MLB, NBA, NFL, or NHL networks

When you think of Hulu, you probably think of The Handmaid’s Tale—or maybe Palm Springs if you’re into romantic quantum time-travel comedies.

Beyond original dystopian dramas, thinky comedies, and next-day broadcast releases, Hulu has also taken a swing at live TV streaming with its imaginatively titled Hulu + Live TV. Despite the name, the crew here at CableTV.com likes it so much we’ve named it our best value streamer.

For $64.99 a month, in addition to on-demand Hulu content, Hulu + Live TV gives you over 70 live cable channels and, depending on your area, a near-complete local network lineup. The CW is mostly MIA, but its shows are available through Hulu’s on-demand library (you can also check out The CW’s app—it’s totally free).

That all sounds good until you scan the cable channels and notice favorites like AMC, IFC, Hallmark, and WEtv are nowhere to be found. Several other streaming services lack these channels, too—we recommend making up the difference with Philo, which carries them all for just $25 a month.

Sports fans, on the other hand, are treated to ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, and NBC Sports Network, plus TBS and TNT, with Hulu + Live TV. Hulu + Live TV also offers a generous number of regional sports networks and a handful of college sports channels. However, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL pro sports networks are missing.

Hulu + Live TV’s cloud DVR affords you 50 hours of space—but you can record only entire series, not single episodes, and you can’t fast-forward (unless you pony up an additional $14.99 a month for the Enhanced Cloud DVR).

Still, we think Hulu + Live TV provides the best live TV streaming value for the price. Access to all of that cool Hulu on-demand content (including the FX on Hulu originals library, which is like a premium add-on in and of itself) seals the deal.

Hulu + Live TV compatible devices

Hulu + Live TV is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, LG TVs, Nintendo Switch, Roku, Samsung TVs, Vizio TVs, and Xbox consoles.

Cheapest: Philo

Price: $25/mo.
Channels: 60+
Simultaneous streams: 3
DVR: Unlimited (1 yr.)

Pros

  • Inexpensive pricing
  • Channels unavailable elsewhere

Cons

  • No sports or local channels
  • Few add-ons or upgrades

Don’t care about sports or local channels? Skinny service Philo—named after television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth—might be the budget live TV streaming answer for you.

There’s only one Philo package, which carries over 60 channels for $25 a month. It includes A&E, AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, VICE, and Hallmark (a unicorn channel that’s hard to come by in streaming), among many others.

You might recognize some of those as the popular channels missing from other live TV streaming services. So what gives?

By connecting the red conspiracy strings on the corkboard, you’ll find Philo is co-owned by the four major media companies that also own the channels usually absent from other live TV streaming services. With a few exceptions, those companies keep their channels exclusive to Philo for live TV streaming. An inconvenient situation, for sure.

The very things that keep Philo’s subscription rate low are also its biggest minuses: you can’t stream local channels or sports. Both those channel types are expensive to carry, so Philo decided to be the outlier among live TV streaming services and just go with lifestyle and entertainment channels. If you want more than that, you’ll have to sign up for a second live TV streamer or buy an HD antenna.

If you like recording and hoarding your favorite shows, however, get this: Philo’s cloud DVR will store your unlimited recordings for a full year, three months longer than even YouTube TV. So you can take your time analyzing those Ancient Aliens episodes.

Compared to live TV streaming apps like Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV, Philo is a bare-bones affair—but, for only $25 a month, there’s still plenty to like about the service.

Philo device compatibility

Philo is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.

Best for sports: fuboTV

Price: $64.99–$79.99/mo.
Channels: 100–150+ channels
Simultaneous streams: 3–10
DVR: 250–1,000 hrs.

Pros

  • Excellent sports coverage
  • Solid entertainment channel lineup

Cons

  • Expensive plans
  • No TBS, TNT, CNN, or Cartoon Network

fuboTV promises “live sports and TV without cable,” delivering “the perfect mix of sports and entertainment.” It’s an expansion on the service’s initial mission to be “the Netflix of soccer,” which still fits.

The fubo Starter package, at $64.99 a month, offers 100+ live TV streaming channels, including entertainment staples like FX, AMC, Syfy, and Comedy Central. Local channels, on the other hand, are harder to come by.

fubo’s Elite plan, at $79.99 a month, nets you 150+ channels, including SHOWTIME. It also comes with a DVR upgrade to 1,000 hours. For a beyond-complete live TV streaming experience, Elite is the way to go.

