Best TV Service Providers of 2021

Which one is right for you? Satellite TV, cable TV, fiber TV, or a streaming service?

Editor's Choice
Monthly price
Available channels
Best Cable TV
Xfinity TV
Xfinity TV
Monthly price
Available channels
Best Fiber TV
Verizon Fios TV
Verizon Fios TV
Monthly price
Available channels
Best Live TV Streaming
Monthly price
Available channels
Chantel Buchi
Staff Writer, TV & Streaming
Read More
Published on November 17, 2021
28 min read
Black Friday Deals
Deals for TV and streaming

Black Friday is known for its stellar deals on new electronics, including televisions and home theater systems. But you can also find excellent deals, and trim some fat off your bills, by taking advantage of TV and streaming service price cuts.

Grab the popcorn and make room for savings this holiday season.

The TV industry is changing.

We still have satellite, cable, and fiber TV because we love a lot of variety, availability, and to some of us, sports are king. We also have more live TV streaming options than ever before because not everyone needs 100s of channels and would rather save a little dough.

If you love binge-watching drama or crime TV series, there are loads of on-demand streaming services available. For sports lovers, cable, satellite, or fuboTV may be the go-to.

So between satellite, cable, fiber, live TV streaming, and on-demand streaming—which one is right for you? It's going to depend entirely on what kind of TV experience you are looking for and, of course, your budget. 

Xfinity TV + internet + mobile = big savings

If you're thinking about bundling Xfinity TV and internet, don't forget about Xfinity Mobile for extra savings! Just remember—You'll need Xfinity internet before you can grab its mobile service. Here's what our experts say about Xfinity internet and mobile:

  • Xfinity internet: "We’ve used Xfinity internet for 10+ years now, and despite its bad rap for customer service, we  think it’s a pretty good deal."
  • Xfinity Mobile: "Because of Xfinity Mobile's bundle-only model, plan structure, and rock-bottom prices, it really is like no other mobile carrier."

Wanna learn more? Find the Xfinity TV, internet and mobile deals in your area.

Save on Xfinity TV, Mobile, and Internet

With all these great choices comes a different (you could say good)  kind of problem—choosing one.

When you dive into channel lineups, availability, and pricing, it can get confusing and overwhelming pretty quickly. So, we’ll make it easier for you. Here’s our list of the best of the best.

  • Editor’s choice: DISH TV Network
  • Best cable TV: Xfinity TV
  • Best fiber TV: Verizon Fios TV
  • Best live TV streaming service: fuboTV
  • Best on-demand streaming service: Netflix

And here’s a breakdown of all our top TV provider picks:

Which TV service provider is the best?
Monthly price
Available channels
Learn more
Xfinity TV$49.99$59.99220
Spectrum TV$44.99$94.99^200
Suddenlink TV$24$89340
Cox TV$50$125^250
Verizon Fios TV$65$105°425
YouTube TV$64.99**85
Hulu + Live TV$64.99$70.99**65
DIRECTV STREAM$64.99$139.99††140
Data as of 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For 24 months with a 2-year agreement and eAutoPay.
For 12 months with a 2-year contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24.
For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1-year contract.
^ For the first 12 months.
° w/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.
** Data as of 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
†† DIRECTV STREAM Device avail. for $5/mo. on 24-month installment agmt for well-qualified customers. Others pay $120 upfront for device. Taxes due at sale. See details.

So, what are the different types of TV service providers?

TV service providers offer a variety of plans, channel lineups, and technology to fit different families. We recommend checking out your options before deciding which TV provider or streaming service you should get.

But before you do, you should know what to look for when choosing a satellite, cable, fiber, or live TV streaming service:

  • Satellite: Satellite TV will give you a traditional TV feel with the option to have access to loads of channels, lots of sports extras or add-ons, very widely available across the US, and gives free installation.
  • Cable: A standard cable TV service will give you a decent dollar-to-channel ratio, a no-contract option, not too many fees (expect to see them), and sufficient DVR storage space that fits the family's needs.
  • Fiber optic: When looking for fiber optic cable, you should be guaranteed speed and reliability. You'll most likely get more channels than you do with standard cable, and for a reasonable price. The only problem is it's not widely available across the US.
  • Digital live TV streaming: A great live TV streaming service will give a smooth user experience with easy navigation to the TV guide, on-demand content, and your recordings. It does require an internet connection, so be aware of that. As with all TV services, you'll want to take notice of the dollar-to-channel ratio. But bear in mind that you won't get access to as many channels as you would with satellite and cable TV.
  • On-demand streaming: A solid on-demand streaming service nowadays has a huge library of content (both network and original content) and an easy-to-use interface. Not all on-demand streaming services are created equal as they all have their purpose (for example, Disney+ gives you content from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, etc.) And if you don't care for live sports or news, on-demand streaming services are the go-to for most (although some might have a few live channels, such as Paramount+).
Tell me more about streaming
Info Box

Streaming services require high-speed internet, and we recommend download speeds of at least 25 Mbps. While the channels offered might not be as robust, you won't have to sign up for a long-term contract.

If you don't want traditional set-top box cable, or if you prefer a more customized slew of cable channels, you may want to skip to the streaming providers.

Enter your ZIP code below, and let's see which TV providers are available in your area!

Want to read more?

DISH Value Pick badge July 2021

Best satellite TV service providers

There are really only two satellite TV providers that should even cross your radar at this point—DIRECTV and DISH.

DIRECTV has the largest number of channels and NFL SUNDAY TICKET, while DISH doesn't have second-year price hikes nor requires you to sign a contract.

