We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to live TV streaming services, especially compared to cable. Depending on where you live, you may have access to two or three cable providers and maybe a satellite provider, but many people are limited to the single option in their area.
When it comes to live TV streaming services, you don’t just have options when it comes to price, but content as well. This is great, but it can also make finding the right live TV service for you somewhat difficult.
Here are the best live TV streaming services available today, with each one’s unique points to help you decide which one is right for your personal viewing needs.
Best Overall Live TV: Hulu with Live TV
If you’re anything like me, live TV is something you use occasionally to watch live sports, then it’s just largely background noise and a source of DVR-fodder. Most services will work fine for this, but Hulu with Live TV may be the best for a few reasons.
The first is that live TV is just an add-on to your existing Hulu subscription. The second is that you can add Disney+ to your subscription and have the vast majority of your TV-based entertainment all on one bill.
Best Value Live TV: Philo
While PlutoTV delivers a TV-like experience, it’s not really the same, since many channels are dedicated to a single show. Philo, on the other hand, offers many of the same channels you find on much more expensive live TV streaming services. So what’s the catch?
To keep its cost low, Philo avoids local channels and sports networks like ESPN. The focus is squarely on entertainment, with the bonus being that even if you splurge on everything Philo offers, you’re still spending less than $30 per month.
Best Sports Live TV: fuboTV
If you just want to watch NFL, NBA, and MLB games, most streaming services cover what you want. That said, if you’re looking for other sports—namely what most of the world calls football and the U.S. calls soccer—fuboTV is your best bet.
fuboTV serves the big channels, including ESPN, FS1, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, beIN Sports, NFL Network, and many more that you won’t find on most other streaming services.
Note that fuboTV has been expanding its general live TV coverage to include more than just sports! You’ll find most of the big ones, like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, AMC, Food Network, FX, HGTV, SyFy, and plenty others.
Best Custom Live TV: Sling TV
I’ve tested nearly every available live TV streaming service, many of them multiple times. The one thing I’ve found is that every single one is missing at least one channel that I’d love to have. Sling TV isn’t immune to this, but the way it lets you build your subscription makes it more likely that you’ll be able to get the channels you want without paying a fortune.
Sling TV’s model is somewhat awkward and it still doesn’t support a few key features like per-person profiles, but it’s by far the most customizable option here.
Best Family Live TV: Frndly
If all you need is family-friendly content and you don’t want to spend much, Frndly is the streaming service for you. Unlike its competitors, Frndly has a low channel count, with just around 15 channels including multiple Hallmark channels, CuriousityStream, Pixl, and the Game Show Network.
Still, if all you need is something to put on in the background and you don’t want to worry about kids watching something they shouldn’t Frndly is a good option, and it only costs $5.99 per month.
Best Free Live TV: Pluto TV
If you’re looking for a cable-style channel surfing experience but don’t want to spend a dime, Pluto TV is your best option. There are others, but thanks to the fact that it’s owned by Viacom, you’ll find plenty of TV shows and movies you recognize, whereas most others simply repackage content you can find elsewhere on the web.
Best Cable TV Replacement: AT&T TV Now
Some people move to live TV streaming services to save money, but others just don’t want to deal with the hassle of equipment fees, appointments, and bundling other services with their TV subscription. If that sounds like you, AT&T TV Now may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Formerly known as DirecTV Now, AT&T TV Now doesn’t even pretend to be cheap. That said, if you’re looking for a large channel count and an interface similar to cable TV, this delivers in a way no other service does.
Streaming Is Worth Paying For
You may balk at some of the price points when it comes to live TV, but that’s the cost of immediate access to live content. If you want to save money, you’re better off subscribing to on-demand streaming services—you lose out on the live experience, but your wallet will feel much healthier in the long run.
And when it comes to on-demand streaming services, it pays to pay. Once you leave the the ad-laden experience of free streaming platforms, you’ll never want to go back. That’s why I started paying for Hulu and don’t regret it one bit.