If you decided to cut the cord and cancel cable but still want to watch live TV you’ll need an online tv streaming service. There are plenty of options, and you can find online tv options that fit your budget and your needs thanks to the many options readily available.
In this guide we’ve gathered a detailed list of the best online TV or live TV streaming services available in 2020. Here’s what you need to know before you switch so you can get rid of that huge monthly cable bill for something more manageable.
While these cable-replacements aren’t necessarily cheap, they are more affordable than traditional cable. Especially if you know exactly what channels you want or need. So, give these cable tv alternatives a try yourself.
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that each service has pros and cons, different channels, or a different approach to what they offer. So, you’ll need to find what works for you whether that’s live free tv streaming, DVR recording, online tv for multiple users and more. Our breakdown and table chart below will help you choose what’s right for you.
|Sling TV||YouTube TV||Hulu with Live TV||AT&T TV Now||fuboTV||Philo TV||Pluto TV|
|Starting Price||$30 per month / 30+ channels||$49 per month / 70+ channels||$55 per month / 60+ channels||$65 per month / 50+ channels||$55 per month / 100+ channels||$20 per month / 60+ channels (No sports)||Free (ads) / 100+ "channels"|
|Big Names: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC channels||Fox and NBC in select cities||Yes, in most markets||Yes, in most markets||Yes, in most markets||CBS, Fox & NBC||No, mainly movies/shows||CBS News, CNN and more|
|Cloud DVR||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, but limited||Yes, but limited||Save unlimited shows for 30 days||No|
|Simultaneous Streams||1 or 3||3||2 (but $15 for unlimited)||2 (but $5 for a 3rd)||2 (but $6 for a 3rd)||3||No|
|Multi-user Profiles||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes, up to 10||No|
|Fast-forward, RW, On-Demand, Skip, etc||Yes||Yes||Yes||Sometimes (More for $15)||Live you can Pause, but not FF/RW||Limited||No|
Sling TV – $30 per month
Our first recommendation is Sling TV. They were one of the first live TV streaming services, and in my opinion, still one of the best. There are no contracts, no equipment, and no hidden fees. Sling TV starts off at just $30 a month and delivers 35+ of the most popular channels on TV. Some of these include AMC, TNT, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, HGTV, and Disney Channel. Sling is one of the best online TV options.
This style of “a la carte TV” channels is great because aside from the main list for $30 per month, you can mix and match channels for whatever content fits your family with add-on packs. Plus, if you don’t want CNN and prefer Fox News or MSNBC, there’s a different base package with that option for the same $30 per month, or you can get both Sling Blue and Orange channel lineups for $40 per month.
Sling TV works on smartphones, tablets, the Chrome browser, Fire TV or Stick, Android or Apple TV, Roku devices and so much more. They have ESPN, NFL Network and Redzone for sports fans, which are $5-10 add-on packages.
Some of those add-ons include Sports, movies, kids channels, regional sports packs, or foreign language channels. Additionally, they offer on-demand movies or TV, Cloud DVR recording, new release rentals and you can stream to multiple devices at a time.
YouTube TV – $49 per month
A relatively new option when it comes to TV streaming is YouTube TV, but it could be one of the best, too. What makes YouTube TV great is you get all the content that’s already on YouTube along with live TV all in one place.
It’s an excellent option for families too, where you can have up to six accounts that each have their own login for suggestions and such. Not to mention unlimited live TV DVR recording so you never miss a moment of your favorite show.
With YouTube TV you get the big four main broadcasters, NBC Sports, AMC, NBC, CW, Disney, TNT, USA, E-channel, ESPN, TCM, YouTube Red original series and more.
While YouTube TV is more expensive than Sling the base package comes with over 70+ channels of live TV streaming and local sports. Then, just like Sling TV, there are no contracts required and you can cancel at any moment without a fee.
Obviously you can find almost anything to entertain you while browsing YouTube, but the unlimited DVR recording means you won’t have to surf through videos and can just watch exactly what you want, whenever, wherever. YouTube then offers a few add-ons like Showtime, soccer and a few other sports, but the add-on list isn’t too big yet.
Hulu with Live TV – $55 per month
If you haven’t tried Hulu in a few years we recommend giving it another try, as it’s a lot more than just TV shows these days. Yes, they still have cheap plans starting at $6 per month, but if you cancel cable you’ll want the “with live TV” Hulu package. The base live TV streaming package is $55 per month and delivers over 60 channels plus all your favorite TV series. If you’re looking for the most content, Hulu might be the answer.
Hulu has a pretty great selection already and now they’ve partnered with Disney+ and ESPN+ with discount bundles, which is nice. You’ll get a little of everything from TNT, ESPN, TBS, news, sports, movies, you name it. They have an easy to use and vibrant user interface, and one of the best “recommended” sections in this post-cable era.
