Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV vs. Sling vs. Vue vs. DirectTV Now: Face-Off!

Editor's Note: Check out our full review of YouTube TV for an in-depth look at what makes the streaming service a contender.

In recent months, our options for streaming live TV grew significantly with the introduction of Hulu with Live TV andYouTube TV. Both include many, if not all, of the major broadcast networks and comes extremely well known brands. If you're interested in cutting the cord with a cable replacement service, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV look pretty compelling.

But how does these new offerings compare to Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now? We compared all of the services to help you decide how to spend your money.


Hulu with Live TV
YouTube TV
DirecTV NOW
PlayStation Vue
Sling TV
Starting Price (per month)  
$40
$35
$35
$40 ($30 in certain markets) 
$20
Channels (in entry-level package)
More than 50
40
More than 60
More than 45
More than 20
DVR
Yes
Yes
No
Limited
In Beta
On-Demand
Yes
YesYes
Yes
Yes
Device Support
Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Xbox One
Android, Chromecast & Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS
Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS
Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, PS3, PS4, Roku
Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, Roku
Simultaneous Streams
2
32
51 ($20 per month)
3 ($25 per month)
4 ($40 per month)

Pricing and Availability

Hulu with Live TV costs $40 for more than 50 channels, which is the largest starting price and one of the stronger selections. The largest starting package is offered by DirecTV Now, which offers more than 60 channels for $35 per month.

At $35 per month for 40 channels, YouTube TV is not expensive, but not the most affordable option. That title goes to Sling TV, which starts at $20 per month for more than 30 channels. PS Vue (starting at $40 per month for more than 45) is twice as much.

Those in certain markets can get PS Vue for even less, with the $30 and $35 Slim packages, but you need to sign up for a trial before you can see that pricing.

YouTube TV offers six login accounts, but only three concurrent streams so while you can share it with your whole family, you might need to ask who's using it. Hulu with Live TV is slightly below that, starting with six profiles and two concurrent streams.

PS Vue offers five concurrent streams, the most, while Sling TV's entry level Orange package ($20 per month) offers one stream at a time, while its $25 Sling Blue includes three streams at once and its $40 Orange + Blue service allows four streams at once. DirecTV NOW offers up to 2 simultaneous streams.

Sling TV starts at a more affordable price.Sling TV starts at a more affordable price.

Hulu with Live TV is now available as a beta version across the country, YouTube TV is currently available in select U.S. markets (including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco) and Google says it will "expand to cover more cities across the country." Conversely, Sling TV, DirecTV Now and PS Vue are each available in all 50 of the United States right now.

But if YouTube TV is available in your city, it's not exactly easy to get on your TV. It currently only streams to TVs via Google Chromecast (either attached or built-in). It can also be viewed on Android and iOS devices, as well as computers. DirecTV Now can stream to all of those devices, as well as to Apple TVs, and Amazon Fire TV devices. PS Vue and Sling TV run on all of those devices as well as Rokus, while PS Vue supports PS4, PS3 consoles and Sling TV is available on the Xbox One. Hulu with Live TV is available on Android devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS devices, and Xbox One.

Verdict: YouTube TV offers OK pricing and multiple accounts, but it needs to support more devices. Hulu with Live TV is on a decent amount of devices, but is pricier than most competitors.

Broadcast TV

One of YouTube TV's biggest features is live streams of the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW). Hulu with Live TV and PS Vue are the competitor that stack up the best here, offering all of those except for The CW (although the PS Vue's $30 and $35 Slim packages may include less networks and only as on-demand, not as live).

DirecTV is a mess compared to other services.DirecTV is a mess compared to other services.

Sling TV's $25 per month package includes live streams of Fox and NBC, while DirecTV Now only guarantees video on demand content for ABC, FOX and NBC, with access to live streams differing by region.

YouTube TV includes Telemundo for Spanish-speaking audiences, which you also get with PS Vue. Sling TV instead offers Univision, which you can also get on DirecTV Now, which provides Video On-Demand access to Telemundo with live streams again varying by region.

It should be noted that you can get local stations by simply buying an HD antenna for your TV, though that won't provide DVR or on-demand options (more on those later) to save shows for later.

Verdict: YouTube TV looks great for cord cutters worried about losing network TV channels, as does Hulu with Live TV (if you don't need The CW).

