The Best Live TV Streaming Services to Replace Cable

Some Michael Saves articles contain affiliate links, which help support my work as an independent content creator.

If you want to drop your expensive cable or satellite TV plan but still get your favorite channels, there are a handful of live TV streaming services that can cut your pay-TV bill in half.

I’ve been reviewing streaming TV services since 2016 and will help you pick the best one for your household.


REVIEW METHODOLOGY: When I test a streaming service, I pay for it with my own money and use it for at least 30 days. During that time, I evaluate the service’s content, app performance, features and user experience across multiple compatible devices. This helps me assess the overall value of the service compared to other available streaming options that I’ve tested.


These Are the Best Cable TV Alternatives

For first-time streamers who still want broadcast and cable TV channels, YouTube TV is the cable TV alternative that I recommend most often.

But not everyone will want to sign up for YouTube TV.

Here are some common reasons to consider other competing options that I’ve reviewed:

  • Need regional sports networks? Consider DIRECTV STREAM or Fubo. (Note that Fubo doesn’t carry Turner networks like TBS and TNT.)
  • Want the Disney Bundle? Hulu + Live TV includes it at no additional cost.
  • Do you have an antenna for locals? See if Sling TV has all the cable networks that you need. It’s cheaper because it doesn’t carry local stations in many areas.
  • Don’t care about sports networks? Philo and Frndly TV are significantly cheaper than premium live TV services and focus on entertainment networks.

If you’re new to streaming live TV, see my beginner’s guide to cutting the cord.

In this article, I’ll break down the pros and cons of the most popular live TV streaming services. You’ll learn about the five main deciding factors:

  1. Price
  2. Channel lineups
  3. Cloud DVR
  4. Supported devices
  5. Multiple screens


For more in-depth coverage of streaming TV services, watch my related YouTube videos below and consider joining more than 100,000 subscribers to my channel. I upload new videos every week.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is my #1 favorite live TV streaming service if this is your first time cutting the cord. The service starts at $72.99 per month and offers more than 100 channels, unlimited cloud DVR storage and up to three simultaneous streams. You can add NFL RedZone with the Sports Plus add-on for $11 a month. NFL Sunday Ticket moved to YouTube TV and YouTube starting in 2023. YouTube TV’s navigation is simple and easy to learn for people who are just getting started with live TV streaming.

YouTube TV Fast Facts

  • Starting Price: $72.99/month
  • Channels: 100+ in base plan; locals, ESPN, league networks and other sports, news and entertainment networks (See channels)
  • Cloud DVR Storage: Unlimited recordings; available for up to 9 months
  • Supported Devices for TV: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, select smart TVs and more
  • Multiple Streams: Up to 3 streams at the same time
  • Read my full YouTube TV review!
ProsCons
Well-rounded channel lineupHigh monthly price
Unlimited cloud DVR storage includedDVR functionality: No way to record or delete single episodes in a series
No contract or hidden fees Few regional sports networks offered
6 user profiles and 3 streams included with base planExtra charge for 4K content
Simple to use and plenty of ways to customizeSlow rollout for new features

Related YouTube TV Content:


Sling TV

Sling TV is my top choice for streamers on a budget who still want a mix of news, sports and entertainment networks. The Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans are $40 each after a November 2022 price increase, but you can combine them and pay $55 a month. Local channels are limited, so pair this service with an antenna. If you can stick with a base plan, you’ll save money compared to other premium services. However, add-ons can quickly increase your bill.

