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Here are best live TV streaming services in 2023

You don’t need an ugly satellite dish or cable box to watch live TV anymore. These days, the best live TV streaming services can give you access to all of your favorite channels without the hassles or long-term contracts that come with traditional pay-TV. And all you need is an internet connection and a smart TV, computer, or phone to start watching.

But with so many options on the market, it can be tricky to figure out which service is right for your needs. To help you choose, we spent hours testing the best live TV streaming services in order to narrow it down to five picks. Hulu + Live TV is our top recommendation since it boasts 90+ channels and includes on-demand access to Hulu, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus. But if you’re on a budget, a cheap entry-level service like Philo could be all you need. It’s missing local channels and sports networks, but it’s only $25 a month.

Below, you’ll find our full list of live TV streaming recommendations for different needs. Though channel selection and price varies, these cord-cutting services all offer plenty of popular networks to watch.

Our top picks for the best live TV streaming services
Best overall: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV is packed with entertainment for the whole family, including over 90 channels and on-demand access to Hulu, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus — all for only a few bucks more than its main competitors.

Best budget plan: Philo
If budget is all you’re focused on, Philo offers an unbeatable price in exchange for a limited but decent selection of channels.

Best cable alternative: YouTube TV
Though Hulu’s service offers extra on-demand streaming perks, YouTube TV is the best live TV streaming service if all you want is cable content.

Best for the essentials: Sling TV
Sling’s individual plans offer excellent value for target viewers looking to save on monthly costs, though its all-inclusive plan pales in comparison to more expensive options.

Best for sports fans: Fubo
Fubo offers a huge catalog of channels that aren’t all that popular, but its high price is worth it for fans of sports.

Best overall: Hulu + Live TV
Pros: Combines live TV channels with the Disney Plus bundle, one of the only services compatible with Nintendo Switch, offers add-ons like Max and Showtime

Cons: Falls short if you’re not a Disney or ESPN fan, missing a few channels like AMC, NBA TV, and MLB Network

Hulu + Live TV is an excellent live TV platform that offers superb channel quantity and quality, along with the added bonus of on-demand access to Hulu, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus, which are three of the best streaming services you can get. It’s difficult to find a viewer that wouldn’t be satisfied by all of these libraries combined, whether you’re a news follower, picky kid, or avid sports fan.

When it comes to live TV streaming, Hulu’s service features unlimited DVR and simultaneous viewing on up to two screens (you can get unlimited screens with a $10 add-on). The app is available on virtually any connected device, and it’s even one of the only streaming services you can get on the Nintendo Switch.

Though it may not offer the most channels, Hulu + Live TV has a ton of popular networks that you’ll actually want to watch. The lineup included local stations like ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox; kids shows from Nickelodeon and Disney Channel; reality TV from TLC, HGTV, and TruTV; and other cable favorites like TNT, TBS, Paramount Network, and more. Fans of sports can also tune into ESPN, ESPN2, and NFL Network.

On the downside, Hulu + Live TV is missing a few extra sports channels like NBA TV and MLB Network that you can get on some rival services. It’s also missing AMC, so fans of shows like “Interview with the Vampire,” “Mayfair Witches,” and “Lucky Hank” will have to look elsewhere.

Even though the service saw a recent price hike, it’s hard to deny how much value this package delivers. It’s the only cord-cutting service that covers your live TV and on-demand entertainment needs in one convenient subscription plan. And it does all that for around the same price as its direct competitors.

Best budget plan: Philo
Pros: Hands-down the cheapest of any service, free seven-day trial, over 70 channels, includes popular reality and lifestyle networks

Cons: No local channels, very few news networks, no sports coverage, limited add-ons

If price is your main concern, live TV streaming doesn’t get any cheaper than Philo. For only $25 a month, you get over 70 channels with a year of unlimited DVR. In exchange for such a low cost, Philo does fall short in a few areas, but it’s still an incredible value for the money.

The Philo channel catalog is limited, but does include some quality content for the right viewer. You can find great lifestyle channels like Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, and TLC, and you get Nickelodeon for your little ones. General entertainment options are also solid with stations like AMC, Paramount Network, and Comedy Central. If you’re looking for robust news, local stations, or sports coverage, however, you’ll have to look elsewhere since Philo doesn’t include networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, or ESPN.

