Everything Worth Knowing About Live TV Streaming Services During Quarantine

Written by: Kevin Allen – April 5th 2020, 2:37pm pst

If there was ever a time to be up to date on the many streaming services that time would clearly be now. There are several options out there but which one is right for you? Television viewing options are numerous enough to give diverse viewers what they need without overwhelming in choice. For the most part, these new services operate like cable TV bundles, with plentiful and varied television channels for a singular price. But the other part is they function like online streaming platforms, and thus lie somewhere between. This means there are many features to compare between providers, even before considering additional packages, upgrades, and storage. Nevertheless, it also means they have their own highlights, strengths, and limitations which should be considered first.

credit: Apple

AT&T TV Now – Base package: $65 for 45+ channels, almost all them being top channels, and 5 levels of upgrades for even more. Users can have simultaneous 2 streams (3 for $5 more), and pull from On Demand selections and 500 hours of DVR; more than you’ll ever need.
$65 is the most expensive basic package, because it’s the only one which already comes with HBO. The package leads with popular entertainment channels and no filler. It carries all the major broadcast networks except PBS, most of the major cable networks, and lots of children’s entertainment, but is surprisingly lacking in lifestyle networks. You have to go up two levels into the $93 package before you’ll get any. As for sports and news, the standard option has only four networks for sports coverage and six dedicated to news, but aside from AccuWeather, each is a major network. Again, only the biggest channels without filler.

AT&T Watch TV – $15 for 40 channels, 1 stream, and no DVR. But there is plenty of live TV, On Demand, and a little original content. Also, it might be free.
This is clearly a lighter version of AT&T’s television options, but you might not realize it’s one designed for your phone. Firstly, it’s an app. AT&T wireless subscribers likely already have it and therefore don’t have to pay for it. Secondly, the streaming quality is 480p, not something for full-sized televisions. But it’s content that matters, and AT&T still carries only the biggest entertainment networks. The smallest price tag in the market comes from cutting sports and local stations, the CW being the closest one. It holds only two headline news channels, and one movie channel is TCM without spending $14 to get the premium movie channels. On the other hand, lifestyle channels are back!

Fubo TV – Base package: $55 for 100+ channels to start. It can be supplemented with 9 add-on packages and 2 more premium channels. There are 2 streams and 30 hours of DVR to start, which can be supplemented with another stream ($6 more) and 20 more hours of DVR ($6 more). On Demand is limited to recent episodes, but only because this provider is all about SPORTS!
Fubo TV is in many ways the antithesis of AT&T Watch, with 4 local channels (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC), 13 sports channels, 10 news stations, and numerous Spanish language networks just in the basic package. Most providers offer little to no Spanish language programming, but Fubo has 5 major networks and 15 more Spanish language sports channels (bringing the sports channels to 28). It also boasts providing subscribers with major sporting events ranging from cycling’s Tour of Britain to football’s The Superbowl. Also, a partnership with FanDuel makes this the only service enabled sports betting! None of this is to say that Fubo TV is lacking in the expected non-sports-related programming from a cable TV provider. There is still a healthy balance of entertainment, lifestyle, children’s, and movie networks. There’s even an add-on packaged dedicated to entertainment just to balance the household programming back out. But of course, there are additional sports, news, Spanish language, Spanish sports, and international sports packages for dedicated fans.

Hulu + Live TV – Also at $55, there are 69 channels, but with more On Demand beyond a few recent episodes. 2 people can stream from 50 hours of DVR (200 for $200) and of course, all of Hulu’s original programming.
Hulu+Live stands out by carrying most every broadcast network and their associated news-specific networks. It may not carry every major cable channel, with some note-worthy absences, but it makes an effort to have at least something for every genre or demographic, and also makes the four long-time premium channels available. If Hulu is lacking programming anywhere, it’s Spanish language channels, networks focusing on music, and sports channels that aren’t ESPN or FOX Sports. Where Hulu+Live really presents choice is in device compatibility; available on everything Amazon and Apple offer, Android, Chromecast, Roku, and more video game consoles than any service.

Philo – $20 is a deal for 59 channels, 3 streams, 10 sign-on profiles, On Demand titles, and an infinite DVR storage! (Provided the program isn’t more than a month old.)
Philo stays so affordable by omitting local, sports, Spanish language, and almost all news channels, just like AT&T Watch. Philo doesn’t have any add-ons or premium options, nor does it have much choice in streaming devices. What it does have is a pretty decent selection of cable channels that other services tend to be missing, while missing some of what every other service offers. The point is, if Philo does have the networks you are looking for, the low price could make for an unexpectedly easy choice.

Sling TV – Two separate but overlapping base packages: For $30 you could have either 30+ channels with Sling’s Orange offer or 45+ with Sling’s Blue bundle. Or just get both groupings for $45. Each bundle can add 7 different packets of channels and 30 premium channels. Orange only streams on 1 screen at a time, Blue can do 3, making 4 if you do both. On Demand is limited to recent episodes and movies, as is DVR at only 10 hours of space (50 for $5 more).
While the bundles are similar enough, they have their strong suits. Blue is the one with local channels; NBC and FOX. Blue also has a few more entertainment and news channels, but Orange is the one with ESPN and Disney channels. This remains true in its add-on packages as well. It’s those add-ons where selectiveness really matters. Basically sling presents two offers of an affordable base of entertainment, then lets you build a custom set of channels in small increments until you have all the TV you want at a price that might be comparable to the larger services.

YouTube TV – Not to be confused with YouTube Premium or YouTube Red, this is 88 channels of live TV for $50 that also streams YouTube and YouTube Red’s original programming. The service offers 3 streams with 6 profiles, and because it’s pulling from the internet, an infinite amount of DVR lasting up to 9 months! On Demand is limited to only recently aired programming, meaning you can’t catch up on shows you’ve been meaning to watch, but you can see the hit movies cable channels are showing.
YouTube TV is the only service offering every broadcast network while also offering the most news and sports of any service. Basic cable entertainment is like most; not offering every channel but giving something for everyone. And once it finishes securing HBO, it will also have a good selection of premium channels as well.

Admittedly, there are more options to keep in mind between these subscriptions, even when describing them in broad strokes. Each service approaches the numerous demands for television in the digital age in their own fashion. Even YouTube offered a distinctive 5-day free trial against everyone else’s 7 days just to make this article more complicated. (And at the time of this article’s publishing, Sling extended its offer to 14 days.) But complex and unique offerings are what audiences need, as each viewer has complex and unique tastes. You don’t necessarily need to focus on the details to find which service was made with you in mind. In the meantime, streaming services will only continue to grow, alter services, and provide new deals especially during #Covid-19. AfterBuzz TV and I will keep you up to date with any and all new discoveries to help you in your viewing. Oh, and when viewing your favorite shows, be sure to check out our aftershows where we break down episodes, engage fellow fans, and interview stars from the show! Stay safe and be healthy.

About The Author:

Kevin Allen is an on-camera actor, AfterBuzz TV host, and occasionally a guest panelist in psychology and philosophy’s relation to popular culture.

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