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Comparing the Best Live Channels on YouTube TV, Fubo, Sling, Hulu Live and More

Explore the top channels on popular live TV streaming platforms with this practical guide.

kourtjackson-rv
kourtjackson-rv
Kourtnee Jackson Senior Editor
Kourtnee covers TV streaming services and home entertainment news and reviews at CNET. She previously worked as an entertainment reporter at Showbiz Cheat Sheet where she wrote about film, television, music, celebrities, and streaming platforms.
Expertise Kourtnee is a longtime cord-cutter who's subscribed to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Crunchyroll, Sling, Spotify and more. As a real-life user of these services, she tracks the latest developments in streaming, the newest re Credentials
  • Though Kourtnee hasn't won any journalism awards yet, she's been a Netflix streaming subscriber since 2012 and knows the magic of its hidden codes.
David_Katzmaier.jpg
David_Katzmaier.jpg
David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
Kourtnee Jackson
David Katzmaier
6 min read
See at Hulu
Hulu movies and TV shows
Hulu Plus Live TV
Best streaming bundle
See at YouTube TV
Youtube TV streaming service
YouTube TV
Best channel selection
See at Sling TV
031-sling-2020-blue-orange
Sling TV
Best bargain
See at DirecTV
5-directv-now
DirecTV Stream
Best for channel flippers, sports fans

An alternative to cable, live TV streaming offers competitive pricing and channel lineups with access to sports network TV shows. And if you're someone who prefers the freedom of contract-free live streaming apps, you may find the services appealing. These platforms not only offer a wider range of channels compared to an antenna, but also provide the convenience of watching on desktops and mobile devices.

Right now, there are six main streaming services to choose from: YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TVSling TVDirecTV StreamFubo and Philo. However, what really counts is the variety of channels they offer, right? That's why we've carefully reviewed these services and put together a list of the ones that give you the most bang for your buck.

Read more: Best Sports Streaming Service for 2024

The Big Chart: Top 100 channels compared, updated February 2024

The main difference between the services is their channel selection. All of them offer different lineups of channels for various prices. 

Below you'll find a chart that shows the top 100 channels across all six services, but note that not each service has a worthy 100. There are actually seven 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, Discovery Life, GSN and Universal HD. 

Plenty of live TV streaming choices are available to anyone who wants to cut the cable cord. Sling TV's basic packages are $40 in most cities. But costs continue to go up. Fubo's price increase is now official, and DirecTV Stream is $80 per month for its base plan. YouTube TV costs $73 per month, while Hulu's live TV service now costs $77 a month with ads and $90 without ads, making it the most expensive option for a basic plan. Those changes are reflected in the chart below where applicable. 

Some more stuff to know about the chart: 

  • Yes = The channel is available on the cheapest pricing tier. That price is listed next to the service's name.
  • No = The channel isn't available at all on that service. 
  • $ = 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 -- local channels devoted to showing regular-season games of particular pro baseball, basketball and hockey teams -- are not listed. DirecTV Stream's $100 tier has the most RSNs by far, but a few are available on other services. See our NBA and NHL streaming guides for details.
  • Local ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, MyNetworkTV and The CW networks are not available in every city. Since availability of these channels varies, you'll want to check the service's website to verify that it carries your local network.
  • Local PBS stations are only currently available on YouTube TV and DirecTV Stream, and some have been added to Hulu. Again, you'll want to check local availability.
  • Sling Blue subscribers in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco must now pay $45 per month, but have access to local ABC, Fox and NBC channels. Customers in Fresno, Houston and Raleigh now have both ABC and Fox on their Blue or Orange-and-Blue subscriptions at no extra charge. This is not reflected in the chart. Check Sling's site to see which local channels are available in your area.
  • Fubo subscribers may find that the ACC Network and SEC Network are included with their package at no extra cost. Check availability for your state.
  • The chart columns are arranged in order of price, so if you can't see everything you want, try scrolling right.
  • Overwhelmed? An easier-to-understand Google Spreadsheet is here.

