Finding the best options to cut the cable cord can be daunting. If you’re not careful, you could end up paying MORE overall than you are now with your cable company. Here’s all my research that helped me narrow down my options and ultimately choose the right one for us.
Last year, when my cable company raised my monthly rate by almost $100 (for a grand total of roughly $179 a month for “Digital Basic Plus”). I did what I’ve been threatening to do for years; I cut the cord. For me and my son, it was an easy transition, as we rarely watched cable anyway. My mom lives with me, though, and it was a bit more of an adjustment for her. So I wanted to find something that closely resembled what she was used to. With that in mind, let’s look at the options that will get you as close to an actual cable experience as possible.
Just one quick note: I included some affiliate links below. If you subscribe through them, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Oh, and if the post looks a bit funky and you can’t figure out why it’s because I took the sidebar off. It was the only way I could get all of the tables to show up. 😀
FYI, this was recently updated for 2022
Best Cable-Alternative Options to Cut the Cord in 2021 (Side by Side Comparison)
This is the table that I actually made while doing my research. It includes every major alternative. The cost is for the cheapest package for each and accurate as of 9/26/2021. Along with the total number of channels in that basic package, I’m also including roughly how many are news/sports. That way, if you don’t watch sports and don’t need dozens of news channels, you can get a better idea of how many channels your family will actually watch.
|Cost||Channels||News/Sports||Streams||DVR Storage||Trial Offer|
|Sling Blue||$35||43||9||3||50 hours||$10 for 1st month|
|Sling Orange||$35||32||8||1||50 hours||$10 for 1st month|
|DirectTV Stream||$69||65||19||20||20 hours||NONE|
|FuboTV||$65||115||39+||3||250 hours||7 Days|
|Hulu (No Ads)+ Live TV||$71||65+||23||2||50 hours||7 Days|
|YouTube TV||$65||85+||31||3||Unlimited||7 Days|
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s take a closer look at each one. Since Sling is my top pick (and the one I have), that review will be a bit more in-depth. I’m not currently an affiliate of Sling (although full disclosure, I did apply for their program, so I may be by the time you read this). In other words, this is a pretty unbiased review. All of my reviews are of course, but as of right now I literally have nothing to gain by positioning Sling as my top choice.
1. Sling TV (Our current cable alternative and my top pick)
Sling offers three different packages: Blue, Orange, and Orange & Blue together. Blue or Orange alone runs $35 a month (plus any addons), while Orange & Blue together will run you $50. I’m not listing every single difference between the three here. You can easily see that for yourself on the plan comparison page. Let’s just go over what I think are the biggest features of each one.
Top features and Add-ons
- Orange: If you have kids and don’t really watch a lot of news or sports, Orange is a good option. Unlike Blue, it comes with Disney Channel and Freeform. However, its biggest drawback is that you only get ONE stream with your plan. Considering that it costs the same as Blue, I do feel like this is a pretty significant issue. You do get 50 hours of DVR space (that’s the same across all plans), so I guess you could record your stuff to watch after kids go to bed, but still, no other package on this entire list is as limiting as Sling Orange.
- Blue: Blue gives you 3 simultaneous streams and more news channels. Plus, it comes with SyFy, USA, Bravo, and other “grown up” entertainment networks. My mom watches a lot of MSNBC and Blue is the only package that offers it, so it’s what we have.
- Orange & Blue: This package is the most confusing, because you’re literally getting Orange AND Blue separately, more or less. While you can watch 4 streams total, only ONE of them can be Orange-exclusive channels. In other words, if your son wants to watch Disney and your daughter wants to watch Freeform, they can’t both be watching at the same time.
Sling offers quite a few add-ons and Extras to help you round out your package.
- Sports: For $11 (the most expensive single Extra package), you can add on 10 channels. Per their description, you’ll get, “More football, basketball and more including SEC Network, NBA TV and beIN Sports.”
- Comedy: For $6, add on 10 comedy and entertainment channels like MTV, truTV, Paramount Network, MTV2, CMT, Logo, Revolt, GSN, TV Land.
- News: $6 gets you 11 extra news channels on top of what your package comes with. These include: BBC World News, News Nation, HLN, Law & Crime, Euronews, and a few others.
