Update, 11/22/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best live TV streaming services available.
What to Look for in a Live TV Streaming Service in 2022
Just because you’re getting rid of your cable subscription doesn’t mean you no longer want to watch any of the programming it offers. The most important thing to figure out before subscribing to a live streaming service is what cable programming you can’t live without.
Which cable channels did you watch most often? What programs were always set up to record on your DVR? When you sat down to watch TV, what did you automatically tune in to? It’s equally important to figure out which cable programming you can easily do without. One of the top reasons to cut the cord is to avoid paying for dozens of channels you never watch.
Some people depend on cable news to stay informed about what’s going on in the world, while others prefer to get their news from other sources. Die-hard sports fans will want to make sure they can still watch their favorite teams play, while other viewers may not miss live sports at all. It’s possible to save significant amounts of money by letting go of programming that you never watched in the first place.
For some, subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, augmented by free streaming services like Peacock and Pluto TV, will be more than enough to compensate for the loss of cable. Even viewers who want to watch network TV and local channels can often get by via a digital antenna or free streaming apps from local TV stations.
If you’re looking for a cable-like experience without the obligation or the massive bill, though, take a look at our picks for the best live TV streaming services.
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Best Live TV Streaming Service Overall: Hulu + Live TV
- ✓ Includes access to full Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ streaming services
- ✓ Extensive lineup of channels, with options for premium add-ons
- ✗ Highest price of any live TV streaming service
Hulu was already one of the major streaming services in the U.S. when it added a live TV option, and it remains the only company that combines a live TV bundle with a full-scale on-demand streaming service. Hulu + Live TV exists as an add-on to the standard Hulu subscription, with access to all of Hulu’s programming.
That encompasses hundreds of movies and TV series, including acclaimed Hulu original shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Reservation Dogs, and Pen15. Hulu’s library also includes recent feature films, as well as full seasons of TV series from ABC, NBC, Fox, and multiple cable channels.
As a live TV service, Hulu features a lineup of more than 75 channels that covers the most popular cable networks, including CNN, Lifetime, MTV, Bravo, Nickelodeon, and many more. The live TV subscription includes a cloud DVR with 50 hours of storage, so you can record your favorite programs to watch later on demand.
Hulu also includes local channels in most markets, offering access to ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and The CW. For sports fans, the package includes ESPN, the NFL Network, CBS Sports Network, and FS1.
Starting at $70 per month after a seven-day free trial, Hulu + Live TV is one of the most expensive live TV streaming services, but thanks to corporate synergy with Hulu owner Disney, that price includes full access to streaming services Disney+ and ESPN+ along with live TV and the Hulu library.
There are also options to add on premium channels including HBO Max, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz. You can also expand DVR capacity, or add additional packages for sports programming, Spanish-language programming, and niche entertainment networks.
Hulu + Live TV may be pricey, but it’s the most all-encompassing option for cord-cutters looking to watch a wide range of programming.
Best Live TV Streaming Service with DVR: YouTube TV
- ✓ Access to an extensive lineup of channels
- ✓ Unlimited cloud DVR storage
- ✓ Additional sports content included
- ✗ Occasional disputes have led to loss of channels
Probably the most recognizable brand name among live TV streaming services, YouTube TV comes with the reliability and clout of YouTube and its parent company Google.
Starting at $65 per month, it offers more than 85 channels in its standard package, including popular cable networks like Food Network, Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox News, and more. YouTube TV also offers local channels in 98 percent of markets in the U.S., with access to ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and The CW, as well as PBS, which isn’t offered on some other live TV services.
YouTube TV is also the only major live TV streaming service with unlimited DVR space, so you can record as many shows and live broadcasts as you want for later on-demand streaming. That’s a key element of the cable experience that’s often tough for live TV services to properly duplicate, although YouTube TV still only keeps recordings for nine months.
YouTube TV’s sports offerings go beyond the most popular channels, including the league networks for the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball as part of its standard package. There’s also the opportunity to add on a range of additional sports networks, including NFL Red Zone, Fox Soccer Plus, and more.
You can also add premium networks like HBO Max, Showtime, and Epix, and YouTube TV has the option to upgrade to 4K if your devices support high definition.
As part of a giant technology company, YouTube TV has sometimes found itself at odds with the media companies that supply its content. There’s a risk of losing certain channels in rate disputes, as recently happened with the entire slate of Disney-owned channels.
Those channels returned after a short time away, but the incident proves that live TV streaming services can be subject to the same battles as traditional cable.
Best Live Sports Streaming Service: FuboTV
- ✓ Comprehensive lineup of sports channels and programming
- ✓ Expanded offerings of Spanish-language programming
- ✗ Missing some key cable networks
Given that live sports are one of essential programming categories that keep customers subscribing to cable, it’s no surprise that FuboTV owes much of its success to its roots as a sports-only streaming service.
