As you may have heard, a YouTube TV price hike is taking effect on April 18, 2023. From then on, YouTube TV will cost $73 per month, an increase of $8 per month. And so we at Tom’s Guide have started checking the exits with the other best cable TV alternatives.
And while we have two ways for you to avoid this price increase, we also need to talk about why we’re not giving more time and attention to the three other services in the world of online live TV. For example, Philo may be cheap at $25 per month, but it includes zero network channels. So, no ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC.
Then, there’s the more-expensive streaming services: FuboTV and DirecTV Stream, both $75 per month. They’re mostly appealing for those who want regional sports networks, but DirecTV Stream is $90 with those, and FuboTV charges up to $14 extra for its regional sports networks — a fee you can’t opt-out of, even if you don’t use it.
So, here’s everything you need to know about the two YouTube TV alternatives worth considering in light of this higher price:
1. Hulu + Live TV is the most-similar to YouTube TV
Channels: More than 85
Price: $70 per month (opens in new tab)
As I explained in our YouTube TV vs Hulu + Live TV face-off, these two services have essentially hit “toss-up” territory. Both have the major broadcast networks and most of the same cable channels, though there are some discrepancies.
Hulu lords History and Lifetime over YouTube TV — and it also offers East and West coastal feeds of channels such as TBS and TNT, so you can watch live programming without waiting. Meanwhile, YouTube TV also has some channels that Hulu doesn’t such as AMC, Univision and Ion.
But since Hulu + Live TV is $3 cheaper, if those channels don’t mean the world to you, its $70 per month fee is probably a nice change — if only for three bundled-in perks. While YouTube TV doesn’t include big originals, Hulu + Live TV packages in ad-supported versions of Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus. Those three services, marketed as The Disney Bundle, have a $12.99 per month value.
Oh, and if you don’t need those services? Hulu has a live TV-only $69 per month tier.
This way, you get the best Hulu movies and the best Hulu shows without spending the extra cash to get them. Otherwise, the only real downgrades to switching to Hulu + Live TV are the lack of big sports-focused features such as Key Plays. Both have the same unlimited DVR (where recordings last nine months), and both mostly stream at up to 1080p, though you can get 4K streams for select YouTube TV programming for $10 more per month.
2. Sling TV is the budget alternative
Channels: 31 to 48
DVR: 50 hours
Price: $40 to $60 (opens in new tab)
Begrudgingly, I must give Sling its flowers. And that’s because I feel like I may be switching back to Sling TV once my $55 per month sale price for YouTube TV disappears in June. Despite recent price increases, it’s still probably the best cable TV alternative for a lot of people.
Why did I leave? Sling just had its price increases, with a $5 across the board uptick followed by a $5 increase for select markets that were getting ABC in Sling Blue or Sling Orange & Blue. But now that YouTube TV’s raised prices by $8 per month, Sling’s recent price increases make more sense, at least comparatively.
The upside for Sling TV customers — as explained in my YouTube TV vs Sling TV face-off — is that you can get local ABC, FOX and NBC affiliates, plus ESPN, too, all without going above $60 per month. And if you only need the affiliates or ESPN, you can get the former with Sling Blue ($40 to $45 per month) and the latter with Sling Orange ($40 per month) at more affordable costs.
The downsides? Well, there are many, starting with much fewer channels, as no CBS means missing many March Madness live streams. Plus, a smaller DVR (only 50 hours unless you pay up), and the app isn’t as flashy as YouTube TV or Hulu’s. That said, savings are savings.
Curious what the rest of the field looks like? Here’s how it all stacks up:
|Sling TV||$40 to $60 (based on package/location)|
|Hulu + Live TV||$70|
|Fubo TV||$75 (before Regional Sports Fees)|
Analysis: Cutting the cord doesn’t mean cutting cable channel problems out of your life
I cut the cord to get away from the nightmares of cable TV, but since price increases are as reliable as anything, it seems you only get rid of two big headaches.
First, is the annoyingly slow cable box. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Second? Annual contracts are a nightmare that is now only reserved for phone plans.
That said, it feels like keeping yourself aware of the landscape is as important as ever, which is why we’ll keep our eyes on how these services compare.