Things get exciting for cord cutters, especially in the US. There has never been more competition, or more options, for users who want to get their live TV over the net. It includes live sports and local TV channels in most markets.
But with all that competition it can be difficult to know which service is best for you. That's where we come in. We have tested all the major offers: YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, DirecTV NOW, PlayStation Vue and Sling and broken down who are excel in which areas.
We should note that, of course, everyone's tastes will differ. These services cover many of the same channels, but if you offer a channel you cannot live without and the other does not, of course you should not take our recommendation and miss the views you want to watch. [1
Fortunately, the nature of these services is much more consumer-friendly than conventional cable or satellite TV. All services in this guide offer free trial for a week or more, and can be canceled at any time without punitive or expensive hardware. It is easy to switch to another service if you are dissatisfied with your first choice – you can even sign up for them at the same time, compare them during the free trial and cancel all except the one you decide on. And if you are looking for something special for a family with children, make sure you read our guide to child-friendly TV services.
But enough introduction: let's come to the show. Here are our choices for the best live TV services on the web.
The best overall live TV service: YouTube TV
At just $ 40 a month for its only primary package, which includes live local channels and unlimited Cloud DVR recording (yes, extremely unlimited), YouTube TV Snags, we choose the best overall card clipping service. While Sling puts it on price, it's almost not as flexible, and its oddball split of the low $ 25 level will confuse and alienate many users. It helps YouTube TV also have one of the better user interfaces and is available on virtually any platform you could want, including Google's ostensible competitors like Roku, Apple TV and iPhones.
There are a few negatives to YouTube TV. It is not yet available in all US markets (and not at all internationally), but it covers the country for some 90% of potential users. Google's original programming is also very flawed – it throws itself into YouTube Red, but the exclusive series does not contain a light as well of Hulu. YouTube TV does not include an HBO extension (although it has Showtime and Starz), but that content is pretty easy to get on its own.
However, for most users who can access it and want a straightforward exchange of cable television that is simple and relatively inexpensive, YouTube TV should be the first place they see.
Best Live TV Library: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu started as a collaboration between some of the largest media companies in the US, and it shows. In addition to the usual smattering of basic cable channels, Hulu + Live TV also includes, Hulu, the endless collection of streaming programs that need no schedule to enjoy. Hulu also gets most of the network and some cable TV programs are available to be able to stream on their service the night after they have air on old-fashioned TV, no manual recording is necessary.
Hulu has the best selection of completely original content on this list. Hulu has, in its efforts to combat competition from Netflix and Amazon, invested in a large variety of original exhibitions that are exclusive to their service, including Official's Speech, Castle Rock, Future Man, and runaways ]. Hulu even saved some conventional television programs that were interrupted before their time, such as The Mindy Project.
Hulu is a bit pricier than the competition and its basic DVR is limited to only 50 hours. We are also a bit miffed that the $ 45 entry fee doesn't get rid of ads on the non-living part of Hulu, which is much cheaper on its own. And the less said about Hulu's blurred user interface, the better. But those who want to consolidate their services can add HBO and the other, more typical premium cable TV options within Hulu + Live TV.
The Most Flexible Live TV Service: DirecTV NOW
It's no surprise that DirecTV's alternative to its satellite TV service looks a lot like the confusing channel bundles you would get twenty years ago. With no less than four standard programming levels from $ 40 to $ 75 a month, there is plenty to include when you first try it.
But for all that, DirecTV offers most channels among the services we tried, over 125 on the most expensive class. And if that is not enough, $ 5 per month can add either HBO or Showtime (or both), one of the cheaper upgrade options for these premium channels. DirecTV NOW has the best selection of sports channels that can be expected, considering the company's connections, and surprisingly the best selection of programming for non-English content, including paid supplements for Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean and Vietnamese channels.
DirecTV NU's DVR is pitiful in just 20 hours, and only two screens can use it at once without paying for an upgrade (and even then it's only three). But if you can't break the habit of hundreds and hundreds of channels to browse through, it's probably the one you want.
The cheapest Live TV option: Sling
Sling is objectively the worst option among this raundup in terms of selection, support and interface. But it has an advantage over its competitors: it is dirt cheap. The cheapest tiers are both $ 25, often discounted to just $ 15 for a few months when you sign up for a new account. (Sling will also give you a free Roku when you pay for a while.) If you want to check out live streaming TV for the least amount of money, then this is the way to do it.
But you get what you pay for. The lower level of the loop is actually two levels, Blue and Orange, with some (but not all) channels overlapping. Blue is better for local TV, while Orange gets ESPN … but frustratingly, the NFL Network is only available on Blue. If you want both levels, it will cost you $ 40, which means that most users will probably be better served by YouTube TV or Hulu. Many of the channels built into these services need to be added to Sling in extra packages, and you have to pay to get some kind of DVR feature at all.
In short, Sling is clearly behind. It's not awful when it comes to value, but the other services on this list do it in every other way.