Best Streaming TV Services

Keep watching your favorite shows after cutting the cord

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If you’re searching for a way to lower your monthly bills, cutting the cable cord is probably one of the first things you’ll consider. But if you’re someone who loves to flip through channels and browse TV shows, you probably don’t want to completely give up television. The good news is that with streaming TV services, you don’t have to.

Consider allocating the money you would spend on expensive cable bills to a streaming TV service instead. Not only will your monthly cost be much lower, but there are so many to choose from that you can easily customize exactly what you want to watch without paying for channels you don’t need.

Here, we’ve rounded up the best live TV services you can sign up for today.

Best Streaming TV Services of 2021

Best Overall: YouTube TV

YouTube TV

YouTube TV

Why We Chose It: YouTube TV offers one of the widest selections of channels compared to any streaming service out there.

What We Like

  • 85+ channels available
  • Typically offers a free trial and discounted first month
  • Allows multiple people to stream at once

What We Don’t Like

  • One of the most expensive streaming services
  • Basic user interface

YouTube TV tops our list because it’s the best option out there for anyone who really wants to cut the cord. YouTube TV costs $65 per month and offers access to more than 85 channels. The service usually offers a free trial period, so you can try it out before you commit.

In most markets, YouTube TV features access to major networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. It includes the NFL, NBA, and MLB networks, along with entertainment stations such as PBS, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon. A single subscription will allow you six profiles, but you can only stream three devices at the same time. Your subscription also comes with unlimited DVR hours, so you can save any show to watch later. Overall, the only real downside of YouTube TV is the cost, but when you compare it to most cable subscriptions, it will still save you money.

Best for Families: Sling TV

Sling TV

Sling TV

Why We Chose It: Sling TV is an affordable family-friendly streaming TV service that allows you to customize your package to suit your family’s needs.

What We Like

  • Affordable monthly fee starting at $35
  • User-friendly interface
  • Up to three devices can stream at once (depending on your package)

What We Don’t Like

  • Lacks access to major networks
  • No customizable profiles
  • Basic package only allows one stream at a time


Sling TV is an affordable streaming service that allows you to upgrade to suit your needs. You can pick between the Sling Orange or Sling Blue package, which costs $35 each and offer in excess of 30 channels. Sling Blue, for example, includes the major cable news networks and also features Bravo, Discovery, National Geographic, and USA. Sling Orange includes three ESPN channels and MotorTrend.

If you want access to everything in both aforementioned packages, consider the Sling Orange + Sling Blue option for $45 with more than 50 channels. Additionally, you can add on the Kids Extra package for $5 more per month, which gives you access to channels such as Disney Junior and Nick Jr.

With Sling, you won’t have access to most major networks. Additionally, you can only stream on one device with the most basic package and you can’t create profiles for different people. Your monthly membership will give you access to 50 hours of DVR every month, but you will have to pay for more hours if that is not enough.

Best Budget: Philo

Philo

Philo

Why We Chose It: With services starting at $20 per month, Philo is a great low-cost option for cord-cutters that still offers plenty of variety.

What We Like

  • Affordable price point
  • Unlimited DVR recording
  • Stream on up to three devices simultaneously

What We Don’t Like

  • Few options for add-ons
  • Channel selection a mixed bag
  • No sports or local channels

With 64 channels at $20 per month, Philo is the most affordable option on our list. Offerings include major networks like AMC, HGTV, and A&E, along with more niche selections like IFC and Vice. Despite its low cost, Philo still includes some nice features, like unlimited DVR and the ability to stream on multiple devices at the same time. For an additional cost, customers can also add on Starz and Epic (for $9 and $6 a month, respectively).

The main drawback to Philo is that its overall selection includes a number of lesser-known channels at the expense of larger ones like NBC and Fox. If you’re looking for sports channels, you’re also out of luck. But if you find that Philo includes everything you want to watch, take advantage of the savings offered under its plan.

Best Variety: Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV

Why We Chose It: Hulu + Live TV is a great option for anyone who wants access to both live TV and original programming.

What We Like

  • Over 65 live channels
  • Access to major networks
  • Ability to set up family profiles

What We Don’t Like

  • Only two streams at once included
  • Fast-forwarding through commercials costs more

Hulu + Live TV starts at $65/month and gives you access to over 65 live channels on top of its original programming such as “Handmaid’s Tale” and “Shrill.” In most markets, you can access major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, etc.) and you can stream two devices at once. That said, some popular channels are missing from Hulu + Live TV’s lineup, including Comedy Central and Animal Planet, so you may need to subscribe to another streaming service as well.

