Live TV Streaming Service Comparison: YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV vs. Fubo vs. DIRECTV STREAM vs. Sling TV vs. Philo
Which Live TV Streaming Service is the Best?
As of 2023, this is what we liked and didn’t like with each live streaming service. Sometimes it can be confusing deciding between the different Live TV Streaming Services, so we simplified it to just the pros and cons of each service.
If you want a more detailed breakdown of each service, you can read our comprehensive review of the various streaming services that we’ve spent thousands of hours testing since 2017.
Starting at $74.99+/month, DIRECTV STREAM (previously called AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW) includes locals, 34 of the top 35 cable channels, and has the widest selection of Regional Sports Networks including Bally Sports.
While you will get a full-featured streaming, with more top channels than other services, it is often more expensive than the other Live TV Streaming Services to get them.
While you can access 3 simultaneous streams while traveling, you can now watch on unlimited devices at home. They also upgraded their DVR to now include unlimited storage, which keeps recordings for up to 9 months.
- Widest Top Cable selection on Base Plan
- Considered to have the best picture quality of any service
- Includes widest selection of RSNs, including Bally Sports & YES Network
- Includes Unlimited At-Home Streams
- Includes Unlimited DVR
- Most expensive base plan of any service
- Some users have had streaming stability issues
- On-demand content sometimes have playback issues
They completely overhauled their apps to make it easier to search and browse for live and on-demand shows. It also includes an improved channel guide which makes it simple to find what’s currently on TV.
They recently improved their DVR to allow you set Team Recordings of all games of your favorite team, which will auto-extend if the games run long. DIRECTV STREAM is also the only service that offers a “channel surfing” feature, which lets you swipe to switch between channels.
Read more in our full DIRECTV STREAM Review
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu Live TV may provide the best value of any of the Live TV Streaming Services. At $69.99/month, it includes locals, 33 of the top 35 cable channels, and many of the channels you need to watch pro sports.
Hulu + Live TV Pros and Cons
- Offers locals in nearly every market.
- Great channel selection for college sports fans.
- Includes The Disney Bundle at no extra charge
- Includes Unlimited DVR with skippable ads
- Does not include AMC or Hallmark
- Only carries NBC Sports RSNs (no Bally Sports)
- Somewhat confusing user interface, that is more geared towards on-demand than live.
You also get access to The Disney Bundle ($13 value) at no extra charge, so you can watch Disney+ and ESPN+ for free.
They now include an Unlimited DVR with unskippable ads, which used to be a major knock on the service.
The user experience could still use an overhaul to make it an ideal experience for live TV viewers. Search works incredibly well, but needs a better channel guide.
Hulu Live TV has a good selection of locals channels and national sports networks, but is missing channels like AMC and Hallmark, as well as Regional Sports Networks in most markets.
This service is a great option for college sports fans because it includes ACC Network, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, and SEC Network. If you watch nationally televised sports, you can watch all games on ESPN, TNT, TBS, and FS1.
Many channels allow you to rewind to the beginning of a show, even if you join late—one of our favorite features.
Read more in our full Hulu Live TV Review.
On most platforms Fubo has a great user experience across all platforms and are constantly innovating. On Apple TV, they are the only service that offers MultiView, which allow you to watch up to four channels at the same time. They are one of the only services that offers 4K streaming of live sports like MLB, College Football, College Basketball, and Premier League.
The Fubo app includes a dedicated screen showing live sporting events, on demand TV shows and movies, and a standard channel guide. They also have a feature called FanView, which lets you see live scores and stats, directly in the Fubo App.
Fubo Pros and Cons
- Great user experience
- Includes RSNs like MSG, NESN, AT&T SportsNet, and soon Bally Sports in their Base Plan
- Includes 10 simultaneous at-home streams
- Includes 1,000 Hour DVR, that keeps your content as long as you need it
- Only service with 4K streaming without add-on
- No longer carries TNT, TBS, CNN, A&E, AMC, History, & Lifetime
- Charges RSN Fee in most markets, even if you don’t watch them
- Two people can’t watch on their TV from different locations at the same time
Fubo includes Regional Sports Networks, NFL Network, NBA TV, MLB Network, NHL Network, Tennis Channel, beIn. If you don’t need TNT or TBS — this is a good option for sports fans.