DISH: Best satellite TV provider

How much does DISH cost?
TV channel count
America's Top 120$64.99/mo.‡‡190
America's Top 120+$79.99/mo.^^190+
America's Top 200$89.99/mo.°°240+
America's Top 250$99.99/mo.***290+
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
‡‡ for 24. months. Everyday Price $94.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
^^ for 24. months. Everyday Price $99.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
°° for 24. months. Everyday Price $109.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
*** for 24. months. Everyday Price $119.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.

If you're looking for the best all-around satellite TV provider, we choose DISH.

What we like about DISH

  • Consistent pricing
  • Tons of college sports coverage
  • Solid DVR

If you're looking for the best all-around satellite TV provider, it's DISH.

Unlike its competitor, DISH doesn't jack up your price after the first year. You'll pay the same price for the life of your contract. We appreciate that and we love the transparency.

Yes, it's a bummer that DISH doesn't carry NFL SUNDAY TICKET, but we've got good news for college sports fans—DISH carries more college sports channels than DIRECTV, including: the ACCN, SEC, Pac-12, Longhorn, Big Ten Network, and ESPNU.

And if you're a huge fan of the Milwaukee Bucks or Los Angeles Lakers, we've named it the best satellite TV option for watching NBA games.

Perfect for sports fans who want the basics for cheap

DISH's most basic package includes six sports channels, including ESPN, ESPNU, and FS1. DIRECTV's entry-level package only gives you ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3.

DISH also has the best DVR available. The Hopper 3 Smart DVR lets you record up to 16 shows at once, and you can record 2 1/2 times more HD content (500 hours) than the Genie from DIRECTV (200 hours).

However, keep in mind that the Hopper Duo (with 125 hours of DVR storage) is included in your package, but not the Hopper 3. You'll have to pay an extra $5-$10 per month for the Hopper 3 and an additional $5 per month for each added 4K Joey receiver.

We think it's worth the upgrade to the Hopper, though. Along with all the other awesome Hopper features, DISH has integrated Amazon Alexa voice commands into its DVR experience.

No longer must you sift through the couch cushions to find your lost remote. You can simply tell Alexa to turn on This Is Us and cry your eyes out with the rest of us.

What we don't like about DISH

  • It doesn't offer as many channels as DIRECTV

DIRECTV's top plan offers about 40 more channels than DISH's top plan. Yes, it does cost a bit more. But if you and your family want lots of channels (like over 330), DISH won't be your pick.

DIRECTV: Best for NFL fans

How much does DIRECTV cost?
TV channel count
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included$64.99†††160+
CHOICE All-Included$69.99‡‡‡185+
XTRA All-Included$79.99‡‡‡235+
ULTIMATE All-Included$84.99‡‡‡250+
PREMIER All-Included$134.99‡‡‡330+
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
††† for 12 mos. plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year.*
‡‡‡ for 12 mos. plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.*

If you're an avid National Football League fan, you'll want DIRECTV over DISH.

Why we like DIRECTV

  • More full-time HD channels than anyone
  • Genie HD DVR

In the world of live TV, NFL games are number one.

And if you agree, then trust us on this—you're going to want NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

If you're an NFL fan (which you probably are if you're reading this) you really can't go wrong with DIRECTV. And if you get the CHOICE package or above, you get NFL SUNDAY TICKET for free for one full season.

On top of NFL SUNDAY TICKET, DIRECTV offers à-la-carte programming for most major sports leagues, including:

  • MLS Direct Kick
  • NHL(r) CENTER ICE(r)

If you want to know more about which sports channels each DIRECTV package carries, check out our full DIRECTV review.

DIRECTV also offers more full-time high-definition (HD) channels than anyone, and it has the ability to record up to 200 hours of HD video content.

So whether you're tuning in to see Patrick Mahomes's look-away throws, or you just want to marvel at the realistic zombie makeup on The Walking Dead, you can expect a crystal-clear picture for both live TV and recorded shows off your Genie DVR.

What we don't like about DIRECTV

  • Prices increase after 12 months

Second-year price hikes are a real caveat. DIRECTV racks up the price by about double for the second year of your two-year contract.

We're torn on this policy. On the one hand, you get a pretty good deal for the first year of service. But on the other hand, price hikes suck.

It's a pretty big knock on DIRECTV. But as long as you're aware of the jump upfront, you can budget for it.

Put in your ZIP code below, and let's see which TV providers are available in your area!

Best cable TV service providers

There are several cable TV options out there, and most can bundle with some kind of internet service package. But for this review, we're steering clear of the bundled prices and compare just the cable TV service options without any extras added.

Across the board, cable television providers suffer from being available everywhere. So make sure you double-check if it's available in your area before you get too excited.

Xfinity: Best all-around cable provider

How much does Xfinity cost?
TV channel count
Preferred Plus$59.99^^^220+
Digital Starter$70.99°°°140+
Digital Preferred$89.49°°°220+
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
^^^ For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.
°°° With No Term Agreement

Xfinity is the best cable provider because it's widely available across the country, reliable, and decently priced.

What we like about Xfinity TV

  • Affordable package prices
  • Popular channels included in the basic package
  • No-contract options

With the entry-level package starting at $49.99 (with a contract) or $70.99 per month with more than 140 channels, Xfinity wins our "best all-around package" award out of all our recommended TV providers.

The channel selection for Xfinity's starter package is pretty similar to DISH's base-level package (including channels like ESPN, TNT, Food Network, and Disney Channel).

Xfinity offers 1-year contract or no-contract plans, giving you options based on your budget and channel needs. The Extra and Preferred Plus packages require you to sign a 1-year contract to receive the promotional pricing. Then after your agreement is over, pricing will increase to the Digital Starter or Preferred pricing.

If you don't want to sign a contract, you have the option to pay $20-$30 more per month from the get-go. The slight bump in price could be worth that contract-free flexibility.

