We’ve recently demonstrated that it is still more affordable to stream live TV than subscribe to cable. In this article, I will break down how to stream live TV and which live TV streaming service is the best for you based on your TV viewing habits. If you want to know about streaming a specific TV Channel live, check out our “Streaming TV Channels,” which links to all the channels we’ve covered.
How To Stream Live TV
I wanted to cover some basic information on streaming live TV before we look into the best live TV streaming service for you. There are a number of live TV streaming services on the market, all providing a mix of cable news, sports and entertainment channels. Some will even stream your local network channels.
To watch TV with a live TV streaming service you will need an internet connection fast enough to serve live video. I recommend at least 25 Mbps for 1-2 televisions. There are plenty of internet-only plans that will provide enough speed at a reasonable price. Once you have the internet connection, you simply download the streaming services app to a supported streaming device (live Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV) As an example, I’ve listed the steps to install a live TV streaming app on a Roku below. Other devices have a near-identical install process.
- Subscribe to a streaming service that carries the channels you want (I cover those streaming services later in this article)
- On your Roku Menu, navigate to “Search” and press “OK” on your remote
- Enter the name of the streaming service you subscribe to in the search bar
- Select the streaming service and press “OK.”
- Select “Add Channel” press “OK” on your remote. If the channel is already installed, “Go To Channel” will be an option.
- The App is now installed on your Roku. Open the app, and log in with the credentials you used to subscribe to the service. The channels available will show in a channel guide similar to you see on cable.
Now that you have an idea how to Stream Live TV, let’s look at which Live TV Streaming Service is best for you.
Best Streaming Service for Live TV
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of choices available to those looking for a Live TV streaming service. To make it easier, we can break the services into three categories. First, there are those that are most like cable TV that provide all your local networks and most popular channels like Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV STREAM, and Fubo TV. Next, we have more affordable live streaming services like Philo, Sling TV, Frndly TV, and Vidgo. These streaming services offer a selection of channels from cable, and perhaps a few network channels. Finally, we have your more niche services that provide live TV for a certain network or sport Like Paramount+, ESPN+, and Peacock. Now let’s look at each category and find the best service for you.
Streaming Services That Rival Cable
Our “Streaming Services That Rival Cable” Live TV streaming services offer a TV experience and most of the channels one expects to see with a cable TV subscription. The services in this section provide most of the country with ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.
We also expect these services to have most of the channels listed below. I use the phrase “Channels Found on Cable” in this article to mean the following channels.
- Animal Planet
- BBC America
- Cartoon Network
- Comedy Central
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Food Network
- Fox News
- Hallmark Channel
- Investigation Discovery
- National Geographic
- Paramount Network
- Travel Channel
- USA Network
Now let’s dig into these Live TV Streaming service
Price: Cheapest plan is $79.99 per month after a 5-day Free Trial.
- One subscription allows you to stream on unlimited devices on your home network simultaneously and up t 3 outside the home.
- Carries more Regional Sports Networks than any other service.
- Provides every channel in our “Channels Found on Cable” list above
- Offers a 5-day Free Trial
- Unlimited DVR
- While Their “Choice” Plan has almost every Regional Sports Network, it is expensive at $108.99 per month
If you are expecting a live streaming service that will have most of the channels found on cable TV then DIRECTV STREAM is at the top of the list. Its major strength is allowing you to stream on unlimited devices simultaneously in the home. It’s also ideal for sports fans as it’s the only live-streaming service to carry Bally Sports and AT&T SportsNet Regional Sports Network. It also carries all the NBC Sports RSNs except for NBC Sport Philidelphia.
AT&T’s Entertainment Plan’s Channel Lineup includes Hallmark Channel, History, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land, Paramount Network, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, FS1, SEC Network, Big Ten Network, ACC Network, A&E, Bravo, E!, HGTV, TBS, USA, TNT, TruTV, and more. DIRECTV STREAM is also the best way to get your market’s regional sports network. However, those channels are part of DIRECTV STREAM’s choice plan for $79.99 per month.