Sling TV Fast Facts

  • Starting Price: $40/month for Sling Orange or Sling Blue; $55/month for Orange + Blue
  • Channels: Sling Orange features ESPN and Disney; Sling Blue has NFL Network and major cable news networks like CNN, FOX News and MSNBC (See channels)
  • Cloud DVR Storage: 50 hours of storage; 200 hours with paid upgrade
  • Supported Devices for TV: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and more
  • Multiple Streams: One stream with Sling Orange and up to 3 streams with Sling Blue
  • Read my full Sling TV review!
ProsCons
Affordable starting price Learning curve: Confusing channel bundles
Mix of news, sports and entertainment networksLimited local channels
Many supported devicesSling Orange limited to one stream
Improved user experience No unlimited DVR option

Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV‘s starting price jumped to $76.99 per month in October 2023. The draw of Hulu Live is access to Hulu’s on-demand streaming library at no additional charge. Hulu Live also includes Disney+ and ESPN+ with the base plan. Depending on your preferred channels, Hulu Live could be an alternative to YouTube TV.

Hulu + Live TV Fast Facts

  • Starting Price: $76.99/month; 3 day free trial
  • Channels: 95+ in base plan; locals, ESPN and other popular sports, news and entertainment networks (See channels)
  • Cloud DVR Storage: Unlimited recordings; available for up to 9 months
  • Supported Devices for TV: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and more
  • Multiple Streams: Up to 2 streams at the same time; unlimited streams with paid upgrade
  • Read my full Hulu + Live TV review!
ProsCons
Great channel lineup High monthly price; annual price hikes
Disney Bundle included (Basic Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+)Only two simultaneous streams allowed
Unlimited cloud DVR storage includedFew regional sports networks offered
No contract or hidden fees Poor user interface, particularly the live guide

DIRECTV STREAM

DIRECTV STREAM‘s starting price increased to $79.99, but the most popular plan costs extra. For $108.99 a month, the Choice plan includes regional sports networks that other services have dropped. NFL Network and NFL RedZone were added in 2023. Although this service is expensive, it’s arguably the most cable-like of the live TV streaming services. DIRECTV began marketing “DIRECTV via Internet” in April 2023, but this is not the same as DIRECTV STREAM. Only the DIRECTV STREAM plans have no hidden fees.

DIRECTV STREAM Fast Facts

  • Starting Price: $79.99/month; regional sports networks in Choice plan or above
  • Channels: 75+ in base plan; locals, ESPN and other popular sports, news and entertainment networks (See channels)
  • Cloud DVR Storage: Unlimited recordings; available for up to 9 months
  • Supported Devices for TV: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV and more
  • Multiple Streams: Unlimited in-home streams; 3 streams on the go
  • Read my full DIRECTV STREAM review!
ProsCons
Well-rounded channel lineupHigh monthly price
Regional sports networks available with most plansConfusing marketing (DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV via Internet)
Unlimited cloud DVR storage
Unlimited in-home streams
No contracts or hidden fees

Fubo

Fubo is a live TV streaming service that caters to sports fans. It raised all plan prices by $5 or more in January 2024. The cheapest plan is now $79.99 per month. In February 2023, Fubo added Bally Sports RSNs to its lineup in some areas. These networks have been dropped from most live TV services. In addition, the service charges a regional sports fee of $11.99 to $14.99 per month in areas where regional sports fees are offered. If you don’t watch those networks, consider a live TV option that doesn’t force you to pay extra for them.

Fubo Fast Facts

  • Starting Price: $79.99/month, plus regional sports fee of $11.99 to $14.99 in many areas
  • Channels: 100+ in base plan; ESPN and Disney added in 2020, but Turner networks dropped; Bally Sports RSNs returned in February 2023 (See channels)
  • Cloud DVR Storage: Unlimited cloud DVR storage as of May 2024
  • Supported Devices for TV: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and more
  • Multiple Streams: At least 10 streams at home, several on the go
  • Read my full Fubo review!
ProsCons
100+ sports, news and entertainment channels in base planMissing channels: No Turner, AMC or A&E Networks
Unlimited cloud DVR storage High monthly price
Bally Sports RSNs included (additional fee) Regional sports fee applies to most customers
Featured-packed service, including Multiview for Apple TV users4K content not included in base plan
Free trial typically available

Philo

Philo is arguably the best value in live TV streaming. For a low monthly price, it offers access to more than 70 networks. The service focuses on entertainment and lifestyle programming. You won’t find local stations, sports networks or the most popular cable news channels. Philo includes an unlimited DVR, and you can now save shows for up to 12 months.

