Thinking of Ditching That Cable Subscription? Here Are Some of the The Best Ways to Stream Live TV
Pictured: Michael Weatherly in CBS's Bull
The main drawback of streaming used to be the inability to enjoy shows as they aired—making cord-cutting a drag if you wanted to watch sports or appointment TV. But those days are gone. We break down the best streaming services for watching live.
CBS All Access
Best for: Lovers of the CBS lineup (including Bull) and regional news.
You get: Your local CBS station.
The good: You also receive access to exclusive web series (like The Good Fight and the upcoming Star Trek reboot) and CBS Studio’s 8,500-plus episode back catalogue with full seasons of NCIS, Blue Bloods, Frasier and more.
The bad: Only one, albeit robust, network.
Price: $6/month buys access to live TV and the CBS library; $10/month lets you watch the older shows sans commercials.
Best for: Premium cable addicts.
You get: The “Live a Little” package offers over 60 networks, including ABC, Fox, NBC, HGTV, TBS, Lifetime, Bravo and TCM. “Go Big” gives you 100-plus networks. “Gotta Have It” has more than 120.
The good: You can add HBO (home of Veep) and Cinemax for an extra $5/month. Sign up for “Go Big” or “Gotta Have It” and get the former free for a year.
The bad: The service can malfunction. It launched last fall with several glitches.
Price: $35/month for “Live a Little”; $60/month for “Go Big”; $70/month for “Gotta Have It.”
Best for: Basic cable junkies.
You get: The “Blue” package features 45 channels, like Fox, NBC, FX, A&E and Bravo (for The Real Housewives, of course).
The good: For $5 more, tack on a themed bundle like “Comedy Extra,” which includes TV Land, Spike, MTV, Logo and GSN, or “Broadcast Extra” to get ABC.
The bad: If you want the full cable experience, the add-ons can add up—but the total cost is still usually less than most cable services.
Price: $25/month (add HBO for $15/month, Cinemax for $10/month and Starz for $9/month).
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Best for: PlayStation owners.
You get: The “Access” plan has 50 channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC (never miss a morning of Today), The CW, ESPN and ESPN 2. The “Elite” plan carries 90 networks and the “Ultra” gives you all that plus HBO and Showtime.
The good: If you also want the option to time-shift, the DVR feature will save “recorded” shows in the cloud for 28 days.
The bad: It offers less than DirecTV Now and is more expensive than Sling.
Price: $40/month for “Access”; $55/month for “Elite”; $75/month for “Ultra” (add HBO to the first two for $15/month).
Best for: Sports fanatics.
You get: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, The CW, ESPN, ESPN 2, Fox Sports Network, Comcast SportsNet and more.
The good: The combo of networks lets you watch the NBA, NFL, NCAA and MLB (don’t miss a single Yankees pitch).
The bad: The service, which debuted April 5, is currently available only in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Price: $35/month (Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus cost $11 and $15 per month, respectively).