Best Livestreaming TV Providers in Customer Satisfaction 2020
Learn how cord-cutters across the US rate their favorite (and least favorite) livestreaming TV services.
Livestreaming hasn’t replaced cable or satellite TV, but it’s gaining ground on traditional providers in 2020. With just a solid internet connection, livestreaming TV can deliver the same entertainment as cable or satellite for less money and with no contract commitments.
You might want to also check out our 2020 internet customer satisfaction survey, BTW. We can’t emphasize enough how important that “solid internet connection” is for livestreaming TV; it can make the difference between an elegant HD picture and a discarded ’90s VHS tape.
Best livestreaming TV providers in customer satisfaction 2020
Using Pollfish, we surveyed thousands of livestreaming TV customers about their cord-cutting journey as of 2020.
This year’s results were a little different than our 2019 Customer Satisfaction Survey—the biggest change being that PlayStation Vue ceased to exist, taking out a major player in sports streaming. Also, previous contenders fuboTV and Philo didn’t garner enough responses to be statistically relevant in our 2020 list. We still think they’re both decent services, but the people have (not) spoken.
The overall numbers for the livestreaming TV services featured here are within decimal points of each other, with no runaway winner or distant loser. It was a neck-and-neck contest with a photo finish.
Overall customer satisfaction
We’ll bottom-line it for you right now: Hulu + Live TV once again took the top spot in our survey. Congrats on two years in a row—go green!
Best overall customer satisfaction
Hulu + Live TV is the only livestreaming TV service that also has a fully loaded library of original and on-demand content, giving it a distinct advantage over the competition. It doesn’t skimp on the “live” side, either, making for a best-of-both-worlds streaming package.
It also doesn’t hurt that Hulu + Live TV is available on every streaming device out there, even recently appearing on the longtime holdout PlayStation (probably not coincidental to the shutdown of Vue).
As we mentioned earlier, this was a tight numbers race—but we’re still more than a little surprised to see YouTube TV at the bottom. In our reviews and personal experience, YouTube TV is a fantastic service that competes easily with Hulu + Live TV, at least in livestreaming.
YouTube TV still doesn’t have much to offer in the original content category, however, and we don’t see that changing. We think the recent addition of several Viacom channels to its lineup (including Comedy Central, Paramount Network, MTV, Nickelodeon, and 10 others) will bump YouTube TV up in our 2021 survey.
How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s channel offering?
Best channel offerings
Hulu + Live TV, depending on the area, carries as many as 70 live channels—not bad for $54.99 a month. But YouTube TV gives you over 85 channels for $64.99 a month, so we don’t really get its last-place finish here.
Sling TV offers a lot of popular cable channels at a low price point but skimps on local channels (more on this below). Add-on packages are where it’s at with Sling—it’s super customizable, but those extra costs stack up quick.
Speaking of costs: AT&T TV NOW offers seven livestreaming TV packages, with emphasis on its PLUS (45+ channels at $55 a month) and MAX (60+ channels at $80 a month) plans. The ULTIMATE plan (125+ channels at $135 a month) is NOW’s fattest lineup. None of these are what we’d call a “budget” plan.
How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s local channel selection?
Best local channel selection
AT&T TV NOW has impressive channel counts and local station inclusivity, but the plans are on the expensive side—almost what you’d pay for standard cable or satellite service. You usually cut the cord to cut the costs, but our survey respondents apparently feel differently.
Sling TV’s second-place local channel finish is just weird. The service is inexpensive, but it’s also weaker than every other service here on local channels. Sling TV is particularly vigorous at encouraging DIY antenna usage, though, with receiver integration hardware and antenna giveaways.
Hulu + Live TV and YouTube placed at the bottom, which is surprising considering that both offer more channels than Sling TV (including locals). They’re also cheaper than most of AT&T TV NOW’s plans, if you’re eyeing the budget (we know we always are).
Add-on channel options
Do you pay for any add-on channels or packs with your streaming service? How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s add-on channel options?
Most add-on channels
AT&T TV NOW’s most attractive add-on package is HBO®. You’d pay just $10 a month for HBO alone on the PLUS plan but, with the MAX plan, both HBO and CINEMAX® are included free. SHOWTIME® and EPIX are also available for lower-than-the-competition rates on AT&T TV NOW.
Sling TV offers over 20—yes, 20—add-on packages for its livestreaming TV plans, but HBO and CINEMAX aren’t among them. That’s two major strikes against Sling TV.
Hulu + Live TV offers a standard suite of premium add-ons: HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, and STARZ. YouTube TV has only SHOWTIME, STARZ, and EPIX. But you can also get Sundance Now, Shudder, and FOX Soccer Plus through YouTube TV, which kind of evens the scales.