If you're an NBA fanatic, you'll like Xfinity because it's the best cable provider option for watching all NBA games this 2021–2022 season.

Xfinity's Online Ordering and Self-installation make it a great choice for DIYers
Light Bulb

Over the last year, Xfinity has made dramatic improvements to their online ordering system. So much so that most of their customers never need to pick up the phone. You can now sign up for a new plan and even upgrade (or downgrade) your existing service all through Combining the website experience with Xfinity's self-install program means you don't have to wait on hold OR wait at home all day for a technician.

What we don't like about Xfinity TV

  • Additional fees*
  • Upgrading to the Preferred plans will increase cost

Sigh. The thing we all dread: fees.

And Xfinity has plenty of fees to watch out for, such as regional sports fees (up to $15 per month), broadcast TV fees (up to $20 per month), DVR fees ($5-$15 per month), and additional receiver/multiple TV fee ($9.95 per month).

They can really start to add up quickly on top of your base price, so we recommend you double-check how much your total monthly price will be during the checkout process before you commit.

For more details on packages, equipment, and channel lineups, read our full review of Xfinity.

*All fees are estimates based on information at the time of this writing. Xfinity fees can vary based on location, contract details, and promotions.

Spectrum: Best no-contract option

How much does Spectrum cost?
TV channel count
Spectrum TV® Select$44.99/mo for 12 mos.^125+
Spectrum TV® Silver$74.99/mo for 12 mos.^175+
Spectrum TV® Gold$94.99/mo for 12 mos.^200+
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
^ For the first 12 months.

Spectrum TV is available in 41 states, and we really like the pricing of its entry-level package. It's a bonus that this cable provider doesn't require a contract whatsoever.

What we like about Spectrum TV

  • Inexpensive starter package
  • Good bargain for premium channels

The Spectrum TV(r) Select package only costs $44.99 a month and nets you some great channels (ABC, ESPN, CNN, and HGTV).

The TV(r) Silver package gives you access to premium channels like HBO, HBO Max, and SHOWTIME for free. And when you upgrade to the almighty Gold package, you'll get HBO, HBO Max, SHOWTIME, TMC, STARZ, and STARZ ENCORE.

So if you're really into premium channels, paying extra for the upper-tier Spectrum packages might be your go-to. It's a no-brainer, really.

What we don't like about Spectrum TV

  • DVR storage is unclear

Spectrum's website and checkout don't specify how much DVR storage you will receive with the service, but it could be about only 30 HD hours. If this is the case, Spectrum's DVR is the weakest in the TV industry.

But the good news is that you only have to pay $5 per month for the DVR service or $10 for the DVR service to two or more HD set-top boxes.

That DVR fee might be the cheapest in the TV industry.

Enter your ZIP code to see cable TV prices in your area.

Suddenlink TV: Offers the most channels

Suddenlink logo
How much does Suddenlink cost?
TV channel count
Basic TV$24****50+
Value TV$54††††225+
Select TV$69****290+
Premier TV$89****340+
Data effective 10/20/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
**** Plus taxes, fees and other charges. Includes Auto Pay and Paperless Billing.
†††† For one year. Plus taxes, fees and other charges. Includes Auto Pay and Paperless Billing.

Suddenlink was named one of the best for basic cable because its dollar-to-channel ratio is excellent, and this TV provider offers lots of channels similar to satellite TV.

What we like about Suddenlink TV

  • Offers loads of popular channels
  • Only three fees to worry about

All of Suddenlink's TV plans come with your favorite channels like ESPN, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, and Fox News.

The best part about Suddenlink, in our opinion, is you get more than 200 of these great channels for just $58/month, which is a deal in the cable TV industry.

As you upgrade, you'll get more sports, movie, and entertainment channels for the whole family to enjoy. You can even get over 300 channels for a lower price than satellite TV and without a contract.

Suddenlink only requires you to pay three monthly fees: HD cable box or DVR ($11 or $17/month), broadcast station surcharge ($15/month), and sports program surcharge ($6.65/month).

Compared to Xfinity TV, this isn't much.

What we don't like about Suddenlink TV

  • Only available in 20 states

Unfortunately, Suddenlink is only available in 20 states, so you'll want to check this availability map to see if you're in a service area.

Suddenlink may have fewer fees, but Xfinity TV is available in 2x more states.

Cox TV: Best for customization

Cox Authorized Retailer
How much does Cox cost?
TV channel count
Contour TV Starter$50‡‡‡‡75+
Contour TV Preferred$85‡‡‡‡140+
Contour TV Ultimate$125‡‡‡‡250+
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
‡‡‡‡ 1 Year Term Agreement

Cox TV gives you a personalized checkout experience you can't find with another cable TV provider.

What we like about Cox TV

  • Bundle TV, internet, home security, and a landline
  • Cox TV has DVR options the family will like

Cox gives you the option to bundle TV, internet, home security, and a home phone at checkout. You'll have about four steps for each service, which include choosing a plan, choosing your equipment, and add-ons.

You create your service, Cox delivers.

In a nutshell, you'll want the Starter TV plan if you just want local channels, the Preferred plan if you want popular channels like Disney Channel and Fox News, or get the Ultimate plan if you want premium channels in your lineup.

We also like Cox’s DVR service fees. We like the fees because Cox gives you a set price for your DVR service no matter how many set-top boxes you order. (Other cable TV providers charge $7–$10 for DVR service for each TV box).

The Essential and Preferred DVR service gives you 250 hours of DVR storage space (but Essential lets you record two shows at once while Preferred lets you record six).

And the Ultimate DVR service, is, well, pretty ultimate. You can record 24 shows at once and it gives you and the fam 1,000 hours of DVR storage.

