Best Live TV Streaming Service: Hulu vs. Sling vs. Vue vs. YouTube TV

Cam Secore
Updated 11/17/2018

best live tv streaming service

After a year of testing, I determined YouTube TV is the best live TV streaming service because of its excellent stream quality and brilliant phone to casting experience. PlayStation Vue is my pick for people looking for a similar experience to traditional cable.

I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing four services (Hulu with Live TV vs. Sling vs. PlayStation Vue vs. YouTube TV) while evaluating six categories: stream quality, channels, interface, DVR, compatibility, and bonus features.

youtube tv vs hulu live

YouTube TV

10
  • Stream Quality: It’s impeccable. You can stream on three devices simultaneously.
  • Channels: You get your local sports teams and all local channels in almost any location.
  • Interface: The phone interface is fantastic and opens with content curated for you.
  • DVR: You get unlimited storage; six different people can have their own DVR.
  • Compatibility: There’s no Amazon Fire TV app, but most platforms have an app.
  • Bonus: Membership is simple; it’s $40/month for every channel.

Best for you if...

You want an experience that differs from traditional cable and don’t mind buying a Chromecast for $35. YouTube TV from a streaming device’s app is fine, but using the phone app with Chromecast is better. You'll get a perfect stream and all your local sports.

playstation vue vs sling

PlayStation Vue

8
  • Stream Quality: The streams are clean aside from a couple of local sports channels.
  • Channels: You get your local sports teams and all local channels in almost any location.
  • Interface: Vue looks like traditional cable with the ugly guide setup.
  • DVR: There’s unlimited DVR storage, but shows are only stored for 28 days.
  • Compatibility: It works with most devices, but the guide is glitchy on Fire TV and old Rokus.
  • Bonus: You’ll need to call customer service when you switch locations.

Best for you if...

You want an experience similar to cable for a lower cost, and you have an Apple TV or newer Roku device. With Vue, you’ll get the old-fashioned guide, excellent channel lineup, five simultaneous streams, high compatibility, and a reliable stream.

hulu live tv vs sling tv

Hulu Live TV

6
  • Stream Quality: The stream is unreliable, but it’s getting better.
  • Channels: AMC and some local sports channels are missing.
  • Interface: The interface is universal, but gets confusing with the nested menus.
  • DVR: You get 50 hours of DVR storage, but you can’t fast forward commercials.
  • Compatibility: It’s on Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, Xbox, iPhone, and Android.
  • Bonus: You get “Hulu Limited Commercials” for free, as well as two simultaneous streams.

Best for you if...

You’re willing to go without some local sports channels, deal with an occasionally glitchy stream, and use an app that's challenging to navigate. If you’re a regular Hulu member, it’ll only cost an additional $32/month. Hulu With Live TV isn’t ready for primetime yet.

hulu vs sling

Sling

5
  • Stream Quality: The stream works well on all channels.
  • Channels: You won’t get many local channels or local sports channels.
  • Interface: The interface is awful and tough to navigate.
  • DVR: There are no profiles, lots of restrictions, and only 50 hours of DVR storage.
  • Compatibility: No other live streaming service is more compatible than Sling.
  • Bonus: You can change locations as often as you’d like.

Best for you if...

You’re on a budget, can get the channels you need with the entry packages and don’t mind a subpar interface. You won’t find a better deal than $25/month. It might be your best bet if you’re a frequent traveler or if you’re not that into sports.

 

Why listen to me?

  1. I’ve been obsessed with gadgets since I was eight years old.
  2. I bought each device with MY money.
  3. I’ll update this post frequently because my opinions change.
  4. I don’t have insider access. I’m just like you, the everyman.
Learn more here or subscribe to my email list for new posts and gadget giveaways.