- Lifestyle: You only get 9 channels for $6, but if you love Hallmark movies as much as my mom does, it’s worth it. Along with all three Hallmark channels, you’ll also get VH1, DIY, and WE tv, FYI, and the Cooking channel.
- Hollywood: $6 gets you TCM, HDNet Movies, SundanceTV, Grit, Reelz, and two others. This is a good one if you like Indie movies, or older titles.
- Heartland: For $6, you get 12 outdoorsy and military type channels, including the Outdoor Channel, AHC, Great American Country, Pixl, and the Cowboy channel.
- AMC+: $7 gets you four channels, including AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now, and IFC. Just keep in mind that while you’re paying for a premium channel, AMC+ includes ads in A LOT of their movies and shows.
- 4 Extras Package: For $13 a month, you’ll get Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra and Comedy Extra. Unfortunately, you can’t swap out any. Still, if you’re thinking about getting two of these extras, you might as well pay an extra buck and get the other two as well.
- DVR Plus: When I signed up for Sling, they only offered like 10 free DVR hours, so I paid the extra $5 to upgrade it to 50. Now, 50 is the standard and the $5 gets you 200 hours of DVR storage space. It’s worth it for us, we record a lot of stuff to watch later.
- Total TV Deal: For $21, you’ll get all of the Extras mentioned above except AMC+. You’ll also get the upgraded DVR.
Now let’s talk general pros and cons
- Affordable. While not THE cheapest, it’s definitely among the most affordable options to cut the cable cord.
- No time limit on DVR. You can keep a show for as long as you’re a subscriber. The only time something gets deleted is if you run out of space. In that case, they’ll delete the oldest WATCHED show (versus just picking the oldest period).
- Record unlimited shows at once. No more prioritizing recordings. If you want to record 50 shows at the same time, go for it!
- Cloud DVR keeps recording even if you lose power. I have MetEd, so I lose power if a squirrel blinks too close to the power lines. I used to lose a ton of shows because of it. With a cloud DVR, even if I’m down for two weeks again (like we were with Sandy and Riley), all of my shows will be there waiting when I get back.
- Fully integrated into the TiVo Streaming stick. The combination of the two gives you something resembling a traditional cable TV experience. For more details on that, check out my TiVo Stream 4K Review.
- Parental controls. Sling has very straightforward and easy-to-access parental controls that allow you to lock content and purchases behind a PIN.
- Compatible with most devices. Sling has an app for pretty much every platform, including Kindle Fire HD tablets, which is what I watch on.
- Fairly user-friendly overall. Every streaming service has is learning curve, but I find the overall interface fairly intuitive and easy to use.
- Decent On Demand selection. Not as huge as what you get with traditional cable, but you’ll find some good movies and shows on it. You can also rent movies for roughly the same price as they cost on Amazon Prime Video.
- Visual channel guide. Along with the normal grid that shows all of your channels like a traditional guide, you can also click on a channel and see a visual of all of the upcoming shows. I think it’s easier to show you rather than try to explain what I mean, so see the screenshot below. It sounds like a dumb thing to be excited about, I know, but it makes finding shows and movies a lot easier for me when I’m using the app.
- Speaking of the guide, you can filter it to show results from all channels, just the channels you have, or just your favorite channels. You can also filter it by Extras (for example, see just what’s one the Kids extra, which is handy if you’re trying to decide if it’s worth getting).
- Responsive customer service on Twitter. While customer service will also appear in the cons for several reasons, I do have to say that @SlingAnswers on Twitter is quick to reply to questions, and they’re pretty nice.
- No way to contact customer support aside from Twitter. This is probably my biggest complaint. While they have a Help Center with guides to frequently asked questions and common issues, @SlingAnswers on Twitter the ONLY way to actually talk to someone. There’s no phone number to call, no email, not even a little chat bot box. So if you don’t use Twitter, you’re SOOL.
- DVR issues: At least once a week, my mom screams “I HATE @%$$# SLING!” Why? Because at least once a week, the DVR fails to record her favorite news show. Sling Answers can’t figure out why. Their response was to “try a different device.” Now, every day at 4PM, she has to run to the TV and check to make sure her show is recording, which kind of defeats the purpose of recording it in the first place.