The Philo app is available on select smart TVs and most streaming devices and smartphones. But, unlike most other live TV services, it’s not available on any gaming consoles.

Philo cuts a lot of corners, but it does so in the name of keeping costs low for viewers, making it the best live TV streaming service there is for shoppers on a tight budget. We suggest browsing the Philo channel lineup if you’re in the market for a cheap cable alternative — you might be surprised by how many popular networks you can get for only $25 a month.

Best cable alternative: YouTube TV
Big library of popular channels, great for household sharing, available as a Spanish plan, can be bundled with the NFL Sunday Ticket, offers add-ons like 4K

Cons: Basic features like downloads cost extra, can’t compete with added value of Hulu’s on-demand options

If you have a big household and all you want is a cable TV alternative, YouTube TV offers the best balance in terms of quantity and quality of live TV channels.

Subscribing gives you six household accounts for each member of the family, and up to three screens of simultaneous viewing. Everyone even gets their own personal library for unlimited DVR space.

The base plan doesn’t include 4K (that costs an extra $10 a month), but you can find YouTube TV on just about any smart TV, browser, smartphone, or gaming console.

YouTube TV also stands out for having a huge library of popular channels. That includes local networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC; cartoons from Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, and Cartoon Network; sports from ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNews, and NBA TV; lifestyle from TLC, Food Network, Travel Channel, and HGTV; and hit shows from AMC, FX, and Paramount Network.

You can even get a Spanish Plan on its own or as an add-on. And YouTube is now the exclusive home of NFL Sunday Ticket, which lets you pay to watch out-of-market football games.

YouTube TV is easily one of the best live TV streaming services you can sign up for, and it might even take the top spot in our guide if it wasn’t for the extra value that Hulu + Live TV offers with its Disney Plus bundle. But if you’re only interested in live cable TV programming, YouTube TV offers everything you could want to watch at a solid price.

Best for the essentials: Sling TV
Affordable plans, features several top channels, up to three simultaneous streams, you can choose to pay less by opting for Blue or Orange

Cons: Certain channels are exclusive to either Orange or Blue, Orange + Blue bundle doesn’t compare to other streaming services, no option to get CBS

Sling is the best live TV streaming service if all you need are the essentials without any extra bells and whistles. Though not quite as cheap as Philo, Sling TV allows you to choose between two affordable plans to keep your monthly costs as low as possible, and it includes some key networks that Philo is missing.

Sling Orange is intended for the sporty family, while Sling Blue targets news and entertainment viewers. Though pricing varies slightly depending on where you live, both plans start at $40 a month, making Sling one of the most affordable options on the market.

Both plans start with the same base 25 channels which include popular networks like AMC, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, and Cartoon Network. Each plan also features a handful of exclusive channels gearing them toward a specific kind of viewer. Orange comes with exclusives like ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, Disney Channel, Freeform, and Motortrend. Meanwhile, Blue comes with channels like NFL Network, FX, Discovery, and TLC, along with local networks like ABC, NBC, and Fox in select cities.

If you’re interested in getting both lineups, you can combine the two plans with the Sling Orange + Blue package for a starting price of $55 a month. At that price, however, we think you’re better off paying a bit more to get the extra perks and additional channels that come with a Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV membership.

Best for sports fans: Fubo
Huge library of channels, different tiers available for different budgets, optional premium networks as an add-on, tons of sports options

Cons: Some sports channels cost extra, can quickly get costly with each add-on, missing popular channels like AMC, TNT, TBS, and CNN

Fubo’s strongest selling point is its huge library of available channels: Around 170 with its entry-level Pro plan alone, and more included with each tier up. Fubo also comes with 1,000 hours of DVR recording storage, and it stands out for letting subscribers watch up to 10 simultaneous screens at once on one account, albeit for a more expensive starting price than most competitors.

Fubo is mostly geared toward sports fans, especially those who want to watch regional channels and international leagues, but be ready to pay for extras. With Fubo Pro, the cheapest plan, you get AT&T Sportsnet, ESPN, ESPN 2, NFL Network, beIN Sports, PFL, Speedvision, Bleav Sports, FS1, FS2, Sportsnews, SEC Network, Motortrend, and more. Other services offer some of these networks as well, but Fubo stands out further with specific add-on bundles for MLB, NBA, or international sports fans. These start at an additional $7 a month.