Philo vs. Sling TV vs. Fubo vs. YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Stream vs. Hulu: Top 100 channels compared

Channel Philo ($25)Sling Orange ($40)Sling Blue ($40)YouTube TV ($73)Hulu with Live TV ($77)DirecTV Stream ($80)Fubo ($80)
Total channels: 42243578756256
ABC NoNoNoYesYesYesYes
CBS NoNoNoYesYesYesYes
Fox NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
NBC NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
PBS NoNoNoYesYesYesNo
CW NoNoNoYesYesYes (limited)Yes
MyNetworkTV NoNoNoYesYesYesNo
Channel Philo ($25)Sling Orange ($40)Sling Blue ($40)YouTube TV ($73)Hulu with Live TV ($77)DirecTV Stream ($80)Fubo ($80)
A&E YesYesYesNoYesYesNo
ACC Network No$NoYesYes$Yes
Accuweather YesNoNoNoNoYesYes
AMC YesYesYesYesNoYesNo
Adult Swim NoNoNoNoYesYesNo
Animal Planet YesNoNoYesYesYesYes
BBC America YesYesYesYesNoYesNo
BBC World News Yes$$YesNo$No
BET YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Big Ten Network NoNo$YesYes$Yes
Bloomberg TV NoYesYesNoYesYesYes
Boomerang No$$No$YesNo
Bravo NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Channel Philo ($25)Sling Orange ($40)Sling Blue ($40)YouTube TV ($73)Hulu with Live TV ($77)DirecTV Stream ($80)Fubo ($80)
Cartoon Network NoYesYesYesYesYesNo
CBS Sports Network NoNoNoYesYes$Yes
Cheddar YesNoNoYesYes$Yes
Cinemax NoNoNo$$$No
CMT Yes$$YesYesYesYes
CNBC NoNo$YesYesYesYes
CNN NoYesYesYesYesYesNo
Comedy Central YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Cooking Channel Yes$$No$$$
Destination America Yes$$No$$$
Discovery Channel YesNoYesYesYesYesYes
Disney Channel NoYesNoYesYesYesYes
Disney Junior No$NoYesYesYesYes
Disney XD No$NoYesYesYesYes
E! NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
ESPN NoYesNoYesYesYesYes
ESPN 2 NoYesNoYesYesYesYes
ESPNEWS No$NoYesYes$$
ESPNU No$NoYesYes$$
Channel Philo ($25)Sling Orange ($40)Sling Blue ($40)YouTube TV ($73)Hulu with Live TV ($77)DirecTV Stream ($80)Fubo ($80)
Food Network YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Fox Business NoNo$YesYesYesYes
Fox News NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
FS1 NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
FS2 NoNo$YesYes$Yes
Freeform NoYesNoYesYesYesYes
FX NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
FX Movies NoNo$YesYes$$
FXX NoNo$YesYesYesYes
FYI Yes$$NoYes$No
Golf Channel NoNo$YesYes$Yes
Hallmark Yes$$YesYesYesYes
HBO/Max NoNoNo$$$No
HGTV YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
History YesYesYesNoYesYesNo
HLN No$YesYesYesYesNo
IFC YesYesYesYesNoYesNo
Investigation Discovery YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Lifetime YesYesYesNoYesYesNo
Lifetime Movie Network Yes$$NoYes$No
Channel Philo ($25)Sling Orange ($40)Sling Blue ($40)YouTube TV ($73)Hulu with Live TV ($77)DirecTV Stream ($80)FuboTV ($80)
Magnolia Network Yes$$YesYes$Yes
MGM+ (formerly EPIX) $$$$No$No
MLB Network No$$NoNo$$
Motor Trend YesYesNoYesYesYesYes
MSNBC NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
MTV Yes$$YesYesYesYes
MTV2 Yes$$Yes$Yes$
National Geographic NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Nat Geo Wild NoNo$YesYes$$
NBA TV No$$YesNo$$
NFL Network NoNoYesYesYesNoYes
NFL Red Zone NoNo$$$No$
NHL Network No$$NoNo$$
Nickelodeon YesNoNoYesYesYesYes
Nick Jr. YesYesYesYesYes$Yes
Nicktoons Yes$$Yes$$$
OWN YesNoNoYesYes$Yes
Oxygen NoNo$YesYes$Yes
Paramount Network Yes$$YesYesYesYes
Science Yes$$No$$$
Channel Philo ($25)Sling Orange ($40)Sling Blue ($40)YouTube TV ($73)Hulu with Live TV ($77)DirecTV Stream ($80)FuboTV ($80)
SEC Network No$NoYesYes$$
Showtime No$$$$$$
Smithsonian YesNoNoYesYes$Yes
Starz $$$$$$$
Sundance TV Yes$$YesNoYesNo
Syfy NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Tastemade Yes$$YesNo$Yes
TBS NoYesYesYesYesYesNo
TCM No$$YesYesYesNo
TeenNick Yes$$Yes$Yes$
Telemundo NoNoNoYesYes$Yes
Tennis Channel No$$NoNo$$
TLC YesNoYesYesYesYesYes
TNT NoYesYesYesYesYesNo
Travel Channel YesYesYesYesYes$Yes
TruTV No$YesYesYesYesNo
TV Land Yes$$YesYesYesYes
USA Network NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
VH1 Yes$$YesYesYesYes
Vice YesYesYesNoYesYesNo
WE tv Yes$$YesNoYesNo
Channel Philo ($25)Sling Orange ($40)Sling Blue ($40)YouTube TV ($73)Hulu with Live TV ($77)DirecTV Stream ($80)FuboTV ($80)
Hulu movies and TV shows
James Martin/CNET