Philo Fast Facts

  • Starting Price: $28/month
  • Channels: 70+ channels from A&E Networks, AMC Networks, Discovery and Paramount (Viacom), AMC+ added as of June 12; no locals, sports or cable news (See channels)
  • Cloud DVR Storage: Unlimited recordings; available for up to 12 months
  • Supported Devices for TV: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, newer Samsung TVs and more
  • Multiple Streams: Up to 3 streams at the same time
  • Read my full Philo review here!
ProsCons
Low monthly priceNot for sports or cable news junkies
Lots of entertainment and lifestyle networksNo local channels
Unlimited cloud DVR storage Some filler channels included
Free trial typically offered

Frndly TV

Frndly TV is the least expensive live TV streaming service. All three of the service’s plans include the same 40+ channels that focus on family-friendly and lifestyle content. Locals, sports and cable news aren’t included. Frndly TV isn’t trying to be a full cable TV replacement like some of the other services mentioned in this article. In fact, some people subscribe to Frndly TV as an add-on to services like YouTube TV. I typically recommend the Classic plan, which is Frndly TV’s cheapest plan that includes cloud DVR storage.

Frndly TV Fast Facts

  • Starting Price: $7.99 per month
  • Channels: 40+ channels including A&E, Hallmark, History, Lifetime, INSP, The Weather Channel and MeTV; no locals, sports or cable news (See channels)
  • Cloud DVR Storage: Unlimited recordings with Classic or Premium plans; available 3-9 months
  • Supported Devices for TV: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and more
  • Multiple Streams: Between 1-4 streams depending on the plan you choose
  • Read my full Frndly TV review!
ProsCons
The most affordable live TV streaming serviceMay not be a total cable TV replacement
Annual plans availableNo DVR included with Basic plan
Same channel lineup with all 3 plans Fewer features and options for personalization
Simple user interface

Additional Subscription Services With Live TV


Action Plan

The live TV streaming services featured in this post have no contracts or long-term commitments. That means you can sign up one month and cancel the next if you’re not happy with the service.

On top of that, most of the live TV streaming services offer free trials. Take advantage of them!

If you’re thinking about canceling cable or satellite TV, test out live TV streaming services first. Only cancel once you’ve found one or more live TV streaming services that you like.

Learn more in my step-by-step guide to cutting the cord!


More Streaming TV Content From Michael Saves:

28 thoughts on “The Best Live TV Streaming Services to Replace Cable”

  1. We have YouTube tv and have had at least tried all of the other services and yttv has a very good setup and a ton of channels but we find ourselves watching the same couple of shows over and dale and it just seems like we are overpaying for a lot of content we aren’t watching. Probably going to Philo and staying there. $20, dvr, on demand, and most of the shows we watch all the time.

    Reply
  2. We have YouTube tv and have had at least tried all of the other services and yttv has a very good setup and a ton of channels but we find ourselves watching the same couple of shows over and over and it just seems like we are overpaying for a lot of content we aren’t watching. Probably going to Philo and staying there. $20, dvr, on demand, and most of the shows we watch all the time.

    Reply
  3. We have a COX Cable Bundle contract here in Arizona. It includes TV, Internet and land line. We pay $190/mo. There are a lot of options out there.

    We do not need sports. We mostly watch local channels along with Netflix, Amazon Prime and a host of cable networks like Lifetime, FOOD Network, AMC, USA and the like.

    Is seems every time I look for alternatives to cut the cord, so to speak, our savings is not enough to justify the change.

    For example, I was looking at the AT&T TV $70/mo plan for TV content. They said if I want to keep the land line it would be $20/mo and I may have to have an different carrier (Century Link) for my internet. That would be $50/mo. So with that option I’m looking at about $140/mo. Not a great savings IMHO.