But once you start tacking on add-ons Fubo can start to get expensive. If you go with the base plan at $75 a month and opt for Sports Plus ($11 a month), and MLB.TV ($25 a month), you’re already at a hefty cost of $111 a month. That makes FuboTV one of the most expensive live TV streaming services. It’s also important to note that while Fubo has tons of specialized sports networks, regional stations, and international options, it is missing TNT and TBS, which broadcast some NBA and MLB games.

How we test live TV streaming services
In trying to find the best live TV streaming services, we tested several different contenders and narrowed our picks down to the top five. We evaluated several key factors when testing each service including overall value, number of channels, quality of channels, and extra features.

Overall value: Live TV streaming services are much more expensive than your average streaming service, meaning it’s even more important to ensure you’re getting what you want from your choice. We didn’t let a high price tag eliminate a competitor from the running, but if a service was unnecessarily expensive, or more expensive than comparable services, we noted that.

Number of channels: If you’re searching for a cable replacement, you definitely don’t want to make huge cuts to your viewing library when making the switch. To measure this, we compared how many channels each plan for each service offered. Total channels is only part of the equation, however, as having hundreds of networks is meaningless if they’re not worth tuning into.

Quality of channels: Maybe even more important than the number of channels is how good the channels are. It doesn’t matter if you have thousands of channels if you don’t want to watch them — so we ensured that our top picks for the best live TV streaming service had shows you’d actually tune in to. That means looking for popular and top channels from household names across a range of genres, including news, sports, family, drama, and lifestyle programs.

Extra features: With so many options to choose from for your live TV, providers set themselves apart by offering extra perks with your service. We took this into account when testing since the right features can add a ton of value to your subscription plan. Key features we focused on include user profile support, DVR capabilities, 4K streaming, simultaneous streams, and on-demand service bundles.

What to look for in a live TV streaming service
There are a few key pros that all of the best live TV streaming services share, but in the end, the best platform for you will depend on your particular needs. Even before starting to shop, we recommend identifying what content you actually care about watching — do you really need to pay for hundreds of channels if you only actually care about a few of them? Here are some questions we recommend asking yourself before committing to a subscription.

  • Does the service include a handful of channels for each genre you plan to watch?
  • Does it cater to the kids in your household?
  • Does it offer enough simultaneous screens for the amount of viewers you have?
  • Do you need on-demand streaming included?
  • Will you be able to watch this service on your household devices (smart TVs, consoles, etc)?

We helped make the hunt easier by narrowing down to five of the best live TV streaming services above — now it’s up to you to figure out which is best for you. Luckily, some offer free trials to give you the chance to sample the goods before committing to a subscription.

Live TV streaming service FAQs
What is live TV streaming?
Designed as a replacement for pricey cable and satellite TV, the best live TV streaming services eliminate the need for finicky, company-owned hardware and allow you to watch your favorite live channels with just an internet connection and a smart TV, phone, or streaming device. It’s a must-have for folks who want to catch their favorite programs as they come out, like the news, sports games, or new episodes of your favorite shows.

How do you stream live TV?
With a live TV streaming service, all you need is an internet connection to start streaming live TV from your computer, smart TV, smartphone, or gaming console. Just download the related app, or open the service’s website, log in, and start watching.

If you’re looking for a new streaming stick, box, or display, check out our guides to the best TVs and best streaming devices.

Is live TV streaming cheaper than cable?
Live TV streaming services are often more affordable than cable services, with traditional pay-TV providers like Dish, Verizon, and DirecTV offering starting prices that cost more than most of our streaming picks. For cable plans that offer more than the bare minimum, you’ll often find costs start to climb past the $100 mark.

Not only are they more expensive, but cable plans lock you into lengthy contracts while streaming services allow you to cancel at any time. Cable also offers far fewer features, like smaller DVR storage, no personal accounts, and less compatible devices to watch on.

In general, it’s safe to say that live TV streaming services give you more bang for your buck. However, it is important to keep in mind that the best live TV streaming services can still get pricey once you start adding on extra channel packages and some upgraded features. Business Insider

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