You can watch all your favorite cable channels live without cable with any of these streaming services: Philo, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV. In this article, we’ll help you decide which streaming option is best for you. Let’s get started!

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The Cheapest Cable Alternative: Philo

philo watch ae without cable
Source: Philo

If you don’t like the idea of spending money on TV entertainment, you may want to check out Philo— an inexpensive, bare bones cable replacer with an unlimited DVR and many other excellent features. The base subscription includes all kinds of popular cable TV channels, including A&E, BET, HGTV, Nick and more. Another interesting thing about Philo is that it’s working on a social network that will let its subscribers share cable TV content with their friends and family via the internet.

Philo Pricing and Packages

A subscription to Philo costs only $20. That makes it one of the cheapest options out there for watching cable TV live without a traditional cable TV subscription. You can even try out Philo for a full week without having to pull out your credit card. All you have to do is provide your phone number to give Philo a whirl.

58 Channels
7-day free trial
$20.00/ month

58 channels

3 simultaneous streams

30-Day DVR

SIGN UP

For more information on Philo plans, check here.

Philo Channels

Philo’s base plan comes with 58 channels. There used to be an upgrade plan that lets you get more channels, but Philo seems to have merged that upgrade into its core plan. Some of the most popular channels in Philo’s lineup include VH1, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, Nick, A&E, AMC, BET and Comedy Central. There lots of other great channels that you don’t have to give up anymore once you cut the cord, as well.

For more information on Philo channels, check here.

Philo Supported Devices

With apps for iPhone, Android, Chromecast, Roku, Philo has good app support. There is one minor downside, though: the Android mobile app doesn’t play live streams. You can still watch Philo on an Android phone, but you have to use your mobile Chrome browser to do it.

  • TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up), Amazon Fire TV (all models), Chromecast and Roku (all current models).
  • Smart TVs: Android TV (5.0 and up).
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android (7.0 and up, Chrome browser), iOS (10.3 and up).
  • Game consoles: None.
  • Desktop browsers: Most Mac and PC browsers.

Check here for more information on Philo’s supported devices.

Philo Simultaneous Streams

Philo lets you share your account with two other friends when you watch TV. In other words, the simultaneous stream limit is three devices. As mentioned earlier, Philo is working on a social network that will likely expand the streaming service’s account sharing capabilities. However, the company has yet to reveal exactly how their social network will work.

To learn more about Philo’s simultaneous streams, click here.

Philo DVR

Philo has an excellent unlimited DVR. You can record as much programming as you like, without having to be concerned about running into limits or paywalls. Many streaming services– some of which are much more expensive than Philo– have stricter DVR limits.

Check here to learn more about Philo’s DVR.

Philo On-Demand Library

Though Philo does have some on-demand content, it’s no match for the likes of Hulu and Netflix. The Philo website says that its on-demand library includes 25,000 on-demand titles.

Click here to learn more about Philo’s on-demand library.

Free 7-day Trial

Subscribe Now

The Best Cable Alternative for Sports Fans: fuboTV

fubotv fxx without cable
Source: fuboTV

Half of the channels you get when you subscribe to fuboTV are sports channels. You can’t get any of the ESPN channels, but fuboTV does carry plenty of rare sports channels that other streaming services don’t carry. 

FuboTV Pricing and Packages

Unlike some streaming services, fuboTV includes most of the channels that it carries in its base plan: fubo Standard. Other plans include fubo Family, fubo Entertainment and fubo Ultra.

Standard
7-day free trial
$54.99/ month

92 channels

2 simultaneous streams

30 hours of DVR space

SHOWTIME

Sports Plus add-on

SIGN UP
Family
7-day free trial
$59.99+/ month

92 channels

3 simultaneous streams

500 hours of DVR space

SHOWTIME

Sports Plus add-on

SIGN UP
Entertainment
7-day free trial
$69.99/ month

92 channels

2 simultaneous streams

500 hours of DVR space

SHOWTIME

Sports Plus add-on

SIGN UP
Ultra
7-day free trial
$79.99/ month

113 channels

3 simultaneous streams

500 hours of DVR space

SHOWTIME included

Sports Plus add-on

SIGN UP
*Note that in order to see the Family, Entertainment, and Ultra plans, you need to first press "Start Free Trial." After you create an account, you'll see all of these plans.