Channel Lineups

Channel YouTube
($40)
Vue
($45)
Hulu
($40)
Sling O
($25)
Sling B
($25)
A&E No No Yes Yes Yes
ABC Yes Yes Yes Bigger No
AMC Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Animal Planet No Yes No No No
BBC America Yes Yes No Yes Yes
BBC World Yes Bigger No Bigger Bigger
BET No No No Bigger Yes
Big Ten Network Yes Bigger Yes No No
Bloomberg TV No No No Yes Yes
Boomerang No Bigger Yes Bigger Bigger
Bravo Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Cartoon Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CBS Yes Yes Yes No No
CBS Sports Yes Bigger Yes No No
Cheddar Yes No Yes Yes Yes
CMT No No No Bigger Bigger
CNBC Yes Yes Yes No Bigger
CNN Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Comedy Central No No No Yes Yes
Cooking Channel No Bigger No Bigger Bigger
CSPAN No No No No No
CW Yes No Yes No No
Destination Amer. No Yes No No No
Discovery No Yes No No No
Discovery Family No Bigger No No No
Discovery Life No Bigger No No No
Disney Channel Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Disney Junior Yes Yes Yes Bigger No
Disney XD Yes Yes Yes Bigger No
DIY No Bigger No Bigger Bigger
E! Yes Yes Yes No Bigger
EPIX No Bigger No Bigger Bigger
ESPN Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ESPN 2 Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ESPN 3 No No No Yes No
ESPNEWS Yes Bigger Yes Bigger No
ESPNU Yes Bigger Yes Bigger No
Food Network No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Fox Business Yes Yes Yes No No
Fox News Yes Yes Yes No No
Fox Sports 1 Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Fox Sports 2 Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Freeform Yes Yes Yes Yes No
FX Yes Yes Yes No Yes
FX Movie Yes Bigger Yes No No
FXX Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Golf Channel Yes Bigger Yes No Bigger
Hallmark No Bigger No Bigger Bigger
HGTV No Yes Yes Yes Yes
History No No Yes Yes Yes
HLN Yes Yes Yes Bigger Bigger
IFC Yes Bigger No Yes Yes
Investigation No Yes No No No
Lifetime No No Yes Yes Yes
Lifetime Movie No No Yes Bigger Bigger
MLB Network Yes Bigger No No No
MSNBC Yes Yes Yes No Bigger
MTV No No No Bigger Bigger
MTV2 No No No Bigger Bigger
MyNetworkTV Yes Yes Yes No No
Nat Geo Wild Yes Bigger Yes No Yes
National Geo Yes Yes Yes No Yes
NBA TV Yes Bigger No Bigger Bigger
NBC Yes Yes Yes No Yes
NBC Sports Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Newsy Yes No No Yes Yes
NFL Network No Bigger No No Yes
NFL Red Zone No Bigger No No Bigger
NHL Network No No No Bigger Bigger
Nick Jr. No No No Bigger Yes
Nickelodeon No No No No No
Nicktoons No No No Bigger Bigger
OWN No Yes No No No
Oxygen Yes Yes Yes No Bigger
Science No Yes No No No
SEC Network Yes Bigger Yes Bigger No
Sundance TV Yes Bigger No Bigger Bigger
Syfy Yes Yes Yes No Yes
TBS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Telemundo Yes Yes Yes No No
Tennis Channel Yes No No No No
TLC No Yes No No No
TNT Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Travel Channel No Yes Yes Yes Yes
TruTV Yes Yes Yes Bigger Yes
Turner Classic Yes Bigger Yes Bigger Bigger
TV Land No No No Bigger Bigger
Univision No No No No No
USA Yes Yes Yes No Yes
VH1 No No No Bigger Bigger
Viceland No No Yes Yes Yes
WE tv Yes Yes No Bigger Bigger
Weather No No No No No

My Experience

Every tech comparison I do is prompted by my curiosity, whether I’m looking for the best streaming device, best robot vacuum, etc.

This time, I wanted to get in on the cord-cutting trend and lower my monthly cable bill, so I set out to find the best live TV streaming service.

People are cutting the cord because cable TV has devolved into an overpriced mess. In most cases, you’re roped into a long, restrictive contract and pay for a bunch of garbage you don’t want while getting a subpar viewing experience and terrible customer service.

I was paying $90 for my cable package, which I only used to watch live sports. I prefer to use streaming services like Netflix, Showtime, and HBO to watch movies and shows.

Before I started my search, I decided I’d look for streaming services that met three fundamental requirements:

My requirements were:

  1. Access to the Celtics and Red Sox (Boston regional sports channels).
  2. Apple TV app.
  3. At least two concurrent streams allowed (preferably three).

Ideally, sports fans could pay for MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, or NFL Sunday Ticket to watch their local sports teams without blackouts or pay for any channel individually. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible, and it won’t ever happen.

TV needs to be reimagined, but for now, we’re stuck with the current landscape.

Sling and PlayStation Vue have been around for a couple of years. Since their inception, DirecTV, YouTube, and Hulu have released competing services.

Sling, DirecTV, and PlayStation Vue are taking a familiar cable-style product and making it streamable, while Hulu and YouTube have a different approach.

DirecTV is so bad that I’ve taken it out of this comparison post to keep things simple. It’s a clunky interface and never works correctly.

I’ve been using YouTube TV as my go-to service for eight months, but I tried the other four services for at least a week each too.

I’m sticking with YouTube TV with my Chromecast.

YouTube TV

10

Stream Quality (A):

  • The stream quality is impeccable.
  • YouTube TV uses 60 frames per second for sports channels to avoid choppiness.
  • This is the only service with which you can see and change your picture’s resolution while a show’s playing.
  • You can watch on three separate devices at the same time.

Channels (A):

  • You’ll get your local sports teams in almost any location. The sports setup is excellent. It lists all of your local teams with the full schedule and standings. You can click one button to record every game, no matter the channel.
  • Turner channels were missing for the first year of YouTube TV, but now their channel lineup can stack up with any streaming service.
  • I get live versions of all my local channels (CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC) and in most cases, you should too.

Interface (A):

  • The interface on the phone is amazing and is loaded with on-demand content. It’s set up with three tabs: Library (your DVR), Home (a way of finding stuff to watch through searching and curation), and Live (a beautifully set up guide). Once you find what you want to watch, you can Cast or AirPlay it to a TV. Casting works flawlessly.
  • YouTube TV opens on the Home tab with a “Top Picks For You,” regardless of what device you use. The Home tab learns your patterns and shows you what it thinks you’ll like. Since I watch mostly sports, my “Top Picks For You” always has a few live games. I rarely have to go to the guide to find them. It’s simple and beautiful.
  • Apple TV, Xbox and Roku apps were released in February. The streaming device apps are useful and get better with new software fixes, but they’ve got nothing on the fantastic phone app. I’d prefer to use the phone app and AirPlay to Apple TV or Cast to Chromecast.
  • You can pause live TV, and if you’re behind live (from pausing), you can fast forward.
  • Streaming inside Chrome and Firefox is great.
  • You can get notifications on your phone when your shows are on.

