A lack of access to live local television is the top concern among consumers surveyed about cord cording. Using an antenna to access over-the-air broadcasts is an option, but access can be inconsistent depending on where you live, and some viewers simply prefer streaming for a variety of reasons.
DirectTV Stream—often stylized DIRECTV STREAM—is a rebranding of AT&T TV and AT&T Now as the company consolidates its television offerings and perhaps prepares for a merger with Dish Network. Through DirectTV Stream, you have access to content plans that are similar to those offered via DirecTV Satellite. A notable difference is that no contract is required, and even the base package provides you access to all of your local television broadcasts based on the geolocation of your device. Note that the use of a VPN service may provide you access to live broadcasts from other areas as well.
FuboTV provides access to hundreds of channels, and that includes your local affiliates for ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. It is worth noting that FuboTV does not offer live affiliate broadcasts in all of its service areas as DirecTV Stream does, but a one-week free trial lets you experience it in your area without obligation.
Like Flex TV, FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV offers a one-week free trial. If you choose to cancel after that period, you owe nothing. Hulu offers ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC in most of its service areas, and it provides a handy tool on its website that shows you exactly what you will get based on your zip code. As with DirecTV and FuboTV, Hulu also lets you record live television and store it in the cloud for later viewing.
Paramount+ provides the local CBS broadcast in all markets where it is available. It does not offer ABC, FOX and NBC, and we, therefore, do not recommend for those seeking a live TV provider. But we mention it here because Paramount+ is a popular streaming service for Star Trek and its massive movie and TV library, and many viewers may have access to their local CBS channel without realizing it.
For years now, Sling TV has been the most popular and most obvious choice as a direct cable TV replacement. But its live local TV selection has always been a bit lacking. It currently only offers FOX and NBC. That is limited to select markets as well, and it requires that you have the Sling Blue plan.
Vidgo is similar to Sling TV in that it is a bit limited. It only offers ABC and FOX, and even those options are only available in about 100 of the markets it serves. It does offer a free three-day trial, however.
If you want access to all of the live major channels in your area, then YouTube TV ranks up there with Hulu + Live TV as a top option. They offer all four major channels in most of their markets. They are also the only service currently to offer PBS. We tend to prefer Hulu to YouTube TV as a streaming service because the content selection is better overall, but we can see PBS being a compelling reason for many. YouTube TV also has the best DVR system, which is notable for those who will record live TV.
If live local TV is important to you as a cord cutter, then Hulu, YouTube TV, FuboTV, and DirectTV Stream are the choices you should focus on. Most of these are priced at $65 a month. The exception is DirecTV, which is $70 a month but includes free premium channels for the first three months.
Hulu is our pick due to the sheer number of live channels but also the on-demand content that it offers. YouTube TV is a strong alternative and offers some channels that Hulu does not. DirecTV and FuboTV are options for those who want a more traditional cable TV experience.