May 23, 2022

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Which Live TV Streaming Service Offers the Best Value for Money in 2021?

6 min read

If you want to cut the cord and subscribe to a live TV streaming provider, you will have no shortage of options.

But before you sign up, make sure you do your research. Some providers offer much better value for money than others.

Let’s take a closer look at which service provides the best value for money in 2021.

The Criteria We’ve Used

It can a little hard to judge value for money. The things that represent value for one customer might be unnecessary fluff to another.

Nonetheless, we’re going to give each of the platforms a score out of 10 for each of the following criteria, thus giving us a total out of 80.

  • Monthly cost
  • Number of channels
  • Diversity of channels
  • Premium channels and other add-ons
  • Number of screens/users
  • Devices supported
  • Availability of video-on-demand
  • Other features

It’s not a perfect method, but it should help to provide you with a better insight when making your decision.

We’re going to put the big five services through the test: YouTube TV, Hulu, Sling, Fubo, and Philo.

youtube tv

  • Monthly cost: 6/10
  • Number of channels: 9/10
  • Diversity of channels: 8/10
  • Premium channels and other add-ons: 8/10
  • Number of screens/users: 8/10
  • Devices supported: 10/10
  • Availability of video-on-demand: 5/10
  • Other features: 9/10

YouTube TV provides access to more than 85 channels for $65/month, though you will need to pay an extra monthly fee for premium channels such as HBO ($15), AMC ($7), STARZ ($9), MLB.TV ($25), and Showtime ($11).

The diversity of channels is great, with a healthy mix of sports networks (ESPN and FOX Sports), news, and kids’ content. Local channels are also available. Sadly, you only get one Spanish-language channel (Telemundo).

Video-on-demand content is included, but you will not find a massive library of random shows and movies like you would on the likes of Netflix.

The app is available on Android TV and Apple TV, all the major smart TV manufacturers, Fire TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Chromecast, and via the web.

No add-ons are available beyond channel add-ons, mainly because YouTube TV provides unlimited cloud DVR for free, which most other providers will charge for.

hulu

  • Monthly cost: 6/10
  • Number of channels: 7/10
  • Diversity of channels: 8/10
  • Premium channels and other add-ons: 9/10
  • Number of screens/users: 6/10
  • Devices supported: 10/10
  • Availability of video-on-demand: 10/10
  • Other features: 6/10

The monthly cost of Hulu + Live TV is $65, which puts it on par with YouTube TV. However, it has slightly fewer channels, with just 65 available.

A wide number of channel genres are available, with news (CNN, CNBC, FOX News, MSNBC), sport (ESPN, CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports, FOX Sports), and kids (Disney, Cartoon Network) all well-represented. Nickelodeon is not available.

Add-ons are available for ESPN+, Showtime, Cinemax, and STARZ. There is also a Spanish-language add-on (CNN en Español, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familia, ESPN Deportes, History Channel en Español, and NBC Universo), an unlimited cloud DVR add-on, and an unlimited screen add-on. They all cost between $5 and $12/month.

Also chipping away at the score is the limit of two simultaneous screens and a limit of 50 DVR hours in the base package.

Of course, the big benefit of Hulu is the video-on-demand library. You get access to a huge number of shows and movies, even if they have not recently aired on a channel.

sling

  • Monthly cost: 8/10
  • Number of channels: 7/10
  • Diversity of channels: 7/10
  • Premium channels and other add-ons: 10/10
  • Number of screens/users: 7/10
  • Devices supported: 10/10
  • Availability of video-on-demand: 5/10
  • Other features: 5/10

Sling is well-known for its dual approach to pricing. Sling Orange offers 34 channels for $35/month while Sling Blue offers 49 channels for the same price. Sling Blue also affords users three simultaneous streams while Orange subscribers will have to settle for one.

ACC Network Extra, Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, Freeform, and Motor Trend are exclusive to Orange.

