What is live TV streaming?
Live TV streaming services replicate the familiar look and feel of cable TV but with the ease and convenience of streaming. They’re also mostly cheaper than cable or satellite. That got your attention, didn’t it?
Live TV streaming is simply television carried over the internet instead of traditional cable or satellite connections—same programming, just delivered through different wires. You could call it “internet TV,” but live TV streaming just sounds cooler.
A couple more ways that live TV streaming is different from cable and satellite:
The channel grids look mostly the same as cable and satellite’s, but live TV streaming providers use an app on a streaming device (like Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV) instead of a physical receiver or DVR box.
Except for local TV stations, there are also no channel numbers in live TV streaming. Initially, that’s the weirdest difference when cutting the cord, but you get over it. TNT is still TNT, numbered or not.
Though no single streaming service covers every need for every viewer (yet), CableTV.com has reviewed and rated 14 of the best live TV streaming and on-demand TV services currently available to potential cord-cutters. We even threw in five extra free streaming services for kicks.
We’ve ranked these streaming services based on bang-for-your-buck value, features, reliability, and our 2020 customer satisfaction survey results for live TV streaming and on-demand. Between CableTV.com’s expert reviewers and real-life users, we’ve created our own editorial star ratings for live TV streaming and on-demand services. Not to brag, but we nailed it.
Best live TV streaming services 2021
- YouTube TV – Best overall ($64.99/mo.)
- Hulu + Live TV – Best value ($64.99–$70.99/mo.)
- Philo – Cheapest ($20.00/mo.)
- fuboTV – Best for sports ($64.99–$79.99/mo.)
- Sling TV – Best for kids ($35.00–$50.00/mo.)
- AT&T TV – HBO Max included ($69.99–$139.99/mo.)
Best on-demand streaming TV services 2021
- Netflix – Best overall ($8.99–$17.99/mo.)
- Prime Video – Best value ($12.99/mo.)
- Peacock – Cheapest (Free–$9.99/mo.)
- ESPN+ – Best for sports ($5.99/mo.)
- Disney+ – Best for kids ($7.99/mo.)
- HBO Max – HBO originals and exclusives ($14.99/mo.)
- Paramount+ – Deep TV and movies library ($5.99–$9.99/mo.)
- Apple TV+ – Good for Apple fans ($4.99/mo.)