    To me cutting the cable, in my case, means dropping the internet and no land line.

    What would you suggest as an alternative?

    Reply
  4. I currently have AT&T U-Verse and Fiber Internet. I pay roughly $140 a month for the services and equipment rental. I don’t watch cable at all. But I do need internet service. I was looking to sign-up for Hulu+Live TV so I could still enjoy the occasional sitcom, ESPN sporting event, watch the Cubs on the Marquee Network, and enjoy Bears games using the “Live TV” feature. I planned on using these services via wireless connection through either an LG or Samsung TV. I plan to hang the TV on the wall on the outside of my house for tailgating. Does Hulu+Live TV provide this service? Will I be able to watch games, if they’re on live TV (via Fox, CBS, NBC, etc) or will I need some sort of sports package? Since I live in Chicago, I’d only be interested in watching the Bears – and they’re always on a major network when they play. I just don’t want any hiccups …. I believe the $64.99 a month charge, plus a $39.99 a month charge for AT&T Fiber, would be cost effective for me – if I wanted to cut the cord. I guess my question is whether or not there are hidden charges to be able to do this (watch live sports outside through Hulu). Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Hello. I just discovered you and you are fantastic!!
    Such a breath of knowledge!

    I am cutting the cord as of next month ( I have Fios currently)
    I really can do with Sling TV and Locast for my local stations
    However, I hate watching live tv and always “dvr” my programs
    How do I dvr shows on Locast
    Sling said they have something but it does not seem to dvr
    Any suggestions

    Reply
  6. I’ve been looking for a streaming service that carries the tennis channel but doesn’t look like there are any. Am I correct?

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  7. we have a vacation home that is used maybe 7 days/mo, currently have dtv satellite that i feel is expensive for the usage. thinking about trying a streaming service on our cell phones which have unlimited service. think that is a viable option and what do you recommend?

    Reply
  8. I am a new subscriber to youtubeTV. I have setup 4 TV’s in my home. 2 setup with Roku streaming devices and 2 with Samsung TV’s. If I want to add a Roku device to a Samsung TV am I then charged with another account [of the 6]?

    Reply
    • No — You can use the YouTube TV app with your Samsung TV, Roku or any supported device. Just use your same login info. The 6 accounts are for people, not supported device. So maybe you, partner, children, etc. Many households end up using just one of the 6 accounts for all devices. But the benefit of using the other accounts is personalized DVR for each of them.

      Reply
  9. Missing from this review, and every other reviews of streaming services I’ve found, is a comparison of how the viewing buttons for the apps actually function.

    We replaced our cable TV and TIVO this past year because our cable provider couldn’t keep the features required to use TIVO up and running. So it was to replace functionality, not to save money. After some study and experimenting, we’ve ended up with Roku Express 4K and YourTube TV, Hulu, discovery+, Peacock, NetFlix, and Amazon Prime. We already had the last two, and added the others to get access to the programs we want ad-free (we subscribe to the ad-free options for services that offer it).

    What we’ve learned, that this and every other review fails to point out, is the significant differences in how apps for some of these services work. Some examples:

    On YouTube TV the forward and back buttons work very differently than any of the other services, which all work like they did on video recorders and DVDs. So you have to remember which service you are viewing when you use those controls, our your efforts to go back 15 seconds end up taking you back half the episode. It’s enough of a problem that we’d gladly cancel YouTube TV if we could find a suitable replacement.

    We didn’t keep Hulu Live, even though we loved that forward/back buttons work correctly on it, because of a quirk they have that’s I’ve also never seen mentioned. You can’t fast forward through commercials in “live” content. They have recently announced that you could for “recorded” “live” content, but they could never get that to actually work on my Roku device. And they admit you can’t when watching actual live content that you have used the pause or back features so you are watching it somewhat delayed. YouTube TV does allow you to fast forward through commercials in both cases, so for now we are stuck with it.