To learn more about fuboTV’s pricing and packages, click here.

FuboTV Channels

Fubo Standard has around 90 channels. You’ll get more or less channels depending on where you live. Check the fuboTV website and type in your zip code to see exactly which channels you’ll get. 

To learn more about fuboTV’s channels, click here.

fuboTV Supported Devices

fuboTV has above average device support:

  • TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up), Amazon Fire TV and TV Stick (1st gen and up), Chromecast and Roku (2, 3 and 4)
  • Smart TVs: Android TV (4.4 and up)
  • Game consoles: None
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS
  • Desktop browsers: Most Mac and PC browsers

Click here to learn more about fuboTV’s device support.

FuboTV Simultaneous Streams

fuboTV lets you watch TV on two devices at once. If you have a larger number of people you intend to share your account with, you may want to upgrade to the fubo Family and get three simultaneous streams.

To learn more about fuboTV’s simultaneous streaming policy, check here.

FuboTV DVR

fuboTV’s base cloud DVR service lets you record 30 hours of content without any additional costs. An upgrade boosts your recording limit to a rather impressive 500 hours.

To learn more about fuboTV’s DVR, click here.

FuboTV On-Demand Library

fuboTV’s on-demand library isn’t huge, but it has a decent amount of content.

Click here to learn more about fuboTV’s on-demand library.

Free 7-day Trial

Subscribe Now
 

The Best Cable Alternative for Families: PlayStation Vue

fxx without cable
Source: PlayStation Vue

With its flexible account sharing policy and varied menu of channels, PlayStation Vue is one of the best streaming services you can get if you have a big family. Don’t be fooled by the name: this streaming service is available on a huge range of platforms, ranging from all the popular browsers to Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more.

PlayStation Vue Pricing and Packages

The core idea behind PlayStation Vue’s subscription plans is simple: the more you pay, the more channels you get. If you’re not sure which plan you want, take advantage of the free trial. It will let you test out PlayStation Vue to see if it’s right for you.

Access
5-Day Free Trial
$44.99/ month

50 channels

5 simultaneous streams*

ESPN and Disney

Premium sports

EPIX and FXM

HBO and SHOWTIME

SIGN UP
Core
5-Day Free Trial
$49.99/ month

75 channels

5 simultaneous streams*

ESPN and Disney

Premium sports

EPIX and FXM

HBO and SHOWTIME

SIGN UP
Elite
5-Day Free Trial
$59.99/ month

96 channels

5 simultaneous streams*

ESPN and Disney

Premium sports

EPIX and FXM

HBO and SHOWTIME

SIGN UP
Ultra
5-Day Free Trial
$79.99/ month

98 channels

5 simultaneous streams*

ESPN and Disney

Premium sports

EPIX and FXM

HBO and SHOWTIME

SIGN UP
* You get 3 streams to use in-home or out-of-home streams and 2 extra streams to use in-home.

Click here to learn more about PlayStation Vue’s pricing and packages.

PlayStation Vue Channels

Access is designed for people who don’t want to spend much money on TV entertainment. It has around 50 channels, including ESPN, Disney and lots of others. The next step up, Core, gives you access to NFL Network, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and more. Elite’s focus is movie channels. Ultra is the most expensive plan and it comes with several premium cable channels.

To learn more about PlayStation Vue’s channels, click here.

PlayStation Vue Supported Devices

Supported devices include: 

  • TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up), Android TV (all gens), Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick (all gens), Chromecast (1st gen and up) and Roku (firmware 8.0 and up).
  • Smart TVs: Amazon Fire TV (all gens), Android TV (all gens) and Roku (firmware 8.0 and up).
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android OS 5.0 and up, iOS 9 and up, and Amazon Fire HD6 tablets and up.
  • Game consoles: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge are recommended (most recent versions will work).

Click here to learn more about PlayStation Vue’s device support.

PlayStation Vue Simultaneous Streams

PlayStation Vue allows users to stream on up to 5 devices at once, which is far more than what most other streaming services allow. You don’t have to pay anything extra for that.

