Live TV streaming is not getting any cheaper and this has become more obvious this year following price increases from most of the major services. The latest of which was PlayStation who only recently confirmed it was raising the price of its Vue service by $5 per month.
This is a price increase that affects all Vue plans and results in the following changes: the “Access” plan is the entry-level option and now costs $49.99 per month.
Those looking for more sports and popular TV have the option of selecting the “Core” plan which now costs $54.99 per month.
The “Elite” plan is similar to “Core” but also comes with an added emphasis on movies, costing $64.99 per month.
The most premium option is the “Ultra” plan and this will currently set you back $84.99 per month.
This price increase is one that affects both new and existing customers equally and so regardless of whether you are already a PlayStation Vue subscriber or not, it is worth knowing what the other options are and how they compare.
Hulu with Live TV
Hulu with Live TV (+ Live TV) is currently the darling of the live TV streaming scene thanks to its meteoric rise up the subscriber ranks over the past year. It is currently believed to be the second most subscribed to service in this category and appears to be on track to become number one soon enough. Which means it must be doing some things right, and the price is likely to be one of those things.
Hulu with Live TV currently costs $44.99 per month making it $5 cheaper than the entry-level PlayStation Vue plan. However, one of the major differences is Hulu with Live TV also includes access to the standard Hulu subscription. This normally costs subscribers $5.99 per month for the ad-supported version (or $11.99 per month without ads) and results in a lot more content for the money.
Hulu subscription aside, consumers can expect a similar selection of live TV channels, as well as the option to watch from a number of devices - although Hulu with Live TV currently does not support Android TV.
An added benefit of Hulu with Live TV is that this service has already seen a price increase this year so it is expected the current price will hold for the rest of 2019.
Hulu with Live TV is currently available with a seven-day free trial and at present, there's no announced promotions for new subscribers.
Hulu with Live TV’s rise has seemingly come at a cost to DIRECTV NOW as a number of subscribers have left AT&T’s take on live TV streaming service in recent months. Like PlayStation Vue and Hulu with Live TV, DIRECTV NOW has also seen a price increase this year although it was not as well-received as some of the others.
For example, DIRECTV NOW plans not only encountered a $10 per month price increase, but this also coincided with the number of channels subscribers have access to being cut. DIRECTV NOW did look to offset the loss of channels by compensating with access to HBO and for some, that might be enough of an addition to make the new DIRECTV NOW plans worthwhile.
DIRECTV NOW has two plans with the cheapest one now starting at $50 per month. This effectively makes it the same price as the entry-level PlayStation Vue plan. Although that included HBO subscription does mean you are gaining access to a decent amount of additional premium content that you would otherwise have to pay an additional $15 for. If you are already a HBO subscriber, then with this plan you are effectively only paying $35 per month for the live TV portion. However, due to the channel lineup reduction which now leans very heavily on channels owned by AT&T and WarnerMedia, this is a service which you will first want to check the channel lineup carefully before subscribing, to make sure you are getting access to the channels you want the most.
Those willing to pay a little more do have the option of choosing the “Max” package for $70 per month. The “Max” plans sees the channel lineup increase from 45 channels to 60, and in addition to HBO, also includes access to Cinemax.
For comparison, both HBO and Cinemax can be added to a PlayStation Vue plan and with Cinemax also priced at $15 per month, opting for the DIRECTV NOW “Max” plan is equal to $30 per month of savings.
DIRECTV NOW comes with a seven-day free trial and new subscribers can currently save $15 off the monthly cost of either the "Plus" or "Max" plan for the first two months by using promo code "15OFF2."
If saving money matters more than the channel lineup than one option certainly worth considering is Sling TV. This is the most affordable of the major live TV streaming services and likely why it has held on to the number one spot in this segment for so long.
Like DIRECTV NOW, Sling TV offers two core plans that are called "Orange" and "Blue." Both plans are charged at $25 per month although they do differ a little in terms of the channel lineup. Services usually offer prices that escalate in price and in return add more channels, however, Sling TV has taken a different approach where both plans are offered at the same price but come with a different channel selection. Therefore, this is more of an either/or decision.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be as those who want the most access can opt for the “Orange & Blue” plan which provides access to the channel lineups from both plans. The price of this combined plan rises to $40 per month, and at that price it is starting to edge closer to the current PlayStation Vue pricing. What’s more, you don’t get that much additional features thrown in for the same price. For example, not only does PlayStation Vue offer multiple account access, but it also includes a personalized DVR for each account. You can get DVR with Sling TV but it comes at an additional monthly cost on top of the subscription price.