Even with the recent addition of ESPN channels, fuboTV’s niche sports programming is where it’s at, especially if you’re really, really, really into soccer (you know who you are). That impressive 105 channel count is mostly soccer networks that even hardcore fans might not recognize. And, with fubo’s sports add-on packages, you can get even more.

Around the same time fuboTV added ESPN channels, making it a sports powerhouse, it lost a suite of WarnerMedia channels: TBS, TNT, CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, HLN, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies, truTV, and Boomerang. That’s a serious chunk of missing entertainment.

fuboTV is also an expensive live TV streamer, nearly the same monthly cost as a cable or satellite subscription. You get a lot with fubo, but you’ll definitely pay for it.

fuboTV compatible devices

fuboTV is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, and Samsung TVs.

Best for kids: Sling TV

Price: $35.00–$50.00/mo.
Channels: 30–50+
Simultaneous streams: 1–4
Cloud DVR: 50 hrs.

Pros

  • Inexpensive plans
  • Plenty of add-on packages

Cons

  • Limited local channels
  • Limited DVR storage

In terms of interface and channel options, Sling TV is similar to Hulu + Live TV. Its basic plans are cheaper if somewhat confusing, but overall Sling TV is highly customizable with multiple available add-on packages—including one for the kiddies.

The Sling Orange (30 channels for $35 a month) and Sling Blue (40 channels, also for $35 a month) packages aren’t bad for casual TV viewers. But more demanding viewers will likely want Sling Orange + Blue (50 channels for $50 a month), since it’s the most complete package Sling TV has to offer.

The Orange + Blue package has kids’ channels Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, and Nick Jr. For $5 more a month, you can add the Kids Extra package, which includes Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick, Boomerang, BabyTV, and DuckTV.

Sling TV’s cable channel lineup is strong—and with add-on packages, it gets even better, especially for sports (mom and dad need some to watch, too). If you have the patience to navigate the color-coding, Sling TV is a solid service.

Of course, like other live TV streaming services reviewed here, Sling TV doesn’t have everything. Local channels are lacking; many markets get only FOX or NBC affiliates. And figuring out Sling TV’s local coverage requires more than a glance, unfortunately. At least Sling TV is proactive about helping customers use antennas to get local channels by offering several deals on the equipment.

But Sling’s TV’s add-on channel package options—there’s over 30 of them—should grab the attention of customizers who like to tweak their TV lineups to their own tastes. If you’re picky about your TV entertainment, Sling TV could be for you.

Sling TV device compatibility

Sling TV is available on AirTV Player, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, LG TVs, Roku, Samsung TVs, Vizio TVs, and Xbox consoles.

Large channel lineups: DIRECTV STREAM

Price: $69.99–$139.99/mo.
Channels: 65–140+
Simultaneous streams: 3
DVR: 20 hrs.

Pros

  • Big channel lineups
  • All premium add-ons available

Cons

  • Expensive plans
  • Limited cloud DVR space

Like many legacy media providers, DIRECTV leaped into the streaming boom quickly. After several iterations, DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) has since evolved into a decent streaming version of its satellite TV service, complete with cloud DVR—but not without a few lingering problems.

If you’ve used DIRECTV before, DIRECTV STREAM will seem comfortingly familiar. No learning curve here. The DIRECTV STREAM live channel guide is nearly identical to its DIRECTV satellite counterpart and, more importantly, a majority of the channels and on-demand movies you’d expect are there.

DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t deliver much on its budget package; most TV obsessives will want at least the CHOICE package, which gives you 90 channels for $84.99 a month.

In the negative column, DIRECTV STREAM is pricey and suggests you rent its proprietary set-top box to operate (though apps are available for devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV). That’s a very satellite move.

But, if you’re determined to sidestep contracts and ditch the dish (scraping snow off a satellite receiver in the dead of winter sucks—we feel you), DIRECTV STREAM is a relatively painless gateway into the world of full-time streaming TV. It’s no bargain, though—prepare your wallet for a hit.

DIRECTV STREAM compatible devices

DIRECTV STREAM is available on the DIRECTV STREAM device, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, and Samsung TVs.

95+ channels: Vidgo

Price: $55.00/mo.
Channels: 95+
Simultaneous streams: 3
Cloud DVR: N/A

Pros

  • Large channel lineup
  • Social TV feature

Cons

  • No cloud DVR
  • Popular channels missing

The relatively new Vidgo is a live TV streaming service that carries 95+ channels for $55 a month. It also has an exclusive “Social TV” chatroom where you can interact with like-minded TV fans on the service, and a Spanish-only plan option.