To learn more about PlayStation Vue’s simultaneous streaming policy, check here.

PlayStation Vue DVR

PlayStation Vue’s unlimited DVR lets you save as much TV as you want. Recordings expire after four weeks.

To learn more about PlayStation Vue’s DVR, click here.

PlayStation Vue On-Demand Library

PlayStation Vue’s on-demand content library is good, but it’s not comparable to streaming services that specialize in on-demand.

Click here to learn more about PlayStation Vue’s on-demand library.

Free 5-day Trial

Subscribe Now

The Cable Alternative with the Most On-demand Content: Hulu With Live TV

fxx without cable
Source: Hulu With Live TV

Hulu with Live TV has a much bigger on-demand content library compared to most live TV streaming services. Another selling point is an upgrade that lets you stream to an unlimited number of devices on your home network.

Hulu with Live TV Pricing and Packages

Hulu with Live TV offers just a few all-inclusive plans. The main package has 60+ channels. You get two simultaneous streams and you don’t have to pay extra to get ESPN and Disney. 

Hulu + Live TV
7-Day Free Trial
$44.99/ month

67 Channels

2 simultaneous streams

ESPN and Disney

SIGN UP

To learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s pricing, click here.

Hulu with Live TV Channels

As is the case with most cable alternatives, Hulu with Live TV has a free trial that lets you test the service for yourself. This lets you see what kind of channels are available. Most of the channels that Hulu offers are in its core plan, but there are some add-ons you can get as well.

Click here to learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s channel options.

Hulu with Live TV Supported Devices

Hulu with Live TV has great device support. The most popular streaming devices are available. 

  • TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up), Amazon Fire TV and TV Stick, Chromecast and Roku (most models).
  • Smart TVs: LG TV (select models), Samsung TV (select models), Android TV and Roku TV.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android (5.0 and up),  iOS (11 and up), Amazon Fire (tablets).
  • Game consoles: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Xbox 360.
  • Desktop browsers: Most Mac and PC browsers.
  • Smart home devices: Amazon Echo Show (video and voice controls).
  • Desktop operating systems: Windows 10 (dedicated app).

To learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s supported devices, click here.

Hulu with Live TV Simultaneous Streams

The base subscription comes with only two simultaneous streams. Hulu’s Unlimited Screens add-on lets you stream to an unlimited number of devices on your home network.

To learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s simultaneous streaming policy, click here.

Hulu with Live TV DVR

A robust 50-hour cloud DVR comes free with the basic subscription. Your storage capabilities can also be increased up to 200 hours with the Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on.

To learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s DVR storage options, click here.

Hulu with Live TV On-Demand Library

Hulu with Live TV’s best feature is its huge on-demand catalog.

You can learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s on-demand library by checking here.

Free 7-day Trial

Subscribe Now

The Most Customizable Cable Alternative: Sling TV

Sling TV fxx without cable
Source: Sling TV

Sling TV is worth considering if you want to save money and you’re only interested in a handful of channels. You can choose from one of two base plans and then customize your experience from there by buying option channel add-on packs.

Sling TV Pricing and Packages

In order to get Sling TV’s channel add-on packs, you have to buy at least one base plan. There are  three base base subscription options. You can choose between two different base plans or get both base plans for a discounted price. Both base plans cost $25.

Sling Orange
Free Roku Deal
$25.00/ month

34 channels

ESPN

Free Roku Express

1 simultaneous stream.

SIGN UP
Sling Blue
Free Roku Deal$25.00/ month

49 channels

ESPN

Free Roku Express

3 simultaneous streams

SIGN UP
Sling Orange + Blue
Free Roku Deal
$40.00/ month

56 channels

ESPN

Free Roku Express

4* simultaneous streams

SIGN UP
* You get 1 stream for Sling Orange channels and up to 3 simultaneous streams for Sling Blue channels.

To learn more about Sling TV pricing, check here.

Sling TV Channels

Neither of Sling TV’s base subscription plans has a clear theme. Sling Orange and Sling Blue both have a mix of family, sports and news entertainment.

Click here to learn more about Sling TV’s channel menu.

