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The best cable TV alternatives in 2022: Live TV services that save you money

Want to cancel cable but still watch your favorite shows? Cutting the cord is easy with one of the best cable TV alternatives, and you can still keep important channels such as ESPN. These live TV services offer faster performance, sleeker interfaces — and best of all — monthly payment structures. That’s right, no lock-in from annual contracts! 

The best cable TV replacement services offer most of the broadcast, entertainment, news and sports channels you want to watch and allow you to add on premiums like HBO and Showtime. In fact, the top pick on this list is also the service that both TG’s Henry T. Casey and Kelly Woo chose to finally cut the cord. Shockingly, our staffers did not pick the live TV streaming service that has the most popular channels.

This list of cable TV alternatives is for you if you want to watch local news to stay abreast of everything, catch sports games (like Super Bowl 2022) or record episodes of your favorite guilty pleasure reality series. And even while many are going up in price, they’re still cheaper than cable. 

What are the best cable TV alternatives?

The best cable TV alternatives offer a lot of channels (and especially the networks you want), ease of use, availability on major streaming devices and, of course, value for the cost.

Our top cable TV alternative, Sling TV (also on our best streaming services list) starts off at $35 per month for either the Sling Blue or Sling Orange packages. The combined Sling Orange+Blue package is $50 per month, but it gets you all the networks that Sling carries. Most recently, though, one of our team has had minor quality issues with our feeds, and it’s been enough to make him think about canceling Sling TV (but he hasn’t left yet).

Standing high above Sling TV is Hulu With Live TV ($70 per month) and YouTube TV ($65 per month), but offer more channels and more hours of DVR. Fubo TV, also $65/month, is a great option with over 120 channels, including many niche sports channel. 

DirecTV Stream is the latest name of the service formerly known as AT&T TV. Sometimes slow performance and a clunky interface make the $70 price tag a bit steep. For a full breakdown of those services, check out our Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV vs. Sling vs. DirecTV Stream face-off.

The best cable TV alternatives you can buy today

Sling TV, navigated to Rogue One A Star Wars Story, on a TV in a living room

(Image credit: Sling TV)

1. Sling TV

Best cable replacement service overall

Starting Price (per month): $35 | Channels (in entry-level package): 30 | DVR: 50 hours (200 hours for $5 per month) | On-Demand: Yes | Device Support: Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, Roku | Simultaneous Streams: 1 ($35 per month); 3 ($35 per month); 4 ($45 per month)

Wide variety of channel packages

Available on large number of devices

Potentially inexpensive

Rare quality issues

Missing multiple user profiles

Sling TV is getting a huge interface change (coming first to Fire TV) that really brings it up to snuff with the competitors — and helps keep it the best cable replacement alternative right now and the one both TG staffers Henry T. Casey and Kelly Woo chose to replace cable. Though Henry recently noted he’s seen irregularities with stream quality.

Sling TV starts off cheap ($35 per month), though the cost can balloon if you choose add-ons. The service offers two basic packages of channels (Orange and Blue), then lets viewers pick and choose smaller extras, which usually cost $5 per month. Orange has ESPN and Blue has Fox and NBC, and you can see more differences in our Sling Orange vs Blue guide

From sports to comedy to kids’ programming to foreign language channels, Sling TV has a little something for everyone. The service’s DVR features are not bad, either. For more details, including lineups and pricing and more, check out our What Is Sling TV? page. Even Sling’s Orange+Blue package is still more affordable than most of its competitors’ base packages.

Read our full Sling TV review

Cable TV alternative: Hulu with Live TV

(Image credit: Hulu)

2. Hulu with Live TV

The best original programming

Starting Price (per month): $70 | Channels (in entry-level package): More than 60+ | DVR: Yes | On-Demand: Yes | Device Support: Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Xbox One

Attractive interface

Good channel selection

Simple DVR features

Lots of menus

Expensive extras

Hulu started life as an on-demand streaming service, then expanded into offering live TV as well. For $70 per month, you get Hulu’s traditional catalog of shows and movies, plus access to more than 60 live channels, from A&E to ESPN to TNT. It also includes Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, which arrived with a $5 price bump. While those services cost $15 combined, this change might not be a welcome change if you don’t want or need those services.

Hulu with Live TV is particularly good at recommending new content, and its interface is one of the most colorful and navigable in the cable-replacement sphere. You’ll have to deal with a ton of advertisements, though, and if you want fewer of them, you’ll have to pay $10 more. And if you need more DVR space or simultaneous streams, you’ll have to pay up to $30 extra per month.

Hulu does major brownie points for throwing in its library of originals and on demand programming. Plus, the FX on Hulu partnership has added a ton of classic and modern shows, like The Shield and Atlanta. Not all of these other services boast exclusives on par with the award-winning Handmaid’s Tale, Normal People and Little Fires Everywhere.

