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All the live TV streaming services compared: Which has the best channel lineup?

Sling TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, Philo and Fubo TV are all vying for your cord-cutting dollar. Here's how the top 100 channels stack up.

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DirecTV Now has more top channels than any other live TV service.

David Katzmaier/CNET

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 steamed over the Internet: Hulu with Live TV, Google's YouTube TV, Dish Network's Sling TV, Sony's PlayStation Vue and 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. 

Now playing: Watch this: DirecTV Now trades speed for features
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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.)
  • Overwhelmed? An easier-to-grok Google Spreadsheet is here.

Philo vs. Sling TV vs. DirecTV Now vs. YouTube TV vs. Hulu vs. PlayStation Vue vs. Fubo TV: Top 100 channels compared

Channel Philo ($16) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) DirecTV Now ($40) YouTube TV ($40) Hulu with Live TV ($40) PS Vue ($45) Fubo TV ($45)
Total channels: 32 23 34 59 54 52 46 43
ABC No $ No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CBS No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBC No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
A&E Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes
AMC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Animal Planet Yes No No Yes No No Yes No
BBC America Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
BBC World News Yes $ $ $ Yes No $ $
BET Yes $ Yes Yes No No No No
Big Ten Network No No No $ Yes Yes $ Yes
Bloomberg TV No Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Boomerang No $ $ $ No Yes $ No
Channel Philo ($16) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) DirecTV Now ($35) YouTube TV ($40) Hulu with Live TV ($40) PS Vue ($45) Fubo TV ($45)
Bravo No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cartoon Network/ Adult Swim No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CBS Sports Network No No No $ Yes Yes $ Yes
Cheddar Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes
Cinemax No $ $ $ No $ $ No
CMT Yes $ $ Yes No No No No
CNBC No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CNN No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Cooking Channel $ $ $ $ No No $ $
CSPAN No No No Yes No No No No
CW No No No Yes Yes Yes No No
Destination America $ No No $ No No Yes No
Discovery Channel Yes No No Yes No No Yes No
Discovery Family $ No No $ No No $ No
Discovery Life $ No No $ No No $ No
Disney Channel No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Disney Junior No $ No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Disney XD No $ No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
DIY Yes $ $ $ No No $ $
Channel Philo ($16) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) DirecTV Now ($35) YouTube TV ($40) Hulu with Live TV ($40) PS Vue ($45) Fubo TV ($45)
E! No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
EPIX No $ $ No No No $ No
ESPN No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ESPN 2 No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
ESPN 3 No Yes No No No No No No
ESPNEWS No $ No $ Yes Yes $ No
ESPNU No $ No $ Yes Yes $ No
Food Network Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Fox Business No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox News No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Sports 1 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Sports 2 No No Yes $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Freeform No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
FX No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FX Movie Channel No No No $ Yes Yes $ Yes
FXX No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Golf Channel No No $ $ Yes Yes $ Yes
Hallmark No $ $ Yes No No $ Yes
HBO No $ $ $ No $ $ No
HGTV Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
History Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes
HLN No $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Channel Philo ($16) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) DirecTV Now ($35) YouTube TV ($40) Hulu with Live TV ($40) PS Vue ($45) Fubo TV ($45)
IFC Yes Yes Yes $ Yes No $ Yes
Investigation Discovery Yes No No Yes No No Yes No
Lifetime Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes
Lifetime Movie Network Yes $ $ $ No Yes No Yes
MLB Network No No No $ Yes No $ No
MSNBC No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV Yes $ $ Yes No No No No
MTV2 Yes $ $ Yes No No No No
MyNetworkTV No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Nat Geo Wild No No Yes $ Yes Yes $ Yes
National Geographic No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBA TV No $ $ $ Yes No $ Yes
NBC Sports Network No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Newsy No Yes Yes No Yes No No No
NFL Network No No Yes $ No No $ Yes
NFL Red Zone No No $ No No No $ No
NHL Network No $ $ $ No No No No
Nick Jr. Yes $ Yes Yes No No No No
Nickelodeon Yes No No Yes No No No No
Nicktoons $ $ $ $ No No No No
Channel Philo ($16) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) DirecTV Now ($35) YouTube TV ($40) Hulu with Live TV ($40) PS Vue ($45) Fubo TV ($45)
OWN Yes No No $ No No Yes No
Oxygen No No $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paramount Network Yes $ $ Yes No No No No
PBS No No No No No No No No
Science Yes No No $ No No Yes No
SEC Network No $ No $ Yes Yes $ No
Showtime No $ $ $ $ $ $ $
Starz No $ $ $ $ No No No
Sundance TV Yes $ $ $ Yes No $ Yes
Syfy No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
TBS No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Telemundo No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tennis Channel No No No $ Yes No No No
TLC Yes No No Yes No No Yes No
TNT No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Travel Channel Yes Yes Yes $ No Yes Yes Yes
TruTV No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Turner Classic Movies No $ $ Yes Yes Yes $ No
TV Land Yes $ $ Yes No No No No
Univision No No No Yes No No No Yes
USA Network No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VH1 Yes $ $ Yes No No No No
Viceland Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes
WE tv Yes $ $ Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Weather Channel No No No $ No No No Yes
Channel Philo ($16) Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) DirecTV Now ($35) YouTube TV ($40) Hulu with Live TV ($40) PS Vue ($45) Fubo TV ($45)

Originally published November 28, 2016.
Update, July 26, 2018: Added Philo and Fubo TV.

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