Best add-on channel options
It’s a clear-cut vote here: YouTube TV offers HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, STARZ, EPIX, Sundance Now, Shudder, and FOX Soccer Plus as premium add-ons.
On that note, it’s a bit surprising that Sling TV dropped to third place here—did we mention the plethora of add-ons available through Sling TV? A larger quantity means more (and better) choices, we say.
How satisfied are you with the streaming quality of live TV on your streaming service?
Best streaming quality
This category is more about perception than reception, since all of the TV services here stream at 720p HD, which is as high as livestreaming gets. On-demand streaming can reach 1080p, but it’s a different animal because it’s not transmitting data, you know, live.
Still, our survey respondents liked Sling TV’s picture best, followed closely by AT&T TV NOW and Hulu + Live TV. In our reviewing experience at CableTV.com, we’ve barely detected an HD difference between those three and YouTube TV, so we think you’d be satisfied with any of their pictures.
How satisfied are you with the reliability of your streaming service (buffering, frozen screens, loading failures, etc.)?
The polling numbers were single-digit tight in every category but reliability, where Hulu + Live TV pulled away from the pack with a double-digit lead. It’s very exciting (we take what we can get with stats around here).
Our survey participants experienced fewer blackouts, playback problems, and general streaming issues with Hulu + Live TV, which has also been our take in service reviews.
How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s user experience (on-screen channel guide, on-demand menu, suggested content, etc.)?
Best user experience
Sling TV’s simple, clean channel guide is a breeze to navigate—as long as you know exactly what you’re looking for. Intuitive search isn’t a strong point with any of these four livestreaming TV services, unfortunately.
AT&T TV NOW’s interface looks less like a clone of a satellite TV guide than DIRECTV NOW’s did, but it’s actually easier to “surf” channels like on standard TV than before. It’s not a major departure from the standard cable/satellite experience, so that’s good if you’re a new cord-cutter looking for familiarity.
Hulu + Live TV’s interface is still a bit stark and clunky for our liking. Apparently, Hulu’s recent on-demand makeover hasn’t translated to Live yet.
Once again, we’re perplexed by the last-place showing for YouTube TV—we’ve all been using regular YouTube for over a decade, and YouTube TV is just as simple to navigate.
Do you use your streaming service’s cloud DVR? How satisfied are you with your streaming service’s cloud DVR?
Most likely to use cloud DVR
DVR usage isn’t a big deal for the people we surveyed, as only a small percentage responded to this category. The ones who did, however, like using AT&T TV NOW’s 500-hour cloud DVR.
Sling TV only recently began including a mere 10 hours of DVR space with its plans (although it’s upgradeable to 50 hours), while Hulu + Live TV gives you 50 hours (upgradeable to 200 hours).
Meanwhile, YouTube TV still includes unlimited DVR space (for nine months before it wipes your shows) with its service. That’s right, unlimited.
Best cloud DVR
No dramatic changes here beyond Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV trading spots—50 hours of cloud DVR space beats 10, but neither can compete with AT&T TV NOW’s 500.
Did we mention that YouTube TV features unlimited DVR space? We’ll leave it alone now.
In your experience, rate your streaming service’s overall value.
As we said before, Hulu + Live TV has a near-perfect combo of premium on-demand content and livestreaming TV offerings. If you could subscribe to only one streaming service—we know, scary—Hulu + Live TV would be an obvious choice.
Second-place AT&T TV NOW’s plan pricing doesn’t exactly scream “value” to us, but the availability of inexpensive HBO add-ons does help even things up.
We have our own opinions on Sling TV (it’s cheap!) and YouTube TV (it’s underrated!), but we’ll defer to our survey participants in this case.
What device(s) do you use to stream on the most?
Slightly more people are using dedicated streaming devices than smart TV apps, a trend we like, as devices offer more flexibility and are easier (and less expensive) to upgrade than TVs. Gaming consoles also had a decent showing, but no survey-takers mentioned apps in Blu-ray players—remember those?
YouTube TV scored high with viewers using mobile devices and laptops, which makes sense: its interface lends itself particularly well to those platforms. YouTube is still YouTube, after all.
Our final take
For livestreaming TV, we like all four of the services that our survey participants ranked in overall quality, for different reasons.
- Hulu + Live TV (#1) offers an excellent balance of live channels and on-demand content.
- AT&T TV NOW (#2) gives you stacks of channels.
- Sling TV (#3) is inexpensive and customizable.
- YouTube TV (#4) is easy to navigate and includes an unlimited DVR.
There’s still a lot to like about fuboTV and Philo, too, even if they didn’t make the cut this year. Again, get in on those free trials—no contracts means no worries. Check out what our experts think of these services and more with our article “Best Live TV streaming Services.”