Live Sports

Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV offer many of the same live sports channels you can find on its competitors, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN 3, ESPN News, ESPN U, SEC ESPN, Fox Sports, FS1, FS2, the Big Ten Network and the NBC Golf You can pay an additional, to be announced, amount of money for FOX Soccer Plus. The one sports channel that Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV offer that nobody else does is CBS Sports.

YouTube TV offers plenty of live sports but not NFL Network.YouTube TV offers plenty of live sports but not NFL Network.

As for what you're missing, the NFL network comes with Sling TV's $25 per month package (which you'll need for those Fox Sports channels) and DirecTV's $50 per month deal includes the MLB network; its $60 monthly package adds NBA TV and the NHL Network.

Over on PS Vue, the entry-level $40 per month package includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and FS2, and Yankees fans will be happy to hear that the YES networks come with the $45 per month package.

Verdict: Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV offers a fair amount of sports, but it's missing some premium sports channels.

Cable Channels

Hulu with Live TV may cost more than most, but that $40 per month gets you a decent selection of cable TV channels, such as Bravo, Cartoon Network, Food Network and the History Channel. Unfortunately, it doesn't offer Viacom channels such as Comedy Central, BET, MTV and VH1.

The $35 per month you spend on YouTube TV gives you a particular portion of the cable TV landscape, and you're missing quite a bit, including TBS, Comedy Central and Food Network. But if USA, FX, FXX and FXM, E!, Bravo, Syfy, National Geographic, Oxygen and the Disney channels sound like enough for you, then you should be fine.

Hulu's channel section is strong, but not complete. Image: HuluHulu's channel section is strong, but not complete. Image: Hulu

Sling TV's $20 per month package gives you other channels such as Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, History, Food Network, TBS, IFC, the Travel Channel and A&E, as well as upstarts such as Viceland, El Rey and El Rey. DirecTV Now's entry-level $35 per month deal includes many of those, as well as MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and VH1. The channel selection on YouTube TV is good but it's missing CNN and TBS.The channel selection on YouTube TV is good but it's missing CNN and TBS.

In terms of cable news, YouTube TV includes CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC, but not CNN, a glaring omission. DirecTV Now and PS Vue offer all four of those networks while Sling TV gives you CNN, Newsy and Bloomberg. 

Verdict: YouTube TV offers a competent array of programming, but it could be missing some essential channels, depending on your tastes.

DVR and On-Demand

YouTube TV includes a cloud-based DVR service with an unlimited amount of storage, a perk none of its competitors can touch. We found that the services "makes it trivially easy to record shows you want," and that the competition "could stand to learn a thing or two from YouTube TV in this regard."

Hulu with Live TV also offers a Cloud DVR, though it limits you to 50 hours of content, or 200 for an extra $15. Sling TV started a limited beta program for Cloud DVR in December 2016 that it made available on Android and Roku devices on April 10, though it's not accepting other new users at the moment and features a storage capacity of 100 hours.

Sling TV's DVR feature is in beta.Sling TV's DVR feature is in beta.

PS Vue's DVR capabilities are limited to adding programs to your My Shows list, which will save them for varying amounts of time, with a maximum of 28 days after they air. Not all programs on PS Vue can be DVR'd with some limited to On-Demand access where users choose from a list of episodes available after airing. YouTube TV offers no such On Demand access.

DirecTV Now currently offers no DVR functionality, only On Demand content that includes shows made available "within hours after a program airs." This includes "up to 10,000 shows and titles based on your subscription package." YouTube TV also offers On Demand content, though not for all shows.

Verdict: YouTube TV is the best for those who can plan ahead and record, and even offers content for catching up. Hulu's DVR is close, but capped at 50 hours of content.

Outlook

Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV are contenders, but not the champ by any stretch. Incomplete channel selection and device support mean that it's not for everyone, and that you better have a Chromecast, Apple TV or Xbox One hooked up to your TV. But if you need broadcast TV and live sports and want a super-simple Cloud DVR, it will certainly suffice. Otherwise, you're better off with the rich selection of PlayStation Vue or Sling TV.

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22 comments
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  • SR-71 Blackbird
    Playstation VUE has the best packages.
    0
  • Brandon_176
    Some of this isn't right. I pay $35/ month for Vue and can simultaneously stream on multiple devices, including Roku.
    0
  • NavySubmariner
    Your article is innacurate, lol. Vue allows for 5 streams. I stopped there as your article is a paid advertisement for YouTube.
    0