We live in a digital era where we consume tons of content online, whether we’re talking about movies and TV series, news, or entertainment, and even TV networks. Nowadays, it’s perfectly easy to watch TV online, dropping those stuffy cable contracts, and freeing yourself from having to be home, in front of your TV, whenever your shows are on. So, we’re going to try and help you pick the best live TV streaming service by putting them all head to head.
We’re going to take a look at platforms that we’ve already reviewed – fuboTV, Sling TV, Philo, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, and Hulu. They’re all great platforms and they each have something special; they’re as different as they are similar.
Along the way, we’re going to look at the main features of these platforms – the things that make them what they are – their channel bundles, the extra channel packs and premium networks, their network requirements, their DVR capacities, and so on.
But, before we dive into the deep end, let’s see a quick overview of these platforms’ features.
|Overview||fuboTV||Sling TV||Philo||PlayStation Vue||DirecTV Now||YouTube TV||Hulu|
|Bundles||fubo ($34.99/mo first month, $44.99/mo after), fubo Extra ($39.99/mo first month, $49.99/mo after), fubo Latino ($17.99/mo), fubo Portugues ($19.99/mo)||Sling Orange ($25/mo), Sling Blue ($25/mo), Sling Orange + Blue ($40/mo)||40 Channels ($16/mo), 52 Channels ($20/mo)||Access ($39.99/mo), Core ($44.99/mo), Elite ($54.99/mo), Ultra ($74.99/mo)||Live a Little ($40/mo), Just Right ($55/mo), Go Big ($65/mo), Gotta Have It ($75/mo), Todo y Mas ($45/mo)||A single bundle – $40/mo||A single bundle – Hulu with Live TV – $39.99 per month|
|Customization||Channel packs: fubo Cycling, International Sports Plus, Sports Plus, Adventure Plus, RAI Italia, Portuguese Plus, Mundo Plus, fubo Latino
Premium channels: Showtime, AMC Premiere
|Channel bundles: Kids, Sports, News, Lifestyle, Hollywood, Heartland, International, Espanol, Comedy
Premium channels: HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, Epix, CuriosityStream, Pantaya, UP Faith & Family, Dove Channel, Stingray Karaoke, Outside TV
|None||Channel Bundles: Sports pack, Espanol Pack
Premium Channels: Epix Hits, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Fox Soccer Plus
|DirecTV Now Deportes ($5/mo), DirecTV Now Espanol ($10/mo) – Espanol pack includes channels in Deportes, and all channels are available in Todo y Mas by default.
Premium channels: HBO ($5/mo), Cinemax ($5/mo), Showtime ($8/mo), Starz ($8/mo)
|Premium channels: Showtime($11/mo), Starz ($9/mo), CuriosityStream ($3/mo), Fox Soccer Plus ($15/mo), AMC Premiere ($5/mo), Shudder ($5/mo), Sundance Now ($7/mo), NBA League Pass ($40/mo)||Premium channels – HBO, Showtime, Cinemax|
|Device Support||Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, iOS, Android, Chromecast, web browser||Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV, AirTV Player, Xiaomi, LG Smart TVs, Samsung Smart TVs, iOS, Android, Fire tablets, Xbox One, Chrome web browser||Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, iOS apps, via Chrome, IE, Firefox, or Safari on computers, via Chrome on Android||PS3, PS4, Amazon Fire TVs, Android TVs, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, and Android smartphones and tablets, and Roku||Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Fire TV edition, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs (2017 & 2018), iOS, Android, browsers||Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, Samsung and LG TVs, iOS, Android||iOS, Android, FireTV, Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, Chromecast, Samsung Smart TVs, browsers|
|DVR||30 hours, unlimited time storage, expandable to 500 hours via extra feature||Up to 50 hours of storage time via extra feature.||Unlimited||500 programs for 28 days||Up to 20 hours for 30 days||Unlimited space, content saved for 9 months||50 Hours of storage space, expandable to 200 hours|
|Free trial||Yes, 7 days||Yes, 7 days||Yes, 7 days||Yes, 7 days||Yes, 7 days||Yes, 7 days||Yes, 7 days|
|Visit||fuboTV||Sling||Philo||PlayStation Vue||DirecTV Now||YouTube TV||Hulu|
Also, here are the scores they each received for various categories in our reviews.
|Criteria||fuboTV||Sling TV||Philo||PlayStation Vue||DirecTV Now||YouTube TV||Hulu|
Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, of course, so we’re going to need to look deeper into what they mean and why they each received the score they did.