BET, Bravo, Discovery Channel, E!, FOX, FOX Sports, FS1, FS2, FX, FXX, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, NBC, NBC Sports, NFL Network, Nick Jr. Paramount Network, SYFY, Tru TV, and USA are exclusive to Blue.

You can sign up for a joint package for $50/month if you want access to all the channels on the platform.

Sling also has arguably the best selection of add-ons out of all the providers. There’s a kids add-on (Disney Jr, Disney XD, Nick Jr, NickToons, TeenNick, Boomerang, Sling Kids, BabyTV, DuckTV), sports add-on (ESPN News, NHL Network, beIN Sports, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Buzzer and more), world news add-on (BBC News, Weather Nation, Euronews) heartland add-on (PixL, Family net, The Cowboy Channel, Outdoor Channel), comedy add-on, and lifestyle add (VH1, E!, BET, Cooking Channel, DIY, FYI, Hallmark Channel). Each only costs $6.

You can also get 33 premium channels as add-ons. They include Showtime ($10), STARZ ($9), Epix ($5), CineFest ($5), CineMoi ($3), and CDN ($5).

The on-demand library is more extensive than Fubo, but still lacks the amount of content that you can get on Hulu. The situation is helped by Sling’s recent decision to increase the free cloud DVR limit to 50GB as a sweetener for Sling’s recent price increases.

fubo

  • Monthly cost: 6/10
  • Number of channels: 10/10
  • Diversity of channels: 5/10
  • Premium channels and other add-ons: 9/10
  • Number of screens/users: 8/10
  • Devices supported: 10/10
  • Availability of video-on-demand: 3/10
  • Other features: 6/10

The Starter package on Fubo is $65, meaning it is once again right in line with its major competitors. However, it has 118 channels, meaning that on a price-per-channel basis, it provides better value for money than the equivalently-priced services.

But while Fubo is great for sports-lovers thanks to its extensive coverage of the NFL, NBA, MLB, Premier League Champions League, NASCAR, MMA, boxing, tennis, cycling, and more, the heavy focus on sports is to the detriment of the variety of channels across the service as a whole. There is no CNN, BBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, Cartoon Network, Disney, and so on.

Add-ons are available for cloud DVR, Showtime, STARZ, EPIX, and AMC. And there’s also an extensive sports-centric Spanish-language add-on with Gol TV, TUDN, ESPN Deportes, Unimas, and more. Add-ons cost between $5 and $16.

Three screens are available at the same time, but there is no on-demand video library—you can only watch what you have recorded.

philo

  • Monthly cost: 10/10
  • Number of channels: 3/10
  • Diversity of channels: 3/10
  • Premium channels and other add-ons: 3/10
  • Number of screens/users: 8/10
  • Devices supported: 10/10
  • Availability of video-on-demand: 5/10
  • Other features: 7/10

The big selling point of Philo is the price. For just $20/month, it is comfortably the cheapest live TV streaming provider on the market.

But that low price comes with a cost. Although it has 63 channels, there is an awful lot of filler that most people would never watch. And while that is true for every provider, the problem is especially prevalent on Philo.

Indeed, the only truly top-tier networks on the platform are AMC, Comedy Central, Discovery, MTV, Nickelodeon, and VH1. There are no sports channels, no local channels, and no mainstream news channels like CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC. Nickelodeon is the only kids’ channel on the app.

Similarly, the availability of add-ons is sorely lacking. Just two are available: Epix ($5) and STARZ ($9). You cannot pay to access Cinemax, HBO, and Showtime, even if you wanted to.

At least you can still watch on three screens at once and there’s unlimited cloud DVR, which is more generous than some of the competition.

Nonetheless, in a comparison of Philo vs. Sling (the other low-cost provider), Sling is the clear winner.

YouTube TV Offers the Best Value for Money

We accept that our scoring methods aren’t the most scientific approach, but we think they have still come out with the right winner. When all things are considered, YouTube TV is the live TV provider that offers customers the best value for money.


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