By Jim Kimble / Updated July 25, 2023
The cheapest live TV streaming services have cable TV channels such as A&E, ESPN, and History.
But if you are willing to try something different from cable TV, you can delve into free, ad-supported options such as Pluto TV.
Affordable live TV services are pretty abundant these days.
Millions of TV viewers who cut the cord from cable TV have given rise to a whole new market of low-cost streaming services. Netflix has become a staple for most streaming households. But people still want some access to live TV for news, sports and favorite TV shows.
The escalating prices of live TV streaming services and inflation have sent some customers in search of cheaper alternatives.
DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) and fubo offer live TV channel bundles starting at $74.99 per month. Hulu Live TV costs $69.99 per month. And YouTube TV costs a few dollars less at $64.99 per month. Those are entry-level prices that only go up if you decide to add on more channels.
This roundup of the cheapest live TV services has prices that range between $4.99 to $55 per month.
I have subscribed to nearly all of them at one point or another. My review is based on my own subscriptions and hands-on testing. Some of these picks are both affordable and among the best live tv streaming services on the market.
- Sling TV
- Sling Blue
- Frndly TV
- Pluto TV
- Amazon Prime Video Channels
- Bally Sports+
- NESN 360
- Cheap live TV services FAQ and advice
Sling TV began live streaming cable TV channels over the internet back in 2015. Sling offers popular channels such as ESPN, A&E, and TNT. Sling TV can be a great budget option for sports fans, especially if you are already getting local channels such as ABC or FOX with a TV antenna.
The starting price with Sling TV is $40 per month. Sling has two main channel packages. One is Sling Orange, which has 31 live TV channels. You can stream on one device at a time on Sling Orange.
Any subscription includes 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage and the option to customize the channel lineup with smaller “Extra” bundles that range between $6 to $11 more per month.
Sling Orange Channel lineup
Sling Blue has 40 channels, including local NBC and FOX stations in a limited number of markets. In most cases, you are better off getting your local channels with a TV antenna. Blue subscribers are allowed three simultaneous streams on any TV or streaming device. Just like with the Sling Orange plan, you get 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage.
Sling Blue channel lineup
- ABC (Select markets)
- AXS TV
- BBC America
- Bloomberg Television
- Cartoon Network
- Comedy Central
- Investigation Discovery
- Disney Channel
- MGM+ Drive-In
- Food Network
- FOX (Select markets)
- FOX News
- FS1 (Fox Sports 1)
Sling Orange + Blue
You can combine the Sling Orange and Sling Blue channel bundles for $55 per month. You may want to do this if you wanted wanted to maximize your sports channels.
For example, ESPN is available only on the Orange plan. NFL Network and FS1 are only available on Sling Blue. Combing Sling Orange and Sling Blue also gets you four simultaneous streams.
Sling TV add-on channels
Sling Orange and Sling Blue subscribers have the option of picking smaller add-on channel packages. These can range in price between $6 to $11 per month.
Here are a few of examples:
Sports Extra costs $11 per month and has about 15 channels. Sports Extra includes NFL RedZone, NBA TV, NHL Network, SEC Network, PAC 12 Network, ACC Network, ACC Network Extra, Longhorn Network, beIN Sports, MLB Network, SEC Network Plus, ESPNU, ESPNews, Tennis Channel, MLB Strike Zone and Outside TV.
Other add-ons include Hollywood Extra, Comedy Extra, Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra, and Heartland Extra.
Price: $40 to $55 per month
Sling TV works on a wide variety of streaming devices, Smart TVs and game consoles.
They include AirTV devices, Amazon Echo Show, Amazon Fire TV devices, Android Tablets and smartphones, Android TV (select models), Apple TV (4th Gen. or later), Chrome Browser, Chromebook, and Chromecast
Sling TV also supports Cox, Evoca, iOS (iPhone, iPad), LG TV (select models), Microsoft Edge Browser, Oculus Go, Portal TV, Roku (select models), Safari Browser, Samsung Smart TV (select models), TiVo Stream 4K, VIZIO SmartCast TV (2016 and newer models), Windows 10, XBOX One and Series X, and Xfinity Flex.
Read more about: Sling TV plans and pricing.
Philo has more than 70 entertainment channels, unlimited DVR storage in the cloud, and a huge-on demand library.
A subscription costs $25 per month. There are no sports and no local channels. So you’re not going to find a local NBC, CBS or ABC station.
Subscribers get three simultaneous streams. All you need is an Internet connection, Smart TV or a TV with a connected streaming device to start watching. I began subscribing to Philo in December 2017 after I decided to dump PlayStation Vue due to a price increase.
By focusing on entertainment channels, Philo keeps its prices low. Philo has a free 7-day trial that you can sign up for in less than a minute by using your mobile number.
