Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Last modified: February 14, 2019
By Stephen Lovely
fuboTV is a live TV streaming service with a sports heritage. Once a soccer-only service, it is now a full-fledged multichannel service that competes with skinny bundles like Sling TV — and with legacy pay TV services like cable and satellite, of course. So how does fuboTV measure up against these other ways to get your live TV fix? That's what we're here to find out in our fuboTV review.
fuboTV has lived many lives. First, it was a live soccer streaming service — though then, as now, the service offered 24-hour feeds of live networks, rather than just the soccer matches themselves. fuboTV later relaunched as a more general-interest skinny bundle (albeit one that had a particular flair for soccer and other sports) and entered a lengthy beta program period. Now, fuboTV is officially out of beta. In light of that, now seems like a good time to revisit our Cordcutting.com fuboTV review.
This is my third time reviewing fuboTV, but I started fresh and entirely re-tested the service in January of 2019 to produce our third Cordcutting.com fuboTV review. Some of our observations from past reviews remain accurate, but much has changed, so the text below is entirely new.
There are a lot of live TV streaming services to choose from these days, and most of them have very similar channel lists (for more on how fuboTV measures up in that department, see the Content section of this review). Standing out from the crowd means providing a great user experience. In my view, the best skinny bundles combine familiar and cable-like TV guide menus with new content discover features.
fuboTV is pretty strong in this department. On each of the apps I tested (Roku, iOS, and Apple TV), fuboTV's user interface was divided into tabs like “Sports” and “Guide.”
True to its sports-focused heritage, fuboTV makes its Sports tab its default one — it's the first thing that you'll see when you boot up the app. The Sports tab lists upcoming sports broadcasts and offers sub-menus for individual sports.
The Guide tab houses the familiar TV guide menu, which looks more or less the way that it does when you access it through your cable box (though there was a bit of a twist on streaming boxes — the fuboTV apps for Roku and Apple TV listed the channels horizontally across the top of the guide, rather than vertically along the side). You can mark channels as favorites, and doing so will lock them to the top of the guide. Unfortunately, there's no way to save shows or series in a similar way.
Hopping into a live TV broadcast is pretty quick and painless, though channel surfing is tough to do properly on most platforms. On Roku, for instance, I had to back out of my live feed entirely in order to look at the TV guide menu again. On iOS, I was at least able to keep my live feed going in a little window in the corner as I scrolled. fuboTV is hardly alone in not letting me just move up and down channel by channel, but I really wish more skinny bundles would figure out that channel surfing is a big part of the appeal of live TV multichannel services. If I wanted to pick everything I watched from a menu, I could just use an on-demand service like Netflix. I'm here to avoid actually choosing what I watch! Let me be lazy!
fuboTV has two tiers of DVR service: you get 30 hours of cloud DVR space from the start and can upgrade to “Cloud DVR Plus” ($9.99 per month) to expand that to 500 hours. You can select shows to record and then access your recorded shows on demand from any device running the fuboTV app. Programs can be recorded from the TV guide screen and watched later on the My fubo tab. It's a pretty straightforward process.
However, there does not seem to be a way to record every episode or every new episode of a given series. Those are two pretty standard DVR options, so I'm not sure why fuboTV has left them out. Combined with the inability to mark shows and individual programs as favorites, this really hurts your ability to keep track of favorite series.
fuboTV's content includes live television channels and features a extra helping of sports-related channels, especially those that carry soccer. We'll discuss the sports stuff in more depth in just a moment, but let's start with the non-sports content.
The selection is pretty robust. The usual suspects are here: AMC, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, TNT, and USA Network are all familiar sites in skinny bundles, and fuboTV has landed each of them. Viacom-owned channels, on the other hand, are nowhere to be found. Like some other skinny bundles, fuboTV is missing Comedy Central, MTV, and the rest of the Viacom gang. That's disappointing, if not unheard-of for a skinny bundle. More surprising, and more damaging to fuboTV's standing in this category, is the absence of Disney-owned properties like ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN (which we will talk a good deal more about in just a moment), and Freeform.
Local coverage is decent. While ABC is MIA, fuboTV offers local feeds of CBS, FOX, and NBC in select markets. As with all skinny bundles, the availability of these local major-network feeds will vary by region. fuboTV also has a very solid selection of regional sports networks (RSNs). Overall, local and regional coverage is solid, but it's worth double-checking major net work availability in your own area by heading to fuboTV's website or simply signing up for fuboTV's free trial offer.
fuboTV also has a lot of sports content, albeit with some key omissions, so let's spend some time talking about that.
When fuboTV was first released back in 2015, it was billed as a soccer streaming service. Then, as now, it included live feeds of multiple channels — it was one of the very first multichannel live TV services, along with Sling TV and PlayStation Vue — but back then all of its channels were soccer channels, and its interface was oriented around advising you of kickoff times and connecting you with live matches in progress. It was sort of as if the whole service was just what the “Sports” tab of the app is now. fuboTV has long since added tons of non-sports content, but it still claims a special appeal to sports fans. In addition to its extensive library of soccer-oriented programming and channels, fuboTV has inked deals with FS1, FS2, NBA TV, NBCSN, NFL Network, and even the Olympic Channel, which I was not previously aware was even a thing. Perhaps most impressive of all is the presence of NBA League Pass, the NBA's live game streaming service, whic is available as an add-on. So fuboTV does have a case to make for itself as the best live TV streaming service for sports. There is a lot here that should appeal to sports fans!
There is also, however, one major omission: ESPN. The ESPN family of channels is not available on fuboTV, which strikes me as a critical problem for a sports-first streaming service to have. Other Disney-owned properties, including ABC (which has NBA broadcasts and NCAA football broadcasts, among other sports offerings), are also missing, but it's ESPN (and ESPN 2, and ESPN U, and so on) that leaves the biggest and most embarrassing gap in a lineup that is purported to be the best choice for sports fans.