Read more in our full Fubo Review.
Philo is a great entry-level option for those who want entertainment channels and can get their locals via antenna. It includes a lot of the major entertainment channels, but offers no news, sports, or local channels.
Philo Pros and Cons
- Cheapest entry level option for entertainment TV.
- Includes channels from A&E, AMC, Discovery, and ViacomCBS.
- Unlimited cloud DVR storage, for up to a year.
- Easy-to-use grid guide
- Does not offer any locals or sports channels.
- Does not support Casting on all mobile devices.
- Does not have some cable networks like Bravo, TBS, TNT, & FX.
This service is a great option for those who want some live entertainment content, but nothing else. It is the cheapest way to get some live TV at just $25/month.
Read more in our Philo Review.
Sling TV was the first company to offer a cord cutting service. It is the cheapest option ($40+) to have live sports and news, but it adds up quickly if you add additional channels or expanded DVR (+$5).
Sling TV Pros and Cons
- Cheapest way to have some live TV.
- Great budget option for pro sports fans.
- Easy to use interface and grid guide
- Inconsistent stream stability.
- Includes 50 Hour DVR, but $5 to upgrade to 200 hour DVR
- Outside of top 7 regional markets, local channel availability is sparse.
Sling TV “Blue” with “Sports Extra” is a great budget option for pro sports fans. For $51/month, you can get most national sports channels (except ESPN), NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, and NHL Network. They have a $27 Total TV Deal which will add ~100 channels from their 7 Extra Packs and 200 Hour DVR.
Over the last 12 months, Sling TV has been improving their user interface, which has made it much easier to use.
Read more in our full Sling TV Review.
YouTube TV has an amazing user experience that is hurt by the lack of local sports. It has 32 of the top 35 cable channels. YouTube TV includes support on most devices and the interface may be the best of all the services, with easy search and a nice grid guide. Your subscription also includes an unlimited DVR.
- Offers locals in most markets.
- Amazing interface with live channel previews.
- Unlimited cloud DVR storage, for up to 9 months.
- Doesn’t carry A&E, Lifetime, and History Channel
- Doesn’t offer RSNs in most markets
- Unlimited Stream & 4K cost extra (+$19.99)
You can record as much you want and keep it for up to 9 months. While pricey at $19.99/month, they now offer their 4K Plus Add-on, which has some 4K content, unlimited at-home streams, and offline downloads.
Read more in our full YouTube TV Review.
Other Streaming Services to Consider
If you want shows from NBCU-owned channels like NBC, Bravo, E!, Golf Channel, you can get most of that content with a subscription to Peacock Premium. Most content they offer the next-day after it airs on cable, and in certain cases it will premiere on Peacock early.
Peacock Premium now includes your local NBC affiliate if you subscribe to their $9.99 a month Peacock Premium Plus Plan. Even on their cheaper Premium plan, you will get access to live sports including Sunday Night Football, Premier League, and MLB Sunday Morning Leadoff.
If you want some live TV, sports, and entertainment, Paramount+ is an inexpensive way to get it. While it doesn’t have a full range of cable channels like the other services, it has some of the same content on-demand and you can get your local CBS affiliate on if you subscribe to their $9.99 a month Paramount+ Premium Plan. If you don’t need it 24/7, you will still get live sports on Paramount+ Premium ($5), which carries NFL on CBS, Serie A, and Champions League.
You will also get a large library of TV shows like “Survivor”, hit movies like “Top Gun Maverick”, and originals like “1923”, “Tulsa King,” and various Star Trek series.
If you don’t need live channelsm you could consider Hulu’s SVOD plan, gives access to thousands of full seasons of exclusive series, hit movies, kids shows, and Hulu Originals like The Handmaid’s Tale. You will also get next day access to most shows on FOX and ABC.
ESPN+ doesn’t include live access to ESPN, but it has tons of live sports, including baseball, hockey, football, soccer, and college sports. In addition to live games, the service also includes access to original shows and written analysis from ESPN insiders.
Subscriptions to ESPN+ start at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, includes live coverage of select Monday Night Football games, NHL games (including all out-of-market games), LaLiga, Bundesliga, and college sports. Overall, ESPN+ is a solid choice for sports fans looking for a comprehensive streaming service with a wide range of options.