The Best Live TV Streaming Services

The Best Live TV Streaming Services

Cord cutting has always been about saving money – it has never been about going without great entertainment! But, for a while there, it was pretty tough to get your hands on some of your favorite shows, news programming, live sports and other cable “exclusives.” That’s all in the past, now, though: live TV streaming services, or skinny bundles, have changed the way we watch TV as cord cutters. If you’ve spent much time on Cordcutting.com, you probably already know about live TV streaming services and how much we like them. But there are a lot of these services out there. Which are the best live TV streaming services? Which skinny bundles actually deserve your hard-earned money? That’s what we’re here to discuss today, in our biggest post yet on the relative virtues of our favorite skinny bundles. Let’s go!

Live TV Streaming Services: What Is a Skinny Bundle, and Why Would You Want One?

First things first: we need to establish what we’re actually talking about here. Those of you who already know about skinny bundles can scroll on, but the rest of you should stick around for a quick recap of what these things are and how, exactly, they work. If you’re really new to skinny bundles, then consider checking out our entire post on the subject (What Is a Skinny Bundle?), which goes into a bit more depth than we’re going to here.

Here’s the short version: live TV streaming services, also called “skinny bundles” (we’ll use the terms interchangeably) are a form of pay TV service that competes with cable and satellite. Like cable and satellite, skinny bundles offer live TV channels in a bundle. You pay a monthly subscription fee, and you can watch all the live TV you want.

But there are a few key differences between skinny bundles and their old-school competition. The biggest difference is that skinny bundles stream their content over the internet. Like Netflix and other famous streaming services, these skinny bundles are delivering the content you crave over the internet: “over the top,” in industry lingo.

That means there are no regional monopolies, which in turn means there is a lot of competition in the fast-growing skinny bundle space. Skinny bundles have responded by keeping prices low and expectations high. Among other perks, the live TV streaming services we’ll talk about here tend to offer slimmed-down channel bundles that trim the fat off of their bulky, overpriced cable and satellite counterparts – that’s where the term “skinny bundle” comes from, of course.

There are plenty of skinny bundles on the market. Some of them are great. Others are not so great. Below, we’ll compare a bunch of our favorites and declare a few winners in a battle of the best live TV streaming services.

Meet the Candidates: The 7 Best Live TV Streaming Services That We Trust

Now that we’ve explained what skinny bundles actually are, let’s get to know some of the different ones that are vying for your hard-earned cash. This is not an exhaustive list of skinny bundles – it’s just a selection of the ones that we consider trustworthy and high-quality. We’ll compare these same services more later on in this post, and then we’ll pick out the very best of these all various skinny bundles options.

Hulu with Live TV

best way to stream live TV - Hulu with Live TV

Yep, that’s Hulu as in the on-demand streaming service Hulu! They have a live TV streaming service of their very own, and they have called it – creatively enough – Hulu with Live TV. Sign up for $39.99 per month, and you’ll get a whole lot of live TV. Plus, all of the on-demand content that you’d get from the long-tenured SVOD version of Hulu is included, too. You can test out Hulu’s live TV efforts for yourself by clicking on the link below and signing up for Hulu with Live TV’s free trial. It’s a week long, and there’s no risk at all.

Try Hulu with Live TV for free

Philo

good skinny bundles - Philo

Philo stands out in the crowded skinny bundle market for one reason: its price. Philo’s whole goal is to make the skinny bundle a more affordable service, and they are succeeding admirably with their two bundle options, which come in at a stunningly affordable $16 and $20 per month, respectively. How do they do it? By making some tough cuts: Philo is also relatively unique among skinny bundles for the fact that it does not have local channels or live sports. If you approve of the cuts that Philo has made, though, you will find that it’s the most cost-effective service for your tastes! It is, of course, even more cost-effective at the start of things: the first week is free thanks to Philo’s free trial offer. Check out the link below to snag that.