DVR & On-Demand (B):

  • YouTube TV’s Cloud DVR gives you unlimited storage, and your content is stored for nine months.
  • You can skip commercials when there’s no on-demand version available.
  • YouTube’s DVR has a catch: your recordings are overwritten with the on-demand version. While the commercials are shorter with on-demand than live TV, you can’t skip them. In my experience, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox are the only channels affected. Other channels and sports programming record normally. You typically have a 24-hour window before the on-demand version is posted, so watch your shows quickly if you want it to be ad-free!
  • On-demand and DVR recordings are easy to find, sort and watch. I love the interface on the phone and the streaming device apps. Rather than displaying shows by the date they were aired, it orders them by season and episode number.
  • You get six accounts, and everyone gets their own account for DVR.

Compatibility (C):

  • There’s no Amazon Fire TV app and it won’t be coming anytime soon due to Amazon and Google’s beef.
  • There are apps on Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Xbox, and newer Samsung & LG smart TVs. The best way to use YouTube TV is to find the content on the phone app and cast that content to your streaming device.

Bonus (A):

  • Membership is simple; it’s $40/month for every channel with no complicated tiers.
  • You can log on from a different location without issue, as long as you log on from your home zip code once a month.
  • You get YouTube Red Originals for free.

PlayStation Vue

8

Stream Quality (B):

  • PlayStation Vue is the most polished live service around.
  • I had clean streams on every channel except my local sports channels, which was frustrating. It made me wonder if all of the live streaming services struggled to stream the local sports channels. But that hypothesis was disproved when YouTube TV gave me a perfect NESN and CSNNE stream.
  • You can stream with five devices at once with any of the packages.

Channels (A):

  • Vue offers Fox and Comcast regional sports channels (depending on your location), and they have specialty sports networks like NESN and YES.
  • I get live versions of all of my local channels (CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC) and in most cases, you should too.

Interface (B):

  • Vue looks like traditional cable with the ugly guide setup. (You might like it, but I don’t want to be reminded of the terrible cable experience of the past).
  • You can set it up so that your favorite channels show up first on the guide list.
  • You can watch from your web browser without downloading an app.
  • The search feature is great.
  • After a live show’s over, there’s a four-second pause before the new show starts back up. That’s cool, but here’s where it became an issue for me: unlike shows, sports go over their scheduled time all the time. For example, I was watching the Sox, and it went into extra innings. Once the scheduled three hours had eclipsed, Vue thought a different show was on because that’s what the guide said, but the game was still on. It broke up the flow of the game.

DVR & On-Demand (C):

Compatibility (B-):

  • It’s compatible with almost all devices, but I’ve found the guide is glitchy on Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices made before 2017.
  • It’s compatible with Apple TV, just like the others, but it’s the only live service where DVR content goes into the TV App.

Bonus (D):

  • Sony should’ve called it “Vue” instead of PlayStation Vue. It creates confusion, and it’s poor branding. For a long time, I didn’t know you could watch PlayStation Vue on non-PlayStation devices, and other people don’t realize that either.
  • You can’t use it away from home without calling customer support.
  • It’s $5/month more than YouTube TV if you want your regional sports channels.

Hulu Live TV

6

Stream Quality (C):

  • 60 frames per second is critical for watching sports because otherwise, there’s a lag in action. I noticed with sports there was a significant latency issue when the screen moved quickly.
  • Luckily, Hulu started rolling out 60fps on half of their channels, and it looks like more are coming.

Channels (B-):

  • Hulu has most of the regional sports channels, including YES Network for Yankees fans, but they don’t have NESN.
  • There’s no AMC, but other than that, it has all of the basic channels.
  • I get live versions of all of my local channels (CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC) and, in most cases, you should too.

Interface (C):

  • Hulu with Live TV is a different take on television. I admire their boldness. They use huge, eye-catching fonts and focus on getting content in front of you through a curation process, rather than just showing channel names. (Keep in mind, it’s not traditional, so it might take some getting used to).
  • You get a universal experience on all the apps. It’s perfectly synced and beautiful.
  • Hulu is nice to look at but not easy to use.
    • You can get so deep into their threaded menu that you can’t find your way back. There’s no easy way to go home.
    • There’s no guide, which is fine, but there’s no easy way to see what’s on now and what’ll be on in the future from the same channel.
    • I don’t mind the interface/menus overall, but I know most will hate it (especially channel surfers) because it’s unconventional.
  • You can pause TV, but once you do, you can’t fast forward.
  • The home screen recommends new shows to watch, and it’s great at doing it.
  • There are push updates you can turn on to alert you when to watch a certain game. Let’s say a guy is in the 8th inning of a no-hitter in a game you wouldn’t usually care about. Hypothetically, Hulu would alert you, and with one tap you could watch the end of that game.

DVR & On-Demand (B):

  • You get 50 hours of DVR storage, but you can’t fast forward commercials with the standard $40/month package. For an extra $15/month you get Enhanced Cloud DVR and can skip all commercials.
  • If you’re looking to skip commercials with Hulu, your best bet is Hulu With Live TV, plus an additional $4 for “Hulu No Commercials.” You’ll have commercials with recorded programs, but on-demand (which is all shows from NBC, ABC, FOX) will be commercial free.

Compatibility (B+):

  • Hulu is on Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, Xbox, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, and the app works as intended everywhere.