Live TV Streaming Services: Side by Side Comparison
Let’s see what these platforms have to offer and how they compare.
Which one of these platform features the best bundles of channels and which ones give you the most options?
- fuboTV: This particular platform has four bundles to offer, two of which feature foreign language channels, more specifically Spanish and Portuguese. fubo Latino costs $17.99 per month, while fubo Portugues costs $19.99 per month. The main two bundles, however, are fubo ($44.99 per month) and fubo Extra ($49.99 per month) and they have over 85 and over 105 channels, respectively. Plus, if you choose one of these bundles, you’ll also have a price cut for the first month.
- Sling TV: Sling TV features three bundles you can pick from – Orange ($25 per month), Blue ($25 per month), and Orange + Blue ($40 per month). There are also several bundles under Sling Latino that you can get. The bundles feature a little bit of everything – sports, entertainment, kids’ channels, news, and so on, leaving enough room to customize later on.
- Philo: There are two bundles you can pick from on Philo – 40 Channels, which costs $16 per month, and 52 Channels, which costs $20 per month. The name of the bundles is pretty clear about how many networks you’ll find in there.
- PlayStation Vue: We’re taking things up a notch with PlayStation Vue, which offers four bundles with increasingly more channels. Access costs $44.99 per month, Core costs $49.99 per month, Elite goes for $59.99 per month, and Ultra costs $79.99 per month but features Showtime and HBO.
- DirecTV Now: Taking things a step forward, DirecTV Now has five bundles you can pick from, with prices varying from $40 to $75 per month. There are also two brand new international bundles with Vietnamese channels ($20 per month for 9 channels) and Brazilian channels ($25 per month for 2 channels).
- YouTube TV: There’s only one bundle of channels you can get on YouTube TV and it goes for $40 per month. Whether you like the channels or not, that’s all they have to offer.
- Hulu: There’s also a single bundle of channels on Hulu, and it costs $39.99 per month, but that’s because Live TV is offered as a side feature, an alternative to the video-on-demand-only plans Hulu offers otherwise.
Winner: For this one, we’ve got a three-way tie between Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, but given the overall score, we’re going to dub PlayStation Vue as the winner. It features a lot of bundles and you have a lot of room to choose, which is important for cord cutters and one of the main reasons for switching out from regular cable.
When you move away from cable, the great thing about it is that you have so many choices in front of you – what channels you’ll pay for, on what devices you’ll watch, and so on. So, customization is quite important, especially after being locked in for so long.
- fuboTV: First up we have fuboTV, which takes customization seriously, offering subscribers the chance to sign up for various channel packs. For instance, cycling fans can get fubo Cycling, while those who love outdoorsy sports can pick Adventure Plus. There are quite a few options in there, and you can even add Showtime and AMC Premiere to the mix.
- Sling TV: If there’s one platform that knows how important customization is, that’s Sling TV. With channels grouped together by interest, the platform offers users the chance to watch more cartoons, more news, more entertainment, more sports, and so on. Plus, you can add what feels like a million premium networks – HBO, Cinemax, Starz, Showtime, Epix, and so on.
- Philo: Well, this one is a big contrast to what we’ve seen so far because you can’t do anything here. You can’t add premium channels and you can’t add any kind of channel packs.
- PlayStation Vue: You can customize your subscription quite a bit on PlayStation Vue. In fact, you can add a sports pack if you want, or some Spanish-language channels for a few bucks per month. You can also add channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, or Fox Soccer Plus. You can even mix and match and see which package has a better price.
