Best TV Streaming Services for 2020
How to Stream Live TV – Are you considering cutting the cord and looking for tips on how to watch tv online without cable? Do you want to learn how to live stream local news and sports? Are you trying to figure out how to watch movies online without cable? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions then this article is for you – I’ll give you reviews for all the best tv streaming providers AND also give you step-by-step instructions on how to cut the cord and ditch cable tv forever. You’ll probably save a ton of money and you’ll be much happier when you discover how easy it is to stream tv online without cable. Ready, let’s go!
Editor’s Note: Hi, I’m Mike, known online as “That Helpful Dad” and I’m happy to share my tips with you. If you enjoy this article, be sure to visit my home page and subscribe to my blog (it’s free) so you’ll get all my tips. Please let me know if you enjoyed this article or have any questions. I’m here to help.
There are many articles online that talk about how to cut the cord and ditch cable tv by switching to a tv streaming service provider like Sling, Hulu, Roku, Amazon, etc.
This article is different for a few reasons:
- My goal is to help you find streaming tv providers that are true “cable alternatives” such that they will allow you to enjoy an internet tv viewing experience that is similar to cable, but without the high cost of cable.
- I want to show you how to stream to WITHOUT having to use an antennae, without having to use any complicated equipment, without having to use a computer, and without having to download a bunch of different apps to your tv.
- This article is particularly well suited for older adults like myself because I am providing a step-by-step guide than anyone of any age can use to learn how to stream tv online. Even my 70+ year old mother in law Rose is now streaming live tv! 🙂
What do I mean when I say we want a streaming tv provider that is a “true cable alternative?”
Simply that the streaming tv provider (for example Sling, Hulu, YouTube TV, etc) offers a viewing experience that is similar to cable tv (with similar networks, access to live local news and sports, a DVR, channel guide, etc), so that if you “cut the cord: on cable and choose to watch tv online, you won’t miss cable tv because you’ll have everything you had with cable – except the high cost!
Guide to Streaming TV Online - Summary
If you follow the steps in this Essential Guide to Cord Cutting, you’ll learn how to choose a streaming tv service provider easily and quickly and most importantly you’ll set yourself up success streaming live tv online.
Consider the following questions…
- Are you interested in HONEST REVIEWS of streaming tv service providers like Sling TV, AT&T Now, Fubo TV, Philo TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, Pluto TV, or YouTube TV, etc?
- Would you like a Step-by-Step Guide on How to Stream Live TV so it can be super easy?
- Do you want to know about topics such as:
- How to Watch Live Local News Online
- How to Watch Live Local Sports Online
- 10 considerations you need to know BEFORE you cut the cord.
- How to Watch Kids Networks Online like Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Disney Channels, Nick Jr and the other Nickelodeon networks
- How to watch NFL Games, NFL Network, and NFL RedZone online
- And other topics like this?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then this article is for you and you’ll want to bookmark this post so you can refer back to it as you make your cord cutting decisions.
Inside this Essential Guide to Streaming Live TV you’ll find links to helpful articles about how to cut the cord, in-depth videos on specific cord cutting topics, and more. Not only will we discuss all the major streaming service provider options for watching tv online, but we’ll also talk about some important considerations you need to think about like finding local channels, whether or not you need a cloud DVR, and how easy/hard it is to find content on the various platforms.
I invite YOU to join the discussion so we can help each other finally cut the cord and ditch cable tv forever!
Why Listen to Me? Becuase I am a Real Life Cord Cutter
I’m a real consumer just like you, not a paid endorser. I provide honest reviews people can trust and I’ve been doing it for years on this blog and my YouTube Channel. After years of frustration dealing with cable companies, I recently took the leap and cut the cord. I now stream all my tv online and my family couldn’t be happier!
Sharing how to stream live tv is something I’m passionate about, but I realize that many people my age are still intimidated by the prospect of trying to watch internet tv and get rid of cable so on this page you’ll find lots of resources to help you make process of switching to streaming tv easier.
In this article I detail what I learned along the way in the hopes that it will be useful to you as you make YOUR decision about the best streaming tv provider for your family. There’s a lot to consider and it’s easy to overlook some of the ‘hidden’ details that can be the difference between a positive experience or a frustrating one. That’s where I can help.