Bonus (B):

  • You can change your location four times per year. You’ll need that feature if you’re a frequent traveler. With DirecTV and Vue, if you’re in a different city, you can’t even open the app without calling customer support and telling them you’ve moved. For instance, I was trying out live TV services while on vacation in Milwaukee but used my New Hampshire zip code to sign up. I couldn’t use it. I called to change my location, but once I got back to New Hampshire, I lost service again.
  • You only get two simultaneous streams. It’s an additional $15 for unlimited streams.
  • You get “Hulu Limited Commercials” for free (this is the original Hulu that most people know of for $8/month).

Stream Quality (A):

  • You can change the stream’s video quality by adjusting the bandwidth allowance. Typically, you’d want your streaming service to determine the Internet strength on its own, then stream with the best possible quality. But sometimes, you might want to lower the quality so you can have multiple concurrent streams.
  • ESPN streams at 60 frames per second to eliminate choppiness, but all other channels are only 30fps.
  • You can pause live TV on most channels.
  • If you sign up for Sling Orange, you can watch three streams at once.

Channels (F):

  • Sling TV might be your best bet if you’re NOT into sports and still want cable. Sling Blue and Sling Orange are $25/month each, or you can get them together for $40/month. Sling broke up channels into small packages. (Compare the packages here).
  • You might be able to catch your sports teams with Sling, but it’s not likely you’ll see everything. They only have some of the regional Comcast channels (SN Mid-Atlantic, CSN Chicago, CSN California, and CSN Bay Area). With Sling, I couldn’t watch the Celtics, Bruins, or Sox.
  • You can’t get your all of your local channels (CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC) in most cases. For me, the only local channel I get is NBC and FOX On-Demand.

Interface (D):

  • They don’t have a traditional guide with a grid, which is fine, but scrolling through channels and lineups isn’t easy. The interface is awful.

DVR & On-Demand (F):

  • You get 50 hours of storage for an additional $5/month, and you can protect shows from being deleted.
  • You can’t record any Disney channels (including ESPN).
  • Fox channels can’t be recorded, but you can watch them on-demand with commercials.
  • There aren’t many local channels on Sling, so while you can record, I’m not sure there’s anything worth recording.
  • There are no profiles. You’re stuck with a DVR and settings that’s a combination of every household member’s preferences.

Compatibility (A):

  • No other live streaming service is more compatible than Sling. Name a device and Sling is compatible with it.

Bonus (C):

  • You can log on from any location in the U.S. without issue. That’s excellent if you’re on the road a lot. Another benefit of no location preference is that it’s easier to share your account. (I’m not advocating sharing an account but realize a lot of people do it. Some providers like HBO don’t care, but some do).
  • I tried Sling’s 7-day trial. I didn’t plan on keeping it. On day 9, I realized I’d forgotten to cancel. I was charged $60. Sling has a strict no-refund policy. At the very least, I should be given a prorated refund for the 28 unused days. I had already deleted the app and had no intention of using the service again. The situation is completely my fault; I knew the rules going in and spaced it. Unfortunately, it is the norm in old-school business sectors without much competition (cable and phone).
 

95 Comments

  • Joyce glynn says:

    Hi, I watch only a few stations on tv. I don’t want a monthly bill. I think there is something that attaches to back of tv, right? Any help please.

    • Cam Secore says:

      You should be able to pick up some local channels for free (CBS, Fox, PBS, etc) in some locations. But you’ll need an antenna.

  • Chris says:

    Hey dude. Was wondering if you have tried directv now? Any feedback??

    • Cam Secore says:

      It’s so bad that I took it out of this comparison. Bad interface and the streams almost never work.

      • Michael says:

        Really!?

        I’m evaluating both. My take is that DirectvNow has better streaming quality across the board (roku). Moreover, I did a side by side comparison on a desktop computer. In both cases I found that DTN was better in that either the stream quality was better and/or no choppiness.

        • Cam Secore says:

          One anecdote from me and one from you. Either could be right. The internet is on my side, but DirecTV might’ve cleaned up since I last tried because they’ve been in the streaming business close to two years now. My question for you: why are you on this site if you’re satisfied with DirecTV Now?

  • GARY R says:

    I like your independent top research and friendly cusumer concern in your writing .

    • Cam Secore says:

      Thank you! I think my independence on this site is my biggest advantage. No media company is telling me how or what to write.

  • Brian says:

    Thanks for the reviews. I’m looking to cut the cord. I’m heavily favoring YouTube TV. I bought a Chromecast and a Roku streaming stick (both not for a 4K TV). While I understand Chromecast should be better for YouTube TV (both google products), the Roku remote may be better overall to help control power and volume on my TV and make for a better experience—especially for my wife who is less tech savvy. Do you agree with this or do you think Chromecast for YouTube TV is much better than a Roku stick? Thanks

    • Cam Secore says:

      There’s nothing wrong with YouTube TV and Roku together. But with the Chromecast it’s a much better experience. I have faith that your wife can figure it out. It’s just one button to cast.

  • Misty says:

    Thank you for taking the time to do the research on these TV outlets. I do have a question. Currently, we have direct tv. However, it is crazy expensive and we are looking for ways to save some money. I personally don’t watch much tv, but I do like having the basic local channels and a few additional ones. We do have an apple tv, Netflix, fire stick, and a sony smart tv. I’m trying to figure out what would be the best option for my family. My kids tend to watch more tv on their iphones. Where I prefer watching on the actual tv itself. We did the trial for sling, but I find it’s a little too complicated, and maybe just not very user friendly for me anyway. It could be that I’m just used to the “easy” way of how cable is set up with guide, etc. With all that in mind, what service do you suggest for us? I’m curious to know your opinion since you have tested all these out.

