The days of cable TV are rapidly coming to an end. New live TV streaming services continue to hit the market and this trend isn’t expected to slow anytime soon. Companies like Apple, Disney, and NBCUniversal are all preparing to launch their own live TV streaming service in the coming year.
There are many advantages to choosing a streaming service over cable. Not only can you save money, but most of these services are also more flexible and can be viewed from anywhere.
What is the best live TV streaming service in 2021?
If you’re looking for the best live TV streaming service to replace cable TV, the service you choose will largely depend on your viewing preferences. Here are seven popular live TV streaming services and the type of viewer they work best for.
1. Sling TV
- Known for: Best overall value
- Price: $25 per month or $40 for the standard tier
- Pros: A cost-effective way to replace cable TV
- Cons: Doesn’t offer many local channels
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to replace cable then Sling TV may be your best bet. For $25 a month, you can view dozens of cable channels, including ESPN, Disney, Food Network, and HGTV.
However, the downside to using Sling TV is that your channels will vary depending on which package you choose. And the packages are somewhat confusing. And you do have the option to add on premium channels at an extra charge, but these can quickly add up.
- Known for: Best TV streaming service
- Price: $5.99 per month or $11.99 for the ad-free version
- Pros: Inexpensive and offers more than 60 live TV options
- Cons: Doesn’t have a great selection of original content
In some respects, Hulu seems like the unfortunate younger brother of Netflix. It does create its own original content and had some major wins, like when it released the series The Handmaid’s Tale.
But Hulu’s original series pales in comparison to what Netflix puts out. And the company doesn’t offer the same selection of movies as other services.
Where Hulu stands out is its wide variety of live TV options. The only other service that offers the same variety is YouTube TV but you’re going to pay a lot more every month. So if you can’t stand to miss your favorite shows and want to cut your cable bill, Hulu Live TV may be the best choice.
3. Amazon Prime Video/Amazon Fire TV
- Known for: Best for families
- Price: $8.99 per month for Amazon Video or $12.99 for Prime Video
- Pros: There are no ads and the service supports 4K and HDR streaming
- Cons: You may have to pay to rent certain movies
There are two different ways you can watch movies on Amazon. You can buy the standalone subscription or you can pay for Amazon Prime.
If you regularly shop on Amazon, it may be worth your while to pay for Prime since you’ll get a whole host of benefits outside of just free movies. Amazon offers a large selection of popular movies for free and you have the option to rent or buy additional movies.
Amazon Prime supports 4K and HDR streaming. It also gives you free access to HBO, Starz, CBS All Access, and Showtime.
4. PlayStation Vue
- Known for: Best for PlayStation users
- Price: $49.99 per month
- Pros: PlayStation Plus subscribers can earn a discount
- Cons: Doesn’t have as many options for sports fans
Sony’s PlayStation Vue is a good option for anyone looking to get rid of cable, even if you don’t own a PlayStation. The company’s monthly subscription is more expensive than some of the other options on this list.
However, it includes a wide range of entertainment and news channels. PlayStation Vue lets you record up to 500 TV shows in 28 days.
And it supports streaming on five different devices simultaneously. Plus, you can access the service on Apple or Android devices, your web browser, Roku, and Chromecast.
5. CBS All Access
- Known for: Best for those who want the news
- Price: $5.99 per month or $9.99 for the ad-free plan
- Pros: A large selection of new and old TV shows
- Cons: You only get access to CBS shows
Many people want to get rid of cable but can’t stand the thought of missing the news or their favorite sports teams. With CBS All Access, you get access to that and more.
The service has a huge library of older TV shows as well as shows that are currently airing. And you can watch new original content as it airs, like The Twilight Zone reboot and Star Trek: Discovery.
However, you’re only going to get access to CBS shows with this service so it’s not going to get you the most bang for your buck. If you’re not dying to watch sports or the news, it may not be the best option for you.
6. HBO Max
- Known for: Best for premium content
- Price: $14.99 per month
- Pros: Has a wide selection of beloved shows
- Cons: More expensive than other live TV streaming
HBO Max is a hard sell for me, mostly because it’s pricier than the other services on this list. But if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, Deadwood, or any of the channel’s newer content then it may be worth it to you.
The quality of the content is great and the app works seamlessly across all devices. However, you’ll likely need to use HBO Max in addition to another streaming TV service with a more diverse lineup of content.
7. YouTube TV
- Known for: Best for anyone looking to replace cable
- Price: $49.99 per month
- Pros: Access to over 70 different channels
- Cons: The service comes with limited parental controls
YouTube TV offers a fantastic selection of sports, news, and entertainment channels. It offers channels like ABC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, and HGTV. The original package comes with over 70 channels but you can add on additional packages as needed.
Plus, YouTube TV gives you unlimited cloud DVR storage and the service will save your recorded episodes for up to nine months. You can stream your content from anywhere in the U.S. and one membership supports six different accounts.
The service is available on Apple TV and Roku platforms. The app works well and is easy to search. All this makes YouTube TV is easily the best choice for anyone looking to replace cable TV.
Does Getting Rid of Cable Really Save You Money?
If you’re looking to save money by cutting out cable and switching to a live TV streaming service, you can do that. However, you do need to watch out for the fees and additional charges that come with it.
As you can see, many of these services aren’t standalone services. If you purchase HBO Now, you’ll likely have to pair it with something else. Many people wind up paying more than they expected because they added on additional packages and channels.
If you’re switching to live TV streaming services for flexibility and more options, great. But if you’re serious about saving money, prioritize that and stick to a basic streaming plan.