Read our full Hulu with Live TV review

YouTube TV, one of the best cable tv alternatives, on a TV

(Image credit: Future)

3. YouTube TV

Best DVR feature and access to local networks

Starting Price (per month): $65 | Channels (in entry-level package): 85 | DVR: Yes | On-Demand: Yes | Device Support: Android, Chromecast & Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS | Simultaneous Streams: 3

Unlimited DVR

Local channels

Easy to use

Lackluster originals

Channel and platform issues

Simple, easy to use and rocking a very strong selection of channels, YouTube TV remains a top cable TV alternative. Its biggest stand-out feature is unlimited storage DVR, as most competitors put a cap on your recordings. It’s also got all of the major broadcast networks, so you can get your local news and sports, as well as network sitcoms and dramas. And you can add on premium channels like HBO. 

One of our favorite aspects of YouTube TV is that it’s got the shortest lag behind cable TV. Sling and other services may be a little further (less than a minute, but it still counts for sports and live events) behind the live feeds.

YouTube TV’s $65 per month price used to be high (now it’s the standard for most services not named Sling). In exchange, YouTube TV got Viacom channels (which it needed). And while YouTube TV was pulled from the Roku Channel Store for months, it’s coming back as Roku and YouTube resolved their issues. YouTube TV is also going to get a redesign in 2022, but we don’t have images yet.

Read our full YouTube TV review

FuboTV on a TV

(Image credit: FuboTV)

4. FuboTV

The best streaming service for sports

Starting Price (per month): $65 | Channels (in entry-level package): 122 | DVR: Yes | On-Demand: Yes | Device Support: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Computers, iOS, Apple TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, Vizio Smartcast TVs | Simultaneous Streams: 2

Huge number of channels

Niche sports networks

Some 4K content

More expensive than competitors

No game console support

All of these live TV streaming services offer some sports content, but FuboTV is one of the best cable TV alternatives because it has practically every single sport you could ask for. NFL fans can see every game on Fubo, with its strong list of local broadcast channels (including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC), as well as the recently-added ESPN (as well as ESPN2 and 3), and the NFL Network. On top of that, you get international sports with 8 beIN Sports channels, the Big Ten Network, the Golf Channel and the TUDN (formerly known as UniVision Deportes Network) channels. It’s a sports lover’s buffet.

The only big downside to Fubo is its $65 starting price for its standard Starter Plan, which is almost twice as much as Sling Orange. But when you get more than 100 channels — many more than on any other option here — you’re going to be paying more. The one channel we wish FuboTV had is TNT, for NBA games (and All Elite Wrestling). Fubo could also rise up our rankings by adding gaming console support. 

Read our full FuboTV review  

Cable TV alternative: DirecTV Stream Now

(Image credit: AT&T TV Now)

5. DirecTV Stream

Starting Price (per month): $70 | Channels (in entry-level package): 65+ | DVR: Yes (20 hours) | On-Demand: Yes | Device Support: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast & Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, Apple TV, | Simultaneous Streams: 3

Local channels

500 hours of DVR

Simple, clean interface

Basic tier channel lineup is lacking

Shows are slow to load

DirecTV Stream (previously AT&T TV, AT&T TV Now before that and originally DirecTV Now) has jumped up and down in price, finally landing at $70 per month for its base Entertainment package. But when that price only includes “more than 65 channels? and 20 hours of Cloud DVR? Compared to the above options, it’s a big heaping bowl of “meh.” And its other plans try and lure you into an annual contract — the last thing you want to get.

We hope to see better quality when we pick it back up soon for a re-test, but we’re not optimistic. This all stacks up to a service that is not close to being one of the best choices. For more about how these services differ, check out our Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV comparison, which also includes DirecTV Stream. 

Read our full AT&T TV review

How to choose the best cable TV alternative for you

You can filter through the best cable TV alternatives in a couple of ways. The easiest, of course, is by price. If you want to spend less than $40 per month, you’ve got an easy buying decision. Sling TV — either its Orange or Blue packages — is the only option, and it  costs a relatively low $30 per month. It may not offer as many channels, but everything else starts at least at $50, which can be frustrating when you also want streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus that cost $6 to $13 per month.

But if you need all of your available local broadcast channels — ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC — your choices move away from Sling TV to all of its competitors. Hulu With Live is the most affordable to give you all four locals and costs $10 less than YouTube TV. Plus, you get those buzzworthy originals like Normal People, Shrill, Ramy and Little Fires Everywhere.

How we test cable TV alternatives

To determine the best streaming services for you to cut the cord with, we evaluate them by using the services across a wide range of devices, from streaming boxes and smart TVs to mobile apps. This is a great way to see which services stream smoothly and which should be ignored. We’re testing services with true live TV, not just the linear “live” TV on apps such as Pluto TV.

As we use these streaming services, we also rate what their interfaces look like. The best streaming services offer clean menus and make it easy to discover new things to watch. Next, we compare the channel lineups, which can vary widely as you go from one service to the other. Some streaming services also offer multiple packages, so we take that into account before arriving at our rating.

Last but not least, we consider price and value. The best streaming services can either augment cable or help you cut the cord completely. So we weigh the features that you’re getting for the money versus the competition.