If you’re trying to cut the cord, you may not know how to choose a live TV streaming service for your household.
Over the past several years, I’ve extensively tested all of the major streaming services that offer live TV. The three best cable or satellite TV replacements are YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV.
How to Choose a Live TV Streaming Service
Key differences between these services are price, channel lineup, DVR, supported devices and the ability to watch multiple streams at the same time.
But which of these three options is best for you? Answer the questions below to find out!
1. How Much Do You Want to Spend?
Sling TV has consistently offered cheaper streaming TV plans than YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV.
Sling features two skinny bundles, Sling Orange and Sling Blue, that cost $30 a month each. You can get both and pay $45 a month.
YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV both start at $65 per month after price hikes in 2020.
Live TV Streaming Plans
|Streaming TV Service||Starting Price|
|Sling Orange + Blue||$45/month|
|Hulu + Live TV||$64.99/month|
|Prices as of December 2020|
The chart above reflects the starting prices only. There are options for premium channels and other features, but they’ll increase the price you pay each month.
Unlike cable and satellite TV, there are no long-term commitments with these live TV streaming services. If you’re not happy with the service, cancel it at the end of the month and try out another one.
It’s easy to test out multiple services because free trials are typically available to new subscribers.
2. What Are Your Must-Have Channels?
For many cord-cutters, choosing a live TV streaming service comes down to the channel lineup. YouTube TV’s list of channels is the best overall, but it won’t be right for everyone. You have to think about your viewing habits.
- YouTube TV offers a few sports networks that aren’t included in Hulu + Live TV or Sling TV’s base plans. They include MLB Network and NBA TV.
- Sling Orange features ESPN and several of its sister networks, while Sling Blue carries NFL Network and FS1.
- Sling Blue offers the three most popular cable news networks (FOX News, MSNBC and CNN) for the lowest monthly price.
- YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV also carry those cable news networks.
- YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV’s bundles include CNBC and FOX Business, but those are add-on channels with Sling TV.
- Hulu + Live TV includes Hulu’s entire on-demand streaming library at no additional charge.
- YouTube TV added ViacomCBS networks in 2020: BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, TV Land, VH1 and more.
- Sling Blue has a better variety of entertainment channels compared to Sling Orange.
- YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV offer local ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC stations in many cities. Enter your ZIP code on their websites to see what’s available in your area.
- Sling TV has far fewer local stations than its competitors. You may be able to pick them up with an indoor antenna.
- In early 2020, YouTube TV became the first live TV streaming service to carry PBS.
ACTION ITEM: Get your family together and make a list of everyone’s must-have channels. Then, use Clark.com’s channel comparison chart to see which streaming service is the best fit for your household.
3. How Much DVR Storage Do You Need?
If DVR storage is an important feature to you, YouTube TV is the clear winner. It offers unlimited storage space and recordings can be kept for up to nine months. You can pause, rewind and fast forward through those recordings.
Hulu + Live TV’s base plan includes 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, but you must upgrade to fast-forward through commercials.
Meanwhile, Sling TV added DVR storage to its base plans at the end of 2019. You can record up to 10 hours at no additional charge or upgrade to 50 hours for an extra $5 per month.
4. How Will You Stream Content to Your TV?
The great thing about streaming is that you don’t need a cable box or a satellite dish to watch TV, but you may have to purchase a streaming media player.
Roku Express is Team Clark’s favorite device for first-time streamers because it’s so affordable — less than $30.
Fortunately, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV are compatible with Roku devices. The services will also work if you want to use Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast or Apple TV to stream content to your TV.
|YouTube TV||Hulu + Live TV||Sling TV|
5. How Many Streams Will You Need at Once?
If you have several people in your household who have different TV preferences, the ability to watch multiple streams at the same time is an important factor to help you choose a live TV streaming service.
With YouTube TV, you can watch on up to three devices (TV, computer, phone) simultaneously. That’s pretty good.
Sling TV is a little more complicated. Sling Orange is a single-stream service, while Sling Blue lets you watch on up to three screens at one time. If you have Sling Orange + Blue, you get up to four screens.
Hulu + Live TV has an unlimited screens add-on for $9.99 per month. Otherwise, you get only two screens at once.
After answering the five questions in this article, I hope that I’ve helped you choose between YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV. If you want to learn more, read my full reviews of these services:
- 4 Things to Know Before You Sign Up for YouTube TV
- 4 Things to Know About Hulu’s Live TV Streaming Service
- 5 Things to Know Before You Sign Up for Sling TV
Although these are my three favorite options, there are other streaming TV services on the market. For example, Philo is a $20/month service that focuses primarily on entertainment networks — not live sports and news.
You can learn more about Philo and read about even more available streaming TV options in Team Clark’s guide.