Best Live TV Streaming Services of 2022 – PEOPLE

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There once was a time when you had to have a cable subscription to enjoy your favorite shows in real time or successfully host a game-day watch party? These days, some streaming services offer hundreds of channels, along with on-demand content and perks including unlimited DVR space, bundling discounts, and the ability to stream on multiple devices at once.
But before you sign up for a platform, jot down your must-haves in a streamer: Are you looking to stream NFL games? Do you tend to record a lot of programming to watch later? Do you want to view on-demand content ad free? Use this guide to find the best fit for you.
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Why It Made the List
Hulu is not just a great on-demand streamer. More than 75 channels are included in its live TV base plan, and subscribers can record as much of that programming as they want. But what makes the service so special is its bundle. In addition to popular channels like CNN, Bravo, HGTV, and the NFL Network, the entire on-demand content libraries for Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ are available to stream when you sign up for live TV — and it all costs under $70 a month.
If you don't see a network that you frequently watch, the platform does offer eight add-on options, including entertainment, sports, and Spanish-language packages made up of six or more channels for an extra $4.99 to $9.99 per month.
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Why It Made the List
If most of your TV-watching time is consumed by sports, you’ll appreciate FuboTV’s robust lineup. The service’s base plan ($69.99/month) comes with ESPN, the NFL Network, the Golf Channel, and international offerings such as beIN Sports and TUDN.
If you want more of a specific sport, subscribers can customize their coverage with add-ons. Football, baseball, and hockey fans will likely be interested in the Sports Plus add-on ($10.99/month), which includes NFL RedZone and the MLB and NHL networks. NBA League Pass ($14.99/month) is also an option, bringing you 40 out-of-market games a week. Perhaps you're more of an extreme and outdoor sports aficionado — in that case, the Adventure Plus add-on ($4.99/month) sets you up with the Sportsman Channel, MavTV, and more niche networks.
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Why It Made the List
Sling TV is perfect for people who don’t want to pay for content they won’t watch. With a base plan costing $35 per month, subscribers can build on to their package by adding individual channels, priced between $1.99 and $10 a month. Though each plan only comes with 50 hours of DVR space, the recordings never expire as long as your subscription remains active (some streaming services erase recordings after nine months).
If you forgot to record your favorite show, Sling also offers a free feature called Catch-Up TV, which allows you to watch almost anything that's aired within the past eight days. You can even fast-forward through ads.
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Why It Made the List
Worried that cutting the cable cord means losing your city’s local news channels? DirecTV Stream has the most expansive local coverage of any streamer, which is largely thanks to the company’s satellite service. Situated in Kenai Peninsula, Alaska? You’ll still have access to five local channels, including PBS.
DirecTV Stream also excels when it comes to regional sports networks. Though you’ll have to upgrade to the Choice plan ($89.99/month) to gain access to RSNs, prospective subscribers can see which networks are available in their area before signing up by typing in their zip code on the website. For instance, a Cambridge, Mass. zip code is able to stream three RSNs: NBC Sports Boston, NESN, and NESN+.
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Why It Made the List
In terms of DVR capabilities, YouTube TV stands out for two reasons: its unlimited storage space and its “key plays” view. Unlike some streaming services, YouTube doesn’t cap the amount of content you can record, so you won’t need to choose between The Bachelorette finale or your team’s important play-off game. One downside is that the recordings expire nine months after they’re added to your queue, but the deadline forces you to stay up-to-date on your favorite shows.
If your work or personal life prevents you from watching sporting events live, YouTube TV also offers a cool feature that'll help you catch up. You can, of course, watch the recorded game or match from start to finish and fast-forward through commercials, or you can enable the "key plays" view, which allows you to jump ahead to big moments and replay them as many times as you want. Plus, you can check stats without getting spoilers of what's to come and view scores from other games being played across the league.
Read our full YouTube TV review.
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Why It Made the List
When looking at price, Vidgo’s base plan is hard to beat. You’re getting more than 100 channels — compared to Hulu and DirecTV Stream’s 75 — for around $60 per month, and that lineup includes heavy hitters like the NFL, MLB, and NHL networks, Disney Channel, Hallmark, and five ESPN properties. College sports fans also have access to most NCAA conference networks.
Though Vidgo's recording options are limited (base plan customers get just 20 hours of free DVR during the first 90 days of their subscription), the platform does offer an Advanced Playback feature, which allows you to watch anything that aired within the last 24 hours.
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Why It Made the List
If the only channels you frequent are TLC, HGTV, Food Network, and the like, then you’re in luck. Philo caters specifically to home, food, and entertainment aficionados, so you don’t have to pay for sports content you’ll never watch. All in all, Philo offers around 70 channels, including kid-friendly programming via Discovery+ Family and several Nickelodeon networks. However, reality TV devotees should note that Bravo is not part of the platform’s lineup.
If you crave more premium content, you can customize your Philo plan with three different add-ons. The Movies & More package ($3/month) gets you HDNet Movies, MGM HD, Reelz, and Sony Movies. For three Epix channels, you'll need to shell out an additional $6 per month, while three Starz channels cost an extra $9 per month.
Ultimately, Hulu offers the best live TV experience due to its wide variety of channels and unlimited DVR storage. Ironically, what tips the scale in Hulu’s favor is the on-demand programming you get when you sign up for live TV, since the package includes subscriptions to both Disney+ and ESPN+, essentially giving you three streaming services for the price of one.
Hulu also allows for more tailored viewing through its list of add-ons, which are made up of single channels and themed bundles, such as entertainment and sports. The best part is that you can add or delete these extra networks at any time because you're not locked into a long-term contract.
Peacock’s live TV options are limited due to its affiliation with NBC (the streaming service is owned and operated by NBCUniversal). In order to watch live sports and shows airing on NBC, you’ll need to sign up for a Premium ($4.99/month) or Premium Plus plan ($9.99/month). However, NBC is also offered through Hulu + Live TV, FuboTV, Sling TV, DirecTV Stream, and YouTube TV.
Given that they have similar price points and channel lineups, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV are often compared to each other. Because Hulu’s live TV bundle provides full access to its streaming library as well as Disney+ and ESPN+’s libraries, it slightly edges out YouTube TV on this list. However, the latter has its fair share of pros, including its base price, which is $5 cheaper per month than Hulu’s. YouTube TV also offers more channels than Hulu (100+ vs. 75+), but its on-demand programming isn’t as strong as its competitor’s.
Out of the services listed here, Hulu + Live TV, FuboTV, DirecTV Stream, and YouTube TV are probably the closest to a traditional cable package. However, there’s no connection fee or annual contracts to contend with, meaning you can cancel your subscription at any time.
To find the best live TV streaming services on the market, we reviewed nearly 45 platforms by looking at more than a dozen criteria points. A service's live TV offerings were weighted most heavily, but we also considered its full list of features, including on-demand options, as well as add-ons such as discounted bundles.
When researching a streamer, our data collection team noted the number of channels and range of genres (news, entertainment, etc.) available, the breadth of sports coverage offered, and the service's compatibility with a variety of devices. We also took into account subscription prices, whether or not the platform offers an ad-free plan for on-demand content, and the amount of DVR storage space allotted.
Finally, we kept track of how many simultaneous streams each service allows and whether subscribers are made to sign a long-term contract. The platforms that performed best had an impressive amount of live TV channels and a solid base package with the option to customize using add-ons. The information presented here was accurate at the time of publication.
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