Thinking of Ditching That Cable Subscription? Here Are Some of the The Best Ways to Stream Live TV
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).
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).