Best Streaming Tv Services With Local Channels – It’s easy to cut the cord these days. With a new series of streaming TV shows, you can get the same service as a traditional cable TV subscription for a fraction of the cost. After a series of intensive tests, we believe we have found the best use for the wire cutters.
You can use these apps on your smart TV, laptop, desktop, and most set-top boxes, but we’ve focused on the functionality they provide on mobile. However, we rank apps based on a combination of all their features, and we understand that the channel lineup is probably the most important to you, so we’ve included a quick table to help you compare their offerings. After the two tables below, you can scroll down to read our reviews of each service individually.
Best Streaming Tv Services With Local Channels
The channel lineup is one of the most important factors in finding the right cable streaming service, so we’ve put together a quick reference table of the important channels available for each service. Items highlighted in yellow indicate that you must pay an additional amount (more than the basic package) to access this channel. It’s worth noting that Sling TV has two main tiers that effectively split the channel lineup in half.
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The best option overall is YouTube TV. The service, created by Google, offers live TV for $40 a month. No multiple offers, just one plan at one price. While its entertainment lineup is a bit lacking, YouTube TV more than makes up for it in all other areas, especially when it comes to sports.
Let’s start with the channels. YouTube TV has the lowest total number of major channels, but local, sports, and news channels are the most important. It lacks entertainment channels, so if channels like A&E, Comedy Central, and History are important to you, you might want to look elsewhere.
YouTube TV also has the weakest selection of premium channels. As of this writing, you can only add Showtime and Starz to your service. So you’ll miss out on shows like Game of Thrones on HBO, but you can always get HBO’s standalone streaming service separately. Google is trying to make up for it by including YouTube Red ($9.99/mo), but original content still thrives here.
But YouTube TV really shines with its sports content. All the major sports channels are included in the base price of $40 per month, and all five local channels are available in all major cities, so you can still catch your team on the air locally. You can even tag your favorite teams and score all their games automatically.
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Another great sports feature that doesn’t make it into our table because there’s nothing that other services can match is Key Plays. If you starred in a team or recorded a game, you can jump right into that game’s highlights to catch up.
Another major area where Google’s streaming service excels is with cloud DVR. You get unlimited recordings, so you can simply bookmark each show that interests you and watch it for 9 months. It’s also one of only two services to offer 1080p 60fps streams and is compatible with all major TV operating systems.
YouTube TV is one of the only places where you can access The Young Turks, a 24/7 news channel on YouTube that YouTube TV introduced to its live news channel. YouTube TV is also one of the few apps that supports Android Oreo’s picture-in-picture mode. In addition, the guide is resizable, allowing you to move the channels according to your preferences.
Until March 12, 2018, YouTube TV was $35. However, after adding some Turner properties like CNN and Cartoon Network, the price rose to the current $40. I bring this up because it’s likely to happen again as YouTube TV tries to close the entertainment gap. However, customers who signed up for the $35 plan before March 12 are in deep trouble and will continue to pay just $35 indefinitely, so we expect this to happen again with future price increases.
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YouTube TV also has the smoothest app of all the services on our list, and the service itself runs fast with consistent performance (it runs on Google’s servers, after all). While this cannot be measured with objective data for our graph, it is a key aspect that really helps drive YouTube TV forward.
PlayStation Vue is a very reliable option. It does some things much better than the competition, including simulcasting and TV Everywhere. However, it was Vue’s various shortcomings that ultimately prevented him from taking the top spot.
Let’s start with the good. Vue has the second highest number of simultaneous streams with five. When you initially sign up, Vue provides three simultaneous streams that can be used at home and on the go. After setting up your home device, you’ll get two additional streams at home.
However, there are some limitations. For mobile users, only three simultaneous streams can occur at a time. Also, NFL games airing on channels outside of ABC or ESPN (all except Monday Night Football, really) aren’t available on your smartphone.
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But Vue makes up for it by offering the most programs supported by TV Everywhere. In other words, you can sign in to more online apps with a Vue account than with any other service. Often these third-party apps have more on-demand content, including past seasons of current shows. It also allows you to bypass the simultaneous viewing limits, since most TV Everywhere shows do not count towards the limit.
PlayStation Vue is the only app on our list that lets you watch local sports and news on the go. Streaming apps usually show you local news and sports based on your location. However, with Vue, when you’re on vacation you can still watch your home team play on the same channel as if you were at home.
Vue is one of two apps with unlimited DVR storage, although technically there’s a limit: You can’t record more than 500 different shows (total shows, not episodes). Unfortunately, the registration expires in 28 days. Once this happens, Vue converts your recorded shows to an on-demand version, eliminating the need to quickly replay past commercials.
Vue also supports 60 frames per second, which is the perfect frame rate for sports fans. However, the resolution is limited to 720p. Also, unlike everyone else, regional sports are not included in the basic package and you have to upgrade to the $45/mo plan. Additionally, Vue is the only app that doesn’t have access to Fox Sports Networks, severely limiting access to local sports.
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PlayStation Vue deserves second place in the ranking. While there are a few small limitations, its balance of channel lineup and price makes it an excellent service overall. And with five simultaneous streams, strong TV Everywhere support, and unlimited DVR storage, Vue is certainly an attractive option for large families.
While DirecTV Now is one of the newer services on our list, it seems that AT&T (the new owners of DirecTV) took a long hard look at their competition before entering this market. The result is a well balanced application that provides an unprecedented number of channels at the highest level associated with the lowest base level prices.
When it comes to entertainment channels, DirecTV Now is your best bet. The service not only offers the essential 15 entertainment channels, but they are all included in the basic level. One area where DirecTV falls behind, however, is at the aforementioned tiers: Unlike YouTube TV and Hulu below, you can quickly drop your bill down to traditional cable rates if you want access to certain channels. On one hand, the options are a good thing, but on the other hand, it’s the same money that has driven many users away from traditional cable and satellite subscriptions.
For example, while the list of top sports channels on DirecTV Now has seven of the top eight channels available, to access all seven, you’ll need to pay $65 per month. The basic $40 plan includes only the four main sports channels. Also, only two simultaneous streams are available for free, with the third costing an additional $5 per month.
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On the plus side, DirecTV Now is the only app that offers Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for Apple TV. Furthermore, it also supports a maximum resolution of 1080p at 60fps. Both features require tech support channels, but it’s nice to know that the program is future-proof. Please note that the last feature is only available in the trial version.
There’s no Android TV app, which is a shame, though other major TV platforms are supported. But the biggest drawback is that you can’t fast forward or rewind the live stream on mobile. Instead, you’re limited to pausing, and once you hit play, you’re back in live mode, skipping anything you missed.
All in all, DirecTV Now is everything