- DirecTV Now: On DirecTV Now you can do some adjustments too. For instance, you can add sports channels in Spanish via the DirecTV Now Deportes pack for $5 per month, or just go for DirecTV Now Espanol, which costs $10 per month. You may also add Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, and HBO.
- YouTube TV: You can’t add any channel packs for YouTube TV, but you can add some premium networks like AMC Premiere, Showtime, Starz, Shudder, as well as Fox Soccer Plus, to name a few.
- Hulu: Hulu doesn’t have any extra channel packs you can add, either, but you can add HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime to the mix.
Winner: We’ve got a tie here too between fuboTV, Sling TV, and PlayStation Vue. But since we can only declare one winner, we’re going to go with Sling TV since it does such a good job at missing up channel packs and premium networks, offering such a wide range.
When you switch to watching live TV online, it’s important that you have access to some features you’ve become accustomed to even on cable, such as DVR. Also, it’s very important that everyone in your household can watch content on a different device.
- fuboTV: By default, fuboTV users get 30 hours of storage space which can be upgraded to 500 hours by adding Cloud DVR plus for $9.99 per month. Also, users can watch content on two devices at the same time, but another can be added with the help of Family Share, which costs $5.99 per month.
- Sling TV: One of the few disappointing things about Sling TV is the fact that it does not provide any DVR space that’s included in the subscription. You can get 50 hours of space, but you have to pay $5 per month to get it. The situation with multi-screen streaming is even weirder because Sling Orange subscribers get a single screen, Sling Blue subscribers get three, while Sling Orange + Blue subscribers get four screens.
- Philo: Philo may be a slightly odd platform, but it offers unlimited DVR space and you can keep the recordings for up to 30 days. Also, you can watch Philo on three devices at once.
- PlayStation Vue: PlayStation Vue’s DVR limit is of 500 programs, rather than hours, so you may very well record pretty much anything you want. Keep in mind, however, that you can only hold those recordings for 28 days. Plus, the platform allows users to watch whatever they want on up to five devices. If you want to kick things up a notch you can even watch three programs on the same screen.
- DirecTV Now: You only get 20 hours of DVR on DirecTV Now and there’s no way to expand the feature just yet. You can also watch content on two devices at once, but you can add another for $5 per month.
- YouTube TV: At an advantage, since it has Alpabet Inc’s massive storage powers behind it, YouTube TV offers unlimited DVR storage space and you can keep the recordings for up to 9 months. Plus, you can watch content on three screens simultaneously, which is great. And you don’t have to pay anything for it either.
- Hulu: There are 50 hours of DVR storage space you get with Hulu, but you can expand to 200 hours by paying $14.99 per month for the Enhanced Cloud DVR feature. Plus, you can watch content on two screens at the same time, or add an unlimited number of devices for $14.99 per month.
Winner: We’ve got a two-way tie here between Philo and PlayStation Vue, but PlayStation Vue is the winner here since it has a high storage cap and allows up to five simultaneous streams. Plus, that nifty feature that allows users to watch three streams in split-screen mode is worth a prize of its own.
Before you move on to watching TV live on your devices, you should make sure that your Internet network can support the heavy load.
- fuboTV: The platforms require that you have at least 5 Mbps Internet speeds for 720p HD videos, and 10 Mbps for 1080p videos. You’re going to need 25 Mbps for 4K content, though.
- Sling TV: According to the platform, you’ll need 5 Mbps to watch content on computers and TVs, but you’ll need more if you want to stream to multiple devices at the same time.
- Philo: Philo also requires at least 5 Mbps for HD quality streaming, with more needed for multi-screen streaming.
- PlayStation Vue: PlayStation Vue has steeper requirements, needing at least 10 Mbps download speeds to stream high-quality content, as well as an extra 5 Mbps for any additional streams.
- DirecTV Now: The recommendations are to have at least 7.5 Mbps for HD-video streaming; more if you want to stream multiple videos at the same time.