If you can live without ESPN, there's plenty of sports to watch on fuboTV. The add-ons include even more sports channels, including original channels run by fubo itself. fuboTV offers more access to niche sports like Australian rules football and curling than competitor bundles can boast. fuboTV's deep channel selection also boasts great coverage of foreign soccer leagues. If you care more about Liga MX than Monday Night Football, fuboTV might be for you.
Other, non-sports add-ons include foreign-language bundles and premium channels like Showtime. The premium channel selection does not include HBO, however.
Whatever bundle(s) you choose, you'll also enjoy access to on-demand content. The on-demand content available through fuboTV is culled from individual channel broadcasts from the last 72 hours. You'll see network logos in the corners and that sort of thing. The commercials have been cut out, though, which is nice.
I was pretty happy with fuboTV's streaming quality overall. The service tops out at 1080p, which is typical for skinny bundle live TV streaming services. Load times were brief — a couple of seconds on my Roku TV with a wired connection, and not noticeably longer on other platforms or on Wi-Fi connections. Streaming stayed smooth and in HD for the most part, with only very occasional hiccups.
There were exceptions. Strangely, I found CNBC to be pixelated one day even when other channels were not. There seemed to be no issue with my connection or with fuboTV generally — it was just CNBC. A couple of days later, CNBC looked fine. Go figure.
Oddly, fuboTV seemed to struggle more with on-demand content than with live TV streaming. I noticed that audio and video would sometimes fall slightly out of sync late in the program. At other times, the video would freeze while the audio continued.
A streaming service is only as good as its platform support, but fuboTV has no issues on this front.
fuboTV is available for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV. You can watch on the go with an iOS or Android phone or tablet, and you can watch on a desktop or laptop computer using the service's in-browser app (fuboTV recommends the Chrome browser, and that seems to be a strong recommendation — I couldn't even get the app to load on Firefox). Chromecast is supported, too — you can cast from the mobile apps or from the in-browser app.
All in all, that's a great range of platforms and devices.
fuboTV offers two tiers of English-language service. Subscribe to one or the other, and you can tack on add-on bundles, features, and premium channels.
“fubo,” the most basic package, costs $44.99 per month. “fubo Extra” costs $49.99 per month and, as the name suggests, adds extra channels.
Add-on options include features, channel bundles, and standalone channels and services. The features include “Cloud DVR Plus,” which increases your maximum number of simultaneous streams from two to three for $9.99 per month, and “Family Share,” which expands your maximum number of simultaneous streams from two to three for $5.99 per month.
Add-on bundles of channels vary in subject and price. There are multiple add-on options for sports fans, including Sports Plus ($8.99 per month for NFL RedZone, college RSNs, and more) and fubo Cycling ($11.99 per month for a channel bundle that includes both cycling channels and, curiously, some soccer ones), among others. A particular highlight among the sports add-ons options is NBA League Pass, the NBA's league-wide live game streaming service, can be tacked onto a base bundle for an extra $28.99 per month. Showtime (including eight spin-off Showtime networks, like Showtime 2 and Showtime Family) costs $10.99 per month. You can find a complete rundown of fuboTV add-ons on fuboTV's website.
There are also two foreign-language base bundles (“base” here meaning that you don't need to add them to an existing subscription): the $24.99 Fubo Latino (Spanish) and the $19.99 fubo Portuguêse (Portugese, of course).
fuboTV's prices fit right in with its competitors' rates. $40-45 per month is industry standard for entry-level bundles, Showtime's price is the same virtually everywhere, and fuboTV's add-ons are reminiscent of Sling TV's in both structure and price. There are some slightly cheaper options out there, as well as some smaller building-block bundles (like Sling TV's Sling Orange and Sling Blue, each of which is cheaper — and less complete — than either fuboTV's fubo or Sling TV's similar Blue/Orange combination bundle). There are also aspects in which fuboTV is a better deal than its competition: RSNs like YES Network are available in the entry-level fubo bundle, for instance, which compares favorably to services that stash RSNs in higher tiers (like DirecTV Now, which puts them in its $55-per-month second tier).
Like virtually all of its competitors, fuboTV offers a week-long free trial. You can check that out here.
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fuboTV has come a long way since its early days. There's a lot to like here, though there are also a few things to dislike.
fuboTV offers its best perks to sports fans, but sports fans will also be the cord cutters who find themselves most conflicted about fuboTV. If fuboTV had ESPN, it would unquestionably be the best deal for sports fans. Without ESPN, it's in a weird spot. Would you rather have the $50-per-month fubo Extra, which has every sports channel under the sun except ESPN; or Sling TV's $40 plan, which ESPN, ESPN 2, and other basics (like FS1, FS2, and NBCSN), but is comparatively lacking in things like RSNs? And what about Hulu with Live TV, which has both the major sports channels and a solid selection of RSNs, but which lacks sports add-on packages of the sort that fuboTV and Sling TV offer?
In my view, fuboTV is literally one channel away from being dominant on the sports streaming market. For now, how you rate it alongside the competition depends on how much you value ESPN. I'm inclined to say that I still favor fuboTV for sports coverage, but it's certainly debatable.
What about casual sports fans and non-sports fans? Assuming that “casual” doesn't mean “ESPN-only,” I think fuboTV stacks up quite nicely against the competition. It's right around the same price point, offers Sling TV-like add-ons for customization, and has a decent suite of features.
Ultimately, fuboTV doesn't blow its competition out of the water, but it's right in the thick of things in the skinny bundle market.