Cable television can look a lot like a landline: an unnecessary expense that adds obsolete hardware. That is why all “cool” young people – and also many adults – are leaving cable television services behind. This article is about the best live tv streaming services in the US.
If you want to join them, but you don’t want to completely ignore live television, read on. If you live in the United States, live TV streaming services, such as Sling TV and AT&T TV Now, let you watch most of your favorite (or all) live TV channels – from ABC to CBS, to CNN, ESPN, Fox News, and Nickelodeon. The monthly rate is also probably much lower than what you are paying to your cable television company.
Instead of a decoder, you will use an application on your smart TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV which will allow you to view the content at home or anywhere else through a phone or tablet, and even in a PC browser.
This is a detailed guide which will help you to choose a streaming service for yourself. Let’s get started without any further delay.
How to choose a streaming service
The main multichannel live TV streaming services that are available in the United States are mentioned below:-
- AT&T Watch TV ( US $ 15 per month or free with certain AT&T Wireless plans)
- Philo ( $20 per month )
- Sling TV ( $30 per month )
- Hulu with Live TV ( $ 54.99 per month )
- PlayStation Vue ( $ 49.99 per month )
- Fubo TV ( $ 54.99 per month )
- AT&T TV Now ( $ 59.99 per month )
- YouTube TV ( $ 49.99 per month )
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Yes, it is a long list. But relax: we will review them one by one. Also, remember that each of these services offers you a free trial period without contracts, so it is easy to try them (and cancel them).
Each service offers a different combination of channels, so your first step should be to choose one that transmits those channels and programs without which “you cannot live.” Of course, some of the most important channels are the local ones, such as ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.
Other important factors are whether they have the DVR system in the cloud and how good its user interface is. Most of the services on the list allow you to record and play programs, such as a traditional cable or satellite TV DVR system, but they often have restrictions. Some services have a traditional menu, similar to that of a cable TV decoder, while others offer an experimental approach (it takes more time to learn how to use them).
Then there is the problem of simultaneous transmissions. If you want to watch more than one program at the same time – for example, on the TV in your living room and on the television in a bedroom, or on the main TV and on a tablet -, you must ensure that the service you choose offers enough transmissions simultaneously. Some of the cheaper plans only allow you to broadcast one program at a time, and if you try to watch a second program, it blocks it.
Keep in mind that, especially if there is more than one person watching one program at a time, you must ensure that you have fast and reliable broadband Internet access. A reliable 100 Mbps service will cost you around $ 50-60 per month, and this is where you can lose what you saved by cutting your cable service.
To sum things up, here is a list of factors you should consider to choose a live TV streaming service :
- Does the service offer your “essential” channels?
- Does it offer local channels in your area?
- How good is the DVR in the cloud?
- Does the interface facilitate the search of programs?
- Are there enough simultaneous transmissions for you and your family?
- Is your internet connection good enough?
Top 5 Streaming Services in the United States
AT&T TV Now
Ideal for: HBO fans who also want live TV streaming.
Base price: US $ 59.99
Additional packages: There is a package with more channels for $ 74.99.
Missing channels: A&E, AMC, BBC America, Animal Planet, Discovery, HGTV, History, Lifetime, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone.
The good: The price of US $50 includes HBO, which is usually offered as a supplement for $15 per month; its interface is similar to that of a television, and includes the possibility of moving left or right to change channels; There are discounts for AT&T Wireless customers.
The bad: It is an expensive service with fewer important channels than any other service in its price range; the DVR system is limited; You cannot create profiles for other family members.
In March 2019, At & T TV Now became less popular than it was before. This is because of the fact that the owner not only increased the price from $ 40-$ 50 per month but also eliminated numerous important channels from its basic package, among them AMC, Discovery, and HGTV. Its advantage is that HBO is included in the price. An independent subscription to HBO Now costs $ 15 per month, so an increase of $ 10 to include HBO is technically a monthly discount of US $ 5. But it forces you to pay for a package, which is exactly what those who are abandoning traditional cable services want to avoid. In addition, its DVR system and app are not up to those of most of its competitors.
Hulu With Live TV
Ideal for: Current Hulu subscribers who want to add Live TV.
Base price: $ 54.99
Additional packages: Optional “enhanced” DVR plans and simultaneous transmissions.
Missing channels: AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, MLB Network, MTV, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, Nickelodeon.
The good: includes the huge library of on-demand content from Hulu and exclusive programs like The Handmaid’s Tale.
The bad: Its interface is confusing and the standard DVR system does not allow you to skip the ads.
Of the five main services analyzed, the Hulu interface is the least similar to that of a traditional cable system. Its biggest advantage is the integration of live TV with its important catalog of content on demand for a single price. Unfortunately, frustrations with its interface, which are already evident in the standard service, are amplified when one adds live TV. Its application usually confuses “simple” with “incomplete.” For example, it offers a guide, but this is too basic. Another drawback is that you will have to pay the additional $ 10 per month if you want to skip the ads on the Hulu cloud DVR system (the basic system, which is included, does not allow you to do so). However, it has a significant number of channels.
Ideal for: Those who want to skip the ads and for those who have PS4.
Base price: $ 49.99
Additional packages: Offers three other packages with progressive increases in the number of channels.
Missing channels: A&E, Comedy Central, History, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon.
The good: A solid DVR system with unlimited storage that does not replace the programs recorded with the version on demand (as is the case with YouTube TV). PlayStation 4 users can watch multiple channels at once on the same screen.