They have cloud DVR, a 2-device streaming per account, or you can pay an extra $15 per month for unlimited simultaneous streams. Not to mention the usual fast forward and rewind options, Hulu doesn’t work on as many platforms or devices as something like Sling TV, but it’s readily available on Android, iOS, Apple TV, Xbox, built into some TVs and works on several other devices.
AT&T TV Now – $65 per month (DirecTV)
Over the last few years, DirecTV has undergone several changes to keep up with online TV streaming services, not to mention they’re now owned by AT&T. If you have an AT&T family or unlimited smartphone plan you can stream TV for free already, and AT&T TV Now is only $20 per month for you.
For everyone else, the base package starts at $65 per month with 50+ channels. AT&T offers a few different packages you can try, or if you don’t need sports or local news you can get “AT&T Watch TV” for only $15 per month.
The main plan gets you ABC, AMC, CMT, ESPN, CW, Disney, CNN, Fox, and tons of sports. Each account can stream live TV to two different devices simultaneously, and if you need another that’s a $5 per month charge. AT&T TV NOw has a decent user interface, DVR features, and last but not least, the NFL Sunday Ticket. Additionally, they have $5-8 add-ons for HBO, Showtime, Stars, etc.
fuboTV – $55 per month
A new entry on our list is fuboTV, which is slowly but surely becoming one of the best internet TV streaming services available. The main focus is on sports, but they offer almost everything else that the competition does too. fuboTV lets you live stream the world’s most popular sports and entertainment on top of all the other channels and movies you love. It’s the perfect streaming service for dad yet still has enough other content for the rest of the family.
With fuboTV, you get national and regional sports networks, over 100 channels, cloud DVR and multi-device (3) streaming for one low fee. And while a lot of those channels are for sports or NBA TV, you still get A&E, AMC, FX, Food, TNT, TBS and much more. Again, it’s a little of something for everyone in the house.
Better yet, most of those sports and channels are available to stream in 4K, and they have a family plan with even more kids content for only $59 per month. Then, for an additional $20 per month, you’ll have 180 channels to choose from. It’s one of the biggest packages when it comes to online TV.
Philo TV – $20 per month
If you don’t care for sports at all you’ll want to seriously consider Philo TV, which cut them out to keep the price down. With Philo, for only $20 per month, you’ll get access to 60 channels of your favorite movies and TV shows. Again, there are NO sports.
Philo TV has a pretty good idea here. They deliver some of the best channels around but absolutely no sports all for one low price. You can binge your favorite shows on up to three devices at a time, save content for 30 days with DVR recording, and each account can actually have 10 personalized profiles for each member of the family.
The service works on phones, laptops, tablets, Fire TV, Apple TV, and a few other devices. It’s perfect for kids in college dorms.
Pluto TV – Free
Last but not least we wanted to mention Pluto TV, which is free. This is a completely free TV streaming service but it only offers just enough programming to be useful for a small number of people, or if you have nothing else. You don’t get premium channels, news, sports, any extra add-ons or fancy features like DVR, but it is free.
With Pluto TV you don’t need an account to enjoy the rather wide variety of content available, and you’ll have to deal with a ton of ads and a pretty basic user experience, but it’s not bad for being $free.99. If you actually cut the cord and completely cancel cable Pluto will likely not be enough for you or your family. We recommend everything else on our list first, and this is just a last resort if you’re really on a budget.
Pluto TV works on iOS or Android, smartphones, laptops, Smart TVs, streaming devices and even a web browser. It’s basically everywhere, which is nice.
Other Streaming Options (and Final Thoughts)
Obviously there are several other excellent streaming options or ways to watch that aren’t necessarily “live tv” that you’ll still want to consider. Those include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Disney+, Vudu, or you can always buy a digital antenna and try your luck with that. Not to mention several other streaming services that are smaller and didn’t make this list.
Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind is sports. A lot of “regional” programming doesn’t work with streaming services, so you might not be able to watch your local NFL team during the season. Plus, the streams are always a good minute behind, so my friends are constantly spoiling stuff for me.
And finally, a lot of these streaming services only offer stereo sound, which could render your big 5.1 home theater setup somewhat useless. That said, AT&T TV Now does offer 5.1 sound in some instances. Or, you could just buy a soundbar.
In closing, we recommend checking out the trials that almost every single streaming platform has to offer. See how you like the interface, menu, and what channels are available, then just cancel and try another. Keep in mind that the entire television industry is in a constant state of flux, lately, and things change all the time. We’ve seen every major streaming service increase prices at least once over the last year or two, and more are probably coming. Channels come and go too, on occasion, which is frustrating.
Either way, whether you’re looking for a basic package like Sling TV or want to pay more for a full out cable TV replacement like YouTube or AT&T Now, there’s a streaming TV service perfect for you.