- Watching a show that’s recording is very tricky. On a regular DVR, you’re able to record a show and start watching from the beginning while the recording is in progress. On Sling’s DVR, you can only do this occasionally. The rest of the time, it just jumps back to Live.
- Can’t extend recording on DVR, and a lot of shows cut off. Unlike a traditional DVR, you can’t set it up to record for a few minutes past the end of the episode or movie. If you don’t want to miss the end, you’ll have to set it up to record the next show after it. Unfortunately, if you’re not paying extra for the 200 hours of space, you’ll eat up A LOT of your 50 hours doing this.
- No profiles. You can’t set up different profiles for each family member, which kind of stinks.
- Only 7 days in the guide, compared to traditional cable’s 14-day guide.
- Can’t always fast-forward commercials on the On Demand shows.
As you can see, the vast majority of my issues come from DVR glitches. Sling also has some other random glitches here and there, but that’s true of every single streaming platform I’ve ever used, and none of them are bad enough to call out in a “cons” list.
Sling Trial Offers & Final Recommendation
Sling doesn’t give you any sort of free trial. You can get the first month of Orange or Blue for $10, or Orange & Blue for $20, though.
Sling TV is best for families on a tight budget who want most of the major cable networks but don’t really care about local channels. It’s also great for older adults who are pretty set in their ways and used to traditional cable. If you combine it with the TIVO 4K streaming stick, it looks almost identical to the TIVO interface that you’re used to with cable.
While the cons are fairly concerning overall, the pros continue to outweigh them for us. It’s one of the only services that offers all of the channels that my mom watches (mostly MSNBC and all of the Hallmark channels).
FuboTV is my second choice and the one we’ll switch to should the Sling cons ever really start to outweigh the pros. It offers three main packages, plus a Latino Plus package that includes more Spanish channels (no free trial for that one, though).
Packages & Add-ons
- Starter: The Starter plan is pretty robust. Right now, it not only gives you 117 channels (including all three Hallmark channels!), but you also get 3 simultaneous streams AND a 250-hour DVR. Those two usually cost extra. You get all of the major cable channels plus some locals (depending on where you live). Along with Hallmark, highlights include FX, Freeform, Nick & Nick Jr, SyFy, AMC, USA, Disney & Disney Jr. and more. The only thing I don’t see on the list is TNT. I only watch that occassionally, though, so it’s not a huge issue.
- Pro: While the Pro version offers up the same channels, it does give you a 1,000-hour DVR and 10 IN HOME simul-streams for just $5 more. You still get just 3 streams outside of your home, though.
- Elite: Get all of the channels with the Starter & Pro version plus 46 Fubo Extras. These include things like DIY, NatGeo Wild (National Geographic is included with the others), Nick Teen, 3 more MTV channels, FXM, and a few more sports channels. You also get the 1000 hours of DVR space and the 10 in-home screens.
If we switch to Fubo, we’ll probably just go with the Starter, as it includes everything that we need and then some.
FuboTV has a MASSIVE list of add-ons. By far the most out of any cable alternative.
*The add-ons with an asterisk are included in the plans mentioned above. I guess if you’re an existing customer you have to pay for them? Or maybe those add-ons are only included for a limited time? I’m unclear on that.
- *Cloud DVR 250: $9.99 a month (including in Starter)
- *Cloud DVR 1000: $16.99 (included in Pro and Elite)
- *Family Share: $5.99 a month gets you three simultaneous streams.
- *Unlimited Screens: $9.99/mo, and it’s not really unlimited. You get a total of 10 in-home screens.
- *Fubo Extra: $7.99/mo (included in the Elite plan)
- SHOWTIME: $10.99/mo
- STARZ: $8.99/mo
- EPIX: $5.99/mo
- SHOWTIME + STARZ + EPIX: $19.99/month
- AMC Premiere: $4.99/mo
- Sports Plus with NFL RedZone: $10.99/mo, gets you like 25 extra sports channels
- Sports Lite: $9.99/mo Get 8 more sports channels including NBA TV, NHL Network, MLB Network.
- International Sports Plus: $6.99/mo gets you 8 more sports channels, including, as the name implies, some international ones.
