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Jair Fonseca/Shutterstock (Licensed)
Apple TV is an underrated streaming device, especially when it comes to live TV.
Apple TV doesn’t get enough credit for helping usher in the era of streaming entertainment. Apple TV launched in 2007, a full year before Roku announced its first receiver, the Roku DVP. For some reason, the device gets lost in the conversation because of its comparatively high price point, but it’s easy to watch live TV on Apple TV, and it’s capable of pristine 4K streaming.
With the addition of streaming TV apps, Apple TV has become one of the best premium media devices on the market. The only downside is you’ll need at least a 4th generation Apple TV to use these services. That said, here’s everything you need to know to watch live TV on Apple TV.
How to watch live TV on Apple TV
Cost: $39.99 for your first month and $44.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
FuboTV is an international sports fan’s best friend, a live TV streaming service that offers the best of soccer, NBA, and Formula-1 along with basic cable channels. While you’ll miss out on a few favorites like ESPN, FuboTV includes Bravo, MSNBC, SyFy, History, and other basic cable standards you’ve come to expect. Spanish speakers looking for a cheaper alternative should also consider the Fubo Latino package for $17.99 per month. This package comes with 15 Spanish language channels for a reduced price. If making sure you’ve got access to local channels is important to you, FuboTV deserves an extra look. While it doesn’t include ABC, it offers local NBC, Fox, and CBS channels for most of the U.S. market. Your membership even includes cloud DVR. (Here’s the complete FuboTV channels list.)
Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
Sony has put a lot of time and effort into PlayStation Vue, building a feature-rich streaming TV service that’s also easy to use. Bundling together live streaming TV, cloud DVR, and on-demand video, PS Vue offers the joys of a basic cable package without long-term contract hassles. Packages start at $44.99 per month for 45 channels, topping out at over 90 channels for $79.99 per month. Your package includes all the channels you would normally expect from a basic cable package, from ESPN to CNN. The service also includes local channels, though how many depends on your location. PlayStation Vue integrates with Apple’s TV app, aggregating your favorite live channels into your mobile TV guide. (Here are all of PlayStation Vue channels.)
3) Philo TV
Cost: $16 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
If you’re looking for streaming TV on a budget, no service compares to Philo’s 43-channel $16-per-month baseline package. Originally designed for students living in college dorms, Philo’s lineup is light on news, but it packs in some of the best channels in entertainment: AMC, BET, CMT, MTV, Comedy Central, and VH1. Philo comes with on-demand and unlimited DVR, with recordings lasting up to 30 days. No one offers more for less. However, the lack of news beyond BBC World News is frustrating. If you can get by without American news sources, Philo is a steal.
Cost: $40 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
Hulu with Live TV represents a beautiful middle ground for people familiar with streaming but new to streaming live TV. A Hulu with Live TV membership includes a full package of cable TV channels, along with a traditional Hulu streaming membership. Should you ever get sick of watching live TV, Hulu is waiting for you with more to watch. Not that you’ll run out of content on Hulu with Live TV. Its 50-plus channel package includes everything from Cartoon Network to ESPN, with every major news network to boot. If that wasn’t enough, Hulu with Live TV includes 50 hours of cloud DVR storage and on-demand shows not included with Hulu’s streaming service.
5) Sling TV
Cost: $25-$40 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
Sling TV is a live streaming TV solution that lets users pick from a handful of inexpensive channel packages. Rather than getting a hundred channels that you don’t care about with an expensive cable package, Sling TV offers smaller packages of hot channels at a discount. Along with live streaming TV, Sling TV offers on-demand and cloud DVR for subscribers as well. Sling offers two packages, Sling Orange and Sling Blue, both of which cost $25 per month, along with the option to get both packages for $40 per month.
There’s some channel overlap, with both offering mainstays like Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, and CNN. That overlap makes the missing options from each package frustrating. Sling’s Orange package has three ESPN channels and Disney, but not Nat Geo, FX, local channels, FS1, or SyFy. The Blue package, on the other hand, has all of your favorite sports channels—except ESPN. You can solve the problem by getting Sling Orange + Blue. There’s so much overlap that buying both doesn’t feel like it adds much. Still, at just $40 per month for the combo package, getting everything with Sling TV won’t break the bank. (Here’s a complete guide to Sling TV channels.)
- What is Apple TV and is it worth it?
- The 25 best Apple TV apps for your living room
- How to turn off your Apple TV
6) DirecTV Now
Cost: $40-$75 per month (after a free 7-day trial)
When it comes to getting the most out of your entertainment dollar, DirecTV Now is the best streaming TV option around. With packages starting at just $40 per month for 65-plus channels, including local channels in most markets, no one offers as much as DirecTV Now. Your subscription also includes cloud DVR and on-demand shows and movies for when you don’t want to watch live TV. DirecTV Now also features the most comprehensive basic package around, so you won’t have to upgrade to get ESPN, MSNBC, Comedy Central, or History. Also, unlike traditional Direct TV, DirecTV Now doesn’t have any contracts or long-term obligations. (You can view the full DirecTV Now channels list here.)
7) YouTube TV
Cost: $40 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
In an oversaturated streaming TV market, YouTube TV sets itself apart by offering unlimited cloud DVR space and access to YouTube Red’s original programming. Its channel selection includes 60-plus channels, with a wide range of basic cable standards like AMC, FX, E!, ESPN, and Fox News. Best of all up to five people can watch simultaneously, with each user getting their own unlimited DVR. The only downside is YouTube TV isn’t available nationwide yet. (To see if you can use YouTube TV, check here.) At $40 a month and with unlimited DVR, it’s an incredible deal. (You can find the full list of YouTube TV channels here.)
New to cord-cutting? Here are our picks for the best movie streaming sites of 2018 and free live TV apps and channels. If you’re looking for a specific channel, here’s how to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, Sundance TV, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, AMC, FX, Fox News, Freeform, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, FS1, TBS, TNT, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, Syfy, HGTV, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Bravo, Lifetime, Discovery, PBS, the CW, BBC, CSPAN, NBA TV, MTV, Comedy Central, Food Network, TLC, HLN, A&E, Animal Planet, National Geographic, the Weather Channel, the History Channel, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube. If you’re on the move, here’s how to watch Fox Sports Go and live stream NBC Sports.
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John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adapter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.