YouTube TV was a great deal for a while. It comes with five accounts, an unlimited DVR that saves recordings for nine months, and dozens of channels. When I first subscribed, I was getting all of that for $40 a month. Then the price went up to $50. It still seemed like a great deal. But now that the price has gone up to $65, I've re-evaluated my family's TV watching habits.
When we first signed up for YouTube TV, my two kids often watched television. In the last year, that's changed a lot. They mostly watch Hulu, Disney+, Netflix, and Funimation. My husband and I mostly use the television for news. For us, spending $65 doesn't make a lot of sense. However, even at $65, YouTube TV is still a good deal for families that watch a lot of television.
If you've decided that the 30% price increase for YouTube TV is too steep for you, what are some good alternatives?
Full Services With Local Channels
- Hulu with Live TV: As the name suggests, this service combines Hulu with a full television streaming service. It comes with 65+ channels and a 50-hour DVR for $64.99 a month. The biggest downside is that it can only be viewed on two screens at a time versus three for YouTube TV. You can upgrade to unlimited screens, but that comes with a hefty price tag of $9.99. That's more expensive than YouTube TV, although you won't have to pay extra for Hulu.
- FuboTV: Fubo's standard plan costs $64.99, comes with 250 hours of DVR space, and allows viewing on 3 screens at once.
- AT&T TV Now: At $55, this was the best deal for anyone wanting local networks and major cable channels. The Plus package had 45+ channels, could be viewed on 3 screens, and had a 500-hour DVR. Unfortunately, it is no longer available for new subscribers. It is still available to existing subscribers. AT&T now offers AT&T TV with 65+ channels, no annual contract, and no hidden fees, but it starts at $69.99 a month plus taxes. The DVR is only 20 hours although you can upgrade to a 500 hour DVR for $10 more. Local channels aren't available in some areas.
Services Without Local Channels
- Sling TV: If you really want to cut costs, Sling is your best bet. It comes with two options: Sling Blue and Sling Orange. It also offers Sling Latino and a bunch of international options covering several languages. Sling Blue and Sling Orange currently cost $30 a month. Blue is the better deal because it allows viewing on three screens versus one for Orange. You can get both together for $45 and watch on up to four screens at once. The two big downsides of Sling are its 10-hour DVR and its lack of local channels. Either locals aren't available at all or only the local NBC and Fox affiliates are offered. For $5 more, you can upgrade to a 50-hour DVR.
- Philo: For $20, you get 60 channels that can be viewed on up to 3 devices at once. It has an unlimited DVR, but shows can only be saved for 30 days. Despite all its offers, it's not going to be for everyone because there are no sports or news offerings.
- Vidgo: The only local channels are ABC and Fox. Vidgo doesn't have a DVR, but does offer 24-hour playback and Video On Demand for many channels. Despite these limitations, it's a lot more expensive than either Sling or Philo at $55. It can be viewed on up to three devices at once.
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If Sling, Vidgo, or Philo offer everything you need except local channels, there are a few options.
If Sling offers NBC and Fox in your area, you can subscribe to CBS All Access for live CBS television. You can stream many of their popular shows like Star Trek and 60 Minutes. That way, you have access to three local networks. The only major network you will be missing is ABC. NBC also offers the Peacock app if the station isn't available in your area.
A $5.99 Hulu subscription will give you access to a lot of shows that run on the major networks. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, The Amazing World of Gumball, Family Guy, Good Girls, Superstore, The Masked Singer, and many other shows are available on Hulu soon after they air.
Locast is a non-profit local streaming option that's available in many parts of the country. While it's advertised as free, a donation is required to get uninterrupted viewing. To enjoy this service, you have to donate at least $5 a month. A major downside is that it doesn't offer any DVR. For $5 a month, you can use Locast with the FitzyTV DVR, but that gets you to $10 a month. However, combined with Sling or Philo, it isn't a bad deal. And you will have access to most of your locals, including PBS stations.
LocalBTV is another free option for streaming local channels. And like Locast, it's only available in limited markets. Unlike Locast, which has run into legal issues with the major networks, LocalBTV only offers authorized local channels. This means no CBS, ABC, Fox, or NBC. In my area, I get PBS Kids, and channels offering old shows like The Munsters, The Nanny, Bewitched, and Mork and Mindy. There's also a channel offering local news. It's worth checking out because it is free and you can also record shows or a series of shows. However, not all channels allow recording.
Pluto TV. Dize.tv, and the Roku Channel are some other live TV options to look into, although they also don't offer the major networks. There are also apps for channels like PBS and the CW that are free. NewsOn offers access to local news around the country. Peacock, NBC's streaming service, offers a lot of free content.
Either an indoor or outdoor antenna is another option to receive local channels and there are ways to save over-the-air channels to a DVR. If you subscribe to Sling, you can use their AirTV Mini with an antenna.
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The best option for you will depend on your viewing habits. The nice thing about full services like YouTube TV is that they offer everything in one place. You don't have to worry about getting your cable channels through one app and your local channels using another method. But if you aren't a big TV watcher, or you watch only a few channels, spending $65+ a month may not be worth it to you. Ultimately, what you pick will depend on what channels you want to watch.
If having lots of local networks isn't a big deal for you, and you only watch a few channels most of the time, Sling Blue with added DVR space may be your best bet. 50 hours of DVR costs an extra $5 and you can watch on up to 3 screens, so it's good for families. And if you live in an area that offers NBC and Fox, add a subscription to CBS All Access to have three locals for a total of $41. That's what I have chosen to do since I'm getting a one-year price guarantee. I'll be spending $9 less than what I was spending on YouTube TV, and $24 less than if I chose to keep it. I also have Locast, so if the need ever arises, I can donate $5. And I have LocalBTV, because why not. Along with subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu with ads, Funimation, HBO Max free from my Internet provider, free Prime video options, free Peacock shows, and free apps like PBS and Crackle, we have more than enough viewing options.
If locals are important to you but you don't want to pay for them, you might want to look into using an antenna.
If you live with roommates, consider YouTube TV, which comes with five separate accounts. You can split the cost and each individual will have their own DVR and can arrange the channels to their liking. Keep in mind that only three accounts can be used at the same time.
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© 2020 LT Wright