    Thank you..

    • Cam Secore says:

      Like I said, if you’re looking for the traditional TV experience, give PlayStation Vue a try!

  • TFaith065 says:

    I have a Shield TV and 2 Fire TV’s 2nd Gen. The reason I never went beyond a trial with YouTube. Not really in the mood to buy 2 more Shield TV’s. They’re just so good though. I git tired of Vue, DTVN on a special deal is pissing me off. You can’t even pause TV. Sling is missing somethings..

    I might just get some more Shield TV’s and go YouTube but no NHL Network that I’m aware of.. Hmm.

  • Robin Violet says:

    Im a totally non-tech senior. WHile Im staying in a different location for awhile, Im renting out my home as a vacation rental so I need TV. I bought a new TV a couple of years ago- and cant even remember what kind it was. Anyway, I get cable internet (only choice in my rural location) but cant afford the TV cable so I discontinued it. I have read your reviews but am still confused. Was going to buy a firestick tomorrow at the Amazon prime day but now not sure. Would you mind talking in very simple terms knowing I dont understand any of this which device should I buy to plug into the TV and which service to get so that it is easy for my helper to set up and so that my guests (and I) can get basic and some basic “cable” TV channels? If it is anything fancy, the guests will have their own laptops and use their own service. BUt having “cable TV” like service is a must for me. What Im saying is that having live TV is important. While I dont remember much about the TV and am not there to examine it, it does have things like netflix etc to click on. Hope this is enough info for you to give me a clear recommendation. Thanks alot.

    • Cam Secore says:

      I still recommend Roku Stick for your case. You’ll need an streaming service to go with it too. Playstation Vue is probably your best bet for $40/month.

  • Anthony says:

    I’m using direct tv now and it’s always some issue. I’m a big sports person. What service do you recommend for sports and with football soon arriving do you think you tube tv will get Redzone?

    • Cam Secore says:

      I’d probably go with PlayStation Vue because they should have Redzone when football’s back.

  • Jennifer says:

    We just got Amazon firesticks but I realize I cant exactly get rid of my cable through optimum just yet. It appears I cant watch any episodes of say food network or animal planet or discovery channel without my optimum user name and password….anyway around this?

    • Cam Secore says:

      Nope. Not legally anyways. You’ll need a streaming service from this post to get channels that resemble cable.

  • Ish says:

    what do you think about philo?
    I got it for $16 per rmonth

    • Cam Secore says:

      Philo doesn’t have local channels (Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC), ESPN, or any regional sports channels, so it’ll be useless for most people. But if you don’t like sports or network shows, it might be worth a look, but I can’t speak to its interface.

      • Helpful Hanna says:

        I LOVE Philo and I get all my local channelsmoff antenna. Very happy people live here who watch a good deal of TV!

  • JASON says:

    We are leaning towards the Vue 2nd top package. We need the most cartoons when my sons not gaming,and sports live streams. Were we live rural our internet sucks. Anyway to boost that? Will it be worth getting livestream? Also can we stream on 3 tvs at once with any of these live streaming options? Looking for the best quality/cable close option.

    • Cam Secore says:

      PlayStation Vue allows for five streams at once and sounds like it’d be a good fit. But if you already have bad internet, this live TV streaming is not the way to go, especially if you’re going to have three TVs at once. Why are you leaving cable? What’s your biggest beef? Can you upgrade your internet to a different provider? With that much going on at your place, you’ll want at least 50 Mbps to keep everything smooth.

  • Michael L says:

    Thanks for the excellent, and clear overview of all the TV streaming options. I am a recent cable tv cutter who signed up for 2 months of Sling TV. Your review of their service is bang on. It’s not easy to sort all this out!
    After reading all your unbiased reviews and rates of the numerous streaming services, I decided to have no tv at all, streaming or otherwise. I feel better already! …. now, back to my book, hobbies, visiting, …going outside,…..

    • Cam Secore says:

      Seems like you’re having second thoughts if you’re on this site, no?

      • Michael L says:

        Yes, I suppose your correct about second thoughts (not as easy to break the TV thing as I thought). Must be a slight case of post dissonance! That said, I am surprised how much current, free, news coverage is on YouTube.
        I came upon your site by chance, as I was looking for more info about YouTube TV.. while my cable TV bill was creeping up, it wasn’t the bill as much as the fact that even with minimal package choices, there was hundreds of channels I had no interest in, yet had to pay for.
        The upward creeping cost of streaming services is forecast soon to be an issue with consumers, just as today’s cable costs are today. Thanks again for your thorough coverage (and ability to write well!)

        • Cam Secore says:

          Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, YouTube is amazing. It’s how most young people, myself included, consume news now.

  • Sandra says:

    Thank you for all of this! My household is not into sports. My daddy does like the trinity broadcast (like jimmy swaggart) and pbs. Which would be a better fit (in your opinion) between Hulu and Sling with Roku. Streaming like 3 TVs in the same House.

  • Val says:

    Hi. Unfortunately in zipcode 39503, YouTube TV is not supported in my area. I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with att Uverse and Direct TV. Please tell me there’s a workaround or another way I could still get YouTube TV in my area. Thanks in advance.

    • Cam Secore says:

      There’s nothing wrong with Playstation Vue in the mean time. You could mask your IP, but that’d mean you won’t get your local channels, so I’d just wait.

  • Canon says:

    On the surface, it would seem we actually have choices. I too have tested the Hulu, Direct TV, and Playstation Vue to try to find that perfect mix of television. Sadly, they all lack something, as seen in this article. Direct TV offers everything I would want at the basic tier, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and Paramount, but it is so painfully slow to navigate with grey menus on Roku stick (2017), and hardly tolerable on the Amazon Fire stick (2017). Hulu Live streaming interface is terrible and difficult to navigate. Since Hulu has the live option now, it seems that their streaming library has demolished greatly to the point it doesn’t seem worth maintaining that service. Hulu’s original content is minimal. Then there is Playstation Vue, which offers CBS, NBC, and Fox, and no Paramount or ABC (Wheel of Fortune), but offers the premium Redzone. I wouldn’t be surprised that in the end, I’ll spend more money in cord cutting by trying out the various Amazon, Roku, and Apple devices with the many services. So far unsatisfied, having to flip from one device to another for different apps and back to TV for ABC. Don’t get me started on the wars between the products. A great YouTube app is available for Roku and no-name Android devices, but not Amazon. As for the CBS Premier, which I believe could be considered live TV, I tried it. If you like Star Trek great, but any other programming why bother. As for the CBS app itself, it was clunky and difficult, didn’t remember where you left off in the series or episode. Thank you for the articles and a place to sound off our opinions.

    • Cam Secore says:

      Like I said, there’s no perfect solution. And a lot of people will find live TV streaming isn’t for them yet.

  • Guy in Palm Springs says:

    Thank you for your excellent detailed reviews of the top cable-replacement services.

    My issue is with ad-skipping. It’s so easy on cable/DVR. Just record the show, watch it, then when an ad appears, just fast forward–watching the show speed along quickly–and press play when the ads are over to re-start the show. And for pausing, just press pause, then either hit pause or play to re-start.

    I use a new Roku TV, have 3.5 Mbps (willing to upgrade to 100) and cannot get YouTube TV in my zip.

    So, Cam, which of the leading streaming services offering a DVR (and on-demand, if able to ad-skip) have “visual FF” so you know when to re-start your stream in order to by pass ads.

    Thank you for your help!

  • Doug says:

    I have a couple of smart TVs for a family of 5. I am tired of the $200 a month Spectrum bill. We have one Roku and two Fire sticks. We are big time college football fans and have parties every Saturday to watch our favorite team. Two of our kids will graduate HS this year and next. Which one will work better for us to watch football but when the kids leave able to take it with them? I know we will have to keep Spectrum internet but that’s maybe $70/month.

  • Jessica Holt says:

    Hi there! I appreciate this review and loads of information. Was wondering if it’s possibly to get NFL Redzone with the YouTube Tv option?

    • Cam Secore says:

      I believe Playstation Vue and DirecTV Now are the only services that offer Redzone.

  • Kurt says:

    Thanks for doing the leg work on this research. We are going to cut the cord and are looking for the best value and service. The question I have is that when I look at YouTubeTv and look up my area code it says that it is not available in my area. Does that mean the service as a whole or just that I can’t get local channels. I know that I can download it onto my game devices but don’t want to waste my time if it isn’t going to work. Thanks!

    • Cam Secore says:

      YouTube TV isn’t available in a few areas, and apparently yours is still one of them. This means you can’t get YouTube TV unless you want to use a VPN, which I don’t suggest. Try Vue instead!

  • Butch Papeljon says:

    Your review on sling is a little off. Just on the sports part. I think this package is very sports friendly. It’s how I’m watching football every weekend.

    • Cam Secore says:

      All these services will have everything you need football wise. Sling has none of the regional sports channels, so if you like a particular baseball, hockey, basketball team, they most likely don’t have it.

  • Erin says:

    this information is so helpful. there are so many choices out there that it is hard to discern what is best. is there a similar platform via Xbox one like PlayStation Vue?

    • Cam Secore says:

      Sling is the most similar and not bad if it has the channels you want, but you might want to consider a Roku Streaming Stick for $40 if your heart’s set on Vue.

  • Michael says:

    This was an excellent comparison, and to boot, you’re a Boston sports fan! So a few things I need answered about YouTube Live TV that I don’t see in your write up.

    First, can I record the Patriots games and if so, can the recording be extended (or does it know to record the entire game and not cut out after the three hour time slot is up)?

    Second, I don’t see HBO listed in the line ups. Is there a way to subscribe to HBO and then watch it through the service? And assuming there is, can I record shows like Real Time and Last Week Tonight?

    Third, you mention no Amazon TV app. So if I want to watch Amazon programs not available elsewhere, does that mean I need to have Amazon TV streaming device plugged in to the TV (or a smart tv with the app built in) in order to watch those shows?

    Finally, based on some good reviews, I was thinking of purchasing the Amazon Cube to control my TV. Is that compatible with the YouTube TV?

    Thanks so much.

    • Cam Secore says:

      1. I’m not sure how YouTube’s doing it, but they record the entire game, no matter how long it goes. I’m guessing they pull the scores in real-time and note when the games done, It’s cool!

      2. It’s better to buy HBO’s standalone product, HBO NOW for $15/month than bundling it with anything.

      3. I said YouTube TV is not compatible with Amazon devices (Fire TV, etc.) because Google and Amazon have beef with each other. You can use the Amazon Video app on any streaming device that has it.