Vidgo is mostly about sports and family programming, featuring a full suite of Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Freeform, and more. It also carries the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, and beIN Sports—channels that are hard to come by in streaming.

While Vidgo gives you over 95 channels to stream for just $55 a month, there are several popular channels—like TBS, TNT, Syfy, Bravo, and USA Network—missing from its lineup.

Besides not featuring popular WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal channels, Vidgo also has no cloud DVR or on-demand capabilities. It’s a live TV streaming service that’s strictly live. (Vidgo says on-demand and cloud DVR features will be made available later in 2021.)

But, as a viewing experience, Vidgo is simple and streamlined (especially for mobile viewing). If you don’t need a fat array of channels or a DVR, it’s a decent deal for $55 a month.

Vidgo compatible devices

Vidgo is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, and Xbox One.

What to look for in a live TV streaming service

Does the service offer a free trial?

One of the ever-so-wonderful perks of streaming TV services is the free trial period. Unlike cable or satellite, streaming TV services don’t have installation appointments or contracts, so taking a service for a spin is simple and costs nothing. The trial windows are brief (usually seven days) but adequate.

Is cloud DVR space included?

Most streaming TV services that offer live TV also include cloud DVR storage with the package. Like a physical DVR, though, they do have limits on space and time. Some give you as little as 10 hours, while some “unlimited” options will save your Hoarders episodes backlog for only a few months. Ironic.

Does the service carry local channels?

You may not think about local channels much, but they carry the shows you love live from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW . If a streaming TV service doesn’t carry local affiliate channels, you could miss out on those shows, as well as area sports, news, and weather.

If these are important to you, check the availability of local affiliates on streaming TV services you’re interested in. If they’re not available, a digital antenna can make up the difference.

Are your streaming device and apps compatible?

As we mentioned above, setting up and trying out a streaming TV service is as easy as downloading an app—but is that app available on your preferred set-top box or mobile devices? Most services reviewed here are available as smart TV apps, though we recommend streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku for better stability and performance.

Final take: YouTube TV is the live TV streamer to beat

For overall channel inclusion, features, and performance, we think YouTube TV is more than worth its $64.99-a-month price tag—it’s the Cadillac (or Tesla, if you prefer) of live TV streaming services. Hulu + Live TV is a close second, and a great value when you factor in access to regular Hulu.

Philo is obviously the cheapest live TV streaming service, even though it does have some shortcomings. On the other end of the price spectrum, fuboTV is a killer (if expensive) service for sports fans, and AT&T TV has its perks, too—namely, fat channel lineups. At $55 a month, channel-loaded newbie live TV streamer Vidgo is also worth a look.

Methodology

Our experts employed hours of hands-on testing and crunched the numbers, rating these live TV streaming services on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction. Then we matched up the live TV streamers head to head to give a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

Live TV streaming FAQ

What’s the difference between live TV streaming and on-demand streaming TV?

With live TV streaming, the operative word is “live”—it’s programming that’s being broadcast right now on TV networks. It’s the same as cable or satellite TV service, just streamed through the internet.

“On-demand” streaming means shows and movies can be called up whenever you want to watch them—as with Netflix, the biggest on-demand platform around (well, that and YouTube). Shows recorded with a physical or cloud DVR could also technically be called “on-demand.”

Do I need a fast internet connection for live TV streaming?

Whether it’s on-demand or live TV streaming, most services recommend a bare minimum of 7 Mbps of internet speed for streaming. But that speed is adequate only for a single stream and assumes that no one else is using the network at the same time—an unlikely scenario.

We recommend at least 25 Mbps of internet speed for smooth, non-buffered streaming and at least double that for 4K resolution or a household of multiple users (especially gamers).

Do sports blackouts apply to live TV streaming?

Unfortunately, blackouts for games in certain regions apply to live TV streaming just as they do for cable or satellite. It’s an understandable rule to protect local broadcasters and franchises from major network competition, but it still sucks come game time.

You can, however, get around local blackouts with live TV streaming—if your service and apps function with a location-masking VPN (virtual private network). It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it will work in some cases.

Can I stream live TV for free?

Some free, ad-supported streaming services like Pluto TV, Tubi, Sling Free, and the free tier of Peacock feature a limited amount of live TV content, as well as 24/7 looping channels of non-live content.

What is the cheapest live TV streaming service with local channels?

The least expensive live TV streaming service with local channels is Sling TV’s Sling Blue plan, which carries local FOX and NBC channels in most markets. To stream more local channels, you’d have to subscribe to a more expensive service (like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV) or purchase an over-the-air antenna to receive area broadcasts for free.