As cord-cutting becomes more popular, TV networks have responded by bringing their popular cable channels to the internet. That means you no longer need expensive satellite or cable TV service to watch local news, sports, and your favorite shows.
But with all this competition comes more confusion. Between Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and others, cord-cutters have a lot to think about. Each service has its own quirks and caveats, and their channel lineups (and increasingly, their prices) are constantly in flux. Here are top picks today, with links to our in-depth reviews.
Updated May 20, 2022 to provide a link to our Sling TV tips story that will help subscribers get maximum value from what is one of the most-affordable streaming TV services available.
YouTube TV — Best TV streaming service overall
- Solid mix of channels for the money
- Includes DVR with no storage limits
- Easy-to-understand app design
- Ad-riddled on-demand videos can override DVR
- Some channels don’t support 60-frames-per-second video
$50/mo. when first reviewed. As of 1/19/22, price is $65/mo (3-mo. trial at $55/mo)
YouTube TV might not meet every cord-cutter’s needs, but even at $65 per month, we think it’s the best path to local stations, live news, national sports, and a broad selection of entertainment channels. It also includes cloud DVR service that can record an unlimited number of programs for up to nine months. If you’re looking to replace cable TV with something cheaper, this is your safest bet.
Read our full
YouTube TV review
Hulu + Live TV — Best TV streaming service, runner-up
- On-demand library is bigger than other bundles
- Disney+ and ESPN+ are included
- Lots of popular channels for one competitive price
- It’s easy to discover interesting things to watch
- Can’t skip ads on programs as they’re being recorded to DVR (only after the live program has ended)
- User interface can be tricky to navigate
- Can’t watch on TV devices outside the house.
$55/mo. when first reviewed. As of 1/19/22, price is $70/mo. and includes Disney+ and ESPN+
What sets Hulu’s $70-per-month live TV bundle apart from others is its inclusion of Hulu’s on-demand service (normally $6 per month), which includes a large catalog of network shows, plus originals such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Castle Rock. Hulu’s interface can be busy, but it ties everything together in a way that encourages discovery. It costs $5 more per month than YouTube TV, but it includes access to Disney+ and ESPN+ (Disney owns all three streaming services).
Read our full
Hulu + Live TV review
DirecTV Stream — Best TV streaming service for sports fans
- Powerful grid guide
- DVR has no ad-skipping restrictions
- HBO is included
- Limited channel selection for the price
- DVR limits both recording space and storage time
- No personalized viewing recommendations
Tiered pricing starting at $69.99 per month ($10-per-month discount for the first three months)
At $90 per month for its “Choice” package, DirecTV Stream is not a particularly great deal for cord-cutters, but as of this writing, it’s the only way to regional Bally Sports networks (formerly known as Fox Sports) or the YES Network without cable or satellite TV service. That service tier also includes NBA TV and MLB Network for good measure.
Read our full
DirecTV Stream review
Sling TV — Best budget-priced TV streaming service
- Lower entry price than any other streaming bundle
- Simple menu system with easy access to favorites
- DVR supports ad-skipping, partial recordings, and time-shifting
- Price can quickly escalate to get certain channels
- Most channels top out at 30 frames per second
- Only supports one user profile
Sling Orange: $35/mo; Sling Blue: $35/mo; Sling Orange+Blue: $50/mo
Sling TV is an intriguing option if you’re using an antenna to get local channels, because it doesn’t include much local coverage on its own. As such, its starting price of $35 per month is a lot lower than other bundles, and you can add channel packs that otherwise might be cost-prohibitive. On the downside, integrating local over-the-air channels with the Sling app requires extra hardware.
Read our full
Sling TV review
Philo — Best budget-priced TV streaming service, runner-up
- Less than half the price of most live TV services
- Apps are straightforward and easy to use
- Three simultaneous streams with no weird viewing restrictions
- No arcane restrictions on ad skipping or where you can watch from
- No way to simultaneously watch and browse live channels
- 60-frames-per-second support remains absent
- No personalized recommendations on what to watch
$20 when first reviewed. As of 4/7/22, price is $25/mo.
Philo is the biggest bundle you can get with no sports channels. As such, it only costs $25 per month, with channels from AMC, Viacom, Discovery, and A&E and unlimited cloud DVR service. Philo is a fine supplement if you can get prime-time shows and sports from an antenna.
Read our full
Other options to consider
If none of our top picks meet your needs, sports fans might want to read our thoughts on FuboTV. Vidgo is another less-expensive competitor, although we were even less enthused with it the last time we checked it out.
If local channels are important to you, click the following links and enter your zip code to see which channels are available on DirecTV Stream Hulu with Live TV, FuboTV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV.