Live Streaming Services: Top Choices and Key Considerations

May 24, 2024
Justin Lumiere

Streaming services have become the go-to alternatives for many looking to cut the cord with traditional cable due to their flexibility and ease of use. While cheaper on-demand streaming apps are readily available, live TV streaming services offer a more comprehensive solution for those who want to watch their favorite shows, sports, and news in real time. Here's a breakdown of what to consider and the top services available.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Live TV Streaming Service

Live TV streaming services work via apps on various devices with internet access. Sign-up usually occurs through a web browser before activating the service on your chosen devices. These services are generally pricier than standard streaming apps, ranging from $75 to over $200 with added features, mainly due to offering multiple networks, including local and sports channels. Here's a deeper dive into important factors and options:

Local Channels

Different services offer varying coverage of local channels. If your chosen service lacks specific local channels, HD antennas are an alternative way to access local broadcast stations for free.

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Sports Coverage

Ensuring the streaming service covers specific sports channels can be complex. Google can assist in finding which network covers certain sports events, and traditional streaming services are increasingly offering live sports packages.

Traditional Cable Networks

Some cable networks are now available through standard streaming apps, often via standalone services like AMC+ and Discovery+.

Free Streaming Options

There are ad-supported TV services (FAST) like Freevee, Tubi, and PlutoTV that provide access to free live channels. Devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV also offer these options.

Digital Video Recordings (DVR)

Most live TV streaming services offer cloud DVR storage with varying limits on recording time and expiration.

On-Demand Content

Subscribers can access VOD content, including movies and shows that air on the networks included in their live TV package.

Additional Features

Different services offer unique features like multiple profiles, simultaneous streams, and picture-in-picture modes. Some even provide extra perks like comprehensive sports features or specific UI advantages.

Specific Service Evaluations

YouTube TV

Best overall service with broad network coverage and great navigation.

  • Pros: Intuitive interface, accurate search function
  • Cons: Increasing costs, potential for overspending on add-ons
Vlogger Applying Makeup and Live Streaming with her Phone

Hulu + Live TV

Best for existing Hulu or Disney+ subscribers.

  • Pros: Broad network coverage, includes Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+
  • Cons: More expensive and ad-laden with a less intuitive interface

DirecTV Stream

Closest to the traditional cable experience without a contract.

  • Pros: Comprehensive channel coverage
  • Cons: Complex interface and navigation

FuboTV

Best for sports enthusiasts.

  • Pros: Extensive sports coverage, user-friendly for finding and recording sports
  • Cons: Expensive base price, weaker VOD and DVR capabilities

Sling TV

Best for customization.

  • Pros: Affordable, customizable packages
  • Cons: Limited local channels, minimal DVR storage

Philo

Most affordable option.

  • Pros: Low cost, user-friendly interface
  • Cons: No sports or local channels, limited news coverage

The choice of a live TV streaming service largely depends on your preferences regarding price, local channels, sports coverage, and additional features. Consider free streaming options as viable alternatives and get detailed insights into each service's unique strengths and weaknesses to make an informed decision.

Comparison of Live TV Streaming Services
ServiceProsCons
YouTube TV
  • Intuitive interface
  • Accurate search function
  • Increasing costs
  • Potential for overspending on add-ons
Hulu + Live TV
  • Broad network coverage
  • Includes Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+
  • More expensive
  • Ad-laden with a less intuitive interface
DirecTV Stream
  • Comprehensive channel coverage
  • Complex interface and navigation
FuboTV
  • Extensive sports coverage
  • User-friendly for finding and recording sports
  • Expensive base price
  • Weaker VOD and DVR capabilities
Sling TV
  • Affordable
  • Customizable packages
  • Limited local channels
  • Minimal DVR storage
Philo
  • Low cost
  • User-friendly interface
  • No sports or local channels
  • Limited news coverage

Free Live TV Streaming Options

Pluto TV

Granularly organized with a large library of live channels.

  • Pros: Good interface and expansive content

Tubi

Easy to use without signup.

  • Pros: Broad regional news coverage, good on-demand library

Amazon Freevee

Similar to Prime Video's Live TV menu but completely free.

  • Pros: Extensive channels, easy to access

Sling Freestream

Accessible after bypassing initial paid options.

  • Pros: Wide range of channels, including international content
  • Cons: Navigation might be challenging initially

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