- Adventure Plus: $4.99/mo for 6 MORE sporty-type channels, this time for people who like things like fishing and other outdoorsy-type stuff.
- PLUS 6 packages with channels in different langauges. These range from $4.99 to $24.99 a month and include Spanish, Italian, French, and Portugeuese add-ons.
- More channels included in the “basic” plan than DirectTV (below) and Sling combined.
- DVR recordings never expire.
- Tons of sports channels for people who like that sort of thing.
- Local channels (depending on where you live)
- Profiles: FuboTV lets you have up to six different profiles on your account. Plus, each profile has its own recordings, so if you want to record a show but don’t want your kids to watch it, they can’t access it without switching to your profile.
- Decent compatibility list. Works on Apple devices, most Android devices, Roku, Samsung smart tvs, Amazon Fire TV (but NOT the Fire HD tablet). It’s also compatible with the TIVO 4K, even though it’s not on their list. I just checked on my own stick to make sure.
- Sort guide by shows and movies.
For a more in-depth review, check out this video from “Shall I Stream It?”:
- Pricey compared to Sling and Philo (but comparable to others on this list).
- The base plan includes 39+ sports and news channels, so while a pro for people who like those things, it brings the actual “watchable” channels down to roughly 78 channels. Still not too shabby, though.
- Some customers complain that canceling doesn’t always work and that Fubo charged them.
- Some complaints about customer service, especially when it comes to issues relating to cancellation.
- NO Turner channels (which includes Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TCM, and TNT).
- NO A&E owned-channels (which includes Lifetime, the History channel, and a few others).
- NOT compatible with Fire HD tablets.
- Not all streams are offered in HD. According to PC Mag, “Most live streams limited to 720p”
FuboTV Trial Offers & Final Recommendation
FuboTV gives you a 7-day free trial.
FuboTV is great for people who REALLY love sports, or for families who need a lot of DVR space. It’s among the pricier options, but I feel like you get more for that price compared to other services at the same tier.
It’s also one of the few cable alternatives that offer the Hallmark channels as part of its package rather than as an add-on. However, if you really love Turner and A&E channels, you’re totally out of luck. They don’t have a deal with those networks, so there’s absolutely no way to get them even as an add-on.
3. DirectTV Stream (used to be ATTNow)
DirectTV Stream and was tied for second place back when I first did all of my research last year and it was still called ATTNow. Unfortunately, it’s not compatible with my devices now, so it’s out of the running for us. However, it’s still among the best options to cut the cord for a lot of people.
It offers four different packages, with the cheapest starting at $69.99 a month. You can see the complete channel lineup for each option here.
Packages & Add-Ons
- Entertainment: The Entertainment Package comes with all of the channels that I consider to be major cable networks. USA, FX, Freeform, TBS, TNT, Lifetime, Comedy Central, MTV and so on. It also includes some major sports channels, like ESPN. Depending on where you live, you’ll also get a selection of local channels. However, one of the biggest issues for us is that it does NOT come with Hallmark except as an add-on (none of the packages come with it). It also only comes with 20 hours of DVR space.
- Choice: $84.99 a month gets you the same lineup as Entertainment, plus 25ish more, including more sports channels. You’ll also get 3 free months of HBOMax with it. As you can see from the screenshot above, you also get access to more on-demand titles. This makes sense since On Demand is usually limited to the channels that you’re already paying for. It’s disappointing that they stil only include 20 hours of free DVR space. I feel like as you step up, your space should as well.
- Ultimate: For $10 more than the Choice package, you’ll get an extra 40ish channels for a grand total of 130+. It includes a lot of little channels that you have to pay extra for with Sling (but STILL no Hallmark). You’re still only getting a 20-hour DVR, though.
- Premiere: While an extra $45 seems extreme for just ten extra channels, keep in mind that they’re all premiums. You’ll get HBOMax, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz. You do get a few extra channels thrown in to make it worthwhile, since $45 is roughly how much you’d pay for each of those separately anyway. Alas, you’re still stuck with that 20-hour DVR unless you pay more.
All packages allow for 20 simultaneous streams from INSIDE your home (they all have to be attached to the same network). Outside your home, you’re limited to the more traditional three simul streams.
