Cord-cutters flock to new live TV streaming services that offer most of the channels they want to watch at a fraction of the price. But how low can you go? We’ll introduce you to seven of the cheapest cable alternatives that let you watch TV without cable.

Streaming TV Services

In case you’re new to the cord-cutting scene, we’ll start with a quick introduction to the streaming TV world. New kinds of TV companies emerged over the past three years. They use your home internet connection to stream live TV to any device on your home network.

These companies don’t have a physical cable network to maintain or retail stores to operate. As a result, they provide most of the channels you get with a cable subscription for a fraction of the cost.

It almost sounds too good to be true, but these companies are perfectly legit. In fact, these streaming services are backed by some of the biggest names in the TV and communications industry like AT&T, Dish Network, Google and Disney.

The problem with local TV

Of course, nothing’s ever perfect. The one area most streaming services struggle with is streaming local TV channels.

Ownership of local TV stations is highly fragmented. The big four national networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — only own a dozen local stations each. The remaining thousand TV stations are owned by other media conglomerates, regional companies and individuals.

Related: What’s the Best Service for Streaming Live Local TV?

Each streaming service has to cut deals with each station owner in order to carry the network’s live stream. Without a deal, they can only carry the network’s on-demand content.

Each service has a zip code lookup tool that will tell you which local stations you’ll be able to stream. If having access to the big four broadcast stations is important to you, then be sure to check before making your decision.

TV Everywhere

All of the broadcast and cable networks have their own apps which let you stream live and on-demand programming to a number of devices. Few of them, however, will let you watch more than a handful of videos without registering a TV provider.

A few years ago, “TV provider” meant “cable company”, but not anymore. Although it’s inconsistent from network to network and from streaming service to streaming service, many of the network apps will let you register with your streaming subscription.

Philo

Fixer Upper on Philo
Source: Philo

Philo is the absolute cheapest way to replace your cable subscription. This brand new service went live at the end of 2017 with a very attractive proposition: get 40+ channels for only $16 per month. A small upgrade to $20 per month will get you 50+ channels.

 Package 1Package 2
Price$16$20
Channels4355
Simultaneous Streams33
Fire TV SupportNoNo
Roku SupportYesYes
Sign Up7-DAY FREE TRIAL7-DAY FREE TRIAL

Of course, there’s a catch. Philo’s low cost means it can’t offer expensive channels like local channels, the national networks or the sports networks. Philo instead focuses on lifestyle and entertainment channels like HGTV, Lifetime, the Food Network and A&E.

Philo offers a 2+5 day trial. For the first two days, you don’t need to give Philo your credit card information. Just register your mobile phone number and you can watch as much TV as you want. You will need to provide your payment information to add another five days to the trial, but you can still cancel the trial risk-free.

Philo provides an unlimited cloud DVR service. You can save as many recordings as you want to Philo’s servers and then stream them whenever, wherever you want for the next thirty days. The recordings expire after that one month period.

Philo Shortcode

 

Philo lets you stream to as many as three devices at the same time, which is typical in the streaming business. Still in startup mode, Philo’s developers haven’t had much time to create apps for many streaming platforms. Although Philo does not have a dedicated Android app, you can use the Chrome browser to stream from the Philo website.

  • Living room devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: None.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: iOS.
  • Game consoles: None.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari.

Discovery Communications, AMC and A+E Networks are some of the companies that invested in Philo. As a result, Philo has agreements with all of the networks it carries to support those networks’ apps. Just enter your Philo subscriber information and you’ll unlock the apps’ premium content. The Philo help site provides a convenient chart that shows the streaming platforms each network’s app supports.

fuboTV

Fubo TV
Source: Fubo TV

FuboTV offers its unique approach for $44.99 per month for over 70 sports and entertainment networks, or $49.99 per month if you want its maximum channel package with over 90 channels and a huge load of sports and entertainment. This streaming service a great choice for fans of soccer and other international sports.