Try Philo for free

Sling TV

The best live TV streaming services - Sling TV

Sling TV is the oldest of the skinny bundles, at least in the sense that it has been broadly available in different regions and on different devices for the longest. It’s also unique because it places an emphasis on add-on bundles. Once you’ve snagged at least one base bundle (choose from “Sling Orange” for $20 per month, “Sling Blue” for $25 per month, or both for $40 per month), you can add as many or as few “Extras” as you desire. In addition to the standard premium channel add-ons, these Extras include small groups of similar channels lumped together for rates of $5 per month and up. Test out any bundle you can create by clicking the link below to sign up for Sling TV’s free trial offer.

Try Sling TV for free

fuboTV

Best skinny bundles - fuboTV

fuboTV began life as a streaming service that was entirely dedicated to soccer. It was a skinny bundle from the start, but it initially limited its options to channels that boasted a lot of live soccer. That’s ancient history, though: fuboTV has long since reinvented itself as a skinny bundle with a much broader appeal. The modern version of fuboTV includes all kinds of channels, from major networks to AMC. In addition to two base bundle options (“fubo,” $44.99 per month, and “fubo Extra,” $49.99 per month), fuboTV offers foreign-language bundles and add-on bundles that can be tacked onto the base options. You can test it out for free by clicking on the link below.

Try fuboTV for free

PlayStation Vue

The best skinny bundles - PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue is Sony’s skinny bundle offering, which is why it shares its branding with the company’s popular video game console. But you can watch PlayStation Vue on a ton of different devices, from Roku players to Chromecasts. PlayStation Vue offers four different skinny bundle options to its subscribers: you can choose “Access” ($39.99 per month), “Ultra” ($74.99 per month), or anything in between. And PlayStation Vue has a free trial, too: click the link below to snag five days of it on the house.

Try PlayStation Vue for free

YouTube TV

Best streaming services - YouTube TV

YouTube TV is Google’s horse in this race. It’s a strong service that is still in the process of rolling out nationwide. For those that can get it, the $40-per-month skinny bundle option is a great way to watch live TV without cable. It works on a solid range of devices and boasts a great selection of channels from the get-to, though the add-ons are a little less impressive than is the case with some peers. As you might expect from Google, content discover features are scary good. You can test out YouTube TV for free by clicking the link below and signing up for the services free trial.

Try YouTube TV for free

DirecTV Now

The Best Live TV Streaming Services - DirecTV Now

Owned by AT&T (which also owns satellite provider DirecTV), DirecTV Now is a live TV streaming service that offers subscribers a choice of four different skinny bundle packages. The more you pay, the more channels you’ll get – and some of the larger options aren’t all that “skinny” at all! The options range from “Live a Little” ($35 per month) to “Gotta Have It” ($70 per month). You can also add on premium channels, which DirecTV Now makes available at very attractive price points. You can test DirecTV Now out for free by clicking on the link below.

Try DirecTV Now for free

Live TV Streaming Services Comparison

Below, we’ll take a look at the different live TV streaming services and see how they stack up directly in categories like channels and pricing. Get ready for some big tables – but stick around after the rows and columns, because we’ll be providing more analysis and making our final picks for the best skinny bundles to subscribe to.