Most of the add-ons are for premium channels, and the offerings aren’t as robust as Sling. HOWEVER (and this is a big however), most of the “Extras” that you pay for with Sling are already included in the channel lineup with DirectTV Stream. On the other hand, you’re paying for them up-front, which is a major reason the price is higher.
- Starz: $11 per month.
- Cinemax: $11/month
- HBOMax: $14.99/month
- Showtime: $11/month
- Epix: $6/month
- Movies Extra Pack: For $5 extra a month, you’ll get your Hallmark channels plus a few extras, like MTV Live and the Sony channel (which I didn’t even know existed).
- Unlimited DVR: $10/month. Recordings expire after 90 days, though.
For all of the premium add-ons, they cost roughly the same (for Starz, it’s actually more) than you’d pay if you just subscribed through them directly. I recommend looking for deals directly through the individual apps. I got Starz for $5 a month for 6 months that way. That said, it’s easier to cancel a channel that you don’t watch anymore if they’re all in the same spot.
Pros of DirectTV Stream
- The closest thing to actual cable. DirectTV Stream is very similar to DirectTV itself, which positioned itself as a cable alternative long before streaming services entered the picture.
- Watch on up to 20 devices within your home and up to 3 outside of your home network. While I don’t need this many in-home streams personally, it’s a great pro for large families. However, keep in mind that the devices being used outside the home count towards your 20. So, if you have three kids watching shows at a friend’s house, you only have 17 left inside your home.
- Local channels included. While the amount of local channels that you get depends entirely on where you live, I like that you don’t need an antenna or anything else to pull them in. Typically, you’ll at least get ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX.
- Parental controls. Like Sling, DirectTV Stream lets you restrict access to different types of content.
- More regional sports networks. While I have zero interest in sports, this is a major pro for people who really want to keep up with local teams and what not.
- Robust On-Demand section. The basic Entertainment plan comes with 40,000+ On Demand titles alone, and each tier offers roughly 5k more (the Premiere packages offers 65,000).
- You can get a DirectTV Stream Device for an extra $5 s a month for 24 months, but ONLY if you’re a “well-qualified customer” and, obviously, only for as long as you keep the streaming service.
- Compatible with most major platforms and smart TVs, including Apple, Android, and Amazon Fire TV devices (but NOT Fire tablets or TIVO 4K, see cons).
The video below does a pretty good job of explaining the features and pros of the DirectTV Stream.
- Pricier than Sling and Philo (but comparable to FuboTV, Hulu, and YouTube).
- Worst DVR of the bunch. Not only do you get the least amount of space compared to others, but even if you upgrade to the unlimited DVR, you can only keep your recordings for up to 90 days. We like to record entire seasons of shows, then watch them all at once, so this is a MAJOR con for us.
- More DVR limits: With the 20-hour DVR, you can only record a max of 10 episodes of a show. Even with unlimited, you’re still restricted to 30 episodes per TV series
- No profiles. Like Sling, DirectTV doesn’t let you set up different profiles.
- App isn’t compatible with Amazon Fire HD tablets. Another major con for me because I watch everything on my Fire HD 10.
- NOT compatible with TIVO 4K Stream device. Unfortunately, this knocks DirectTV Stream out of the running for me entirely, as it’s now incompatible with nearly everything that we use to watch TV in our home.
DirectTV Trial Offers & Final Recommendation
DirectTV doesn’t have a trial offer. You can’t even get a 1st-month discount. If you want it, you’ll just have to pay full price for it. That said, if you really don’t like it, you can cancel within 14 days and get a full refund. So in a way, you do kind of get a 2-week trial (but not free, since you’ll have to pay for it upfront).
DirectTV Stream is best for large families who need a lot of simultaneous streams or those who REALLY love regional sports. While it’s up there with the priciest options, even their most expensive package is still a lot less than what I was paying for my local cable company.
If you like to record entire seasons of shows or keep movies on your DVR indefinitely, though, you’ll want to keep reading for other options. To put it bluntly, DirectTV Stream’s DVR is by far the crappiest of the bunch. However, the robust On Demand offerings- including many full TV series- do help make up for it.