How much are Cox's DVR service fees?
DVR fee
Monthly price

Essential DVR service

$10.00/mo. (for year one)

Preferred DVR service


Ultimate DVR service


What we don't like about Cox TV

  • Cox TV has pricey TV plans
  • It's only available in 19 states in the US

Cox TV is on the pricier side of the cable TV providers with its high dollar-to-channel ratio.

Xfinity TV gives you 140+ channels for $71/month without a contract, making that $19 cheaper than Cox TV's Preferred plan.

You could get local channels for $50 per month, but if that sounds like too much, consider an HD antenna to get your local channels for free.

Cox's availability isn't so wide across the US, but if your area only offers Cox TV, it's not a bad option for bundling four services in one.

Best fiber-optic TV service provider

As of right now, there aren't too many fiber cable TV providers out there. Verizon Fios is the number one fiber TV provider that we recommend, and it will guarantee you speed, reliability, and a ton of channels.

Verizon Fios TV: Best for faster connection

Verizon Authorized Dealer
How much does Verizon Fios TV cost?
TV channel count
Your Fios TV$65.00/mo.^^^^125+
More Fios TV$85.00/mo.^^^^300+
The Most Fios TV$105.00/mo.^^^^425+
Data effective 08/26/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
^^^^ Per month + taxes.

What we like about Verizon Fios TV

  • Fiber-optic connection
  • No-contract options
  • Channel customization

Verizon Fios TV uses a fiber-optic connection, which is actually a faster connection than traditional cable. It's super convenient when you're connecting multiple devices, bundling your TV and internet together, and for those who want a faster upload and download time.

Verizon Fios TV doesn't require an annual contract. So you can cancel your service if you move, switch over to a live TV streaming service, or want to cut back on bills.

Verizon Your Fios TV package has a unique way of personalizing. You get to choose your top five channels, and Fios will do the rest by recommending a channel lineup for you based on your choices.

What we don't like about Verizon Fios TV

  • Limited availability

Verizon Fios is only available in nine states. So if you don't live on the East Coast, you may have to look at other options.

If you live in one of these states, check if Fios is offered in your city:

  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Pennsylvania

Best live TV streaming services

If you're looking to cut the cord or want to save some money, a live TV streaming provider is a great alternative to cable or satellite TV. Live TV streaming services give you live channels, on-demand content, and the ability to record TV shows and movies.

How do the top live TV streaming services compare?
Monthly price
Available channels
Learn more
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
** Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
†† DIRECTV STREAM Device avail. for $5/mo. on 24-month installment agmt for well-qualified customers. Others pay $120 upfront for device. Taxes due at sale. See details.

Keep in mind these prices don't include internet service charges (which you'll need in order to stream), but you can check those out in our best internet for streaming article.

fuboTV: Best value streaming service

FuboTV logo
How much does fuboTV cost?
TV channel count
Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
°°°° Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

fuboTV takes the crown when it comes to the best live TV streaming service. fuboTV has the best dollar-to-channel ratio, offers the most total channels, and offers more sports channels than any other TV service in the industry.

What we like about fuboTV

  • Lots of sports channels (national and international)
  • Spanish-language package option

Over time, fuboTV has renamed itself as an all-around live TV streaming service for the whole family rather than just sports fans. But it still towers over the competition when it comes to sports.

fuboTV caters to all types of sports fans. You'll get channels like ESPN, Big Ten Network, PAC-12 Networks, Tennis Channel, TUDN, and Zona Fútbol.

You'll also get all of the major national sports channels like NFL Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, and NHL Network.

Check out the sports channel lineup to see all 50 channels you could get.

If your Abuelito wants to watch sports in Spanish, fuboTV has a Latino package for $33.00/mo. with 32 Spanish-language channels.

What we don't like about fuboTV

  • Sports-heavy content isn't for everyone

Yes, fuboTV has the most sports channels in the TV industry, but don't forget that fuboTV is also family-friendly.

Your kids will be able to watch Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, your teen can watch Lifetime, and your spouse can watch HGTV or Fox News with fuboTV.

We talk about fuboTV's channel lineup, equipment, pricing, and more, in our best streaming services for sports piece.

YouTube TV: Editor's pick

YouTube TV logo
How much does YouTube TV cost?
Monthly price
Available channels
Learn more
YouTube TV$64.99**85
Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
** Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

YouTube TV is one of our favorite live TV streaming services on the market. YouTube TV is well-rounded with a decent number of channels (including major sports channels) and many add-ons for everyone in the family.

What we like about YouTube TV

  • Unlimited cloud DVR
  • A lineup with almost all of the popular channels

With YouTube TV, you get the best of all things TV and streaming have to offer with access to live TV, on-demand movies, full seasons of popular TV shows, unlimited DVR space, YouTube videos, and the latest news clips.

Unlimited DVR space means you can record literally anything and everything you want. You also get a strong channel lineup with lots of top lifestyle and entertainment channels. You even get major sports channels like NFL Network, NBA TV, and MLB Network.

You can also get add-ons like the NFL RedZone Channel, NBA LEAGUE PASS, Hallmark Movies Now, Sundance Now, Acorn TV, and more.

All this easily makes YouTube TV one of the best streaming services available.

PS, If you're looking for a service to stream all of the NBA games, YouTube TV is our number one pick. You can find more options in our How to Stream NBA Games Live piece.

What we don't like about YouTube TV

  • Missing the HISTORY and Hallmark channels

That means you'll have to miss out on your Alone and American Pickers. You'll also be hearing from your spouse when they find out they can't watch their favorite Hallmark Christmas movies.

But at least YouTube TV has your back by giving you the Hallmark Movies Now add-on option, which will provide you with access to all of the Hallmark movies throughout the year.

What's the best way to stream the MLB postseason?