- American Heroes Channel
- Animal Planet
- Aspire TV
- AXS TV
- BBC America
- BBC World News
- BET Her
- Cleo TV
- Comedy Central
- Cooking Channel
- Crime Investigation
- Destination America
- Discovery Channel
- Discovery Family
- Discovery Life
- DIY Network
- Food Network
- Game Show Network
- GAC Family
- GAC Living
- Hallmark Channel
- Hallmark Drama
- Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
- Investigation Discovery
- Law & Crime
- Lifetime Movie Network
- Magnolia Network
- MTV Classic
- MTV Live
- Nick Jr.
- Paramount Network
- People TV
- Science Channel
- Start TV
- Story Television
- Sundance TV
- Travel Channel
- TV Land
- WE tv
- Bloomberg Television
- Cheddar News
- Players TV
- Ryan and Friends
Philo add-on channels
MGM+ and STARZ are offered as add-ons to Philo. For $6 more per month, subscribers can get MGM+, MGM+ Hits and MGM+ Marquee. A STARZ subscription is $9 per month, and adds STARZ, STARZ Encore and STARZ Kids & Family.
The Movies & More add on costs $3 more per month and includes HDNet Movies, FMC, and Reelz.
Price: $25 to $43 per month
Android TV devices such as NVIDIA Shield, Smart TVs, Mi Box and Nebula Capsule II all have Philo apps. Google Chromecast or any Smart TV that runs off of Google TV also has a Philo app.
You can also watch Philo using a PC, Mac, Fire Tablet, Android smartphone or iPhone.
Read more about Philo TV channels, plans and pricing.
frndly (or frndly TV) is the cheapest and most affordable option for watching popular cable networks without cable TV.
frndly (pronounced “friendly) carries more than 40 live TV channels, including A&E, Hallmark Channel, History, MeTV, INSP and The Weather Channel. All three Hallmark Channels are included.
frdnly has a basic plan that is $6.99 per month. The basic plan streams live TV in standard definition and allows you to watch TV on one screen at a time.
You can subscribe to the Classic plan to get HD picture quality. The Classic plan is $8.99 per month. Subscribers to the Classic plan also get unlimited Cloud DVR storage for recordings. You can watch live TV on two screens at once. And you can keep recordings for three months.
The Premium plan costs $10.99 per month. It lets subscribers watch live TV on four screens at once. And you can keep recordings for 9 months.
frndly channel lineup
A&E, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama, The HISTORY Channel, Military HISTORY, INSP, Lifetime, Game Show Network, LMN, FETV, The Weather Channel, UPtv, FYI, Crime + Investigation, Great American Family, Great American Living, Circle, Curiosity Channel, Pixl, Outdoor Channel, Dove Channel, Dove Kids, Dove Family Movies, getTV, BYUtv, World Fishing Network, Sportsman Channel, VICE TV, Local Now, Recipe.TV, BabyFirst, QVC, FMC, Heartland TV, Story Television, MeTV, Heroes & Icons, Start TV, and Decades!
frndly currently offers one add-on, the Hallmark Movies Now streaming service. It’s an on-demand, ad-free platform that has 1,000 hours of programming. After a 7-day free trial, Hallmark Movies Now costs an additional $5.99 per month.
Price: $6.99 to $16.98 per month after a free 7-day trial.
frndly has apps on Roku, Roku TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Android TV supported Smart TVs, Google TV supported Smart TVs, Apple TV, iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and tablets. You can also watch on a PC or laptop.
Paramount Plus is a streaming service that streams live sports and local CBS stations.
The Essential plan costs $5.99 per month, and does include ads.
You will not get a local live CBS station, but you can watch a number of live sporting events. Live NFL games on CBS, UEFA, Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League are available to Essential plan subscribers.
The on-demand content is from Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, CBS, MTV, BET and Smithsonian Channel.
Paramount + with Showtime (formerly the Premium Plan) cost $11.99 per month. It is the ad-free side of the platform. Subscribers get access to all live sports and a live local CBS station.
Live sports under the Premium plan includes:
- SEC football on CBS
- NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship
- PGA TOUR
- The PGA Championship
- The Masters
- Combate Global MMA
Showtime has its own library of original series such as “Yellowjackets” and “Your Honor.”
Adding Showtime to Paramount+ gives you access to Showtime East and West live streams and Showtimes full on-demand catalog.
You also get Showtime’s on-demand library of originals, blockbuster films and series.
I have been an annual subscriber to Paramount Plus since March 2021 back when the service was called CBS All Access. Paramount Plus has a free trial for new subscribers.
An annual subscription to the Essential plan is $59.99 per year, or $119.99 per year an annual subscription to the Paramount+ with Showtime plan. Paying for an annual subscription gets you a 16 percent discount compared to the monthly rate.
Related: How to Watch Sports on Paramount+
Showtime also exists as a standalone streaming platform that you can subscribe to for $10.99 per month.