Streaming TV 101 - Target Audience for these Tips
While I am hopeful that there is something for everybody who is interested in this topic, I recognize that not everybody will find it useful. Like most of the other articles on this site, this info will probably be most helpful to people of my generation (the 35-55+ crowd). Tell me if this sounds like you:
- You’ve watched cable tv all your life, but you’re frustrated with the increasing cost of cable, the long-term contracts, the poor customer service, all the hidden fees and fake ‘taxes’ on the cable bill, and having to pay ridiculous charges for all those cable boxes.
- You are looking for cord cutting options that will allow stream tv online BUT you want an overall experience that is as similar to cable tv as possible.
- You don’t want to have to buy an antennae to get local channels – you want all your tv one place.
- You hate commercials and want to be able to fast forward through them OR at least know IF you can (and that depends on which tv streaming service you pick).
- You like reading honest reviews from real consumers and are tired of fake ‘promotional’ reviews that don’t give you the real pro’s and con’s you need to know.
If this sounds like you, then this article is for YOU. BTW if you like my tips, be sure to sign up for my weekly email tips so you can read them at your leisure. Visit my home page to sign up.
If you’re a millennial or someone who is already super tech-savvy then the info here is probably gonna be too basic for you. No worries. I understand. But hey, if you have some tips to share about this topic, by all means, help us older folks out and add your comments to the mix.
FREE Step-by-Step Guide to Cut the Cord
You should see a pop-up window that offers this free gift but if you didn’t get one just click my pic to visit my home page and subscribe to my site – it’s a free subscription and you’ll get 4 free e-gifts – one of which is my 35-page Guide to Streaming TV Online.
This is a 30+ minute comprehensive video that will walk you thru the the process I personally followed to cut the cord and now exclusively watch streaming tv online. Watch this vid and it will set you up for success.
10 Things to Know BEFORE You Try to Stream Live TV
STOP – before you spin your wheels trying to stream live tv and not really knowing what you’re doing or where to start, let me save you some time. There are some important considerations you need to know about BEFORE you cut the cord. These include:
- How to stream LIVE LOCAL Sports and News.
- What Channel Lineups and Channel Packages are offered by the different streaming tv service providers? Can you customize the channel packages with Sling, DirecTV Now, and others?
- Does every streaming tv service provider offer a DVR? Are they all the same?
- What On-Demand TV Shows and Movies are offered? Can you skip through commercials while watching on-demand content?
- Is there a limit on the number of tv’s you can stream on at one time?
- How will you access the streaming tv service providers app? Do you have enough internet speeds? Do you need a wifi mesh router to reduce buffering?
- Can you add premium channels like HBO, Showtime, NFL Redzone? What if a particular channel you want to watch isn’t available?
- What promotions are available from Sling, DirecTV Now, and others?
- What about a Channel Guide? Is the service easy to use to find what you want to watch?
- How much can you really save by cutting the cord? Is it really worth your time and efforts?
These topics are so important that I’ve discussed them in detail in a separate article. Check it out here…
Streaming TV Service Providers - Main Options
Here are the online tv streaming service providers we’ll be discussing in this article:
- Sling TV
- DirecTV Now (now called AT&T Now)
- Hulu with Live TV (AKA Hulu Plus)
- YouTube TV
- Fubo TV
- Philo TV
- Pluto TV
I recognize there are other options that will allow you to stream tv online such as Pluto TV and standalone services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Kodi, and lots more, however this particular article is focused on the streaming tv service providers that will allow you to have an overall experience that is as close as possible to cable tv – that means being able to watch LIVE TV, view LOCAL channels, watch major ‘cable’ tv networks (ESPN, TBS, HGTV, etc), watch Regional Sports Networks, use a DVR, have a channel guide, and more.
Cord Cutting Streaming TV Provider Reviews - The VIDEO
In this video you’ll get a comprehensive comparison of Sling vs DirecTV Now vs PlayStation Vue vs Hulu Plus Live TV vs YouTube TV and more all in this one video.
Streaming TV Service Providers - The Reviews
Sling TV Review – Summary
Sling TV was the first major online tv service provider and it’s still one of the most popular.
Pro’s: 3 channel packages and numerous customization options. Stream anywhere. Low overall costs ($20-40). 50-hour DVR. Good user interface. Easy to use overall.
Con’s: Terrible Local Channel and Regional Sports availability in many areas (need to use a separate antennae). DVR is $5 extra, doesn’t work on all channels, and you can’t always skip commercials. Orange plan only offer 1 stream at a time. To get all their channels you have to subscribe to Orange + Blue plan.
Sling TV Review – VIDEO
AT&T NOw (DirecTV Now) Review – Summary
AT&T Now (formerly DirecTV Now) is a major player in the online tv service provider world and it’s rapidly growing in popularity.