If you're looking for a live TV streaming service that airs all of the MLB postseason games, we recommend YouTube TV, DIRECTV STREAM, and Sling TV's Blue package

All three services hit it out of the ballpark with the three channels you need: FOX, FS1, and TBS.

Hulu + Live TV: Best for binge-watching

hulu logo
How much does Hulu + Live TV cost?
TV channel count
Hulu + Live TV$64.99°°°°65+
Hulu No Ads + Live TV$70.99°°°°65+
Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
°°°° Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Hulu + Live TV is the best live TV streaming service for those who want live TV channels and on-demand content in one streaming app.

What we like about Hulu + Live TV

  • Massive on-demand streaming catalog
  • On-demand library includes excellent Originals

Hulu + Live TV gives you the best of both worlds, both live TV channels and even more on-demand streaming. Along with over 65 channels, you get access to Hulu's entire streaming library.

As far as live channels are concerned, you get all the essentials, like ABC, ESPN, Fox, Food Network, and HGTV.

Nothing good on TV? Catch up on This is Us, The Bachelor, or Rick and Morty. Rest assured, you won't run out of stuff to watch with Hulu Live.

You'll also get access to well-known originals, such as Little Fires Everywhere, High Fidelity, Catch-22, and The Handmaid's Tale.

What we don't like about Hulu + Live TV

  • On the pricey side for what it offers
  • Limited cloud DVR storage space

Hulu Live increased its pricing in December 2020, and we're not exactly sure why. There is no channel upgrade, DVR upgrade, or more on-demand content. But this service is worth the price if you want both live TV channels and a big on-demand library in one.

As for the cloud DVR, your subscription comes with 50 hours of storage included. You'd be surprised how quickly you can fill up 50 hours—25 episodes of Criminal Minds and 12 movies would be enough to fill your storage to the brim.

You can upgrade to 200 hours of storage, but it'll cost you another $9.99 a month. No, thank you.

Sling TV: Best budget pick

Sling TV
How much does Sling TV cost?
TV channel count
Sling Orange$35°°°°30+
Sling Blue$35°°°°45+
Sling Orange + Sling Blue Services$50°°°°50+
Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
°°°° Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

If you're looking to save money but still want to stream your favorite live TV channels, Sling TV might have a channel lineup you'll be happy with.

What we like about Sling TV

  • Low entry price
  • The choice to upgrade your Cloud DVR

Sling TV truly understands what cord-cutting is all about—saving money without missing your favorite shows. Starting at $35 per month, Sling packages provide the best bargains around. Granted, Sling TV's channel selection is smaller, but it also goes for quality over quantity.

And here's a side note: you'll have to pay an extra $5 more per month for the 200-hour cloud DVR. But if 50 hours is enough for you, then more savings for you.

We recommend Sling Orange if you want more kids and lifestyle channels (like Disney Channel and Comedy Central), and you'll like Sling Blue if you want a package with more news and sports channels (like Fox News and NFL Network).

Sling Orange + Blue only gives you fewer than 10 more channels than the Sling Blue plan, but you'll get four EPIX channels and a few more sports channels.

What we don't like about Sling TV

  • Fewer channels than its competitors

With a low entry price comes a smaller selection of channels. In fact, you get almost 50% more channels with YouTube TV or Hulu Live.

We're still in the camp that Sling gives you quality over quantity, and you can add over 20 different channel packages for $5-$10 each. But if quantity is what you want, Sling ain't it.

We give you a full breakdown of Sling TV, such as channel lineup, and answer many FAQs in our Sling TV Review.

DIRECTV STREAM: Best for traditional TV experience

How much does DIRECTV STREAM cost?
Monthly price
Available channels
Learn more
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
†† DIRECTV STREAM Device avail. for $5/mo. on 24-month installment agmt for well-qualified customers. Others pay $120 upfront for device. Taxes due at sale. See details.

What we like about DIRECTV STREAM

  • Included premium channels on some plans
  • It's a streaming version of DIRECTV

DIRECTV STREAM includes premium channels in two of its packages—ULTIMATE and PREMIER.

With the ULTIMATE plan, you'll get the STARZ channels in your lineup. The PREMIER plan includes STARZ, SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX channels.

If you get the CHOICE package or above, you’ll get three free months of HBO Max. We guarantee you’ll want to binge-watch Friends, The Nevers, or Mare of Easttown.

Since DIRECTV STREAM is the live TV streaming version of DIRECTV, you can enjoy the traditional TV experience without installing a satellite dish. Instead, you'll receive a set-top box and voice-activated remote control.

What we don't like about DIRECTV STREAM

DIRECTV STREAM is the priciest live-TV streaming service we review. If you like the idea of DIRECTV STREAM’s traditional TV experience or the included premium channels, the price tag might be worth it.

For a more in-depth breakdown of DIRECTV STREAM’s packages, channel lineups, and user experience, check out our full review.

Best on-demand streaming services

With on-demand streaming services, you don't get your sports, news, and lifestyle live TV channels. So if you need a TV service to replace your cable or satellite provider, a non-live TV streaming service isn't a great option.

But if you just want on-demand content, like Netflix and Hulu originals or Disney movies, then one of these services will be perfect for you. And you can save some cash.

Comparison of the best on-demand streaming services
Monthly price
Disney Plus$7.99$79.99
Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
** Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Curious about how expensive commercials cost?

Speaking of commercials, ever wonder how much they cost? Check our breakdown of TV commercial costs below.

Netflix: Best overall on-demand streaming service

How much is Netflix?
Netflix Basic$8.99°°°°
Netflix Standard$13.99°°°°
Netflix Premium$17.99°°°°
Data as of 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
°°°° Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Netflix is King when it comes to on-demand streaming services. This big-time service has come in at the number one spot for our Top 10 Streaming Apps, Best On-Demand Streaming Services, and Best Streaming Services for Kids.

