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FuboTV Review: Solid for Soccer Fans But Channel Selection Falls Short

FuboTV is a fun streaming service for sports, but competing cable replacements offer more channels for the money.

In the near future, live TV streaming services like YouTube TVSling TV and FuboTV are going to replace your set-top cable box. The selection of channels on these services is diverse, just as with cable, but FuboTV differentiates itself from rivals with a sports-centric focus. But is it enough to compete against some strong contenders?

At its new price of $70 FuboTV still has a decent channel lineup, although it's the only service in its price range to lack major Turner networks including CNN, TNT and TBS. If you're a fan of soccer, however, this is the streaming service to get because no other competitor offers a more comprehensive list of games, or ways to find them, in both 4K and HD. Beyond soccer it's also one of the best sports streaming services, full stop.

7.1

FuboTV

Like

  • Fans of soccer will find plenty to love
  • Quick and easy navigation, especially on Roku
  • Huge DVR storage and 4K content included

Don't Like

  • Lacks CNN, TNT, TBS and other Turner channels
  • YouTube TV and Hulu Live are better overall

Yet, all of the other services in this price range present stronger packages. Hulu Plus Live TV offers a wealth of on-demand content including Disney Plus, and YouTube TV has even more channels and a superior DVR. More crucially, DirecTV Stream not only has additional channels but is an even better choice for local sports. Overall, while Fubo has kept evolving over the years it still remains a niche player in the live TV streaming arena.

What is FuboTV?

fubotv
Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

FuboTV launched in January 2015 as a soccer (er, football) streaming service, but it has expanded its reach into most categories including crime, drama and movies. In the past few years it has lost important channels such as CNN, TBS, Lifetime and A&E, but its origins are still apparent with dozens of sports-centric channels. Of our top 100 channels, though, Fubo has the lowest among all the premium services at 61, followed closely by DirecTV Stream at 62. Meanwhile, YouTube TV leads with 79.

Fubo offers a smattering of live 4K sports programming, and in the past this has included events as diverse as the Super Bowl and the Westminster Dog Show. Currently, the upcoming 4K events page lists a mix of Premier League and NCAA basketball tournament (March Madness), but the service has plenty of non-4K too with the UEFA Europa League. See the next section for an in-depth rundown.

Until recently, FuboTV offered a $65 Starter package, but this has now been phased out in favor of the $70 Elite. The Elite includes a bunch of extra channels (though only two more from the top 100), 10 simultaneous home streams and an upgraded cloud DVR with 1,000 hours of storage -- a massive improvement from the paltry 30 hours of recording the service offered a couple of years ago. The cloud DVRs on YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV are unlimited, for what it's worth. 

Top services compared


DirecTV Stream FuboTV Hulu Plus Live TV Sling TV YouTube TV
Base price $70 a month for 65-plus channels $70 a month for 150-plus channels $70 a month for 70-plus channels $35 a month for 30-plus (Orange) or 45-plus (Blue) channels $65 a month for 85-plus channels
Free trial Yes Yes No No Yes
ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels Yes, in many markets Yes, in many markets Yes, in many markets Fox and NBC only in select cities (Blue only) Yes, in many markets
Simultaneous streams per account 20 (in home, 3 outside of it) 10 2 ($15 option for unlimited) 1 (Orange), 3 (Blue) 3 ($20 adds unlimited and 4K streams)
Family member/user profiles No Yes Yes No Yes
Cloud DVR Yes (20 hours, unlimited for $10 a month) Yes (1,000 hours) Yes (unlimited) Yes (50 hours, 200 hours for $5 a month) Yes (unlimited)
Fast-forward through or skip commercials with cloud DVR No (Yes with $15 option) Yes Yes Yes Yes

Sports on Fubo TV

Fubo TV has sports in its DNA, and it offers channels such as ESPN, FS1, FS2, BeIN Sports, the Big 10 and the Golf channel, along with most of your local networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. However, its lack of TNT and TBS could be a dealbreaker for many baseball, basketball and hockey fans.  

Additionally, many sports fans will need access to their local regional sports networks, or RSNs, for access to their home team's games. For example, those living in the D.C. area will only be able to watch Capitals hockey and Wizards basketball games on NBC Sports Washington, even if they subscribe to a league-sponsored, sport-specific package like NBA League Pass. Fubo TV only offers 12 RSNs around the country, so you will need to check to see if Fubo carries your local networks and RSNs

Fans looking for league-owned channels will have to pay for an additional package. The Sports Lite includes NHL, NBA, MLB, SEC and Tennis channels for $10 a month. 

In terms of the competition, DirecTV Stream carries TBS and TNT and has the most RSNs, but to access them you'd have to pay $90 a month, which is still $10 more than Fubo Elite and Sports Lite combined. Hulu with Live TV also has TBS and TNT, but only carries four RSNs and even their sports add-on lacks many league-owned channels. The bulked-up Hulu costs $70 a month and includes the Disney Bundle, which also gives subscribers access to ESPN Plus. The chart at the end of this article has a full comparison of how FuboTV's channel lineup fares against competitors.

What's it like to use?

fubotv-3.png

The FuboTV home page.

Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

While it may be missing some important channels, the interface feels custom-built for sports fans. Fubo's home screen features a specific "sports" tab that unlocks a menu right out of a sports-lover's dream. Up top is a scrolling line of featured shows and matchups, but below is a clean, easy-to-read list of every game airing on the service that day sorted by time. The left-hand side of the list shows the channel and the time of the event. The middle portion prominently displays the teams and sport, while the right-hand side features DVR options and a "watch live" button if the event is currently airing. You can tap on the DVR button to record the game or even record all of the games of one of the individual teams playing. 

