Cutting the cable cord? Here’s how to choose the best streaming TV services to gain access to the top shows, sporting events and movies.
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Between Netflix, HBO Max and Apple TV+, you have plenty of places to find quality content. Chances are, you already have a subscription to one of the many streaming TV services available these days. Maybe you even have a few. But do they offer a live TV option?
It’s easier than ever to cut the cord on traditional cable without losing access to sports and live events. If you’re a savvy subscriber, you can take advantage of lower-cost subscription services and even free streaming services for tons of great content without going broke.
Different streaming TV services offer different things, though, so you need to know what you’re signing up for before you subscribe. It helps to know the cancellation policy ahead of time, for instance, in case a service isn’t the right fit for you. (Some lock you into annual subscriptions, while others offer the ease of canceling subscriptions on your iPhone and other mobile devices.) Looking for a cable alternative that offers live TV? Browse our list of the best streaming TV services to find the subscription that’s right for you.
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|Service||Base Price||Free Trial|
|Hulu + Live TV||69.99/month||No|
Best for classic television lovers: Hulu + Live TV
Base price: $69.99 per month
This streamer has a solid reputation for great originals, including Hulu TV shows like Only Murders in the Building, The Great and Reservation Dogs. It pumps out some must-watch original films too, including Prey and Palm Springs. And sure, you might choose Hulu over the other big-name streaming TV services because it offers a live TV option, but what really makes this one of the best streaming services is the sheer number of classic TV shows available.
If you want to binge your way through series like The Golden Girls, Cheers, I Love Lucy and Sister, Sister, Hulu’s got your back. And we haven’t even mentioned the dramas like ER, Friday Night Lights and Dawson’s Creek. The streamer is the destination for pretty much every classic sitcom you can think of.
Pricing varies depending on what you want from Hulu. The basic subscription gives access to the streamer’s entire content library for a monthly fee of $7.99 (with ads) or $14.99 (without ads)—but you won’t get live TV. If you’re looking for live TV streaming services that can replace cable, go with the bundled subscription to Hulu + Live TV, which includes Disney+ and ESPN+. It’ll run you $69.99 a month with ads and $82.99 a month without ads.
Want to try Hulu without committing? Free trials are available for Hulu only, not the Hulu bundles like Hulu + Live TV.
- Exhaustive selection of classic shows
- High-quality original series and films
- Live TV options
- Ad and ad-free options
- Bundles available for access to Disney+ and ESPN+
- The Hulu + Live TV, Disney+ and ESPN+ bundle recently increased by $7 per month
- Premium and live TV add-ons can get expensive
Best streaming service for watching live TV: Philo
Base price: $25 per month
It may not be a household name like Amazon Prime Video or offer the same Amazon Prime benefits, but Philo is making a name for itself for two big reasons: For starters, it has a large library of TV shows and movies, as well as live TV viewing at a great price—a flat $25 per month—making it an excellent all-around value.
But beyond that, it’s one of the only streaming services that lets you watch current episodes of the Paramount Network hit Yellowstone if you don’t have cable. (While the first four seasons are available on Peacock and Amazon Prime Video, Season 5 of Yellowstone won’t be available there for a few more months.)
If you’re Philo-curious, the streaming TV service has a solution: It offers a free seven-day trial.
- Access to over 70 channels, including A&E, Paramount Network, Lifetime, MTV and more
- Affordable monthly pricing
- No contract required
- Add-ons cost an additional fee
- Live sports viewing options are limited
Best for professional sports lovers: Fubo TV
Base price: $69.99 per month
One of the main reasons many people stick with their cable subscription: to watch sporting events. Losing cable means losing access to major networks and the live games they show, and for fans of all sorts of sports, it means being unable to watch the teams and athletes you love. Fubo TV helps solve that problem by offering access to hundreds of channels, as well as global sporting events like the FIFA World Cup.
The Pro plan costs $69.99 a month, features access to 141 channels (including ESPN, MLB Network and NHL Network) and lets you watch more than 100 sporting events on unlimited screens. The Elite plan costs $79.99 a month and offers over 200 channels and 130 sporting events. With each, you’ll also be able to stream non-sports content, like your favorite dramas and reality TV shows.
For even more variety, go with the Ultimate plan, which will run you $99.99 a month. The steeper price will get you the same number of sporting events and channels as the other plans, plus access to Showtime, 12 additional News Plus channels and Sports Plus channels that include NFL Redzone.
You can try any of Fubo’s plans for free with a seven-day trial.
- Access to over 130 sporting events
- Offers 1,000 hours of cloud DVR space to record shows
- More than just sports: Other networks include HGTV, AMC and Nickelodeon
- Fubo Latino offers Spanish-language events for just $24.99 a month
- Upgrades and add-ons to basic plans can add up
Most customizable service: Sling TV
Base price: $40 per month
Sling TV is similar to Philo in that it offers live TV viewing for a price that’s generally cheaper than cable. But Sling offers even more customization options and more sports. Those add-ons come at a price, but you may find that this streaming TV service is still more affordable than your current cable bill because you can pick and choose the networks you want to add.
Sling offers two basic plans, each costing $40 per month: Orange features 31 channels, while Blue has 41 and includes more regional sports and cable news. For the best of both worlds, opt for the combo Orange and Blue package, which includes 47 channels and is priced at $55 a month. Sling doesn’t offer a free trial, but it’s currently offering a new subscriber deal that’ll get you half off your first month.