Live TV Streaming Service Channels Comparison

Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
A Wealth of Entertainment
A&E
ABC
AFRO
AMC
American Heroes Channel
Animal Planet
Antena 3
Aspire
Atres Series
Audience
AXS TV
Azteca
Baby First
BabyTV
Bandamax
BBC America
BBC World News
beIN SPORTS
beIN SPORTS 2-10
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
beIN SPORTS en Español
Benfica TV
BET
BET Her
Big Ten Network
Bloomberg TV
Boomerang
Bravo
Canal 22 Internacional
CANAL ONCE
Caracol TV
Cartoon Network/Adult Swim
CBS
CBS Sports Network
Centroamérica TV
CGTN
Cheddar
Cheddar Big News
Cine Estelar
Cine Mexicano
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Cine Nostalgia
Cine Sony
Cinelatino
Cinemax
Cinémoi
CMT
CNBC
CNBC World
CNN
CNN en Español
CNN International
Comedy Central
Comedy TV
COMET TV
Cooking Channel
Cozi
C-SPAN
C-SPAN2
CuriosityStream
CW
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Decades
De Pelicula
De Pelicula Clásico
Destination America
Discovery
Discovery en Español
Discovery Familia
Discovery Family
Discovery Life
Disney Channel
Disney Junior
Disney XD
DIY Network
Dove Channel
ductv
E!
Ecuador TV
Ecuavisa Internacional
El Gourmet
El Rey
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Eleven Sports
Enlace
EPIX
EPIX Drive-In
EPIX Hits
EPIX2
ESPN
ESPN Bases Loaded
ESPN Classic
ESPN Deportes
ESPN Goal Line
ESPN2
ESPNEWS
ESPNU
Estrella TV
Euronews
Fandor Festival
Fight Network
FLAMA
FM
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Food Network
FOROtv
Fox
Fox Business Network
Fox College Sports
Fox Deportes
Fox News Channel
Fox Regional Sports Networks
Fox Soccer Plus
Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports 2
FOXlife
France24
Free Speech TV
Freeform
FTNSY
fubo Cycling
fuboTV Network
Fuse
Fusion
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
FX
FX Movie Channel
FXX
fyi,
Galavisión
Golf Channel
GolTV
GSN
Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Drama
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
HBO
HDNet Movies
HGTV
HISTORY
History en Español
Hi-Yah!
HITN TV
HLN
Hola TV
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
IFC
Investigation Discovery
IVC Net
Justice Central
Lifetime
Lifetime Movie Network (LMN)
Local Now
Logo
Los Angels Football Club
Machinima
Más Chic
MAVTV
MegaTV
MGM HD
MLB Network
MLB Strike Zone
Motorsport.tv
MSG
MSG+
MSNBC
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
MTV
MTV Classic
MTV Live
MTV2
Multimedios
MyNetworkTV
Nat Geo Mundo
Nat Geo WILD
National Geographic
NBA TV
NBC
NBC Regional Sports Networks
NBCSN
NDTV 24X7
NECN
NESN National
NESN Regional
News18
Newsmax TV
Newsy
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite
Nicktoons
NTN24
Nuestra Tele
Olympic Channel
One American News Network
Orlando City SC
Outdoor Channel
Outside TV
Outside TV Features
Ovation
OWN
Oxygen
Pac-12 Network (national)
Pac-12 Network (regional)
Paramount Network
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Pasiones
PeopleTV
Perú Mágico
Pixl
Pop
REELZ
REVOLT
RFD-TV
RT Network
RTP Internacional
Science
Seattle Sounders
SEC Network
SEC Network+
Showtime
Showtime 2
Showtime Beyond
Showtime Extreme
Showtime Family
Showtime Next
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Showtime Showcase
Showtime West
Showtime Women
Shudder
Smithsonian Channel
SNY
Sony Movie Channel
Sports Illustrated TV
Sportsman Channel
Stadium
STARZ
STARZ Comedy
STARZ Edge
STARZ ENCORE Action
STARZ ENCORE Black
STARZ ENCORE Classic
STARZ ENCORE
STARZ ENCORE West
STARZ ENCORE Español
STARZ ENCORE Family
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
STARZ ENCORE Suspense
STARZ ENCORE West
STARZ ENCORE Westerns
STARZ in Black
STARZ Kids & Family
STARZ West
Stingray Karaoke
SundanceTV
Sundance Now
SUR Perú
Syfy
Tastemade
TBS
TCM
TeenNick
TeleCentro
Telefe
Telemundo
TeleXitos
Tennis Channel
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
The Cowboy Channel
The Film Detective
The Weather Channel
TheBlaze
TLC
TNT
Tr3s
Travel Channel
Tribeca Shortlist
TruTV
TV Chile
TV Land
TV One
TVE
TVG
TyC Sports
TYT
UniMás
Universal Kids
Universo
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Univision
Univision Deportes Network
Univision tlnovelas
Up
USA Network
Velocity
Venevisión
VH1
Vibrant
Viceland
VideoRola
ViendoMovies
Vme
WAPA América
WE tv
WeatherNation
World Fishing Network
YES Network
YouTube Originals
XITE
Channel DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Z Living HD
ZooMoo