series of price hikes has brought a number of additional channels to Hulu, including PBS and access to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, at a $77 price tag. Its channel selection isn't as robust as YouTube TV and Fubo, yet it's Hulu's significant catalog of on-demand content which sets it apart. Exclusive titles such as The Handmaid's Tale, The Orville and Only Murders in the Building give it a content advantage no other service can match. 

Live TV subscribers also receive unlimited DVR that includes fast-forwarding and on-demand playback -- at no additional cost. It's a move that has aligned Hulu with its competitors in terms of features, but the channel lineup may still be a deciding factor. For example, the platform recently lost Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate channels. It's $4 more than YouTube TV which has more channels, but the access to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus may make it a more appealing choice for you. Read our Hulu Plus Live TV review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With an excellent channel selection, easy-to-use interface and best-in-class cloud DVR, the $73 per month YouTube TV is one of the best cable TV replacements. It offers a $20 4K upgrade, but the downside is there isn't much to watch at present unless you watch select channels. If you don't mind paying a bit more than the Sling TVs of the world, or want to watch live NBA games, YouTube TV offers a high standard of live TV streaming. Read our YouTube TV review.

031-sling-2020-blue-orange
Sarah Tew/CNET

If you want to save a little money, and don't mind missing out on local channels, Sling TV is the best of the budget services. Its Orange and Blue packages start at $40 per month, and you can combine them for a monthly rate of $55. The Orange option nets you one stream, while Blue gives you three. It's not as comprehensive or as easy to navigate as YouTube but with a bit of work, including adding an antenna or an AirTV 2 DVR, it's an unbeatable value. Read our Sling TV review.

5-directv-now
Sarah Tew/CNET

DirecTV Stream is tied with Fubo as the most expensive, and its stiffest competition is still Hulu Plus Live TV and YouTube TV. The service does have its pluses, though -- for example, it includes the flipper-friendly ability to swipe left and right to change channels. Additionally, it includes some channels some other services can't, including nearly 250 PBS stations nationwide. The $80 Entertainment package may suit your needs with its 75-plus channels. But for cord-cutters who want to follow their local NBA or MLB team, DirecTV Stream's $109 Choice package is our live TV streaming pick because it has access to more regional sports networks than the competition. Nonetheless, you'll want to make sure your channel is included here, and not available on one of our preferred picks, before you pony up. Read our DirecTV Stream review.

fubotv-1
Ty Pendlebury/CNET

There's a lot to like about Fubo -- it offers a wide selection of channels and its sports focus makes it especially attractive to soccer fans or NBA, NHL and MLB fans who live in an area served by one of Fubo's RSNs. It's also a great choice for NFL fans since it's one of three services, alongside YouTube TV and Hulu, that offers NFL Network and optional RedZone. As of February 2024, Fubo is charging more for its service and access to Bally Sports RSNs. The biggest hole in Fubo's lineup is the lack of Turner networks, including CNN, TNT and TBS -- especially since the latter two carry a lot of sports content, in particular NBA, NHL and MLB. Those missing channels, and the $80 price tag, makes it less attractive than YouTube TV for most viewers. Read our Fubo review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At $25 Philo is still a cheap live TV streaming service with a variety of channels, but it lacks sports channels, local stations and big-name news networks -- although Cheddar and BBC news are available. Philo offers bread-and-butter cable staples like AMC, Comedy Channel, Nickelodeon and Magnolia Network, and specializes in lifestyle and reality programming. It's also one of the cheapest live services that streams Paramount, home of Yellowstone, and it includes a cloud DVR and optional add-ons from Epix and Starz. We think most people are better off paying another $15 for Sling TV's superior service, but if Philo has every channel you want, it's a decent deal. Read our Philo review.