What we like about Netflix

  • An extensive on-demand library
  • Tons of high-quality Originals

For $9-$18 per month, Netflix is a cheap alternative to getting some of the best TV shows and movies ever made on your smartphone, laptop, or smart TV.

You'll get access to a huge library of TV shows, movies, Originals, and comedy specials (and it gets updated often).

Watch Schitt's Creek while you're working from home, distract the kids with The Lorax while you're talking to the landscaper, and enjoy Talladega Nights on the weekend with some popcorn.

As for the Originals, you're in for a treat.

You can watch Squid Game, Cristina Millian in Resort to Love, Kevin Hart in Fatherhood, and Yes Day with Jennifer Garner. And there are many more of these great movies or shows with great actors that you really won't want to miss.

It's no wonder why this streaming service is one of the best.

What we don't like about Netflix

  • The Basic plan can be pretty, well, basic

Netflix is the priciest on-demand streaming service out there, and you might be someone who is looking for a service that doesn't break the bank.

So you might get the Basic plan.

Just know you won't be getting any HD viewing with the Basic plan, and you'll only have access to one "simultaneous" stream.

You won't be able to share your account with anyone else in the household unless you want to risk not being able to sign in because someone else is using the app already.

Disney+: Most family-friendly on-demand service

Disney Plus
How much is Disney+?

Disney+ is the best on-demand streaming service for families and one of the best for kids. You can enjoy heart-warming nostalgic movies—like The Sandlot or The Lion King—and your kids can enjoy, well, everything.

What we like about Disney+

  • Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars content
  • Family-friendly Originals

Disney+ delivers content that will make your day just a little brighter. Enjoy Disney movies and TV shows, Marvel superheroes, Pixar productions, The Simpsons, and Star Wars movies.

Throw on Moana or Toy Story when the kids eat lunch, watch Holes to bring back memories, or binge-watch all of the Star Wars movies if that's more your thing.

If you want to check out something new, you'll find great Originals in Disney+'s on-demand library.

Some of the most popular Originals currently are Star Wars: Visions, Dug Days, and Monsters at Work (so we don’t blame you if you’re feeling a little bit of FOMO).

Under the Originals tab of Disney+’s homepage, you’ll also find Luca, Soul, and Loki.

What we don't like about Disney+

  • You won't find NBC, Paramount+, or other network shows

If you need your NBC, Paramount+, HGTV, or Food Network shows in on-demand form, you won't find it with Disney+.

But luckily, other on-demand streaming services can fill in this content gap you'll be lacking if you order Disney+.

Peacock will give you all of your NBC shows, such as The Voice (and you can even get this service for free).

Or if you're more of a Love Island fan, you'll benefit more with Paramount+, which will give you Paramount+ content from more networks like Comedy Central and BET.

And lastly, if you're a lifestyle and entertainment type of fan, you'll like Discovery+ because you'll get on-demand content from networks such as Food Network, HGTV, and TLC.

Hulu: Best for cord-cutters and those without live TV channels

hulu logo
How much is Hulu?

If you've chosen to cut ties with your cable or satellite TV provider, Hulu will be the best on-demand streaming service for you.

What we like about Hulu

  • Releases recently-aired TV shows within hours
  • Produces excellent Original content

If you don't have access to live television, but you want to watch the latest episode of This Is Us or The Bachelor before you read about spoilers, then Hulu is what you're looking for.

Hulu releases lots of recently broadcasted TV shows on its platform within hours.

You'll find other new episodes on Hulu from TV shows like Chopped, Bob's Burgers, Superstore, and Amy Schumer Learns to Cook.

Hulu is a big competitor in the streaming world when it comes to the original content.

This service has outstanding Originals, such as The Handmaid's Tale with Elisabeth Moss, The Act, The Mindy Project, and Little Fires Everywhere with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

What we don't like about Hulu

  • You have to pay extra for no interruptions

Hulu does this thing where you have to pay $5 more to exclude ads from your binge-watching marathon.

But we guess it's nice Hulu gives you the option to go a cheaper route if you can patiently wait through a few ads. HBO Max recently took a page from Hulu's book and now offers a less expensive option with ads.

But an extra $5 isn't so bad for no interruptions.

HBO Max: Best for newly-released Warner Bros. movies

HBO Max logo
How much is HBO Max?
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Each Subscription Provider reserves the right to change the price for a Subscription to the Platform in its sole discretion and will be responsible for communicating any price changes to you in accordance with applicable law. You can cancel your subscription at any time.

If you want to enjoy Warner Bros. movies from the quiet comfort of your home rather than a crowded theater, HBO Max has got you covered.

What we like about HBO Max

  • Home to new Warner Bros. movies
  • Library with HBO and HBO Max content

If you’re anticipating Malignant, Cry Macho, King Richard, and Matrix 4, HBO Max is a must.

All Warner Brothers movies released in theaters will also be released on HBO Max the same day (*subscribed*).

You don't even have to pay a fee to unlock one of these new movies. You just simply have to be a subscriber.

And you'll want to stay a subscriber because this new streaming service is two in one. It has all of HBO's content and HBO Max's new content in its library.

You can find old favorites like Insecure and Game of Thrones in your library. You'll also find HBO Max Originals like Westworld and The Flight Attendant.

On top of these great Originals, you'll find classic TV shows like Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The Big Bang Theory.

What we don't like about HBO Max

  • Not as many titles as the other services

We love the content HBO Max has in its library, but you could say you might "run out of things to watch."

HBO Max has 1,300 titles while Netflix has 5,800..

HBO Max might not be a streaming service that you can live off of if you had to choose one, but it's certainly a great addition to your streaming apps.

