It’s been a few months since we’ve checked in with all of the streaming services and taken a deep dive into which one represents the best bang for your buck to watch live sports.
Today, we’re going to look at the five most popular streaming services: YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu Live, AT&T TV Now, and fuboTV. For each service, we’ll look at the various tiers for each, the costs, various extra benefits, and what notable networks that air sports are missing from each service. Hopefully at the end of this, you’ll have a better idea which services provide the most value for your money.
Extra tiers/add-ons: none, aside from add-on subscription services (HBO, NBA League Pass, etc)
Features: unlimited DVR, three concurrent streams
Missing sports networks: BeIN Sports, Longhorn Network, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network, select RSNs
Cost: $45/month for the Blue/Orange combo package (or $30/each, with sports networks divided between the two)
Extra tiers/add-ons: $10 for the “world sports” package including BeIN Sports, $15 (or $10 if you only choose Blue *or* Orange) for the “sports extra” package including BeIN Sports, MLB Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, Golf Channel, SEC Network, ESPNU (among others, though the network selection varies if you only choose one of Blue or Orange)
Features: four concurrent streams with the Orange/Blue combo (one for Orange channels, three for Blue channels), 10 hours DVR ($5/month for 50 hours)
Missing sports networks: Big Ten Network, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, Pac-12 Network, Sinclair-owned Fox RSNs, local ABC and CBS affiliates
Extra tiers/add-ons: none
Features: two concurrent streams (upgradeable to unlimited for $9.99, or combined with larger DVR for $14.98), 50 hours DVR (upgradeable to 200 hours for $9.99, or combined with unlimited screens for $14.98), full Hulu library (upgradeable to ad-free for $6)
Missing sports networks: BeIN Sports, Longhorn Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network
AT&T TV Now
Cost: $55/month for Plus package
Extra tiers/add-ons: $80/month for Max package, $93/month for Entertainment package, $110/month for Choice package, $124/month for Xtra package, $135/month for Ultimate package
Features: three concurrent streams, 500 hours DVR
Missing sports networks: BeIN Sports, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, Pac-12 Network aren’t on any packages. Plus package only includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, NBCSN
Cost: Increasing to $59.99/month in August for standard plan
Extra tiers/add-ons: $84.99/month in August for Ultra plan, $10.99 for Sports Plus add-on (which includes MLB Network, NFL RedZone, NBA TV, NHL Network)
Features: two concurrent streams (upgradeable to three streams for $5 with family plan), 30 hours DVR (upgradeable to 500 hours for $5 with family plan)
Missing sports networks: Longhorn Network, TBS, TNT, Sinclair-owned Fox RSNs
Alright, so after all of that, some notes…
- The absolute lowest price you can pay to (legally) stream live sports is $30 on Sling with either the Blue or Orange plan, or $45 with both.
- However, you need to tack on another $15 to watch the various league and conference networks.
- YouTube TV is the “easiest” service: you know what you’re getting, and you’re paying the same price unless you want to add a premium network (which I believe are available on all services).
- Hulu is also pretty straightforward, in that you only need to upgrade to have access to an expanded amount of screens/DVR space/no ads on the Hulu streaming library.
- AT&T TV Now gives you the least amount of sports for what you’re paying. Even on the $80 package, you’re still getting essentially the same networks you’d get with Hulu and YouTube. You’d need to pay over $100/month for access to networks like CBS Sports Network, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, NHL Network.
- fubo is the most interesting option if you’re an NFL fan, since it’s the only service with both NFL Network and RedZone. Getting the two of them would cost you at least $70/month.
In short, there’s no real general answer about which service is best for a sports fan, because it really just depends on which sports you like the most. If you live in a market whose local CBS and Fox affiliates are carried by fubo, that’s the no brainer service for you. If you’re a fan of your local NBA, NHL, or MLB team and you live in a team serviced by one of the Sinclair-owned Fox RSNs, you should probably stay away from fubo, Sling, and potentially YouTube TV. If entertainment options are just as important as sports, Hulu is a strong option for you.
The only service I’d really dissuade anyone from considering is AT&T TV Now, which costs way too much and gives far too little content in comparison to the other services. At that point, you’re better off sticking with cable.
If NFL Network and NFL RedZone aren’t dealbreakers for you, you can probably take fubo out of your thinking as well. Even if you don’t add on the Sports Plus package, you’re paying right between the cost of Hulu Live and YouTube TV for fewer sports networks (and none of the Fox RSNs). Sling falls into a similar boat – when you pay for the Sports Extra package, your pricing falls between Hulu Live and YouTube TV, and you’re still not getting access to the Fox RSNs, BTN, or half of the broadcast networks.
The choice comes down to Hulu and YouTube, and while YouTube had a big advantage before their recent price hike, the gap has been closed. You’re paying $10/month less for Hulu than YouTube, and the only difference in carriage is all of the league networks (which are on YouTube, but not Hulu). Is watching MLB Network and NBA TV worth an extra $10 to you? Because if you plan on upgrading either the DVR or total stream count on Hulu, you’re paying the same price as you would for YouTube TV…and your DVR is still smaller, and you still don’t have access to those league networks.
In conclusion, if you want to watch the league networks and/or need three screens and/or a larger DVR, go with YouTube TV. If you don’t care about the league networks, and are fine with two screens and a smaller DVR, Hulu is your best option.
That is, until the next round of price increases and channel additions or subtractions.