CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

YouTube TV lost ESPN, ABC and Disney channels. Hulu Live is the best alternative

And if you just want ESPN, Sling TV is the cheapest option at $35.

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.
David Katzmaier
2 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're a YouTube TV subscriber who pays $65 per month to stream live TV channels, you might be in for disappointment next time you check your program guide. That's because 18 channels, including popular favorites like ESPN, ABC and The Disney Channel, are no longer available to stream live on the service.

The channels disappeared from YouTube TV late Friday night, which also cut off access to any DVR recordings from those channels, according to YouTube TV's blog post. The blackout happened because the contract between YouTube TV (owned by Google) and Disney (which owns all of the affected channels) expired

Subscribers to YouTube TV will get a $15 discount on their next bill, and according to the blog post the companies are still in negotiations. The channels could return at any time as soon as the companies strike a deal. That's small comfort, however, if you want to watch college football (bowl season starts this weekend), the NFL or the NBA on ESPN or ABC, or a Christmas special on the Disney Channel.

The best YouTube TV competitor with Disney is Hulu Live

As a cord-cutter, however, you have alternatives because you're not locked into a contract and can instantly subscribe to another live TV streaming service. At CNET we've reviewed them all. We like YouTube TV better than any competing service in its price range, but if you want those channels, the best alternative is Hulu with Live TV

Hulu's live TV service currently costs $65 per month but will go up to $70 on Tuesday, Dec 21. It includes all 18 channels that YouTube TV dropped, including ESPN and your local ABC station.

Just need ESPN? Sling TV Orange is the cheapest option

Another excellent alternative is Sling TV's Orange plan. It lacks many of the Disney channels in its base $35 tier, and doesn't carry ABC, but that price does get you the big Kahuna: ESPN. That means you can watch all those live games, including college football bowl games and NFL Monday Night Football, live, just like on YouTube TV. 

Important note: If you go the Sling TV route for ESPN, be sure to select the Orange package. The other $35 package, called Blue, does not have ESPN, but it does have a lot of other channels Disney lost, including FX and National Geographic.

Other alternatives that stream some or all of the channels YouTube TV lost include FuBo TV and DirecTV Stream, but the two above are our current favorites.