Cord-Cutting: Stream Live TV

These days, cutting the cord doesn't mean giving up live TV. The market remains limited, but there's already a strong foundation of flexible packages offering customizable channel lineups, with more in the works.
Updated November 2016

CBS All Access

You love your procedurals and your Chuck Lorre shows, right? With 7,500+ episodes on demand, next-day availability for new airings, the ability to stream your local affiliate live, plus original content, CBS bets you'll pony up for their All Access subscription.

See more of what CBS has to offer »

Pros

  • Only $6/month for unlimited CBS content (an ad-free version costs $10)
  • A new Star Trek series and a Good Wife spin-off project are among the platform's new original projects
  • Next-day access to the latest primetime, daytime, and late-night episodes in HD
  • Live TV streaming in more than 130 local markets
  • Huge library, including every episode of every season of top shows such as NCIS and Survivor

Cons

  • The Big Bang Theory is not available
  • Football games are not available to live-stream
  • Even the ad-free version contains short promos during "select on-demand shows"

Comcast Stream

The idea of internet/cable companies playing with data capping is controversial, but this is the closest such a company has come to delivering streaming TV legally and affordably.

Pros

  • "Skinny bundle" includes live streams of all the broadcast networks, HBO, several Spanish-language channels, and a few others
  • Includes access to HBO Go
  • Allows cloud DVR storage

Cons

  • Limited to Xfinity customers
  • Only watchable on a laptop or on mobile devices via Xfinity apps
  • None of your favorite lifestyle or sports channels are available

Playstation Vue

Available for those with PS3s and PS4s, plus select set-top boxes and apps, Vue's over-the-top entertainment streaming delivers a similar service to Sling TV. Sure, it's pricier, but you can choose from a broader selection of channels.

Pros

  • 55 channels available in the entry-level "Slim" package
  • Sports- and entertainment-channel upgrades bring channel total to 100+
  • Cloud DVR allows users to store thousands of hours of content
  • Besides PS3 and PS4, the service can be accessed via Roku devices, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, as well as iOS and Android apps
  • No contract means that when your favorite show is over, you can cancel the service

Cons

  • "Slim" packages are cheaper because ABC, FOX, and NBC will only offer video-on-demand content
  • Regional sports channels may not be available in your area
  • Steeper entry-level price point than main competitor Sling TV

Sling TV

If you ditched cable because you hated paying for channels you didn't watch, Sling TV may be your knight in shining armor. With access to a bunch of high-profile channels, and more available for add-ons, Sling TV is changing the nature of the premium streaming game.

Pros

  • Entry-level channel package is only $20
  • Broadcast networks are available in some markets
  • Cloud DVR storage is slowly being rolled out
  • ESPN, TNT, Fox Sports, and NBC Sports Network access means that you can watch a lot of your favorite sports programming
  • Premium movie and even more sports channels are available as add-ons
  • No contract means that when your favorite show is over, you can cancel the service

Cons

  • Only some channels offer archived programming
  • Not all sports are available (sorry, hockey fans)
  • Though you have more freedom than with a cable package, you may still end up paying for channels you don't want
  • Your favorite channel may not be available at all

Bonus: Hulu

Yes, Hulu. It's not available yet, but in November 2016 Hulu released additional details about the company's planned expansion into live TV. The service will include broadcast and cable channels from both Disney and Fox, with a launch date of early 2017.