Millions of Americans are junking cable and satellite TV services — and moving to internet-delivered pay-TV streaming services.
In 2019, the number of traditional pay-TV households in the U.S. will decline by 4.2%, to 86.5 million, per the latest forecast from research firm eMarketer. The number of cord-cutter households (those that have canceled cable or satellite) will increase 19% — to hit 21.9 million in the U.S. this year, representing 17.3% of all households, the research firm predicts.
To cater to the cord-cutting crowd, a host of new over-the-top internet services has introduced TV packages designed to be more flexible and in some cases cheaper — although all of the OTT services have hiked rates within the past year.
The services include newer entrants to the pay-TV space like YouTube TV, Hulu With Live TV, and Sony’s PlayStation Vue, along with OTT products from two big traditional players: Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T TV Now, formerly called DirecTV Now. Also note that AT&T recently launched a test of an internet-streaming subscription service, AT&T TV, but it’s designed less for cord-cutters than to as a way to migrate DirecTV and U-verse subscribers to a more operationally efficient delivery model.
Many cable and satellite TV operators “are now prioritizing profit over revenues,” eMarketer noted in a report this summer. “That is coming at the expense of subscribers, who often drop services when prices rise and promotional deals don’t get renewed.”
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How do the streaming TV services stack up? Each of the services offers varying feature sets and programming lineups. If you want local TV stations, the best bets are YouTube TV and Hulu, while AT&T TV Now and PS Vue also offer local stations in many markets. For low cost, Sling TV and Philo (whose backers include A+E, AMC, Discovery and Viacom) lead the pack — but they have more restricted channel lineups.
Here’s a comparison of over-the-top live TV services available in the U.S.:
|YouTube TV||Hulu With Live TV||Sling TV||AT&T TV Now||PlayStation Vue||Fubo TV||Philo|
|Base tier monthly price / No. of channels||$49.99 / 70+||$44.99 / 60+**||$25 / 30+||$50 / 45+||$49.00 / 55+||$54.99 / 110+||$20 / 58|
|Premium tier / No. of channels||NA||NA||$40 / 50||$70 / 60+||$84.99 / 90+||$74.99 / 185||NA|
|Local broadcast channels||Yes||Yes||NBC in 11 markets; Fox in 17 markets||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Notable content not available||HBO, A+E, Viacom||AMC, Viacom||Most local TV, HBO, Fox News||A+E, AMC, Discovery||Viacom||ESPN, ABC, Disney, HBO||Local TV, Disney/ESPN, NBCU, WarnerMedia, premium channels|
|No. of simultaneous streams||3||2***||Up to 4||2†||5||2-3||3|
|No. profiles per account||6||6||1||1||10||1||10|
|DVR storage space||Unlimited*||50 hours****||$5 extra for 50 hours||20 hours††||Unlimited†††||30 hours (500 hours in premium tiers)||Unlimited††|
* Recordings stored for nine months
** $50.99 per month with ad-free access to Hulu VOD
*** Unlimited home viewing and three out-of-home streams available for $9.99 extra monthly
**** Up to 200 hours for $10 extra monthly
† Third stream available for $5 extra monthly
†† Recordings stored for 30 days
††† Recordings stored for 28 days