One of the biggest fears for anyone considering getting rid of their cable or satellite box is whether they will still be able to watch live TV. Although cutting the cord might mean paying a lower monthly bill, but many aspiring streamers still enjoy watching things like news and sports as they stream, just like the good old days.
Canceling your cable service doesn’t mean giving up watching live TV. A handful of services offer the ability to stream these coveted sports games live over the internet. Called Live TV streaming services, these services are different from monthly or yearly streaming TV service sites like netflix, Hulu and Disney+. Live streaming services, like TV Sling and Hulu with Live TV, offer a more comprehensive opportunity to cut the cords that bind you, while giving you access to live local and national news and sports channels, for one price. But there are also free live streaming options to fill in some holes, like Pluto TV.
Here’s what you need to know about the best alternative to cable, while still being able to watch TV. Here are the best live TV services you can get right now and how they compare.
Comparison of live TV streaming services
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV is Hulu’s live streaming option. Offering an assortment of sports, news and live events, the service offers over 75 channels and the ability to watch live and on-demand TV. Hulu’s Live TV experience lets you watch two screens at the same time and also includes the ability to record live TV (with 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage). It includes ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, ESPN 2, The CW, A&E, FX, Pop TV, TBS, TNT, USA, CNN, Disney Channel, E!, FS1, CNBC and many more. The cost is $69.99/month (which includes a subscription to an ad-supported version of Hulu) or $75.99/month (which includes a subscription to an ad-free version of Hulu) and you can cancel at any time. Plus, you can add things like HBO, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, Enhanced Cloud DVR, Unlimited Screens, and STARZ for an additional monthly cost.
Subscribe to Hulu Plus Live TV
One of the first live streaming options, TV Sling is also one of the cheapest. Like cable, it offers you several different packages. Along with its three plans, Sling Orange, Sling Blue (both $35 per month), and Sling Orange + Blue ($50 per month), Sling TV also offers a good selection of additional channel packages. Highlights from each plan include ESPN, Disney, BBC America and Comedy Central in Sling Orange and Discovery, FOX News, MSNBC, NBC Sports and SYFY in Sling Blue. If you want it all, the Sling Orange & Blue plan comes equipped with 50 channels. The only thing to note is that you won’t get local ABC channels with any package, but if you pay for two months of service upfront, Sling TV will send you a free HD antenna. Local CBS channels are also banned, although you can add Paramount+ (see below) if that’s important to you.
This updated streaming service officially took over from CBS All Access earlier this year and in addition to a huge library of TV episodes, movies and original content from CBS All Access, CBS, Showtime, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Pluto TV, and more offer a wide range of live TV options. Sports fans will delight in CBS Sports HQ, which features live events like the NFL on CBS, the PGA Tour and The Masters, NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball and plenty of football action including the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Europa. Conference League with exclusive English coverage. For news junkies, Paramount+ is a wealth of information. Not only will you get live streams from over 200 local CBS affiliates across the country, but you’ll also be able to tune into CBSN, a 24-hour streaming news service. You can get a one-week free trial right now, after pricing comes in two different tiers: a premium plan priced at $9.99/month or $99.99/year, and an ad-supported plan, now for just $4.99/ month or $49.99/year, and you can try it for free with a one-week trial.
With more top channels and PBS, YouTube television offers a simple user interface and full service that will almost entirely replace your cable TV with this special offer of $54.99 for the first three months, after which it will revert to $64.99/month. With over 85 sports, news and entertainment channels and cloud DVR with unlimited storage. Here you will get all major networks, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. If you want the best service available and don’t mind paying, then YouTube TV is a great live streaming service to consider. One thing to consider: At this time, you can’t get the YouTube TV app on any Roku device, though that could change if Roku and Google hit it off.
For $25 per month, Philo offers more than 60 lifestyle and basic entertainment channels, such as HGTV, History, Discovery, AMC and Nickelodeon. It also comes with a large library of on-demand titles, unlimited DVR, and multi-streaming features. If you are a sports fan, Philo is not for you. But news junkies can enjoy channels like BBC America, World News and Newsy, and romance lovers can tune into favorites like the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Movie Channel. Add-ons are also available, such as the Epix package for $6/month and the Starz package for $9/month. Right now you can also enjoy a free week when you join.
Best Live TV Streaming Service Overall: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV is our pick for the best live TV streaming service because it offers something for everyone, as well as access to its popular on-demand Hulu service. Yes, you get all live TV channels including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC. But you can also bundle sports, entertainment, and news with Hulu’s enhanced DVR capabilities for $64.99/month.
Subscribe to Hulu Plus Live TV
Comparison of free live TV streaming services
Although owned by Comcast, peacock is NBC’s foray into the streaming TV landscape, and the ad-supported free tier offers tons of NBC TV shows and an excellent library of movies, most of them streaming in high definition. Here you can find NBC favorites like Friday night lights, the first seasons of Office and Saturday Night Live but you can also stream newer shows like It’s us. But other examples of content that didn’t air on NBC include Battlestar Galactica and CharmU, and it’s the one stop destination for all Tokyo Summer Olympics. Unfortunately, only Premium subscribers (starting at $4.99 per month) can access most of Peacock’s live sports, including all Premium League football matches. The completely ad-free Peacock Premium Plus will cost you $9.99/month.
Property of Viacom, Pluto TV is a completely free basic streaming service that can help you cut those cords with over 200 different streaming channels, though many aren’t the traditional channels you might expect. But it’s entertainment that shines with Pluto TV, including Comedy Central, MTV, Fuse and Paramount Movie Channel. You can also tune into lifestyle channels like Food TV and This Old House and kids’ channels like Nick Jr. Pluto TV Kids and Anime All Ages. CNN also recently joined the ranks of Pluto, which is good news for news junkies. On-demand is available, but the smaller selection of movies and TV shows are constantly changing.
Xumo has over 150 free and on-demand channels and includes a library of on-demand TV shows and movies. At Xumo you don’t even have to register with a username and password. Just download the app and get streaming. Known channels include NBC News, ABC News Live, Fox Sports, PGA Tour, TMZ, Hallmark Movies and History Channel. You won’t get any DVR service here, so you can’t pause, replay or fast forward. But, for a free service with no strings attached, it’s a perfect addition to any cord-cutting plan.
Best Free Live TV Streaming Service Overall: Pluto TV
If you really want to cut those cables, Pluto is the best free live TV streaming site and a great way to supplement a paid subscription service, like our favorite. Hulu Plus Live TV. Although it is ad-supported, it offers an impressive number of channels, more than 250 at the current count, as well as on-demand TV shows and movies. Like Xumo, you can simply download the app or open the website and you can start watching immediately. However, if you want to register, you can also create a personal account so that you can save your favorite channels or even watch your content on different devices.