Philo is THE most affordable cable-like streaming service of all, and they were ONE channel away from being my first choice. Unfortunately, that single channel is a dealbreaker for my mom, and since I specifically chose a streaming service for her, it’s a dealbreaker for me, too.
Packages and Add-Ons
Philo doesn’t really mess around with complicated packages. They offer one basic package plus a few add-ons. That single package gives you 60+ channels and an unlimited DVR. As far as channels go, you’ll find the majority of your favorite cable networks, including A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, Comedy Central, BBC (America and World News), all three Hallmark channels, the Nick channels, and more.
Philo also keeps the add-ons to a minimum. They only offer three:
- Movies & More: $3 a month for 5 extra movie channels (Reelz, MGM, Sony, Cinemoi, and HDnett)
- Epix: $6/mo for three Epix channels.
- Starz: $9/mo
- Cheapest option by at least $10 a month.
- While cheap, you still get a good selection of cable channels
- Very few sports channels. This is a pro for me, as it means that almost all of the included channels are things I will actually watch.
- All of the add-ons come with a 7-day free trial, which is really nice. Not a lot of other services offer that.
- Up to 10 profiles.
- Unilimited DVR that saves shows for up to a year (they recently changed this, it used to be just 30 days).
- Excellent compatibility. Per their help page, it “Works with Web, iPhone & iPad, Android phones & tablets, Android TV, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast via Android.” It also works with Fire HD tablets and the TIVO 4K.
- Referral program: If you convince your friends and family to sign up through your link, you both get $5 off your next bill.
- Robust On Demand offerings. They have over 60,000 titles.
The video below does a good job of explaining the pros and cons, especially in light of the recent $5/mo price increase (it used to be $20/mo).
- No local channels
- Very few sports channels. While a pro for me, it could be a con for you.
- Only three simultaneous streams and no options to add on extras. While that’s fine for my household, it could be an issue with a larger family.
- Can’t fast-forward ads on quite a few On Demand titles.
Trial Offers & Final Recommendation
Philo offers a 7-day free trial. It’s perfect for those on a tight budget who don’t really care about sports or local channels. It’s great for small families and single people who don’t need a bazillion simultaneous streams. I love that they keep things really simple. Nothing about it is confusing. If they had MSNBC, they would have been our top choice.
5. Hulu (NoAds+Live)
Hulu has two different Live TV options: one with ads and one without. Personally, I’d only consider the one without because I REALLY don’t like watching ads. Besides, the NoAds version is only $6 more a month. That said, Hulu Live TV is already one of the priciest cable alternatives, and that extra $6 pushes it up to THE most expensive option.
Packages and Add-Ons
We’re only going to look at the cable alternative plans here. Hulu has a bunch of other plans, including just their regular streaming service with and without ads, their Disney/ESPN bundles, and probably half a dozen others that I’m forgetting about.
- Hulu + Live TV: $64.99/month for unlimited access to their streaming library plus 65+ live and on-demand channels. You get a really nice selection of all the big cable networks, plus some local channels.
- Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV: $71.99/month. Same as above but without ads on the streaming content (you’ll still have ads on live TV).
- Disney Bundle with Hulu + Live TV: $72.99/month. Same as Hulu+ Live TV but with Disney
- Disney Bundle with Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV: $78.99/month. Same as Disney Bundle with ads, but without ads on streaming content.
Aside from the Disney bundle add-ons, Hulu extras include:
- Enhanced Cloud DVR: $9.99/month for 200 hours.
- Unlimited Screens: $9.99/month for “unlimited screens at home and up to 3 screens when on the go.” However, if you have a premium channel, you can only watch it on 5 screens at home.
- Enhanced Cloud DVR + Unlimited Screens Bundle: $14.98/month gets you a 200-hour DVR plus the “unlimited” screens.
- Sports Add-On: $9.99/mo for 6 sports channels, most of which are the outdoorsy type networks.
- Entertainment Add-On: $7.99/month gets you 16 more channels with no real theme. These include two more MTV channels, two Nick channels, DIY, Military History and a few others.
- Español Add-On: $4.99 gets you 7 Spanish channels.
- Premium add-ons: Price varies, but you can add on HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz.
- Decent selection of channels, especially for those who like a good mix of entertainment and sports.