 FuboFubo ExtraFubo LatinoFubo Português
Price$44.99/mo.$49.99+$17.99/mo.$19.99/mo.
Channels75+90+15+5+
Simultaneous Streams2222
Fire TV SupportYesYesYesYes
Roku SupportYesYesYesYes
Sign Up 7-DAY FREE TRIAL7-DAY FREE TRIAL7-DAY FREE TRIAL7-DAY FREE TRIAL

The 70+ channels fuboTV offers with its “fubo” package includes a good selection of news, entertainment and lifestyle channels. But sports is where it’s at on fuboTV. Twenty-five of the channels are exclusively dedicated to sports. Add-on packages let you add even more sports and international channels.

Unfortunately, ESPN and its sister networks are not part of the fuboTV lineup. Fans of major league sports should check out our article on the Best Live Sports Streaming Services before deciding on fuboTV.

The fuboTV cloud DVR lets you record thirty hours of programming and keep them as long as you want. An upgrade will raise the limit to five hundred hours.

FuboTV Shortcode

 

You can watch fuboTV through the following mobile and TV-connected devices:

  • Living room devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: None.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
  • Game consoles: None.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome is recommended.

Thirty-two network apps accept fuboTV log-in credentials.

Sling TV

Sling TV
Source: Sling TV

Sling TV used to be the lowest-cost option until Philo took the crown. When Dish Networks launched the streaming service in 2015, Sling TV’s $25 monthly subscription cost was revolutionary.

 Sling OrangeSling BlueSling Orange + Blue
Price$25$25$40
Channels30+40+50+
Simultaneous Streams134*
ESPNYesNoYes
Fire TV SupportYesYesYes
Roku SupportYesYesYes
Special OffersFREE ROKU DEALFREE ROKU DEALFREE ROKU DEAL
* You get one stream with Sling Orange and up to 3 simultaneous streams with Sling Blue.

You can still subscribe to the original $25 plan, now called Sling Orange, or choose from a menu of other options to create a channel lineup that’s perfect for you.

Sling TV first asks you to choose one of the three base subscription options:

  • Orange: 30+ channels for $25.
  • Blue: 40+ channels for $25.
  • Orange+Blue: 50+ channels for $40.

Naturally, there’s a catch. The only way to get NBC and Fox stations is to subscribe to the Blue plan. ESPN and its sister channels are only available in the Orange plan. If you want to get ABC, NBC, Fox and ESPN, the only way is to pay $40 per month for the Orange+Blue plan.

Extras and Minis are bundles of channels that customize your Sling TV experience. The thirty-five bundles let you add comedy or news or sports channels or even get channels from South America or India.

 

Sling TV requires an extra $5 monthly payment to unlock its cloud DVR service. If you add the extra fee to your subscription, then you can record up to fifty hours of programming.

The Orange-vs-Blue distinction impacts the way you watch Sling TV. Channels exclusive to the Orange plan can’t be streamed to more than one device at a time. If someone in the house is watching the Disney channel, then nobody can watch ESPN. Channels that are part of the Blue plan, on the other hand, can be streamed to as many as three devices at a time.

Sling TV has supports a wide range of streaming platforms including:

  • Living room devices: Air TV Player, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain models from LeEco, LG, Samsung and ZTE.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Amazon Fire tablets, Android and iOS.
  • Game consoles: Xbox One.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome.

Unfortunately, Sling TV’s support for network apps lags behind its competitors. Only seventeen networks will accept Sling TV’s login credentials to unlock premium content.

Hulu with Live TV

Hulu on Nintendo Switch
Source: Hulu

A crowd of streaming services is tied for fourth place with $40-per-month subscriptions. Hulu with Live TV is one of the newest. Already a streaming favorite for its on-demand catalog, Hulu launched its live TV service as a “Beta” project in early 2017.

Although still a work in progress, Hulu with Live TV has a competitive fifty-channel lineup and features all for $39.99 per month.

The standard cloud DVR lets you record fifty hours of programming. You won’t, however, be able to record programs that are on at the same time. Nor will you be able to fast-forward through commercials when you watch the recordings. Unlocking those features, and adding 150 more hours of recording time, requires a $15 monthly fee.

Likewise, another $15 monthly fee will let you stream to as many supported devices on your home network as you want instead of the standard limit of only two devices. (You can combine both upgrades for only $20.)

  • Living room devices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain TV models from Samsung
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Amazon Fire Tablets, Android, and iOS
  • Game consoles: Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari.

Thirty-five networks will unlock the premium content in their apps when you provide a Hulu with Live TV subscriber login.

DirecTV Now

DirecTV Now channels galore
Source: DirecTV Now

DirecTV Now tries to provide the full cable experience for much less. At $40 per month, DirecTV Now’s entry-level “Live a Little” plan is the third-cheapest way to replace cable. You’ll get at least sixty channels and maybe more, depending on the availability of local stations and regional sports networks.

 Live a LittleJust RightGo BigGotta Have It
Price$35/mo.$50/mo.$60/mo.$70/mo.
Channels60+80+100+120+
Simultaneous Streams2222
ESPNYesYesYesYes
Fire TV SupportYesYesYesYes
Roku SupportYesYesYesYes
Special OffersFREE FIRE TV DEALFREE FIRE TV DEALFREE FIRE TV DEALFREE FIRE TV DEAL

If you find holes in that lineup, then you can step up to slightly more expensive plans that add even more channels.

  • Live a Little: 60+ channels / $40 per month.
  • Just Right: 80+ channels / $55 per month.
  • Go Big: 100+ channels / $65 per month.
  • Gotta Have It: 120+ channels / $75 per month.

DirecTV Now’s parent company, AT&T, is investing millions to make the service more competitive. A cloud DVR is now available but offered with rather slim 20 hours of storage, and a particularly restrictive 30-day expiration date on recorded videos. Other upgrades include support for a third simultaneous stream and support for Ultra HD 4K content.

With the exception of game consoles, you will find DirecTV Now in the app stores of a wide range of streaming platforms.

  • Living room devices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: None.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
  • Game consoles: None.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome and Safari.

More than fifty networks will give DirecTV Now subscribers full access to their own apps.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV
Source: YouTube TV

If watching your local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC stations is important, then YouTube TV may be your best bet. We found that YouTube’s streaming service has the best support for local stations in the markets it serves. Although only available in one hundred markets, those markets serve 85% of the American population.

YouTube TV’s $40 subscription gives you more than 60 channels as well as industry-leading features. The cloud DVR, for example, has an unlimited recording capacity and the recordings won’t expire for nine months.

Like other services, however, YouTube TV only lets you and your household stream to three devices at the same time.

  • Living room devices: Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain models from LG and Samsung.
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
  • Game consoles: Xbox One.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome.

A YouTube TV subscription will unlock many network apps. Unlike the other streaming services, however, Google doesn’t tell you which networks support YouTube TV. You’ll have to check each network one by one. (No, googling won’t be much help.)

PlayStation Vue

No PlayStation needed to get Vue
Source: PlayStation Vue

The “Access” plan on Sony’s PlayStation Vue starts at $40 and provides a 45-channel lineup. Like DirecTV Now, you can expand the number of channels by stepping up to one of the higher-priced plans.

  • Access: 45+ channels for $44.99 per month.
  • Core: 60+ channels for $49.99 per month.
  • Elite: 90+ channels for $59.99 per month.
  • Ultra: Elit channel lineup, including HBO and Showtime, for $79.99 per month.

Unlike DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue gives its customers a full set of features. The cloud DVR has an unlimited recording capacity, though the recordings expire after twenty-eight days.

PlayStation Vue doesn’t just work on Sony’s game console. In fact, PlayStation Vue has apps on more streaming platforms than any of its competitiors.

  • Living room devices: Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku.
  • Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: None (not even Sony’s).
  • Mobile devices and tablets: Android, Amazon Fire Tablets and iOS.
  • Game consoles: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
  • Desktop browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge.

PlayStation Vue also does better than other streaming services when it comes to support on network apps. More than sixty networks will accept PlayStation Vue as a TV provider.