It’s parent company is now nudging customers to bundle Showtime with Paramount+ as the two streamers merge into one. The Paramount Premium with Showtime bundle is $11.99 per month.
The Showtime app has live streams of two Showtime channels that are on cable TV. Showtime East and Showtime West stream within the Showtime app.
So you have the choice of perusing on-demand content such as films, original series and comedy specials. Showtime now has films from the popular film studio A24 which is known for “After Yang”, “X” and “Moonlight”.
Price: $10.99 per month.
The Showtime app is available on Smart TVs powered by Android TV and Google TV. Samsung and LG Smart TVs support the Showtime app. There are apps for Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Cox Contour Stream Player, Portal TV, Xfinity Flex. Showtime has apps on PlayStation and XBox One and XBox Series X game consoles. Android tablets, smartphones, iPhones and iPads are also supported.
Peacock operates as the streaming platform for NBCUniversal that offers live sports, TV shows and blockbuster films. There is a free tier that gets you access to ad-supported, on-demand content.
A subscription to the Premium plan costs $4.99 per month.
Subscribers to the Premium plan get access to full seasons of popular TV shows including “Yellowstone” and “The Office”. New, hit movies such as “Jurassic World: Dominion” are also on the service.
Subscribers can watch every Sunday Night Football game that airs on NBC.
The service has Premier League, Golf and IndyCar, horse racing, WWE, IndyCar, Tennis, Motorsports that is produced by NBC Sports and NBC.
Peacock also streams live Notre Dame football games during the college football season. If you want to watch Peacock’s on-demand content without ads then you can subscribe to Premium Plus for $9.99 per month. Premium Plus subscribers can also download and watch select titles offline.
Price: $5.99 to $11.99 per month after a free 7-day trial.
Peacock has apps for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Xfinity Flex and Chromecast with Google TV. Smart TVs from Hisense, Samsung, Vizio, are supported. Smart TVs using Android TV or Google TV have a Peacock app. Gamers can watch Peacock on PlayStation and Xbox One.
Pluto TV may have other competitors in the free, ad-supported streaming service space. But really no one is doing it as well as Pluto TV.
This video streaming platform has just over 300 free channels. New channels continue to be added to this service, along with temporary pop-up channels throughout the year.
The category menu on the left side of the channel guide makes it super easy to navigate your way through the massive channel lineup.
There are a number of new features and channels within Pluto. Roku users can now build their own watch list, and continue watching shows and movies that were paused.
Movie channels are broken down by genre. The ‘Staff Picks’ channel is remarkably good.
Owned by Paramount Global, Pluto TV is able to draw from a massive TV and movie library for its on-demand section.
Pluto TV has apps for a variety of Smart TVs, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, TiVo streaming devices, and Xfinity Flex.
Gamers can watch Pluto TV on PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Android and iOS apps are available for Android smartphones and iPhones. You can also watch on a PC, laptop or Mac computer.
Amazon Prime Video Channels
If you already subscribe to Amazon Prime Video, there are dozens of individual add-on streaming services, including some that carry live channels and live sports.
You can find some familiar streaming services such as Showtime, Epix and Paramount+. But each of those services offer standalone subscriptions, so you don’t really need an Amazom Prime Video for them.
The better deal might be Amazon Channels that you won’t find elsewhere. So fans Ken Burns productions can subscribe to PBS Documentaries. Sports fans can sign up for MLB.TV or NBA League Pass which is in the higher price range of Amazon Prime Channels.
A subscription to Amazon Prime costs $14.99 per month. Prime Video subscribers pay a little less at $8.99 per month.
Price: $4.99 to $14.99 per month.
Most Smart TVs, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Apple TV all support Prime Video. You can also watch on Android smartphones and tablets, iPhones, iPads, PCs, laptops and Mac computers.
AMC+ currently has six live channels: AMC, AMC+, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV and The Walking Dead channel.
The other side of this streaming service is its on-demand content. AMC+ rolls together Sundance Now, and Shudder which are two other smaller streaming services that have been around for a few years.
AMC+ costs $8.99 per month after a free 7-day trial. You can sign up directly through the AMC Plus website.
Most people are going to be interested in AMC plus because it’s the cheapest way to see the newest episodes of “The Walking Dead”. With the end of Season 11 near, TWD fans are tapping into AMC+ to get early access of new episodes before they hit cable TV or live TV streaming services.
Price: $8.99 per month after a free 7-day-trial.
Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Roku, some Smart TVs, web browsers and through mobile apps on Android and iOS devices.
ESPN+ streams thousands of live sporting events throughout the year within the ESPN app.
This year, ESPN Plus has live, daily NHL games, MLB games, and the alternate Monday Night Football telecast with Peyton and Eli Manning. Soccer fans can watch LaLiga, Bundesliga, and EFL Championship. You can also watch UFC PPV events,
ESPN Plus costs $9.99 per month, or you can bundle ESPN+ with Disney+ and Hulu for $12.99 per month.