DirecTV Now used to be the streaming tv service provider my family used but we have since moved away from them.
Pro’s: Numerous customization options, and up to 120 channels! Excellent local channel and regional sports channel availability. Stream anywhere. Good user interface – similar to watching cable tv. HBO is included in some plans. Overall DTVN is very easy to use.
Con’s: Higher costs starting in 2019. Only 2 streams at once unless you pay more. Free DVR is only 20 hours (you can pay $10 to get 100 hours), you can’t always skip commercials (especially for on-demand content) and the commercials are often annoying).
DirecTV Now Review – VIDEO
PlayStation Vue Review
PlayStation Vue is actually pretty awesome and you do NOT need to own a PlayStation to use this service. This was the streaming tv service my family used and it had everything you could want in a streaming tv app.
MAJOR UPDATE: Sony chose to discontinue PlayStation Vue as of January 2020. It is no longer an available option.
PlayStation Vue Review – VIDEO
Hulu with Live TV Review – Summary
Hulu with Live TV (AKA “Hulu Plus”) may be a good option for some people seeking to cut the cord, but it’s still a relatively new service and there are some kinks to keep in mind.
Pro’s: 60 channels for about $4r. Good local tv and regional sports coverage. 3 simultaneous streams and paid option for ‘unlimited’ streams. 50-hour Free DVR.
Con’s: only 1 channel lineup no customization options. Can’t skip commercials with DVR unless you pay $15/month for “Enhanced DVR” (also provides 200 hours storage). Hulu recently update their interface to include a passable channel guide.
Hulu Plus Live TV Review – VIDEO
YouTube TV Review – Summary
YouTube TV is another relatively new ‘major’ player in the world of online tv service providers. Given that Google owns YouTube (and just about everything else in the world) I would expect that YouTube TV will continue to improve over time. Right now (in my opinion) it’s still too raw for most people looking to cut the cord.
Pro’s: up to 80 channels for about $40. Awesome Free DVR with UNLIMITED storage and you can usually fast forward through commercials. Decent user interface. Sometimes great promotions (like up to 2 months free). They’ve recently added more local channels.
Con’s: still not available in many areas. Lack of local live tv and regional sports networks in some areas. May not work on Amazon Fire TV devices. Only ONE channel lineup and minimal customization options. You can’t skip commercials for on-demand content and if there is an on-demand version of show you recorded on the DVR it will bypass your DVR recording and make you watch commercials! No HBO option.
YouTube TV Review – VIDEO
Fubo TV Review
Fubo TV used to be a streaming tv provider focused mainly on sports, however in 2019 they switched their content to become a major player in the overall streaming tv business. Fubo TV is now one of the top ways to watch tv online and offers numerous channel packages for you to stream live tv.
Philo TV Review
Philo TV is a low-cost leader which can provide a great experience for you and a boatload of quality channels you will watch for a low cost – provided you don’t care about local channels.
2020 - Best Streaming TV Apps
Ranking the Streaming TV Service Providers
Based on the info provided in our detailed reviews for each service and using a ranking scale that is focused on choosing a streaming tv service that is most like a traditional cable tv viewing experience, here are my personal rankings.
If Local Channels Matter (News, Weather, Sports)
- YouTube TV
- Fubo TV
- DirecTV Now
- Hulu Plus Live TV
- Sling TV
- Philo TV
If Local Channels Do NOT Matter
- Pluto TV (it’s FREE!)
- Sling TV
- Philo TV
- YouTube TV
- Fubo TV
- DirecTV Now
- Hulu Plus Live TV
Tips for Specific Streaming TV Topics
Streaming TV Resources from Amazon
I use the Amazon Firestick for all my streaming tv needs. You can read my article about how to decide which Amazon Firestick is best for you here.
For additional insights on Amazon Prime Video checkout these links too…
Streaming TV with Netflix
I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Netflix as an option for streaming tv online. Although Netflix is not an option if you want to watch live tv or have an experience similar to cable, it’s still a great option for watching tv and movies online. Here are some articles about Netflix Streaming Tips…
Streaming TV Tips - What's YOUR Take?
That concludes our Essential Guide on How to Stream Live TV. Was this helpful? If so, please share this article with your friends.
Have YOU already learned how to watch tv online? What streaming tv service provider are YOU using? What tips have you learned that can help others – let us know so we can all learn together. Thanks!
What to Read Next?
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