Live TV Streaming Service Features Comparison

DirecTV Now fuboTV Hulu with Live TV Philo PlayStation Vue Sling TV YouTube TV
Cloud DVR $5
Cloud DVR capacity 20 hours 30 hours 50 hours Unlimited (30 days) Unlimited (28 days) 50 hours Unlimited (8 months)
Supported devices
Apple TV
Chromecast
Fire TV
Roku
Simultaneous streams 2 2 2 3 5 1 (Orange), 3 (Blue) 3
On-demand content
Parental controls

Live TV Streaming Service Pricing Comparison (Base Packages)

Price Channels Price per channel
DirecTV Now
Live a Little $35 60+ $0.58
Todo y Más $45 90+ $0.50
Just Right $50 80+ $0.63
Go Big $60 100+ $0.60
Gotta Have It $70 120+ $0.58
fuboTV
fubo Latino $17.99 15 $1.20
fubo Português $19.99 5 $4.00
fubo $44.99 90+ $0.56
fubo Extra $49.99 105+ $0.48
Hulu with Live TV $39.99 50+ $0.80
Philo
“40 Channels” $16 40 $0.40
“49 Channels” $20 49 $0.41
Sling TV
Sling Blue $25 42 $0.60
Sling Orange $25 29 $0.86
Sling Orange + Sling Blue $40 47 $0.85
YouTube TV $40 60+ $0.67

The Best Live TV Streaming Services: Our Picks

So here we are: we know what skinny bundles are. We know which ones are solid, trustworthy picks. And we know how they differ in terms of channel availability, features, and pricing comparisons. But which ones are just plain great? Which are the truly best live TV streaming services? We’re not going to shy away from the decision. Let’s do this.

Our Favorites

Here at Cordcutting.com, our top skinny bundles are:

We’ve stopped short of ranking these, but we’re quite comfortable with this podium no matter how you want to order them. Hulu with Live TV offers some of the most sensible price points, channel coverage, and features that you can find in a skinny bundle. Sling TV’s flexibility and superb in-app experience help make up for its lack of CBS. And YouTube TV, a relative newcomer, boasts unparalleled streaming quality and content discovery features in a service that also offers strong content and decent pricing.

Best for Sports

For our money, the best live TV streaming service for sports is Sling TV. That’s because Sling TV combines strong regional sports coverage with the flexibility of being able to build your own bundle, which will allow you to load up on sports channels without having to climb into the higher reaches of a tiered pricing structure.

Sling TV is missing CBS, though, and therefore some quality NFL action. If that’s a dealbreaker, check out Hulu with Live TV or YouTube TV. If foreign soccer leagues are your main sports obsession, then give fuboTV a look, too.

Best for On-Demand Content

Hulu with Live TV leads the way here, thanks to the fact that a Hulu with Live TV subscription also includes access to the on-demand library that you’d get from Hulu’s cheaper and older on-demand streaming service (you know, the one that’s been competing with Netflix for ages).

Best for Streamers on a Budget

Philo is the clear cheapest service, but it has a major drawback: its platform support is seriously lacking. If you’re on a budget and don’t use a Roku, then look at Sling TV’s two base packages and see if you can live without Fox properties (Sling Orange) or Disney/ABC ones (Sling Blue). Failing that, your cheapest comprehensive options* are Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, or DirecTV Now’s “Live a Little.”

* DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV will raise their prices by $5 soon.

What Do You Think?

We haven’t been shy about sharing our opinions, but that doesn’t meant that we’re right. You can still investigate things for yourself and make your own picks for the best skinny bundle options. And you can do so without spending a dime, because all of the major skinny bundles that we trust offer great free trials. Click the links below to sign up for some and run your own tests – maybe you’ll agree with us, and maybe you won’t! We just hope we’ve offered you some guidance, and that if you’re going to argue in the comments, you’ll at least do so politely – okay?

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About the Author

Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely is a freelance writer and a longtime cord cutter with a passion for technology and entertainment. You can find his work on Cordcutting.com and his tweets at @stephenlovely.

1 Comment on "The Best Live TV Streaming Services"

  1. I tried them all and they all have problems. It’s not quite there yet but will be once they do the hardware and app upgrades. Google/YouTube has the potential to take over once they get the channel lineups like cable. One thing is for sure, the picture quality is true HD and you don’t have to pay $200 a month for upscaled crappy video.

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