If looking at the whole daily schedule of games is too much, or you are in a hurry and looking for a particular sport, Fubo breaks down the menu even further. Directly under the "Sports" tab is a list across the top of the screen of just about every sport you could want. Just click on the sport you're looking for and a list of all the events in that sport will pop up. From there, you can even narrow it down further by league. For example, clicking on "hockey" will bring up all the hockey games airing today and for the rest of the week. But I can also toggle between the various league tabs to sort between the NHL, NCAA and AHL games -- all with DVR options readily available. FuboTV offers a comprehensive way to quickly find, record or watch a sporting event. There isn't another service that even comes close to Fubo's ease of use when it comes to sports, not even YouTube TV.

fubotv-4.png

FuboTV has a large catalog of on-demand movies.

Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The user interface offers a number of selections across the top of the screen including Search, Home, Sports, Shows, Movies, Guide, Recordings and a smaller Account button. Most of these menus summon a Netflix-like grid, which groups similar types of content, but I found the navigation speed varied according to platform. I used the interface on the most popular devices including the Roku, Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, iOS and the Chrome browser. I found that while the mobile and browser versions worked as expected, the TV iterations varied, and some were slicker than others.

If you're using the Apple TV or Roku, for example, the top navigation menu is hidden and requires an upwards click or swipe. Of all the platforms, I liked Roku best for browsing -- it was responsive and let me use the fast-forward key to zip through the thumbnails on discovery pages. 

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My least favorite Fubo platform was the standard Amazon Fire TV Stick, and this is likely due to the hardware itself -- the first clue was the lack of a fast-forward capability through thumbnails that Roku offers. Scrolling, whether it was up, down, left or right, was laggy with a noticeable stutter, and each thumbnail would take a couple of seconds to appear, though the newer Fire TV 4K was faster.

Should you get it?

With the loss of a number of important channels over the last two years, FuboTV has lost much of the diversity it once offered, and now defaults again to a sports-rich offering. If you are a hardcore sports fan, or its particular selection of channels interests you, it's worthwhile at least signing up for a week to FuboTV try it out. If you want the best value at this level, though, it's YouTube TV or Hulu Plus Live TV where your money is best spent.

Top 100 channels compared

Channel Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65) FuboTV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($70) DirecTV Stream ($70)
Total channels: 36 79 59 73 62
ABC No Yes Yes Yes Yes
CBS No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
PBS No Yes No No Yes
CW No Yes Yes Yes Yes
MyNetworkTV No Yes No Yes Yes
Channel Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65) FuboTV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($70) DirecTV Stream ($70)
A&E Yes No No Yes Yes
ACC Network No Yes $ Yes $
Accuweather No No Yes No Yes
AMC Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Animal Planet No Yes Yes Yes Yes
BBC America Yes Yes Yes No Yes
BBC World News $ Yes $ No $
BET Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Big Ten Network $ Yes Yes Yes $
Bloomberg TV Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Boomerang $ No No Yes Yes
Bravo Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Channel Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65) FuboTV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($70) DirecTV Stream ($70)
Cartoon Network Yes Yes No Yes Yes
CBS Sports Network No Yes Yes Yes $
Cheddar Yes Yes Yes Yes $
Cinemax No $ No $ $
CMT $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
CNBC $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
CNN Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cooking Channel $ No $ $ $
Destination America $ No $ $ $
Discovery Channel Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney Channel No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney Junior No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney XD No Yes Yes Yes Yes
E! Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
EPIX $ $ No No $
ESPN No Yes Yes Yes Yes
ESPN 2 No Yes Yes Yes Yes
ESPNEWS No Yes $ Yes $
ESPNU No Yes $ Yes $
Channel Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65) FuboTV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($70) DirecTV Stream ($70)
Food Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Business $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox News Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FS1 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FS2 $ Yes Yes Yes $
Freeform No Yes Yes Yes Yes
FX Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FX Movies $ Yes $ Yes $
FXX $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
FYI $ No No Yes $
Golf Channel $ Yes Yes Yes $
Hallmark $ Yes Yes No Yes
HBO/HBO Max No $ No $ $
HGTV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
History Yes No No Yes Yes
HLN Yes Yes No Yes Yes
IFC Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Investigation Discovery Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lifetime Yes No No Yes Yes
Lifetime Movie Network $ No No Yes $
Channel Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65) FuboTV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($70) DirecTV Stream ($70)
Magnolia Network (formerly DIY) $ No $ $ $
MLB Network $ Yes $ No $
Motor Trend No Yes Yes Yes Yes
MSNBC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV2 $ Yes $ $ Yes
National Geographic Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nat Geo Wild $ Yes $ Yes $
NBA TV $ Yes $ No $
NFL Network Yes Yes Yes Yes No
NFL Red Zone $ $ $ $ No
NHL Network $ No $ No $
Nickelodeon No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nick Jr. Yes Yes Yes Yes $
Nicktoons $ Yes $ $ $
Olympic Channel $ Yes Yes Yes $
OWN No Yes Yes Yes $
Oxygen $ Yes Yes Yes $
Paramount Network $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Science $ No $ $ $
Channel Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65) FuboTV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($70) DirecTV Stream ($70)
SEC Network No Yes $ Yes $
Showtime $ $ $ $ $
Smithsonian No Yes Yes Yes $
Starz $ $ $ $ $
Sundance TV $ Yes Yes No Yes
Syfy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tastemade $ Yes Yes No $
TBS Yes Yes No Yes Yes
TCM $ Yes No Yes Yes
TeenNick $ Yes $ $ Yes
Telemundo No Yes Yes Yes $
Tennis Channel $ No $ No $
TLC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
TNT Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Travel Channel Yes Yes Yes Yes $
TruTV Yes Yes No Yes Yes
TV Land $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
USA Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VH1 $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vice Yes No No Yes Yes
WE tv $ Yes Yes No Yes