How to watch live TV on Xbox One

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From cost to features, here are your best options.

While modern gaming consoles have touted their media center capabilities, none of the major players are great at supporting streaming TV. PlayStation only has two options for live TV, Nintendo doesn’t have any, and Microsoft’s Xbox One users have just three TV apps to choose from. The good news is that the options available are incredible. Ready to watch live TV on Xbox One? Here’s everything you need to know, from prices to features.

Xbox One TV apps: How to watch live TV for free

1) Hulu with Live TV

xbox one live tv apps Hulu

Hulu with Live TV

  • Cost: $44.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
  • Hulu devices: Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and iOS and Android devices
  • Hulu local channels: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW (check your local availability here)

Combining the ad-supported Hulu library with live streaming from more 60 of today’s best channels, Hulu with Live TV is an incredible deal. Its channel package includes favorites like ESPN, MSNBC, Cartoon Network, History Channel, Food Network, Bravo, and more. (Here’s the complete list of Hulu Live TV channels.)

Each membership includes 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, letting you stream your recordings while you’re on the go. That comes in handy for those days you’re away from your Xbox. If 50 hours won’t cut it, it’s possible to upgrade to 200 hours for $9.99 per month. Along with the extra storage space, Enhanced Cloud DVR includes the ability to fast-forward through commercials in your recordings. Stand DVR doesn’t include that ability.

If 60-plus channels aren’t enough for you, Hulu has add-on channels ready and waiting. Those include a package of Spanish language channels for $5.99 a month to premium movies options like HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax. 

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Beyond live TV, Hulu shines when it comes to on-demand content. While every streaming TV service offers some form of on-demand, Hulu comes with an entire streaming service included in your cost, and you’ll get awesome Hulu original series like The Handmaid’s Tale. Hulu on its own is $5.99 per month, so if you already subscribe, you’ll only be adding $40 a month to your bill to bring live TV into the mix.

The only real downside to Hulu with Live TV is its interface, which is different from the standard grid-style cable menu you might be used to. If you get stressed out learning new systems, that could be an issue.


2) Sling TV  

Sling TV Xbox One Sling TV

Once upon a time, people daydreamed about being able to subscribe to small cable packages with just the channels they watched. Sling TV is the modern-day attempt to bring that idea to life, with the pros and cons you’d expect. Here’s how it works: Sling TV offers three packages. Sling Orange offers more than 30 channels, including CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, History Channel, Food Network and more. The Sling Blue package comes with nearly 50 channels, including Orange favorites like CNN, Comedy Central, and History Channel, plus Fox Sports. While Blue comes with 15 more channels than Orange, it lacks ESPN. Both Sling Orange and Sling Blue cost $25 per month.

If you want everything, Sling TV offers the Orange +Blue package, which costs $40 per month. As you can see, Sling TV delivers a ton of flexibility, but if you want the most out of the service, getting Orange + Blue makes the most sense. No matter which plans you pick, Sling TV currently offers a 40% discount for your first month, meaning Sling Orange or Sling Blue is $15 for the first month, while Orange & Blue is $25 for the first month.

Users who subscribe to Sling Blue or Sling Orange + Blue get access to local channels, including Fox and NBC. If you want ABC or CBS, you’ll need to get a digital HD antenna for your TV.

Sling TV also offers a staggering number of add-on channels, including multiple packages of non-English programming, premium movie channels like Starz and Showtime, and family-specific programming. Most add-ons are just $5 per month; however, having more than one can quickly inflate the price of your bill.

Subscribers get 50 hours of cloud DVR for an extra $5 per month, which includes the ability to fast-forward through ad breaks during most recordings. The only channel that blocks ad-skipping is Fox. Recordings last for as long as you have storage space. Sling TV is also one of the only streaming TV services that keep your DVR recordings stored for 30 days after you unsubscribe in the cloud. 

Sling TV’s interface is easy to learn, blending traditional cable grid menus with the set up of modern streaming services. We’ve also found Sling TV very accessible for newbies. (Here’s a complete guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.)


3) YouTube TV

youtube tv xbox one YouTube TV

YouTube TV

At first glance, it might seem like YouTube TV is the worst deal for streaming TV on Xbox One, given it’s $5 more than the other services. But in the battle for the best live TV on Xbox One, price isn’t the only consideration. YouTube TV might be the most expensive, but it also has the most channels and features of all the Xbox One TV apps. 

Subscribers get 70-plus channels, including CNN, Food Network, AMC, Bravo, Cartoon Network, ESPN, Disney, and more. All of your favorites from traditional basic cable packages are here with some glaring exceptions—Comedy Central, MTV, or VH1. Still, with 70 channels to choose from, it’s not a heavy blow.

When it comes to giving users special features, YouTube TV comes out on top. Each membership comes with six separate user accounts per household, which are personalized for every member of your family. That includes individual cloud DVRs for each member of your family, saving you from ever having a program recorded over by someone else.

Since YouTube TV is just giving away cloud DVR, you might think each user gets a limited amount of space. You’d be wrong. YouTube TV subscribers get unlimited cloud DVR space, no matter how much each user on your subscription has saved. Recordings last for 28 days.

Should 70-plus channels prove not to be enough, YouTube TV also offers add-on channels, though not as many as other services. Premium movie networks like Showtime and Epix cost $7 and $6 per month, respectively. The incredible horror network Shudder can be added for $6 per month, and the NBA League Pass is also available.

YouTube TV’s interface is a breeze to pick up, emulating the standard grid menus made famous by cable TV companies. Best of all, navigation options are right at the top of the screen. Figuring out the difference between the Library, Home, and Live menus is intuitive, making YouTube TV easy to pick up users of all skill levels.

John-Michael Bond

John-Michael Bond

John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, 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.