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The Top Live TV Streaming Services in 2021

Did you know you can get Live TV, even without cable or satellite?

There are now six different streaming services that offer popular TV channels. Depending on the service, you can watch local channels (ABC, NBC, FOX, & CBS), live sports (ESPN), news (CNN, Fox News, & MSNBC), and entertainment (Bravo, Discovery, and HGTV).

Why Pick a Streaming Service Over Cable?
The biggest benefit of a Live TV Streaming Service compared to cable or satellite is that you no longer have to worry about contracts or extra fees.

Each of the major streaming services like Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV, and DIRECTV STREAM are month-to-month, meaning you can cancel or pause your service at any time. Also, you won’t be charged an additional fee for local channels or sports – or for additional boxes in your home.

How to Pick a Live TV Streaming Service?
There are many different reasons to pick a Live TV Streaming Service – whether it’s price, channels, or features.

Live TV Streaming Service Price Comparison
Cable replacements like fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV each start at ~$64.99 a month, while DIRECTV STREAM starts at $69.99 a month. Skinny bundles like Philo and Sling TV - which offer fewer channels - for a lower price are $25 and $35 a month respectively.

Most of the services offer a free trial or a discounted first month, so you can try out the streaming service before you commit to it.

Live TV Streaming Service Channel Comparison
DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV each have very similar channel line-ups, but with slight differences. They all include local channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX in most markets.

All four services include channels from Disney (like ESPN and Disney Channel), ViacomCBS (like MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon), NBCU (like Bravo, E!), Discovery (like TLC, Food Network, and HGTV).

When it comes to skinny bundles like Sling TV and Philo, they offer fewer channels but at a lower price.

With Philo, you sacrifice locals and sports, but you get many of the same entertainment channels from Discovery, ViacomCBS, A&E, and Hallmark as the other services.

Sling TV ($35) splits channels across plans. Sling TV *Orange* offers 16 of the Top 35 Cable channels – since it doesn't have channels from Fox and NBCU. Their Sling TV *Blue* plan is more comprehensive with 25 of the Top 35 Cable channels, since it swaps out Disney-owned networks (except for FX), for those from NBCU, Fox, and adds more channels from Discovery and ViacomCBS.

You can use a tool like The Streamable’s Matchmaker to find the right service based on your favorite channels.

What Channels are Missing?
When comparing the Top 35-rated cable channels, the major services each have 30+ of them.

  • DIRECTV STREAM (34 of Top 35): Travel Channel requires Choice Plan and above
  • Hulu + Live TV (32 of Top 35): AMC, WE tv, and Hallmark are not available
  • fuboTV (27 of Top 35): TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, truTV, A&E, History, and Lifetime are not available
  • YouTube TV (31 of Top 35): A&E, Lifetime, History, and Hallmark not available
  • Sling TV “Orange & Blue” (27 of Top 35): Disney Jr., FXX, Hallmark, MTV, Paramount Network, VH1, WE tv in Extra Packs, while Nickelodeon not available
  • Philo (18 of Top 35): NBCU, WarnerMedia, and Disney not available
DTV STREAMfuboTVHuluPhiloSling OrangeSling BlueYouTube
Sign UpFree TrialFree TrialFree TrialSign UpSign Up
$69.99$64.99$64.99$25$35$35$64.99
A&E--
AMC-
BET $6
Bravo--
Cartoon Network--
CNN--
Comedy Central
Discovery-
Disney Channel--
Disney Junior- $6-
E!--
ESPN--
Food Network
Fox News--
Freeform--
FX--
FXX-- $6
Hallmark Channel- $6 $6-
HGTV
History--
Investigation Discovery
Lifetime--
MSNBC--
MTV $6 $6
Nickelodeon--
Paramount Network $6 $6
Syfy--
TBS--
TLC-
TNT--
Travel Channel≥ $84.99
truTV-- $6
USA Network--
VH1 $6 $6
WE tv- $6 $6

How to Watch Live Sports Online
DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV each offer live sports. If you watch games on national sports channels like ESPN, FS1, TNT, and TBS, they are all available on DIRECTV STREAM, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. While fuboTV has ESPN and FS1, they are without TNT/TBS.

However, if you want to stream your local teams games on a Regional Sports Network (RSN), you must choose wisely. DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV each offer NBC Sports RSNs, but DIRECTV STREAM is the only Live TV Streaming Service with Bally Sports RSNs and YES Network.

They are also the only streaming service that offers RSNs from MSG, Spectrum SportNet, MASN, Altitude, ROOT Sports, and AT&T SportsNet.

Live TV Streaming Service Feature Comparison
All the major Live TV Streaming Services include live streams in high definition, cloud DVR, and the ability to stream a wide-variety of devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV.

Comparing DVR Storage
While each service offers a DVR, some of them require an upgrade for additional space.

Both YouTube TV and Philo offer Unlimited DVR storage. With YouTube TV, you can keep your shows for 9 months, while Philo offers storage for up to a year.

fuboTV includes a 250 Hour DVR, but you can upgrade to 1,000 Hours for $5 a month. The biggest benefit is that their DVR content never expires.

Sling TV includes 50 hours of recording space, but offers the ability to upgrade to 200 hours for $5 a month.

DIRECTV STREAM offers a 20 Hour DVR, which can be upgraded to Unlimited for $10 a month.

Hulu + Live TV has a 50 Hour DVR, but it is the only one that doesn’t allow you to skip commercials. To do that you need to upgrade to their Enhanced Cloud DVR, that also increases the storage to 200 hours of recording space.

Comparing Simultaneous Streams
One of the biggest savings with a Live TV Streaming Service is that most include the ability to stream on multiple devices at the same time at no extra charge. The number of streams you get depend on whether they are on your home network or on your mobile device outside the home.

Hulu + Live TV offers two simultaneous streams, while DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV, YouTube TV, Sling TV “Blue Plan”, and Philo each offer three simultaneous streams outside your home network.

DIRECTV STREAM includes 20 simultaneous streams on your home network (or three while traveling), while fuboTV includes 10 as part of $5 upgrade. Hulu will upgrade you to three streams outside the home and unlimited screens at home as part of a $10 upgrade.

Live TV Streaming Services Supported Devices
DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, Philo, Sling TV, and YouTube TV have wide-ranging support for streaming players like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, mobile devices, and tablets, but with a couple caveats:

  • DIRECTV STREAM is not available on Android TV devices
  • YouTube TV is currently not available on Roku devices

While Samsung Smart TVs have wide coverage of all services except Philo, only Hulu, fuboTV, and YouTube TV are available on LG and VIZIO Smart TVs.

How to Sign-Up For a Live TV Streaming Service For Free (or Cheap)?
Now that you know what to expect when you sign-up for a Live TV Streaming Service, we put together the best trials and deals available to stream Live TV.

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