Sling TV Supported Devices

Sling TV has great device support:

  • TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up), Amazon Fire TV (all versions), Chromecast, Roku (LT and up), AirTV.
  • Smart TVs: LG TV (Web OS 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0, as well as select 2016-2018 models), Samsung TV (2016 through 2018 models), Android TV (4.4 and up), Roku TV, Mi TV.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android (4.4 and up),  iOS (11 and up), Amazon Fire (tablets).
  • Game consoles: Xbox One.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome is recommended for use with Mac and Windows.

Check here for more info on Sling TV’s supported devices.

Sling TV Simultaneous Streams

With Sling Blue, you get three simultaneous streams. However, all Sling Orange channels can only be streamed to one device at a time.  

To learn more about Sling TV’s simultaneous streams, click here.

Sling TV DVR

Sling TV doesn’t come with a free DVR, but you can add recording functionality for $5/month extra. You can’t record any Sling Orange channels, though.

To learn more about Sling TV’s DVR, check here.

Sling TV On-Demand Library

Sling TV does have an on-demand content library, but it’s somewhat limited compared to some streaming services.

Click here to learn more about Sling TV’s on-demand library.

Other Notable Cable Alternatives

YouTube TV is Google’s attempt to gain a foothold in the streaming service space. One of the nicest things about YouTube TV is that you can set up multiple profiles. Each profile comes with a free unlimited DVR.

AT&T recently raised the subscription prices for its streaming service, DirecTV Now. Its features are still somewhat weak compared to the services mentioned above, but its large menu of available channels is impressive.

How Do the Cable Alternatives Compare For…

Geographic availability

FuboTV
Source: FuboTV

Hollywood licensing restrictions limit almost all streaming services to national coverage across the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. There are some notable exceptions:

fuboTV is also available in the United States’ territories and possessions.

Hulu’s on-demand service is available to Americans stationed to US military bases overseas – as long as they live on-base. However, whether this extends to Hulu with Live TV is unclear. We’d appreciate hearing about the Hulu experience from anyone serving overseas – just drop us a line in the comments or at the Flixed.io social media accounts.

YouTube TV is only available to people living in the one hundred largest TV markets, but that covers 85% of all Americans. If you qualify, however, you can access YouTube TV from anywhere in the US.

Streaming Local TV Channels

Network TV on Youtube TV
Source: YouTube TV

Another issue is the availability of the local streams for networks like the Big 4: ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. Several reasons prevent the services from just putting local streams out there. As a result, you will find situations like in Phoenix where YouTube TV streams all four, Sling TV streams just FOX and DirecTV Now can’t stream local channels at all. You can read our review of the best services for streaming local TV for more details.

  • The Best: YouTube TV carries the Big 4 in most of the major markets reviewed and has good coverage of other national networks.
  • Hulu with Live TV: Good overall support for local stations, but its support for the Big 4 networks is weaker.
  • PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now: Firmly in the middle of the pack, you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting a local channel through these services.
  • fuboTV: Local streaming is not fuboTV’s strength which could mean missing nationally televised sports.
  • Sling TV: Carries all of the major broadcast networks, but markets vary
  • The Worst: Philo has not secured the deals any local TV contracts.

Philo deliberately skips the major networks so it will never provide live streams of local TV.

Device support

Devices on Sling TV
Source: Sling TV

Each household has a different combination of devices that could stream live TV. The only way a service can appeal to the entire public is by offering a complete suite of apps. Here is what we think that ideal app lineup would look like:

  • Mobile and tablet: Amazon Fire tablets as well as iOS and Android devices.
  • Set-top boxes and sticks: Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV.
  • Gaming consoles: PlayStation, Xbox and Android TV systems.
  • Smart TVs: Any TV running the Roku, Fire TV, Android TV or WebOS platforms.