- YouTube TV: On YouTube TV, you’ll need 3 Mbps for SD streaming, 7 Mbps for HD videos, and 13 Mbps for reliable HD streams on multiple devices.
- Hulu: The recommendation indicates you need 8 Mbps for HD quality content.
Winner: Another two-way tie here, between Sling TV and Philo, and we’re giving this win over to Sling TV since it has a much larger overall score and we’ve had a better experience during testing.
Another thing you need to keep in mind when you’re moving to online TV watching is whether or not the platform you’re looking at works on the devices you have in your home.
- fuboTV: fuboTV works on a long list of devices, including Android and iOS devices, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, and Android TV. Game consoles and smart TVs are missing from the list.
- Sling TV: Next up we have Sling TV which works on iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Roku, Xbox, Samsung, LG and Xiaomi smart TVs. PlayStation didn’t make the list.
- Philo: This platform works on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, iOS and the web. There’s not even a native Android app, much less game console or smart TV support.
- PlayStation Vue: PS Vue works on a wide range of devices, including Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, iOS and Android devices, and PlayStation, of course. It doesn’t work on Xbox.
- DirecTV Now: Another great platform is DirecTV Now and it comes with on-par device support that includes iOS and Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, FireTV Cube, and Samsung smart TVs. There’s no support for Xbox or PlayStation.
- YouTube TV: YouTube TV has a large support base with Android and iOS devices, Chromecast, Apple TV, Xbox One, Roku, and Android TV.
- Hulu: Hulu works on a lot of platforms, including iOS and Android tablets, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox, Chromecat, Samsung and LG smart TVs, as well as Nintendo Switch. It doesn’t work on PlayStation consoles.
Winner: We’ve got a tie between PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. We’re going to give this win to PlayStation Vue since it has a larger overall score. It’s also one of the platforms whose apps work excellent on any platform – at least from what we’ve tested.
How easy will it be for you to figure out how to get around on your chosen platform, to find your favorite channels?
- fuboTV: fuboTV makes reaching your favorite channels quite easily, splitting the top area of the UI into Sports, Series, Movies, Channels, as well as several administrative tabs. These will help you find your way around the service quite easily.
- Sling TV: On Sling TV, you can find the main areas in tabs in the top area and you can check out your favorite channels and recordings, check out what’s on right then, check out the channel guide, or see what sports are on.
- Philo: On Philo, you’ll find it’s quite easy to go from one area to the next. The top area features a “home” button, a “live” button which lets you check out what’s on TV right then, a way to access the guide, and any saved content.
- PlayStation Vue: This platform lets you reach the channels in your chosen bundle from the top area, as well as your favorite shows and a channel guide so you can see what’s on and what’s next.
- DirecTV Now: DirecTV Now makes it easy for users to check out the guide in order to jump from one channel to the next, or to your favorite channel list, or anything you may have in your watchlist.
- YouTube TV: This particular app will recommend shows for you based on what you’ve watched before and let you check out whatever live content is on the channels they offer.
- Hulu: Hulu’s interface looks pretty great and you can scroll through a number of content types. You can check all of these out in the Home page since it also features VOD content. On Live, you can just check out the TV content, which makes it easy.
Winner: One thing we noticed while reviewing is that all of these platforms share a UI format of sorts. They may tweak things out a bit here and there, change the buttons and the order, but all in all, they’re all pretty similar. Nonetheless, we particularly enjoyed how we could get around on PlayStation Vue, and how easy it was to add content to our list to watch later, and how easy it is to watch the on-demand content from the channels on the list.
Live TV Streaming Services: Which One to Pick?
Given the great scores it got all around and the overall experience, we can only name PlayStation Vue as the winner. It has great bundles, decent extra channel packs and a good selection of premium networks. It works on pretty much any device you own is relatively easy on your Internet connection and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to operate the interface. So, go ahead and sign up for PlayStation Vue and have some fun!
We hope that we’ve been of some help in guiding you towards the right platform for you. Whether that’s PlayStation Vue or one of the others, it’s up to you, your bank account, and your preferences.