- Multiple profiles
- Integrated with Hulu, so if you already use the streaming service there’s no real learning curve.
- Easy-to-use interface
- Expensive compared to others.
- “No-Ads” doesn’t mean that you won’t have ads on Live TV shows (or on recordings and Live-specific On Demand titles).
- You CANNOT fast-forwards ads without enhanced DVR.
- Only two screens at once without paying $10 extra. My biggest gripe about Hulu in general is that they offer the LEAST amount of simultaneous streams out of EVERY streaming service. The ONLY way to get more streams is to pay for Live TV plus an extra $10 on top of that.
- No Hallmark, even through add-ons.
- Excellent compatibility. Hulu works on pretty much every device imaginable.
Trial Offers & Final Recommendation
I believe that Hulu has a 7-day trial for their Live TV packages for new users. I’m not entirely sure though because my “change your plan” section no longer has an option to start my free trial. So they may have taken it away.
I’ll be very honest, Hulu Live TV never made it past my first round of research. While it’s GREAT for people who want to have fewer logins and services and who already use Hulu, it’s a bit on the pricey side for what it offers, in my opinion. I do love Hulu NoAds, though, and already use it as a cable alternative for ABC and NBC shows, since you can watch them the next day.
6. YouTube TV
Literally every time I load YouTube, they try to sell it me on YouTube TV. I’m holding out for a really good trial offer. 😀 Honestly, like Hulu, this one never made it past a first look for us due to some missing channels, but I do know a lot of people who really love it.
Packages and Add-Ons
YouTube TV offers one main package that comes with roughly 85 channels, plus a bunch add-ons. The basic package gets you an unlimited DVR, a bunch of sports networks, most of the major cable channels (FX, SyFy, NatGeo, TBS, TNT, USA, etc) and kids networks (Nick, Disney, Freeform, PBS, Cartoon Network, and so on).
Most of the add-ons are for premium packages and is similar to that of Amazon Channels. For the others, it’s really hard to find pricing info without actually signing up and being logged in to your YouTube TV account, but here’s a basic rundown.
- 4K Plus add-on, which gives you 4K streaming PLUS unlimited concurrent streams. Pricing unclear. YouTube says, “Pricing for the 4K Plus add-on will vary. From time to time, we’ll offer discounts and free trials. To see the most up-to-date pricing, go to Settings->Membership in the YouTube TV app.
- Sports Plus: $10.99/mo gets you 16 extra sports channels.
- Entertainment Plus: $29.99 per month gets you HBOMax, Starz and Showtime
Pros of YouTube TV
- More local channels, at least for me, than any others on this list.
- A lot of sports channels for people who like that sort of thing.
- Unlimited DVR without paying extra.
- EXCELLENT compatibility. You can use it on pretty much every TV and device known to mankind.
- Share with 6 family members (but only three can watch at once)
- Easy to add and remove extra networks. Just check a box in your settings (make sure you find out how much they cost, though, to avoid nasty surprises!).
- Rent or buy movie titles. However, see cons, as there are limitations.
- WAY too many sports channels for me.
- DVR only holds recordings for 9 months.
- Only three concurrent streams unless you pay for the 4K Plus Add On
- You can only purchase or rent on YouTube TV using a compatible smart TV device. You CANNOT rent movies through, say, Apple TV.
- No Hallmark channel. You can add on Hallmark Movies Now, but it’s not the same thing.
- Owned by Google.
Trial Offers & Final Recommendation
YouTube gives you a 7-day free trial, plus a $10 discount on your first three months right now. I don’t know how long that offer is good for, though. While I find YouTube a bit pricey, it’s a good option for people who love sports and who already like YouTube.
Conclusion & Final Words
I was going to finish off this post by doing an overview of ALL of the streaming services that you can add to round out your cable alternative package, but I feel like those belong in a totally separate post. Besides, we’re already at over 5,000 words and I feel like you’re probably getting tired of me by now. 😀
Let me bottom-line it for you before I say goodbye. Sling is the best option for us personally. It’s affordable, has everything we want, and it gives my mom the cable experience that she prefers. We’re not planning to switch any time soon, but if we were, either Fubo or Philo would be my next top picks.