Best Live TV Internet Streaming Services: Guide for Cord-Cutters

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.”

Popular on Variety

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
YouTube TV hulu-logo Sling TV Logo AT&T TV Now Sony PlayStation Vue price hikes fubo tv
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

More Digital

  • IRM_DAY032_110117_0719538.raf

    'The Irishman' Was Watched by 26 Million Households in First Week, Netflix Says

    Netflix has dribbled out some viewing data on Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman”: The epically long mobster film was watched by 26.4 million Netflix households worldwide in the first seven days — to at least 70% completion, according to content chief Ted Sarandos. In the first 28 days, Netflix expects about 40 million account holders to [...]

  • United States Attorney for the Southern

    'Jeffrey Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself' Is Peak Meme After Art Basel Prank 

    From Bye, Felicia to The Dress, memes have provided the ideal discursive forum for our ever dwindling attention spans. On this side of the century, most memes have been byte-sized digital novelties that fizzle away without manifesting in the meatspace. But as the gap between URL and IRL draws closer, memes are spilling into real [...]

  • History peter sagal curiosity stream

    Curiosity Stream Grows Subscriber Base to More Than 10 Million

    In five years’ time, cable pioneer John Hendricks has assembled a subscriber base of more than 10.5 million for Curiosity Stream, the niche factual programming streaming service that has been successful in getting picked up by cable operators in the U.S. and abroad. Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Channel, and Curiosity Stream president-CEO Clint Stinchcomb, [...]

  • portal tv

    Facebook's Portal TV Gets Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNow, Sling TV, Deezer

    Facebook is bringing additional media services to its Portal TV device: Portal owners got access to subscription video content Amazon’s Prime Video service and Sling TV Tuesday. Portal now also offers access to FandangoNow’s on-demand movies and TV shows, and Deezer’s music subscription service. Facebook launched Portal TV in September; the TV-attached streaming device with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content