Sling TV offers a seven-day free trial and is also currently running a promotion which lets new subscribers save an additional 40-percent on the cost of the first month. This means either the "Orange" or "Blue" plans can be subscribed to for just $15 per month for the first month, while the “Orange & Blue” plan is available for $25 per month for the first month.
PlayStation Vue refers to its service as the “most robust assortment of national sports channels.” However, if sports are your thing then arguably fuboTV offers a massive selection of sports-based channels and caters to more sports in general than any other service.
In terms of the price, fuboTV is yet another of the services that encountered a recent price increase and depending on what PlayStation Vue plan you are currently on may actually result in you paying more for fuboTV.
Basically, fuboTV is only available in one plan option which costs $54.99 per month. That plan is said to offer access to 95 channels and although there's a good selection of sports-based channels included, it does also offer access to the usual popular networks offered with most other live TV streaming services.
As a means to enrich the experience fuboTV also offers a number of pack add-ons that lets the user add even more channels to the subscription for an additional cost. For example, the “fubo Extra” plan costs an additional $5.99 per month and adds another 30 channels to the mix.
Besides the escalating price, another area where fuboTV falters a little is in the additional features, such as family accounts and DVR. These are available although again they come at an additional cost. Those looking for multiple account access can expect to pay an additional $5.99 per month for the privilege, or an extra $9.99 per month if they want an improved DVR experience.
fuboTV currently offers a seven-day free trial and there are currently no major promotions available for new subscribers.
Like Hulu’s solution, YouTube TV is the other live TV streaming service that’s had a good twelve months. It has picked up a bunch of subscribers and offers good value for money when all things are considered.
However, like Hulu, DIRECTV NOW, fuboTV and now PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV has also endured a price increase this year. In fact, YouTube TV was one of the more aggressive price increases as the service saw its cost go up by between $10 and $15 per month - depending on how long someone had been a subscriber for.
YouTube TV announced its price increase at the same time it confirmed the addition of a number of new and popular channels. A move which likely softened the blow for some subscribers as although they are now expected to pay more, they also now get more in return - unlike DIRECTV NOW.
Generally speaking, the channel selection is pretty good and comparable to PlayStation Vue although the $50 price also puts it firmly on par with the entry-level PlayStation Vue plan.
Where YouTube TV offers real value is in the additional features. Similar to how subscribers to PlayStation Vue gain access to multiple accounts and DVR, so do YouTube TV subscribers. Arguably, YouTube TV’s DVR functionality is the better option as although recorded content has an expiry date, content remains saved for up to nine months. That’s a significant improvement on the expiry dates employed by PlayStation Vue.
One of the downsides with YouTube TV is the lack of plan options available. There is only one choice and if that does not contain your favorite channels, then this might not be the service for you.
YouTube TV comes with a seven-day free trial and there’s currently no notably promotions available for new subscribers.
The services listed above are generally considered to be the big players in the industry and offer a fairly comparable service to one another. However, for those looking to save as much as possible, there are other solutions that are worth checking out. One of them is Philo.
Philo has grown in popularity recently and that’s not surprising considering it is priced at just $20 per month. This is also a post-price increase price, although technically, Philo never increased its price. Instead Philo did away with a cheaper $16 per month plan forcing all new subscribers to sign up for the $20 option. Therefore, Philo does not cost more than it did before, but at the same time it's no longer available as cheap as it was before.
Irrespective, Philo provides access to a good, although limited selection of channels compared to the other services. What's more, Philo also includes some additional features in the price that you would have to pay more for with some of the other services - including DVR. Adding to its value, Philo also supports a nice array of devices making it accessible to more users and whether at home or away from home.
All of which makes this a good and feature-rich low-cost solution considering it is just $20 per month.
Philo currently offers a seven-day free trial and there’s no announced promotions for new subscribers to take advantage of.
Lastly, there’s WatchTV. This is another price-conscious live TV streaming service with the price coming in at just $15 per month, making it the cheapest service on this list.
WatchTV is actually owned by AT&T and includes many of the channels that are no longer available through the new DIRECTV NOW plans. So users should not expect a wide selection of channels to choose from, but considering the price, it will suit those who simply want a baseline level of access to entertainment and news.
WatchTV offers access to 35 channels in total and this compares to the 58 that are on included with Philo.
Another point to note is WatchTV is also fairly light on additional features. While it does include the option to watch select content on-demand, there no DVR features on offer and very few options to enrich the experience overall.
Watch TV does provide a seven-day free trial and consumers who also happen to be on a qualifying AT&T Unlimited & More mobile plan, can access the service for free.