DIRECTV STREAM features include
- the ability to watch unlimited streams simultaneously per subscription (limited to 3 outside the home)
- a cloud-based DVR
- many cable TV channels and local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox
- multiple channel package options starting at $79.99 per month
- a 5-day Free Trial
- Most video streams are in 720p HD. Some are in 1080p HD.
- Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is supported on some devices
- supported on Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Amazon FireTV, and more
Who Should Subscribe To DIRECTV STREAM: People who want a streaming service most like cable and anyone who wants to watch their local NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB team’s regional sports network (unless you live in Philidelphia)
Hulu Live TV
Price: Cheapest plan is $76.99 per month
- The monthly price includes Hulu’s massive on-demand catalog.
- The monthly price includes Disney+ and ESPN+
- Carries The NBC Regional Sports Networks
- no free trial
- missing AMC from the “Channels Found on Cable” list
Hulu Live TV is a live TV streaming service with a solid live TV channel lineup and easily has the best on-demand options you can find due to the inclusion of the Hulu Streaming Library. While there is no free trial, the inclusion of Disney+ and Espn+ more than make up for that shortcoming.
Hulu has a strong channel offering, including Hallmark Channel, History, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land, Paramount Network, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, FS1, SEC Network, Big Ten Network, ACC Network, A&E, Bravo, E!, HGTV, TBS, USA, TNT, TruTV and many more in Hulu Live TV’s Channel Lineup.
Hulu live TV also includes:
- Offers over 60 broadcast and cable-based channels
- Live stream of local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox in nearly all markets
- The basic package comes with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage with the ability to upgrade if needed.
- Watch on two screens at once. You can upgrade to unlimited screens for $14.99 per month. This upgrade also gives you three screens while away from your home network.
- Comes with six customizable profiles
- Includes entire Hulu streaming library
Hulu Live TV Streams live TV at an HD video resolution of up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. However, this is only on specific devices. See this page for details on Hulu’s video specifications. Devices that can’t stream Hulu live at 1080p still stream in HD at 720p at 60 frames per second. Hulu supports 5.1 surround sound audio. Hulu on-demand can stream 4K on some titles but usually streams at 1080p.
Hulu Live TV supports iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more. The price starts at $76.99 per month after a 1-week free trial. A long-term contract isn’t required and you can cancel any time. See our review of Hulu Live TV for full details.
Who Should Subscribe to Hulu Live TV: If you wanted a live TV service with a lot of on-demand then Hulu Live TV is for your. If you were going to subscribe to Disney+ or ESPN+ anyway, then Hulu Live TV is the clear option.
Price: $72.99 per month
- Cheapest of the Best Live TV services
- Carries The NBC Regional Sports Networks
- Unlimited DVR
- has a 1-week free trial
- missing A&E, Lifetime, and History from the “Channels Found on Cable”
YouTube TV is a solid Live TV streaming service that provides an unlimited DVR and a solid channel lineup. It’s also the most affordable of the top-tier live TV streaming services at $72.99 per month.
YouTube TV’s Strong Channel offering includes AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land, Paramount Network, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, FS1, SEC Network, Big Ten Network, ACC Network, A&E, Bravo, E!, HGTV, TBS, USA, TNT, TruTV and more in the YouTube TV channel lineup.
- provides Local Network Channels
- unlimited cloud DVR storage
- stream on three devices at once
- YouTube TV supports Android, iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, and more. The YouTube TV app has also returned to Roku devices after settling a dispute between the two companies.
- Includes YouTube TV on-demand
- offers a 4K+ upgrade option for $19.99 per month that provides some 4K content, unlimited steams, and the ability to download some content for offline viewing.
YouTube TV Streams on-demand and live TV at an HD video resolution of up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. Live TV on YouTube TV is available in 2.0 stereo but isn’t available in 5.1 surround sound. YouTube TV recently introduced a 4K+ add-on plan that provides support for some 4K video, however, that comes at an added cost.
All this comes with a price tag of $72.99 per month. YouTube TV supports Android, iOS (includes airplay to Apple TV), and Chromecasts/Chromecast-compatible TVs. YouTube TV offers a 1-week free trial. See our review of YouTube TV for more details.
Who Should Subscribe To YouTube TV: Those looking for local network channels and a good lineup of cable TV channels at the best price.
Price: Cheapest plan is $74.99 per month
- Second Best Service for Regional Sports Networks behind DIRECTV STREAM
- Carries quite a few niche sports channels
- offers a 1-week free trial
- good customer service
- missing A&E, AMC, BBC America, CNN, TBS, History, Lifetime, TNT, Cartoon Network, TruTV, and Hallmark from the “Channels Found on Cable” list
FuboTV used to be at the top of the list for Live TV streaming services, but they have had to cut back on a lot of its channel offerings over the past 2 years giving them the weakest channel lineup compared to Hulu Live TV, DIRECTV STREAM, and YouTube TV. That said, they are a smaller company and tend to have good customer service.
Here are some of fuboTV’s features:
- ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and more are available in fuboTV’s channel lineup
- You can watch on three screens at the same time
- 250 hours of cloud DVR storage
- The FuboTV app is available on major platforms, including Apple TV, AndroidTV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
They are beta testing some live events in 4K, but it’s minimal. FuboTV’s live streams are typically at 720p resolution with audio in 2.0 stereo. On-demand streams in 1080p. FuboTV offers over 100 live channels at the cost of $74.99, with upgraded plans available. You can test out the service with this 1-week free trial or check out our review of FuboTV for more details.
Who Should Subscribe To Fubo TV: Those who want to support a smaller company trying to break into the streaming business.
Affordable Live TV Streaming Services
These services are much cheaper than the services we’ve already mentioned, but they aren’t going to have the same channel offerings. These services are going to have little to no local network channels, and will likely have a more sparse offering of channels found on cable TV. However, you can save a lot of money using one of the following services and using a TV antenna to get your local network channels.
Price: $25 per month after a 1-week free trial.
- Philo is easily the best value for a live TV streaming service
- Unlimited DVR
- provides a 1-week free trial
- no cable news or sports channels
While Philo is an amazing value at just $25 per month for over 60 channels, it doesn’t have local network channels, cable news, or sports channels. Instead, Philo puts together a solid entertainment channel lineup with favorites like A&E, AMC, BET, Comedy Central, Discovery, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, TLC, MTV, and more in Philo’s channel lineup. Philo also provides the following features:
- unlimited cloud DVR storage
- stream on three devices at once
- on-demand for most channels
- support for iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more.
Who Should Subscribe To Philo: Philo is my favorite budget pick for Live TV streaming. If you have a TV antenna for local channels, you can save a lot of money using Philo.
- there are a lot of a la cart add-on options for niche channels
- channel packages can be confusing
Sling TV was one of the first live TV streaming services available. There is value to be had with Sling TV, but you have to dig through a lot of service offerings to find it. The service offers two basic channel packages (Blue and Orange) with different channel configurations in each. Our analysis finds Sling TV’s Blue channel package is the best value plan available through Sling. Sling Orange’s lack of multiple streams, along with poor channel lineup strength and value. Combining both Blue and Orange provides a channel lineup that is pretty solid for a decent price. However, you will need to get a TV antenna to make sure you have all of your local network channels. Combing both Blue and Orange will provide you with a channel lineup that rivals some top-tier services, but the lack of network channels makes it hard to recommend as a cable TV replacement on its own.
That said Sling TV does offer flexibility with a wide variety of channel plans starting at $40 per month with add-on channel packs available as well. Sling does offer nearly any channel you can name, but it’s easy to build a very expensive streaming solution if you aren’t carefull. Sling includes 50 hours of cloud DVR storage and the option to stream to devices simultaneously. The service supports iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more. Sling offers discounts when signing up. Check out our review of Sling TV for more information.
Who Is Sling TV For: There are some niche use cases for the sling I can recommend. For example, the Orange Package is the cheapest of any service to live stream Disney Channel and ESPN. There are folks that can get some mileage out of Sling TV, but ultimately the service is in limbo between an expensive budget service and a top-tier service that’s either missing a lot of channels or cost too much, depending on how many add-on packs you get.
