The best live TV streaming services: Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and more

If you’re thinking of cutting the cable cord, it’s never been a better time, and networking and streaming giants are falling all over themselves to provide the best alternatives for live TV streaming. From Hulu + Live TV to Sling TV to YouTube TV, there are a number of ways to watch televised events live or catch up on your favorite network shows without paying for cable.

Each of these services has its own price tag and list of special features to stand out from one another. However, differentiating between them as a consumer can feel overwhelming. We’ve done our best to simplify the shopping process for you and explain the best live TV streaming services available today.

Editor’s note: Each streaming service has conditional rules dictating the major networks it carries. Some markets have access to live network channels, including local programming, while others will be on-demand only. In some select locations, one or more of the networks — or even an entire live TV streaming service — may not be available. Check each service’s website for availability in your area.

Hulu + Live TVPhil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Price: $70 per month for Hulu‘s ad-supported, on-demand movie and TV library, plus Disney+ and ESPN+ are included right now; add-on channels and features range from $7 to $15 each. If you want no ads, you can upgrade to Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV for $76, which also comes with Disney+ and ESPN+ at the moment.

Free trial: seven-day free trial

Included major networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW

Supported devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Mac, Nintendo Switch, select Roku and Roku TV models, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Echo Show, Xbox consoles, and web browsers

Number of simultaneous streams: two at home; Unlimited Screens add-on ($10) allows for unlimited at home and three on mobile.

Who it’s for: Hulu users looking to upgrade to live streaming TV, and just about everyone else.

Where you can watch: U.S. only?

As one of the original streaming titans with a specialty in content made for TV, Hulu was always destined to be a force in the live TV streaming game. Today, it’s the second-largest live TV streaming platform, trailing only YouTube TV’s 5 million subscribers with a highly respectable 4.1 million paying users as of the second fiscal quarter of 2022.

Hulu’s basic $70 per month plan (called simply Hulu + Live TV) gives subscribers 75+ live channels. You will get ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, either live or on-demand depending on your location, plus dozens of other popular channels, which Hulu lists in full on its website. The service also added ABC News Live, CBSN, and Cheddar to bolster its news lineup. Premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax can be added for an additional fee, and prices are significantly lower than competing services. You can also add the streaming service HBO Max for $15 per month.

Hulu + Live TV also provides 12 different sports channels, including ESPN, CSN, and Fox Sports 1.

Hulu + Live TV also presents some stiff competition when it comes to sports, providing a variety of channels, including ESPN and Fox Sports 1. Hulu + Live TV lets users follow their favorite sports teams from the NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLS, MLB, and NHL and record their games, provided they’re available. You can also use your Hulu + Live TV login information to sign in to the ESPN App to access live ESPN coverage via ESPN Plus.

Sweetening matters further, Hulu + Live TV subscribers have full access to Hulu’s full on-demand streaming library and Hulu original content, essentially coupling a basic Hulu subscription ($7 per month, but rising to $8 per month as of October 10, 2022) with live TV. Note that this is the ad-supported version of Hulu, so you’ll need to add another $6 if you want no interruptions (again, as of October, the no-ad version of Hulu also rises to $15/month). This gives the service a serious edge for current Hulu subscribers. Hulu’s on-demand library of TV shows is already very good, with some of the best original TV series around. As of early 2022, Hulu + Live TV comes with unlimited recording.

Hulu’s guide and curation also are worth mentioning. Hulu allows users to organize the programming into a favorites tab and control content suggestions by removing items from their watch history or by selecting the Stop suggesting this option on recommended content they’re not interested in. Learn more about Hulu + Live TV in our comprehensive guide.

YouTube TV

Price: $65 per month for 85-plus channels; add-on packages range from $3 to $40.

Free trial: five-day free trial

Included major networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW

Supported devices: Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, iOS, Nvidia Shield, Roku, Chrome web browser, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, Vizio SmartCast TVs, and select Samsung, LG, Hisense, and Sharp smart TVs

Number of simultaneous streams: three streams on six accounts

Who it’s for: those who are deeply devoted to Google and want a simple package.

Where you can watch: U.S. only?

YouTube TV’s sole package costs $65 per month for new subscribers ready to ditch cable TV. Still, you may want to check its website to confirm which local channels are available in your area.

YouTube TV costs $65 per month for 85-plus channels, including all major networks (ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, and CW).

If you are eligible, YouTube TV includes major networks for you to get your fix of TV shows — ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, and CW — and a bevy of other popular channels at a reasonable price, and its local affiliate programming has also expanded and is now available to 100% of customers. It also has a large number of sports channels for the price.

Add-on networks include Showtime, Fox Soccer Plus, Shudder, Sundance Now, and Starz. In May 2020, YouTube TV also made HBO Max available on the service for an additional $15 per month.

YouTube TV users enjoy some of the most flexible cloud DVR support, allowing users to store unlimited hours of programming for up to nine months after recording, with standard pause/rewind and catch-up features available. If you have a Google Home device and a Chromecast, YouTube TV can be controlled with voice commands via Google Assistant. Similarly, Google Assistant can even inform you of what content is currently saved to your DVR. If you’re an Android diehard who uses Google’s ecosystem to its fullest, then YouTube TV may be the perfect addition. Read our YouTube TV guide for more info.

Sling TV

Price: Sling Orange: $35 per month for 30-plus channels; Sling Blue: $35 per month for 40-plus channels; Blue + Orange: $50 per month for 50-plus channels; additional channel add-on packs and features range from $5 to $25.

Free trial: seven-day free trial

Included major networks: NBC and Fox networks

Supported devices: Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, Android, Apple TV, Airplay, AirTV, AirTV 2, Chromecast, iOS, Mac, Nvidia Shield, Select LG Smart TVs, LeEco devices, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray players, Chrome web browser, Windows, Xbox One consoles, Xfinity X1, Xiaomi Mi Box, ZTE devices, and Oculus devices.

Number of simultaneous streams: Sling Orange: one; Sling Blue: three; Orange + Blue: four

Who it’s for: customers who want a customizable, à la carte experience.

Where you can watch: U.S. only

Sling TV currently offers the most flexibility of all the live TV streaming services out there, at least when it comes to your content and pricing options. Sling TV uses an a la carte model, with base channel packages and a bevy of add-ons. The base packages, while largely similar, do have some major differences — namely that ABC and Disney-owned channels (including ESPN, and therefore support for ESPN Plus) are only present in Orange, while Blue carries NBC, Fox, and other sports channels like NFL Network and NFL Redzone, and soon, the Big Ten Network

Sam Dilan

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