      4. This goes back to the last question: no, it’s not. I suggest you go with an Apple TV, but Roku is an option too: https://allpowermoves.com/best-streaming-device/

      5. You’ll get the Boston Fox, CBS, NBC channels.

  • Sharon Gonzales says:

    I am totally “stupid” in all of this. Cut off Dish and not liking the antenna! I do not currently have internet but do have a phone with unlimited everything. Do not know how to use with TV but have smart TV. Can you please suggest what I need to get regular TV and some other channels? ( I do need to figure it out before GAME OF THRONES comes back!!) I have been told Roku is a little better than fire stick but your saying I can use both?? I have 3 TV’s that I’d like to work. Should I get internet and if yes what kind is good for what I want?? Thank you soooo much!

    • Cam Secore says:

      You can stream any of these services from this post with Roku or Fire TV, but I like Roku devices better. Your smart TV probably has Sling and Hulu apps if you don’t want to buy another device. You’re going to need internet that’s at least 20/mbps to get a quality stream. If Game of Thrones is all you care about, just get HBO NOW for $15/month. If you want more than HBO, I recommend YouTube TV with Roku.

  • Bill Allen says:

    Thank you for your research. Last week I bought a LG 4K Smart TV and now exploring streaming as opposed to using my cable provider. You Tube looks the best following your comments. We are especially interested in sports and local TV. However my wife has interests in channels like LIfetime, Hallmark, History, Discovery, Food HGTV. I don’t see them on the You Tube channel guide. How would I get those channels if I cut the cord? Appreciate your comments. Thanks Bill

    • Cam Secore says:

      That’s the thing.. If you require lots of channels or specific ones, sometimes it’s better to stick with cable because there’s no way to buy them individually. But look into one of Playstation Vue’s bigger packages and they should have you covered.

  • Linda says:

    Thank you for all your research on this subject… much appreciated. I am presently going through trial periods on some of these streaming services but would like to know which would be best for someone who definitely does NOT want to watch commercials. Basically we watch the major networks ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and MSNBC… which of these streaming services give you the option to skip commercials and record these shows. I am willing to pay for this option. Thank you for any help you can be with this.

    • Cam Secore says:

      It sounds like you don’t need live TV. I’d look into the regular Hulu With No Commercials for $12/month. You’ll be able to watch all your shows the day after they air, commercial free.

  • Terry says:

    Have Hulu live. Works good, but has cut off numerous times while watching live football games. Not doing this on other live channels. Is this just Hulu’s weakness, or is there anything I can do to stop this from happening, eg, a better modum and/or router? I have internet 100Mbps.

    • Cam Secore says:

      It’s definitely Hulu’s weakness. But I’d check your exact internet speed from your streaming device’s location. 100/Mbps is plenty but maybe you’re not getting that in the TVs location and this could be fixed with a mesh router setup.

  • Stacia says:

    This post on No More Cable alternatives was exactly what I needed!! Thank you for doing all the hard work.

  • Rus says:

    with Hulu Live TV, can will I still have access to the streaming Library that I had on Hulu? In other words, can I watch whole “seasons” of TV programs, or it is only Live tv?

    Also, CBS is not available in my area. Anyway I can gain access to it?

    • Cam Secore says:

      The original Hulu comes with the new “Hulu with Live TV,” so you’re set there. For CBS, you might be able to pick it up free via an antenna. That’s probably your best bet if CBS isn’t included in a streaming package that you want.

  • GregC says:

    Must have read nearly 100 articles about streaming and streaming programs comparisons, cord-cutting, etc. from years 2015 to 2018 — but this article is by far the most straight-forward and comprehensive.

    In 2016 – 2017 I tried Sling TV (best value but clunky interface and lacking some content I wanted, also had some buffering and related issues). In 2018 I tried Hulu Live TV. Their upgraded interface was nice (but too many layers, as Cam mentioned in the article) and this service definitely had the content mix I was seeking (local channels, sports, lots of on-demand content of older TV shows) — but the streaming and app is still very subpar. Besides buffering issues, it has glitches such as simply tossing you out of the app at random, not putting a channel (or app, if you prefer…) in the Most Recently Viewed list — even when you had just clicked on and watched that channel!, etc.

    Based on Cam’s insightful review, I will now try either You Tube TV or Vue. Since stability is becoming an issue for me even over content – I may try You Tube first since Cam (and several other sites) consider this service to currently be the most stable of all the services.

  • Scott K. says:

    I live in Wisconsin but would like to be able to get Chicago local stations. Not sure how to mask IP Address or should I subscribe with a Chicagoan friends address. I currently subscribed to YouTube and very satisfied. Great review

    • Cam Secore says:

      My girlfriend’s from Wisconsin! You’ll need a VPN to mask your IP, which will cost more money. Even if you subscribe with a friend’s address if you’re not regularly signing on, every 30 days, from that Chicago location, it won’t work.

      • Scott K says:

        But if they do sign in every 30 days from the Chicago location will it work and will I be able to get chicago sports viewing

  • Dave says:

    Cam,
    Greetings,
    I have one firestick (guessing need to get another for 2nd tv) a friend just got Sling (he says.. only for NFL Network) & uses a digital antenna for local stations.. This all sounds good to me as football & local stations are desired as well, but also looking for HBO & Showtime.. & would like to have channels like Bravo, Discovery, History, AxsTV, and others… If you’re me, what all are you buying & setting up ?
    Please advise.
    Much appreciated !!
    Dave

    • Cam Secore says:

      You’ll need Playstation Vue for cable channels for $45/month. You can buy HBO individually with HBO Now for $15/month and Showtime is around $11/month.