You can save up to 50 hours of TV to watch later or pay $15 more per month for unlimited DVR space. If you want more than two devices to stream simultaneously, you can pay $15 more per month for unlimited streaming. Expect to pony up an extra $10 per month to skip through commercials. All and all, Hulu + Live TV is great for anyone who wants both a streaming service and on-demand, original shows.

Best for Sports: fuboTV

fuboTV

fuboTV

Why We Chose It: With over 100 channels, fuboTV has a large selection of sports networks as well as plenty of entertainment and news options.

What We Like

  • Wide variety of sports networks
  • Cloud DVR included in all packages
  • Stream on multiple devices simultaneously

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited DVR capacity
  • Expensive monthly plans
  • Missing some major channels

With offerings like ESPN, NFL Network, and NBA TV, fuboTV has the best selection available for sports fans. Its starter package is $64.99 per month and includes 114 channels, including 130+ events in 4K resolution. Its “elite” premium package, which costs $79.99 per month, bumps the channel selection up to 160; both options include a family share feature that lets you stream on as many as three screens at once. There is also a Latino-focused package at $33 per month that includes 32 Spanish-language channels.

While fuboTV may be focused on sports, it’s no slouch on the entertainment side, including most major networks including NBC and CBS. However, it’s missing a few channels like TBS and CNN—which is too bad, given the high price of its base package. Still, if you’re focused on finding a streaming service with plenty of sports, fuboTV has the best selection out there.

Best for Movies: HBO Max

HBO Max

HBO Max

Why We Chose It: HBO’s streaming service offers early access to theatrical releases and a lot of children’s programming.

What We Like

  • Early access to Warner Bros. movies
  • Original HBO programming
  • Multiple profiles allowed

What We Don’t Like

  • High price tag
  • No live streaming options

While HBO is known for its groundbreaking original series, its streaming service, HBO Max, has one of the best selections of feature films available anywhere. In fact, it made news in 2021 when Warner Bros. opted to release that year's entire slate of new films exclusively to HBO Max, rather than in theaters. The service also has a deep library of movies in every genre, from family films and documentaries to original films produced by HBO.

Subscription to HBO Max (which is ad-free) costs $14.99 per month, and the service is available on almost all streaming devices. As another plus is that if you are already an HBO subscriber, you will receive access to HBO Max at no cost.

Best for Original Shows: Netflix

Netflix

Netflix

Why We Chose It: If you have only one streaming service, it should probably be Netflix. The low price and wide selection make it a great affordable option to cable.

What We Like

  • Large selection of original programming
  • Multiple profiles allowed
  • Intuitive programming suggestions

What We Don’t Like

  • No access to TV shows as they air
  • Shows are often removed from the catalog

Netflix is the pioneering company of the streaming age, and it’s still the best service out there when it comes to original content. It has over 13,500 titles in its libraries as of March 2021 and regularly releases original series, films, and documentaries. Many of them are highly acclaimed, and new content is added on a weekly basis. It’s also known for its ultra-specific suggestions algorithm, which can help you choose what to watch.

Netflix’s basic subscription costs $8.99 per month, which provides unlimited access to its library but doesn’t offer HD streaming and limits you to viewing on one device at a time. The higher-tier plans cost $13.99 and $17.00 per month, which respectively allow for viewing on two and four devices simultaneously. HD and Ultra HD streaming are also available as part of these packages.

Final Verdict

There are many streaming TV services out there, but the best ones offer a variety of channels and a lower monthly cost than you’ll pay with cable. YouTube TV is our top pick because it will give you access to the largest selection of networks and features such as multiple streams and family profiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Streaming TV?

Streaming TV services allow you to watch live TV using just the internet and any device that can connect online. Streaming TV services come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can typically rival most basic cable TV plans for a fraction of the cost.

You can also find many streaming services that offer access to on-demand TV and movies after they’ve aired live.

Can You Stream TV on Any Device?

Depending on the streaming TV service, most of the time you can use any device to connect online and stream your favorite TV channel. Before you sign up, check to see whether the streaming service you’re interested in is compatible with your streaming device. Most devices such as Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV work with every streaming service out there. 

Does Streaming TV Replace Cable?

In many cases, you can get the same TV channels through a streaming service for less than the cost of cable. That said, not all streaming TV services are built the same, so check the list of channels before you sign up (or opt for a free trial). Often, you can customize your channels to suit your needs so you are not paying for channels you never watch.

How We Chose the Best Streaming TV Services

We determined our picks for the best streaming TV services by weighing key factors like cost and number of channels in each service, along with whether they include features like the ability to stream on multiple devices simultaneously. For example, YouTube TV and Philo allow you to watch TV from three devices at the same time. The services we included all have a wide selection of channels, even if they all don't feature major networks.

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