Amazon Prime Video: Delivers the most perks

Prime Video
How much is Amazon Prime Video?
Included with Amazon Prime subscription ($119.00/yr.)
Data as of 11/13/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Requires Amazon Prime subscription. Compatible device and internet connection required. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Amazon Prime Video gives you a few perks you can get behind, especially access to the enormous on-demand library and the free Prime shipping.

What we like about Amazon Prime Video

  • Access to about 12,000 titles
  • Extra perks on top of the streaming library

Amazon Prime Video is a unique on-demand streaming service because your monthly payment gets you more than just access to streamable content.

This streaming service is great for kid's shows, for movie night (I Love You, Man or Hancock), and for original content you can't find anywhere else (Coming 2 America).

The other perks you'll get with Amazon Prime Video include free 2-day Prime shipping Just in case you like to buy last-minute gifts), rent and buy movies, access to Amazon Music, and a free Kindle book each month.

So stream, buy, listen, and read all you want.

What we don't like about Amazon Prime Video

  • Confusing interface

Because Amazon Prime Video was a shopping experience before it was a streaming service, the interface is a bit confusing.

You won't get a smooth experience like you will with dedicated on-demand streaming services, so you'll just have to learn your way around the app.

Paramount+: CBS and Paramount content

How much is Paramount+?
Cancel at any time. Free trials are for new subscribers only.

Paramount+ has rebranded from CBS All Access and now has an on-demand library from multiple Networks instead of just CBS.

What we like about Paramount+

With Paramount+, you'll find your favorite past CBS shows like Big Brother, The Brady Bunch, Love Island, and FBI. You'll also be able to watch Paramount Pictures movies during your relaxing weekends.

CBS produces so many great TV shows, so they created an app to put it all in one place for you. And now, Paramount+ provides you with even more.

In the Paramount+ library, you're also going to find classic and original content from MTV, Comedy Central, The Smithsonian Channel, Nickelodeon, and BET.

To break it down, Paramount+ has a library filled with 30,000 TV episodes and more than 2,500 movies. By the end of this year, it will have released 36 new original series.

And last but definitely not least, you'll be able to watch 1,000 live sporting events annually.

What we don't like about Paramount+

  • The live TV channels come with a catch

Paramount+ gives you access to watch live CBS television channels: CBS, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ, and ET Live.

But you'll have to live in an area where CBS is available. We recommend you sign up for Paramount+'s free trial to see if you like what it offers.

If Paramount+'s channels aren't available in your region, then you can just enjoy this streaming service's library of 30,000+ hours of on-demand content.

Recap: Which is the best TV service provider?

  • DISH has better pricing than DIRECTV (no second-year price hikes) and has a killer DVR in the Hopper 3. 
  • DIRECTV reigns supreme for NFL fans with NFL SUNDAY TICKET, and you can get more than 330 channels.
  • Xfinity offers the best all-around service with affordable pricing, no-contract options, and the X1 DVR. It struggles with monthly fees, though.
  • Spectrum gives you a fairly priced entry-level package, and you can get free premium movie channels with the TV Silver and TV Gold packages.
  • Suddenlink has an excellent dollar-to-channel ratio, and this TV provider offers lots of channels similar to satellite TV.
  • Cox gives you the ultimate customization experience any cable TV provider can give you. You can combine TV, internet, home security, and a home phone to create a bundle perfect for your home.
  • Verizon Fios TV will give you up to 425 channels. And this fiber-optic technology gives a fast, reliable network for both TV and the internet.
  • fuboTV is not only one of the best streaming services for sports, but fuboTV now has lots of news, lifestyle, and kids channels, as well. This live TV streaming service also has great plans for Spanish speakers who love watching their fútbol.
  • YouTube TV has unlimited DVR storage, provides access to major sports channels, and comes with a channel lineup with good variety.
  • Hulu + Live TV combines live television, on-demand content, and original content better than any other service.
  • Sling TV is the best budget streaming service that channels the true spirit of cord-cutting with its low entry prices.
  • DIRECTV STREAM includes premium channels in some of its packages, and this live TV streaming service gives you the traditional TV feel.
  • Netflix is one of the most popular on-demand streaming services with its vast TV show and movie selection. This on-demand streaming service gives you critically acclaimed Originals, networks TV shows, and great movies.
  • Disney+ gives you practically all the Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel movies you can dream of. It's truly a magical experience.
  • Hulu has great original, on-demand content and is perfect for cord-cutters who want to watch recently broadcasted TV shows hours later.
  • HBO Max is the only on-demand streaming service that will give you new Warner Bros. movies straight to your TV, along with great Original content like Westworld.
  • Amazon Prime Video gives you access to a huge on-demand library, free 2-day Prime shipping, the ability to rent and buy movies, access to Amazon Music, and a free Kindle book each month.
  • Paramount+ is the app you need for your favorite CBS programming, Paramount Pictures movies, and additional Network content from Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, and Comedy Central.


We compare and rank TV service providers based on five key factors:

  1. Channels
  2. Price
  3. Availability
  4. Contracts
  5. Equipment

To decide which TV providers are worth your attention, we have put loads of hours and a few years into our research. (I mean, this page is close to 8,000 words long).

We have personally tested out all of these services to come up with our own analysis of who the provider is best for and where the provider ranks amongst the competitors.

And finally, we have put in all of this effort to give you our true review of each cable and satellite provider, live TV streaming service, and on-demand streaming service.


Why should I choose satellite TV?

Going with a satellite provider generally gives you more HD channels than cable or live streaming (especially movie channels). Satellite TV is also available in many rural areas where cable is not. So you can still keep up with The Bachelorette even if you live outside of your local cable company's area of service.

The downsides are that you need to have a satellite dish installed on your roof, which can mean extra installation fees, and satellite just isn't as reliable. Sometimes your signal can get interrupted by bad weather, like harsh snow or wind.