  • D. Coates says:

    Does YouTube TV work as well on Roku? I already own a Roku. Thanks

  • heywally says:

    Thanks Cam. You mention the impeccable stream via youtube.tv (not available to me yet) – do they offer 1080p resolution on the live TV feeds? That is one of the problems I have with all of the streaming services; they still aren’t as good as the cable signal that I get from my local Charter people.

    • Cam Secore says:

      It’s 1080p and crispy.

      • heywally says:

        Thanks, will check. I just “re-upped” with cable TV from Charter (had to file an FCC complaint to get my Tivo/cablecard setup properly “paired”) because of a good deal (in concert with my internet service from them) that wasn’t that more than any of the streaming services I’ve looked into. Plus, the cable here and Tivo DVR beat out any streaming service I could find. But as I mentioned, youtube not available here. Look forward to dumping Charter, both cable and internet, eventually.

  • Deedge says:

    We’ve been streaming by Roku for over a year now. Have a vacation home in another state so we’ve kept cable at our permanent home & use that account with the Roku at the vacation home.GOAL: we will drop Spectrum cable at home and stream with Roku both places & use a streaming service.
    1. What streaming service is best for travel between two homes?
    2. What streaming service would (best) carry NASCAR & Indy Car? We would have to get both the Fox Sports Network and NBCSN.

    Thank you!

    • Cam Secore says:

      I’d go with YouTube TV in your case! It has Fox Sports Network and NBCSN and is travel friendly.

  • Ness express says:

    Not a big tech guy here and we just moved into my new home and am dropping my dish network, tired of paying a lot for channels we don’t watch.

    – We watch local news, local Chicago sports teams during the year, ESPN, history, food network etc. don’t need HBO or special programming.
    – We are also Netflix and our amazon prime members.

    We are trying to decide if Hulu, Sling or You tube live is the way to go.

    • Cam Secore says:

      It looks like Hulu is your best bet. If you don’t need the History Channel, I’d go with PlayStation Vue.

  • Jeff P says:

    One minor update to the Hulu evaluation above, as they now include a live guide (have since earlier this summer), at least in my market. You can “record” shows directly from the guide which was a significant improvement in trying to navigate around their interface. Streaming quality continues to be spotty, though.

  • Victor Smith says:

    I have used Directv Now, Sling tv, Youtube Tv & Hulu live tv. I left directv now, because it would drop the stream quite a bit, the same with Sling. I left YouTube TV because I have Hulu at the $8 plan and added the live option. Hulu however, still has a bad habit of dropping the stream or the video gets ahead of the sound, forcing me to exit and come back. Thinking about going back to YouTube TV, even if I loose Hgtv,History and any other Scripps owed channels.

  • Deborah says:

    Moving soon leaving dishnet behind. Trying to figure out best setup for me. I have a roku. Want to be able to watch tv channels but especially want pac12 network, local stations, ESPN and best way to watch starz
    (Trying to figure out best internet also)
    Thanks!

    • Cam Secore says:

      You’re probably better off sticking to traditional cable/dish. Streaming isn’t for everyone. BUT if you want to go this route and think Pac-12 Network is a necessity, Sling is your only option.

  • Robert Arutunian says:

    YouTube TV seems decent but understand dvr recordings convert to on demand that will not allow fast forwarding commercials. Since I watch much dvr content considering PlayStation Vue. Better option for me?

    • Cam Secore says:

      Unfortunately, most of these services tend to do that if you don’t watch the shows right away. YouTube TV’s a little worse, but if DVR is important, traditional cable may be your best bet.

  • Micki says:

    When you say that Vue can’t be viewed outside your home, what does that mean exactly? I live in a large city. If I’m on the train, I can’t use the app on my phone? If I go to my parents’ in the burbs, I can’t watch on my app? That seems really dumb. But, maybe I just don’t understand.

    • Cam Secore says:

      Story short: You’ll be fine at your parents’ house or the train. Long story: You need to be within reasonable distance of your town/city. I don’t know the specific rules. My guess is that you have to be in the same area of the major city that you’re closest to. For example, I live in New Hampshire, and Vue would probably work if I went to Boston because I get the Boston area channels currently in NH.

  • Joan Garcia says:

    Cam, Thanks for this article. Like others, I cut the cord and was fed up with rising cable costs for channels I never watch. I’ve tried YouTube TV, Sling, DirecTV Now & PlayStation Vue trials. I’ using YouTube TV for 17 months. It’s the best, easy to use and the DVR is great! However, they won’t carry my favorites (History, Food, BET, OWN, etc.). I’ve contacted YouTube TV asking them to include those channels, but they won’t. So I had to add Philo to get my favorite channels!

  • Bob says:

    Great article. One question: Do any of the services allow for rewinding live TV? I often like to rewind something if I don’t hear it correctly or want to to see/hear it again.
    Thanks a lot.

  • Dale says:

    GREAT GREAT REVIEW. I have Hulu but am so frustrated with them. Gave them 6 months and ready to bail. no message boards to seek help, poor streaming a lot of the time w/500mps dl speed. sometimes just says “no content available now. try again later.” My neighbors all want me to evaluate and I honestly couldn’t recommend it. None are younger than 50 and wouldn’t have the patience I’ve had. I’m trying Youtubetv.

Ask Questions or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *