Article originally published in CNET Magazine on July 26, 2018. The original article can be found here.
With the runaway popularity of on-demand streaming video services like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, and Hulu, more people are deciding to stop paying for cable TV. But just because you cut the cord doesn’t mean you have to give up live TV.
Right now, seven major services offer live TV streamed over the Internet: Hulu with Live TV, Google’s YouTube TV, Dish Network’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Philo, and Fubo TV. They cost $16 per month and up.
Unlike standard cable or satellite plans, there’s no annual contract and you can cancel and re-up anytime. Of course, you’ll need a good broadband plan that can support HD video streaming, as well as a supported phone, tablet, computer, or TV streaming device to actually watch on.
All of them offer different slates of channels for various prices. None have as many channels as most traditional cable or satellite TV packages, especially when it comes to sports, but maybe they have enough for you.
And if you’re wondering which service has the most channels in its base package, that’s DirecTV Now with 59 out of 100.
THE BIG CHART: TOP 100 CHANNELS COMPARED
Below you’ll find a chart that shows the top 100 channels across all seven services. There are actually eight listed, because Sling TV has two different “base” tiers, Orange and Blue. And if you’re wondering, I chose which “top” channels made the cut. Sorry AXS TV, FYI, GSN, and Universal HD.
Some more stuff to know about the chart:
- Yes = The live channel is available on the cheapest pricing tier (listed next to each service name).
- No = The channel isn’t available at all on that service. One popular channel, PBS, isn’t available on any service, but I listed it anyway.
- $ = The channel is available for an extra fee, either a la carte or as part of a more expensive package or add-on.
- Regional sports networks — channels devoted to showing regular-season games of particular pro baseball, basketball and/or hockey teams — are not listed. That’s a disadvantage on the chart to Fubo TV, which carries more RSNs than anyone, and an advantage to Philo, which doesn’t offer any sports channels, period.
- ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, MyNetworkTV, and The CW networks only available in certain cities, and availability varies widely per service. In some cities, some services only offer video-on-demand shows from the networks, not the live local channel itself. (Note: CBS is the parent company of CNET.)