- Every package comes with 50 hours of free DVR storage
- New subscribers receive an Amazon Fire Stick Lite
- You can add on premium channels, like Showtime and Starz, with Sling’s à la carte pricing
- A basic package allows you to watch on only one device
- Fewer overall channels than most other streaming TV services
- No free trial
Best for watching local stations: DirecTV Stream
Base price: $69.99 per month
You may know it as a cable provider, but DirecTV offers a streaming service as well, and it’s perfect for anyone who wants to ditch cable without losing local programming. Monthly DirecTV Stream packages start at $69.99 for the Entertainment plan, which gives you access to over 75 channels. But if you want to have access to local channels and regional sports programming, you’ll have to choose the Choice tier, which starts at $89.99 per month. No matter which tier you choose, you’ll get access to live and on-demand content, plus the option to add on any number of premium channels, including HBO Max, Epix, Starz and Showtime.
A five-day free trial is available, and there are currently several discounts on premium channel add-ons available for new customers.
- Regional sports and news available, starting with the Choice plan
- Every package allows you to stream on unlimited devices
- Unlimited cloud DVR storage
- DirecTV also offers a Spanish-language plan, Óptimo Más, which features over 100 channels in both English and Spanish
- More expensive than some other service providers
- No regional sports or local channels with the base package
Best for college sports fans: Vidgo
Base price: $59.95 per month
Vidgo is a relatively new streaming platform, but it has a big name standing behind it: NFL star Rob Gronkowski is a pitchman for the fledgling streaming service, which focuses on college sports. The pro athlete is a natural fit for a platform that offers everything from ESPNU to the Big Ten and PAC-12 networks and proudly claims to air 80% of televised college football games. (The website even features consistent updates of NCAA rankings for most major college sports.)
Vidgo offers dozens of additional non-sports channels to round out its offerings. For $59.95 a month, you’ll get more than 110 live channels, including live sports, news and entertainment. Bump up to the Premium package ($79.95 a month) for even more channels—over 150 of them.
Vidgo offers a seven-day free trial for new subscribers. While you’re at it, check out these must-order subscription boxes.
- Features the biggest selection of streaming college sports events
- No contracts; Vidgo is a pre-paid month-to-month provider
- Advanced playback feature allows you to watch anything that aired within the past 24 hours without recording it
- DVR recording is limited to 20 hours and is only free for the first 90 days
- No premium channels available to add on
- Only one user profile per account
Best if you want to replace cable: YouTubeTV
Base price: $64.99 per month
YouTubeTV‘s base plan features more than 100 channels available to watch live for $64.99 per month, a great deal considering a subscription includes access to the most popular cable networks, several sports networks and several cable news networks. You also get the flexibility that comes with premium add-ons; choose from 44 networks, a sports add-on and a Spanish add-on.
While similar services, like Hulu + Live TV and DirecTV, offer almost as many channels (as well as other benefits), they both come in at least $5 more per month than YouTube. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly cable alternative, you’ll find just about everything you get from traditional cable—minus the box—on YouTubeTV. (While you’re watching, be sure to use these handy YouTube keyboard shortcuts to maximize your viewing experience.)
YouTube is currently offering a two-week free trial for new subscribers. The site makes it super easy to track how long you have left in your trial period before payment kicks in.
- Over 100 channels included in the base package
- Unlimited DVR recording space
- Customizable premium channel and Spanish-language add-ons
- Three streams and up to six accounts per household
- Not all programming is ad free
- Pricing for some add-ons, like 4K Plus, is not visible until you subscribe
Best Spanish-language services: ViX and ViX+
Base price: Free
Television behemoth TelevisaUnivision launched ViX+ this year in the United States, Mexico and most of Latin America, and it’s the largest Spanish-language streaming service available. The platform offers two tiers: ViX, a free, ad-supported site, promises over 100 channels and more than 40,000 hours of on-demand content, much of it from Televisa and Univision, two titans of Spanish-language television that merged earlier this year. It also offers hundreds of telenovelas, Hollywood movies, 24-hour news, sports and children’s programming.
But for the best Spanish-language content, go with the company’s streaming TV service ViX+, a premium tier that will run you $59.99 per month. It offers live soccer and other sports in addition to original series and films, including several produced by Salma Hayek’s Ventanarosa Productions. ViX+ offers an introductory rate of 99 cents for the first month, and T-Mobile subscribers are eligible to receive Vix+ for free through the phone provider.
- The biggest Spanish-language streaming service available
- Access to hundreds of soccer matches, including UEFA Champions League, La Liga MX and the FIFA World Cup
- Stream on three devices simultaneously
- Offers free, ad-supported tier
- The relatively new service is still building its original-content library
Best free streaming service: Peacock
Base price: Free
Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, has a free, ad-supported tier that offers thousands of hours of movies and TV shows, as well as a limited selection of live TV and sports. The streamer also offers two paid tiers—one for $4.99 per month with ads, and one for $9.99 per month without ads—that offer even more programming, including Peacock Originals like Rutherford Falls.
The good news is that you can watch classic TV shows like Leave It to Beaver and The Carol Burnett Show, sitcoms like 30 Rock and The Office, and critically acclaimed films like John Wick and 1917 all for free on the ad-supported level. If you’ve already tried to negotiate your household bills and still need to pare down expenses, Peacock is a great free option that’ll let you take advantage of tons of classic programming.
- Thousands of hours of programming for free
- Impressive library of classic and new TV shows and movies
- No credit card required to access free tier
- Offers previews of Peacock Originals
- Free tier features only a portion of what Peacock Premium offers
- Cannot watch live sporting events
- Not available on Amazon Fire TV devices