Of course, none of the services are perfect. But some come awfully close. Here is how the cable alternatives compare for supporting apps:

  • The Best: Sling TV developed apps for every major platform except PlayStation.
  • Hulu with Live TV: The only TV service with a Nintendo Switch app. It does not offer apps for PlayStation game consoles or any smart TV platforms.
  • DirecTV Now: No apps for gaming consoles or Amazon Fire tablets.
  • YouTube TV: No support for Amazon Fire TV devices or Fire Tablets. No support for PlayStation game consoles either.
  • fuboTV: Has not developed apps for game consoles or smart TVs.
  • PlayStation Vue: No support for Amazon’s Fire TV devices. No support for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming consoles (I was shocked too). No support for smart TVs without the Android TV platform.
  • The Worst: Philo only has apps for iPhones, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV

Browser support

Browsers on YouTube TV
Source: YouTube TV

Bringing up issues with browser support for desktops and laptops is almost embarrassing. The compatibility, stability and security concerns surrounding proprietary video technologies like Adobe Flash have been widely known for years.

  • The Best: YouTube TV uses industry-standard streaming technology for the broadest browser compatibility.
  • Hulu with Live TV, fuboTV and PlayStation Vue require the Adobe Flash Player. You may have to change your browser’s security settings to watch those channels.
  • DirecTV Now only supports the Chrome and Safari browsers. Other browsers may work, but your mileage may vary.
  • The Worst: Sling TV only supports Chrome on desktop operating systems.

Cloud DVR

DVR on YouTube TV
Source:YouTube TV

Like an old-school VCR, you can use a cloud DVR function to schedule recordings on the service’s servers. How many programs you can record and how long you can keep the recordings are the main differences between each service’s cloud DVR.

  • The Best: YouTube TV lets you record an unlimited number of programs and keep them for up to nine months.
  • Hulu with Live TV: 50 hours standard, 200 with a $15 monthly add-on. Oldest recordings deleted when DVR maxes out.
  • fuboTV: 30 hours standard, 500 hours with a $10 monthly add-on. Oldest recordings deleted when DVR maxes out.
  • Philo: unlimited recordings, but only kept for 30 days.
  • PlayStation Vue: unlimited recordings, but only kept for twenty-eight days. Certain CBS local channels do not allow recording.
  • DirecTV Now: It could have taken the crown for worst cloud DVR service since it only offers 20 hours with a 30-day expiration date on recordings, but…
  • The Worst: Sling TV makes you pay $5 per month for its cloud DVR feature and only lets you record 50 hours of programming. You cannot record anything on the various ABC, ESPN or Disney channels you subscribe to.

Catch-up service

Catch-up on FuboTV
Source: FuboTV

There’s nothing much to catch-up services: they let you watch recently-aired programs up to three days after the programs air. Either the service offers catch-up or it does not. There is no best or worst.

Only DirecTV Now, fuboTV and PlayStation Vue offer catch-up services.

Household profiles

Many devices at a time on PlayStation Vue
Source: PlayStation Vue

Some services let your subscription support the entire household. Profiles let family members or roommates have their own unique log-ins, profiles, viewing histories and recorded programs. If you need to balance competing viewing tastes within a household, profiles will matter. If you want a streaming service all to yourself? Not so much.

  • The Best: PlayStation Vue lets you create as many as 10 profiles on one account.
  • YouTube TV: 6 profiles
  • Philo: 2 profiles
  • Hulu with Live TV: 6 profiles.
  • No Profile Support: DirecTV Now, fuboTV, and Sling TV.

Simultaneous streaming

Profiles on PlayStation Vue
Source: PlayStation Vue

The ability to stream TV to more than one device also depends on your situation. Families will need better multi-stream support than someone living on their own.

  • The Best: PlayStation Vue lets you stream to 5 devices at the same time.
  • YouTube TV: 3 simultaneous streams.
  • Philo: 3 simultaneous streams.
  • DirecTV Now: 2 simultaneous streams. Support for a third stream is in the works.
  • FuboTV: 2 simultaneous streams.
  • Hulu with Live TV: 2 simultaneous streams. However, a $15 monthly add-on unlocks unlimited streams within your home network and up to 3 streams when away from home.
  • The Worst: Sling TV for its inconsistent approach. Channels that are part of the “Blue” plan support 3 simultaneous streams. Channels exclusive to the “Orange” plan and its add-ons can only stream to 1 device. The single-stream limit applies to channels from ABC, ESPN and Disney.
Alex Munkachy is a freelance writer, game developer and hobby robotics enthusiast. You can find his blog about robotics news and reviews at robotfanatics.com.