Strengths: Value. Frndly is the cheapest way to watch Hallmark, History Channel, A&E, Lifetime, and more.
Weaknesses: Very few channels.
Frndly TV is very niche, but also very inexpensive. Plans start at just $6.99 per month after a 1-week trial and includes A&E, Lifetime, The History Channel, Lifetime Movie Network, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama, GAC Family, GAC Living, UpTV, Insp, Game Show Network, Curiosity Stream, The Weather Channel. Frndly TV is supported on Apple TV, Roku, Roku TVs, Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android and iOS mobile devices, and most major web browsers.
Who Should Subscribe To Frndly TV: Frndly TV is great for someone that wants a few basic cable standards at a rock bottom price. Frndly is more for those that want to supplement their TV experience if they already use a TV antenna for local channels, or have a few on-demand services. See our review of Frndly TV for more information.
Strengths: Lot of sports channels at a very fair price
Weaknesses: Lacks a true DVR service and spotty coverage for local networks.
Vidgo is a newer streaming service that provides decent value but really hurts itself due to the lack of a traditional cloud DVR. Instead, Vidgo has a 3-day playback on most channels. While better than nothing, that doesn’t stand up to true DVR functionality. Their on-demand offering is also a bit subpar . However, Vidgo does offer a very good channel lineup at a price better than most.
Vidgo provides local ABC and Fox in some markets, but it isn’t a complete solution for watching local networks. Other channels in Vidgo’s channel lineup include BET, CMT, Comedy Central, Discovery, Disney Channel, ESPN, FS1, HGTV, Hallmark, MTV, History, Paramount Network, TLC, Nick, and more.
Vidgo offers over 60 live channels at the cost of $69.99 per month, with upgraded plans available. The service supports iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Web browsers, and Chromecast. The price includes a cloud DVR and the ability to stream on 3 devices at once. Vidgo offers promotions when signing up. See our review of Vidgo for more details on the service.
Who is Vidgo For: Your live sports fan that doesn’t care too much about not having access to a DVR.
More Niche Services
Below are services that target a specific brand or streaming customer.
ESPN+ is a premium add-on service that you watch through the ESPN. ESPN+ is also included when you subscribe to Hulu Live TV. An ESPN+ subscription costs only $10.99 per month, but that price is increasing to $9.99 per month in August of 2022. ESPN+ provides access to UFC Pay per Views, NHL out-of-market games, PGA Tour Live, Several international Soccer clubs, Rugby, CFL, College Sports, and Cricket. See our review of ESPN+ for more details
Who Is ESPN+ For: Any fans of UFC, NHL, Soccer, Cricket, and more.
Peacock is a premium streaming service from NBC, that offers access to NBC/Universal Content, Olympic coverage, WWE, Premier League, Olympic Coverage, and other sports, TV shows, and Movies. Peacock’s Premium plan is ad-supported, but subscribers have to pay 4.99 a month. Subscribers can have the service ad-free for a subscription price of $9.99 per month. Peacock is supported on Roku, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple T.V., Xbox One S and Xbox One X, Playstation 4, Fire TV devices, Android devices, Android TV, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in, Samsung Smart TVs, VIZIO SmartCast TVs, LG Smart TVs, Xfinity Flex 4K, Samsung Smart TVs and more. See our review of Peacock for more details.
Paramount+ is a ViacomCBS streaming service providing access to Tens of thousands of TV episodes and movies from CBS, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Smithsonian Channel, and more. The service also provides CBS All Access Originals Series, including hits like The Good Fight, Star Trek: Picard, and The Stand. CBS also provides your local CBS affiliate, NFL games on CBS, and is almost required for fans of the show Big Brother as the service provides live feeds of the Big Brother House. Currently, Paramount+ offers two subscription plans after a 7-day free trial, the ad-free “Paramount+ With Showtime” plan for $11.99per month and an ad-supported “Essential” plan for $5.99 per month. Paramount+ is supported on Roku Players, Apple TV, Xbox, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Fire TV Stick, and more. See our review of Paramount+ for more details on the service.