FuboTV began as a subscription service focused solely on soccer, before expanding to other sports and eventually general interest programming. The result is that while FuboTV is a solid choice for any cord-cutters looking for access to a broad range of cable channels, it’s especially well-suited for sports fans.
FuboTV’s standard lineup, starting at $65 per month after a seven-day free trial, includes 100-plus channels, with popular cable networks like Nickelodeon, Bravo, and HGTV, plus local channels with ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox.
It also features a wide range of sports channels, from EPSN to individual league channels to regional sports broadcasters to niche channels covering tennis, golf, boxing, mixed martial arts, and horse racing. Whether you’re interested in huge events or seeing every college-level sporting event from your local region, Fubo TV has sports fans covered.
FuboTV also offers a cloud DVR with 250 hours of storage. That’s more than the standard amount from Hulu + Live TV, but less than YouTube TV’s unlimited capacity, although the recordings never expire. Add-ons included a suite of Spanish-language channels with expanded offerings for that market, including sports.
If you’re planning to use FuboTV as a full cable replacement and aren’t primarily focused on sports, you may want to peruse the channel lineup carefully. In the last couple of years, Fubo TV has dropped the channels owned by Warner Media and A&E Networks, which means that familiar channels including CNN, TNT, History, and Lifetime aren’t available.
But whatever FuboTV loses in general interest channels, it more than makes up for with sports, including recent forays into sports wagering and original sports programming, all available to subscribers.
Best Budget Live TV Streaming Service: Sling TV
- ✓ Variety of lower-priced options for different channel lineups
- ✓ Free version available for sampling
- ✗ Limited channel selection
The entire market for live TV streaming services is relatively new. However, Sling TV is still a pioneer, as the first service designed to replace cable TV for customers who would eventually be known as cord-cutters.
Sling TV sticks to the original concept of the “skinny bundle,” rather than attempting to replicate the entire range of channels that cable subscribers are often looking to shed. While other services tout the ability to offer nearly every channel available on your now-canceled cable package, Sling TV sticks to what it has deemed are the essentials.
Those essentials vary for each viewer, so you’ll want to carefully look over Sling TV’s lineup before subscribing. Sling TV’s two main tiers—designated Orange and Blue—each cost $35 per month after a three-day free trial, and they offer different but overlapping lineups of channels. The Blue tier has a slightly larger channel lineup and can stream to three devices rather than just one.
Both tiers offer 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, and many of the most popular cable networks, including CNN, TNT, and HGTV, are available on both tiers. The combined Orange and Blue package, with 50 total channels, is still cheaper than other major live TV streamers, at $50 per month.
There’s even a free version of Sling that offers a sampling of TV series, movies, and other programming. It’s a great way to see if Sling TV is right for you, or is just another free streaming option to add to your device of choice.
Viewers looking for extensive live sports coverage, an expanded lineup of niche channels, or access to all of their local broadcasters will probably want to opt for a more robust—and more expensive—service than Sling TV.
But for cord-cutters looking to slim down, both on their channel lineups and bills, Sling TV remains as worthwhile an option as it was when it was the only available option.
Best Family-Friendly Live TV Streaming Service: Frndly TV
- ✓ Much cheaper than other services
- ✓ Unlimited cloud DVR storage
- ✓ Family-friendly focus
- ✗ Limited channel lineup
- ✗ Minimal premium add-ons
As live TV streaming services have become more popular, the original idea of these services being significantly cheaper than cable has diminished. But for viewers who have a specific focus on the kind of programming they want, Frndly TV offers an option that is cheaper than other live TV streaming services and cheaper than many on-demand streaming services.
Starting at just $7 per month after a seven-day free trial, Frndly TV offers a lineup of 30-plus channels. The slightly more expensive middle-tier plan also includes unlimited cloud DVR storage, although recordings only last for three months.
That low price comes with some drawbacks, though. If you’re subscribing to a live TV streaming service to watch news or sports, then Frndly TV isn’t for you. Likewise, if you need local broadcast channels or a full suite of the most popular cable networks, you won’t find that on Frndly TV.
What you will find, however, is a lineup of mostly family-friendly channels that appeal specifically to older audiences who are likely to hold on to their cable subscriptions, even if they only use them on a limited basis.
Frndly TV includes the Hallmark Channel and all of its subsidiary channels, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Channel, History, A&E, Game Show Network, and a list of lesser-known channels that specialize in wholesome programming.
Frndly TV doesn’t offer popular premium add-ons like Showtime or HBO, but it does offer Hallmark Movies Now, making it the perfect destination for the vast and growing Hallmark fanbase.
If your tastes align with Frndly TV’s offerings, this is the perfect service to cut down your monthly entertainment bills by a huge amount.
Source : https://www.howtogeek.com/781520/best-live-tv-streaming-service/