    Some channels have a setting that automatically turns on the closed captions briefly when use the buttons to go back a bit, which is really handy since many times you do that because you missed a word or phrase.

    So why don’t the reviews mention these types of issues?

    Reply
  10. Hi Michael,

    I have a youtube TV and Fire Stick question.
    If I’m watching a live TV show on YouTube TV, say CNN, and I then go to watch something else say on Pluto TV. When I go back to CNN on YouTube TV it picks up where I left off like it just paused while I was gone. I would expect it to pick up at the live point in time. I’ve looked high and low to see how to go directly back to live TV but haven’t had any luck. I need to manually fast forward to live or go throught the Live menu and select CNN again to get back to live.

    Any thought on this?

    Thanks,
    Love your YouTube videos.

    Reply
    • Hmm. It should pick up with live unless you press pause before you leave YouTube TV (and are recording that program.) Let me do some more digging. There is no “jump to live” fuction, but if you switch channels and then go right back — that does the trick. I like to use the mini guide (arrow down a few times) for this.

      Reply
  11. I’m planning on dropping Directv that I have had since 1995 next year when retiring and moving to a new home build. I currently pay about $110 for DTV (with $50 – $60 discount) plus $17 for Apple TV, $19.99 for Netflix and $85 for FIOS 1 Gig internet. I get Disney Plus/Hulu/Espn/Paramount free with our Verizon unlimited cell phone plan. I also have a rooftop Winegard antenna.
    The plan is to have an antenna in the new house. Firefly 1 Gig internet ($80), Netflix ($20), Apple TV ($17 – includes games/extra cloud storage)….will continue to get the Disney bundle mentioned earlier. The question is, should I start with Youtube TV? I’m guessing I’ll save around $40 – $50 a month which is good, but would I be better off going with Sling Orange and Blue?

    Reply
  12. I want a service that doesn’t include ESPN or Disney, but just the major networks. I had YTTV but it went way up last year to pay for those two services. I would go back to YTTV if they offered ESPN and Disney as an add-on.

    Reply
  13. I currently have DirectTV and Philo and both drive me crazy with their “are you still watching?” messages. I’m about to drop DirectTV (had for baseball / Bally only) and was wondering if any of these services have a method for cutting off this annoying “feature.” I’m handicapped and work at night and sleep during the day. I play the tv in another room and listen to it while working. Having to respond to that question (once you realize why the program quit playing) is a royal PITA. Thank in advance for any help.

    I watch through an AppleTV box.

    Reply
    • Well, over a week has passed. I’m just going to assume that this page is no longer supported and drop michaelsaves.com from my bookmarks.

      Reply
  14. i dont see any mention of the cost factor for internet plans that you need to stream. also there are speed price tiers that you can buy. Can you talk all about this? i also currently have xfinity. thank you

    Reply
  15. I have had 2 ROKU boxes over the years, but problems upgrading and costs of equipment helped me find a better option, especially if you have a smart tv and/or subscibe to other services.

    Just download the ROKU app! Over 400 hundred channels for FREE!

    We also take Fire TV sticks with us on vacations, everywhere we have stayed, over 30 so far, have smart tvs where you can just plug the FIRE stick into a HDMI jack on the back of the TV! 4K Firesticks cheap as $20 on Amazon specials and you can use them everywhere you go for free. ROKU app (many other apps also) is FREE for Firesticks too!

    Reply
  16. YouTube, keep trying to charge me for an account that I don’t have. I have the hardest time getting a refund. It takes sometimes 60 days before I get a refund. And then they are charging me again. The people that I talk to don’t understand why I’m asking for a real fun and argue with me about my account. There are 2 accounts for 3 with the same first and last name, which is a very common name in this country. And they just continue to charge me. So I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do except ask for my money back, thank you.

    Reply
    • My thought is to stop them from charging to however you pay. If they charge to a credit card block them. If they charge to your bank account, block them. Then, when they send you past due notices it’s easier to argue they have the – insert name here- wrong person than to get a refund

      Reply

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