The bad: its selection of channels is lower than that of other services in its price range.
PlayStation Vue has an “evolved” interface that is easy to use once you learn how to do it, but that may take some time. Its DVR service is excellent, with unlimited storage and the ability to skip ads on any program – although, unlike YouTube TV, the programs on the Playstation Vue DVR system are removed after 28 days. Its biggest flaw is that it has fewer channels than any of the five main services, apart from Sling TV (which is much cheaper) and AT&T TV Now (which includes HBO). You don’t need to have a PlayStation 4 to use it – just like the other services we compare, Vue has applications for numerous streaming devices, including Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV, as well as for phones and PCs — but to use its attractive multi-screen function you must necessarily have a PS4.
Ideal for: Saving money and still being able to see ESPN (or Fox and NBC) through an antenna
Base price: $ 30
Additional packages: Sling Orange + Blue for $ 40 per month, a complement of DVR system in the cloud for $ 5 per month, and numerous mini-packs of $ 5 per month
Missing channels (in all packages): ABC, CBS, Animal Planet, Fox News, MLB Network, Nickelodeon
Missing channels (Sling Orange): Fox, NBC, Bravo, FS1, FOX, MSNBC, USA Network
Missing channels (Sling Blue): ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN
The good: It has relatively inexpensive and flexible channel packages.
The bad: The Orange package only allows the transmission to a device (TV, phone, tablet); It has very little supply of local stations; The cloud DVR system has an additional cost.
Apart from the options without Philo and AT&T Watch TV sports channels (see below), Sling is the cheapest multi-channel live TV streaming service on the market. That is because it offers a few local stations (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC). It has two base packages, Orange and Blue. Orange does not offer any local channels, while Blue has Fox and NBC, but only in a few cities(link in English). This makes Sling a good complement to an open television antenna. The Sling interface is not very attractive, but it offers all the options you need without cramming the screen. The only disappointing elements are its archaic live pause function and the restrictions of its DVR service (for example, you cannot record Disney-owned channels, such as ABC). Your options are numerous, so find out before choosing.
Ideal for: Unlimited DVR
Price: $ 49.99
Additional packages: Not available
Missing channels: A&E, Comedy Central, History, Lifetime, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, Nickelodeon.
The good: An intuitive interface and a complete program guide; includes the four local channels in most homes in the United States; unlimited storage of DVR in the cloud.
The bad: It is one of the two most expensive services and its DVR system replaces the recorded programs with the versions on demand.
YouTube is known above all for offering an infinite number of free videos, but thanks to a price increase in April, YouTube TV is now one of the two most expensive options (the other is AT&T TV Now). However, it has more main channels in its basic package than any of its competitors, and its coverage of local channels includes the four main channels in most of the US. UU. It also has the best DVR system in the group, including unlimited storage, although with a defect: if any program you recorded appears in the YouTube TV content library on-demand, it is replaced by the on-demand version — with which you lose the ability to overtake when there are ads. Its interface is super practical, to the point of even being boring, but it offers most of the functions of a cable TV service. Also, unlike Sling and others, everything is extremely simple: a single package, a single price, and that’s it.
Some cheaper streaming services
Price: $ 15 per month, or “free” with certain AT&T Wireless plans
AT&T has two separate services: AT&T TV Now and Watch TV. The latter, much cheaper, includes 30 channels, many of which, such as AMC, HGTV, and BBC America, are no longer available on AT&T TV Now. Watch TV has no sports or local channels, and many of the programs on its channels can be viewed on-demand with a subscription to Hulu, and for a lower price. It also does not work with Roku devices, but it is available on the other main streaming platforms and some customers of the AT&T Wireless plan get it for free.
Price: from $ 20 per month
Philo is another cheap service without sports or local channels, which offers common cable options such as AMC, Comedy Channel, Nickelodeon, and BBC America. Unlike Watch AT&T, Philo includes the cloud DVR service, but it lacks an important uninterrupted news channel like CNN.
Price: From $ 5.99 per month
It is the only major TV channel that offers a live streaming service on demand, which allows you to watch live local television from a single channel – CBS, obviously – in some cities in the US. In addition to video content on-demand and exclusive, such as Star Trek: Discovery. The material on demand comes with ads, but you can pay an additional $ 10 per month for an option without ads.
Price: from $ 54.99 per month
Fubo TV is a sports-focused service that also offers several other channels that include local open-signal stations (except ABC) – and more regional sports networks, or RSN, than any other service. Especially for fans of professional baseball, basketball and hockey teams, Fubo could be the only way to watch regular-season games without cable service. However, it does not offer ESPN, and due to its complicated user interface and its high price, it is not the first service we would choose.
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Conclusion: Try them for yourself
Live TV streaming services are still in diapers, and the industry is still in a constantly changing situation. Since its launch, all services have increased their prices by $ 5 per month, channel selections and cities with access to local channels change all the time, and some of these services are constantly being reported to lose money. Although streaming is undoubtedly the future, it will be a while before prices and services offered to stabilize.
That said, if you want an experience similar to the cable service both at home and anywhere without the burden of paying for a cable subscription, then it is worth taking a look at the streaming services. There are no contracts in between, and if you don’t like the service you are in, you can easily change it. Whether you are looking for a basic package like Sling TV or want to pay more for a luxury experience like PlayStation Vue, there will surely be a TV streaming service that suits your needs.