Why should I choose cable TV?

Cable is all about consistency. You won't have the same service interruptions that you see with satellites (bad weather, for example) because cable TV is connected directly via, well, cables. Underground.

And even though the monthly price can sometimes start off higher than satellite, you usually won't see second-year price hikes, or you can avoid a contract with cable. This makes it easier to budget upfront since you won't fall for sweet promotional deals that come back to haunt your bank account in 12 months.

Why should I choose live TV streaming?

Live TV streaming provides some of the lowest prices out there while still offering you a lot of the programming you're looking for. You can also watch it on the go.

Seamless and uninterrupted live TV streaming relies on your internet service. To stream content, you need an internet connection fast enough to handle it. This means if you live in a more rural area, you may not get a strong enough internet connection to livestream TV.

And remember, streaming costs aren't bundled into the cost of internet. So you'll be paying for internet and for any streaming service you sign up for, like Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Netflix.

What are early termination fees?

Early termination fees only when you've signed a long-term agreement that you're trying to get out of. (We're looking at you, satellite providers.) ETFs aren't a problem for services like cable and live streaming that don't require traditional contracts.

If you cancel a DIRECTV contract, DIRECTV will charge you a $20 fee for every month remaining on your contract.

So if you need to get out of your contract, but you still have nine months left, you're looking at a hefty fee. It's steep, for sure, but it's all in the contract agreement. Make sure to ask your provider about early termination fees before you sign, just in case.

Why did my monthly TV service bill increase?

There are two reasons your monthly bill might increase—your promotional pricing has expired, or if you didn't sign a contract, some companies are subject to increase their service by pennies.

For example, when you get DIRECTV, you'll receive a promotional price for the first 12 months, and then your monthly price will increase in year two.

It's definitely not good for your blood pressure, but if you're careful, it shouldn't come as a surprise. Make sure to ask about any price changes that may happen after your promotional period ends so that you're not blindsided with a giant bill.

Related articles

Cutting the cord: 46% of America has ditched cable

If you can find the right mix of streaming services, cutting the cord can be a convenient way to cut down on costs while still seeing all your favorite shows and movies.

According to our earlier report, the average American spends $48.25 a month on streaming, which is still (barely) cheaper than a basic package from one of the best TV providers.

In our recent survey, we found 46% of Americans have cut the cord. But some states have more people making the switch than others.

We broke down our recent streaming service survey and found which states have the most people ditching cable TV.

Percentage of cord-cutters by state

Map showing the percentage of cord-cutters by state.

Cord-cutting correlates with rural populations, which typically have fewer options for cable TV. You can find the highest percentage of cord-cutters in rural, western states, like Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. Even on the East Coast, rural Maine stands out for having a higher percentage of people using streaming services.

Conversely, states with more urban populations have the lowest percentage of cord-cutters. (For example, Idaho has over 2.5x more cord-cutters than New Jersey.)

Bar chart depicting the percentage of cord-cutters by state.

Fewer people in an area usually translates to fewer cable TV options (it's less cost-effective for the cable companies to build out in rural areas).

And while satellite TV providers are still one of the best options available for rural areas, most people are switching to streaming.

Since 2015, Americans have dropped their cable or satellite television viewership from 76% down to 56%.2 Most people who don't use cable or satellite TV service say it's because they can get the shows and movies they want online, and 69% say that cable or satellite costs are too high.

The convenience and cost of streaming services has led to almost half of Americans dropping cable and satellite.

Methodology surveyed 316,174 Americans and asked them about their streaming service and cable TV service subscriptions and costs. We then determined the percentage of cord-cutters on a statewide and national basis.


Chantel Buchi
Written by
Chantel Buchi
Chantel is all about finding the best tv or streaming service to watch as many football games as possible to keep her Fantasy Football team in check. Prior to being a TV and Streaming Tech Reporter for, she worked for NFL Network and The Alliance of American Football. Before that, she received a B.A. of Communication at the University of Utah and an M.S. in Sports Journalism at USC. Go Utes and Fight On. Contact her at

Related Articles

A woman and her child use a laptop together
What Is the Affordable Connectivity Program (Formerly Emergency Broadband Benefit Program)?
Find out more about the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, including who’s eligible and how...
Woman with credit card
How Much Does Vivint Cost?
One of the trickiest parts of buying home security is estimating cost. Here, walks...
Ring Alarm base station in home
Ring Alarm Security System Review 2021
You might know the Ring Video Doorbell, but have you heard about Ring's new security...
Woman using a laptop for a conference call discussing the best internet service providers
8 Best Internet Service Providers 2021
Looking for the best home internet options? Read on to compare download speed, price, and...
  • Soapy Cooper

    The comments about Spectrum DVRs are not accurate based on our experience. We have Spectrum (previously Time Warner) and our DVR allows us to record 4 channels simultaneously (not 2) while watching a fifth channel. Also, our DVR can store substantially more than 21 hours of HD content as the review claims. I’m only guessing, but I’m sure we are able to store at least 100 hours of content. Overall, we’ve been satisfied with the Gold package. There are lots of channels including premium channels (HBO, Showtime, NFL Network, etc.) and there are decent mobile viewing capabilities. The Spectrum app allows you to watch all content and manage DVR settings when you’re connected to your home Wi-Fi. Substantially fewer channels are available on the Spectrum app when accessed via the internet; however, this is shortfall can largely be made up by downloading the apps for individual channels such as HBO Go, Show Anytime, Max Go, etc. On the negative side, Spectrum is expensive and the internet speeds never measure up to what they advertise. Instead of getting 100Mbps we get about 50 down/35 up. In fairness, most people I talk to all seem to have the same complaint about their service provider. And, of course, the customer service generally stinks.