The number of “cord-cutters” among us is growing. Instead of paying for cable and satellite TV, many viewers are choosing to live stream their favorite shows and movies using Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. As live streaming options continue to gain popularity, this would be a great opportunity to compare six of the best live streaming services available.
Sling TV is a rather new company that stated in 2015 and allows you to choose the channels that you want in two separate packages — Orange and Blue.
The Orange package runs $20/month and is considered the company’s base channel package containing 30 channels. If you’re looking for more channel options, then for $5 more per month, you can upgrade to the Blue package for 45 channels.
Be forewarned. As you might expect, some larger channels are absent from the Sling lineup. CBS, ABC and Nickelodeon are just a few of the channels that are M.I.A.
Sports fans can rejoice though as ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPN 3 are all found in both packages. FOX and NBC, both of which show popular sporting events, are also included.
PlayStation’s take on live television will set you back a little bit more than the previously mentioned Sling TV. Their four-tier packages start at $40 a month and proceed through $45, $55, and $75, depending on the channels you choose.
The base package contains 40 channels similar to Sling TV, but their elite package has 90 channels. There are no issues finding sports with this option, but you should expect to pay more.
Most, if not all, sports channels are located on PlayStation Vue, and for the ultra sports fans, add-ons such as NFL RedZone and some extra ESPN channels can be added for an extra $10 charge.
Premium channels such as HBO, Starz and ShowTime have moved to their own streaming services but can still be added onto your Vue membership with prices ranging from $15 a month to $25 respectively. You can access Vue on almost any gaming console, Apple TV or with Amazon devices.
If you still want the feel of cable, DirecTV is there for you. Channel options start at 60, proceed to 80, and end with 100. Respectively, prices for these channel options are $35 a month, then $50 for their mid-range tier and conclude with the $60 creme de la creme package.
Premium channels are in line with PlayStation’s options.
And depending on where you live, you may be able to view broadcasts from NBC, ABC, and Fox.
If you’re looking for sports, skip the initial package as it is missing popular sports channels. NFL Network, RedZone and the NFL Sunday Ticket are also not available which is a major downer for sports fans.
DirecTV offers the NFL Sunday Ticket to their box subscribers, so there’s no clear logic as to why it is missing as a streaming option. There is no ability to record any of their programs either.
With over 40 percent of young adults now using YouTube as their gateway to entertainment over cable TV, the Google-owned company is hoping to cash in with their younger viewer base.
At a stand-alone price of $35 a month, YouTube offers 50 channels. While you may initially think that’s a sweet deal, keep in mind that these channels appeal to viewers in a limited niche market.
Comedy Central, MTV, Spike, Nickelodeon or TNT, TBS, CNN are not available. The one saving grace for this service is that they recently acquired the rights to stream AMC — for all you Walking Dead fans.
Sports-wise you may want to look elsewhere. You have ESPN1 and 2 but are missing almost every other option there is for actual games. If you’re a fan that actually prefers to watch the games, then keep looking.
Hulu (Live TV Beta)
The streaming service known as Hulu has been around for quite some time. A big part of their appeal is allowing you to watch a show a day after it airs. Noticing the shift in the marketplace, they have also opted to add a $40 subscription fee that allows you to watch live TV.
As is true with most cable and satellite channels, Hulu is region specific. The saving grace of Hulu’s live TV is that you can watch all shows on-demand as you would if you had a cable subscription.
All sports networks are available with Hulu but those who enjoy their Sunday night rituals watching their favorite shows like The Walking Dead will be disappointed. Network Viacom, which consist of Comedy Central, MTV, Spike, Nickelodeon is also a no-show.
While it started out as an outlet solely for soccer fans, Fubo TV quickly transitioned to include other sports which is a plus. On the down side, ESPN and their affiliates are not available. I know, what sports channel doesn’t have ESPN?
Starting at $35 a month, Fubo has 70 different, albeit, niche channels.
Fubo is supported on Android, iOS, the web, Apple TV (fourth gen), Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Chromecast. Another negative is that you can’t record shows or games. You can stream from two of those devices at once, but many sports fans stopped reading this when we mentioned no ESPN.
So what should you choose? Well, that comes down to what you’re looking for and what your budget is. PlayStation Vue would be an excellent option for those who have gaming consoles and can spend the extra money.
Hulu would be another strong contender, but the lack of live sports may deter some. In the end, look at the options and try some of them out. Many come with free trials. Or hook up with friends and choose different options, so you can cover all the bases.