Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024


As streaming services continue to grow in popularity and more people cancel their cable subsciptions, it can be hard which ones to give your hard-earned money to. If you’re looking to watch live sports, news, and more, these five live TV services will have you covered.


UPDATE: 11/20/2023

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best live TV streaming services available.

What to Look for in a Streaming Service in 2023

Cutting the cord to your cable TV subscription? You don’t need to sacrifice the shows and live programming you loved when switching over to one or more streaming services—you just need to carefully consider what content you want, and what you can do without.

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. But, if you want to replace your cable plan’s live TV options, things get a bit more difficult.

First, you need to determine what live programming you were watching. Are you watching all of your football team’s games live? Do you keep your set glued to MSNBC or CNN? Is there simply one show you want to watch the moment it airs?

More likely than not, there’s a perfect live TV streaming service for you—one that will get you what you want to watch live, cut out most of what you don’t, and all for cheaper than a cable subscription. Our roundup of the five best services available will steer you in the right direction.

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Best Live TV Streaming Service Overall: Hulu + Live TV

Hulu logo on a smart TV
Jordan Gloor / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

✓ Includes access to full Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ streaming services

✗ Highest price of any live TV streaming service

✓ Extensive lineup of channels, with options for premium add-ons

Hulu was already one of the major streaming services 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 cover 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 $77 per month after a seven-day free trial, Hulu + Live TV is one of the most expensive live TV streaming services. However, 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. This makes for a very comprehensive package that will make the monthly price much easier to swallow.

There are also options to add on even more premium channels, including 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.

Hulu + Live TV

Best Live TV Streaming Service

Hulu offers a variety of content, as well as a Live TV package for just $70 a month. That will still be less than many cable bills!

Best Live TV Streaming Service with DVR: YouTube TV

Roku home screen open on a tv with YouTube TV highlighted
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

✓ Access to an extensive lineup of channels

✗ Occasional disputes have led to loss of channels

✓ Unlimited cloud DVR storage

✓ Additional sports content included

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 $73 per month, YouTube’s live service offers over 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 America, with access to ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and The CW, as well as PBS. This isn’t a feature offered with all live TV streaming services, so this places YouTube TV heads and shoulders above the competition if local programming is important to you.

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 duplicate properly, 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 network packages like Max, Showtime, and Epix for a more complete experience.

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.

YouTube TV

Best Live TV Streaming Service with DVR

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.

Best Live Sports Streaming Service: FuboTV

Fubo streaming app on a TV
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

✓ Comprehensive lineup of sports channels and programming

✗ Missing some key cable networks

✓ Expanded offerings of Spanish-language programming

Given that live sports are one of the essential programming categories that keep customers subscribed to cable, it’s no surprise that FuboTV owes much of its success as a sports-only streaming service.

FuboTV began as a subscription service focused solely on soccer, but has since expanded to other live sports and even 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 $75 per month after a seven-day free trial (or $33 per month for Latino programming), includes over 100 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 in your 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 FuboTV’s recordings never expire. Add-ons include a suite of Spanish-language channels with expanded offerings for that market, including sports.

If you plan 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 such as CNN, TNT, History, and Lifetime aren’t available on the service.

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.

Fubo TV

Best Live Sports Streaming Service

While Fubo TV 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.

Best Budget Live TV Streaming Service: Sling TV

Sling TV streaming app opening on a TV
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

✓ Variety of lower-priced options for different channel lineups

✗ Limited channel selection

✓ Free version available for sampling

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 review Sling TV’s lineup before subscribing. Sling TV’s two main tiers—designated Orange and Blue—each cost $40 per month, 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 47 total channels, is still cheaper than other major live TV streamers, at $55 per month.

There’s also 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.

Sling TV

Best Budget Live TV Streaming Service

Its lower price comes with a more limited channel selection, but for cord-cutters who are really looking to slim down, Sling TV remains a worthwhile option.

Best Family-Friendly Live TV Streaming Service: Frndly TV

Frndly TV streaming app open on a TV
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

✓ Much cheaper than other services

✗ Limited channel lineup

✓ Unlimited cloud DVR storage

✗ Minimal premium add-ons

✓ Family-friendly focus

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 40-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.

Frndly TV

Best Family-Friendly Live TV Streaming Service

If your tastes align with Frndly TV’s family-focused offerings, then this is the perfect service to cut down your monthly entertainment bills by a huge amount.



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By John P.

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