ESPN Plus has NCAA sports coverage for Big 12, Big South, Conference USA, Ivy League, Mid American, Mid Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, and Sun Belt.
Price: $9.99 per month
ESPN Plus works on the ESPN app that you will find on Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV (4th Generation), Chromecast, Xbox Series X and PlayStation. You can also watch ESPN+ on an iPhone, Android smartphone or web browser.
Read more: How to Watch ESPN Plus on any TV
Fanatiz is a live TV service that is designed for international soccer fans. The channel lineup includes networks such as beIN Sports, GolTV and Real Madrid.
Some of these channels are not even available on cable or satellite TV services.
Fanatiz has rights to stream about 25 soccer leagues and competitions from around the world. These networks also carry motorsports, boxing and handball competitions.
It has both English and Spanish networks for beIN Sports, beIN Xtra, GolTV and Real Madrid.
In the United States, Fanatiz carries 13 live TV channels.
- bein sports
- Bein sports in Spanish
- Bein sports Xtra
- Bein Xtra in Spanish
- TyC Sports
- GolTV in English
- GolTV in Spanish
- RCN Our Tele
- Tigo Sports
- Real Madrid in Spanish
- Real Madrid in English
- For The Fans
Fanatiz costs $9.99 per month in the U.S. for the Front Row plan following a free 7-day trial. There is an annual plan that costs $79.99 per year.
The service has a number of games on-demand after they stream live and more than 1,000 hours of exclusive on-demand programs, highlights and rankings.
Price: $9.99 per month, or $79.99 annual
Fanatiz is available on Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV and Apple TV.
Read more: Fanatiz plans and pricing
Bally Sports+ is a brand new streaming service for MLB, NHL and NBA fans who want to watch in-market games. I haven’t tried this service yet, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s pretty rare for regional sports channels to be offered as a standalone subscription.
Bally Sports channels were formerly known as FOX Sports regional sports networks before being purchase and re-branded by Diamond Sports Group.
Bally Sports RSNs have been only available to stream on DIRECTV STREAM for the last couple of years.
Depending on where you live, you will be able to watch live games from networks such as Bally Sports Southwest, Bally Sports Midwest, Bally Sports Detroit, Bally Sports North, Bally Sports South and others.
Price: $19.99 per month, or $189.99 per year.
Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones and iPads.
NESN 360 streams live Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins games for in-market fans in search of an alternative to cable TV.
Only New England-based sports fans can watch live Red Sox and Bruins games. The service is priced at $29.99 per month.
NESN 360 is noteworthy because it became the first regional sports networks in the U.S. to offer a direct-to-consumer streaming service without cable. I tried NESN 360 when it debuted in June. Recently, NESN 360 began offering 4K HDR10 picture resolution for Boston Bruins game coverage.
Aside from NESN 360, you can still get NESN without cable through DIRECTV NOW and fubo TV.
Price: $29.99 per month, or $329.99 annually.
NESN 360 has apps for Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Google TV, Chromecast, iPhones and Android smartphones.
Related: Best Sports Streaming Services
NFL+ is another new streaming service that allows fans to watch local, in-market games on a smartphone or tablet. I have not tried out NFL+ yet. A subscription costs $4.99 per month.
You can’t watch games on a TV, but the service is worth mentioning given the price.
NFL+ streams on iOS 12 or higher on iPhone and iPad. Android smartphones and tablets.
Cheap live TV services FAQ and advice
How do I shop for cheap live TV services?
Before hopping on a computer to sign up for a streaming service, scan through the channels of your current cable TV or satellite TV service. Make a list of must-have channels that you watch every week without fail.
Your list of channels will help you decide whether you truly want a budget-minded bundle, or a more pricey option that has local channels and unlimited cloud DVR.
If a specific local channel such as CBS is important to you, a subscription to Paramount Plus might do the job without breaking the bank.
Beyond shopping for affordable streaming services, you should also pay attention to how much you are paying for internet every month. You want a fast, reliable broadband internet connection if one is available in your city or town. But you don’t need to go crazy.
What are the cheapest live streaming services with sports?
ESPN+, Paramount+ and Peacock all offer some level of live sports programming for around $10 or under per month. But if you are looking for ESPN, then Sling TV is your cheapest option starting at $35 per month.
What is the cheapest way to get local channels?
Long before live TV services came on the scene, cutting the cord meant getting rid of cable or satellite TV and relying on a TV antenna. Nielsen estimated that by late 2021, an estimated 18.6 million households in the U.S. were using a TV antenna to get free over-the-air channels.
With the right TV antenna that’s best suited for your household and geographic region, you can get local ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and PBS stations for free. Popular sub-channels such as MeTV and INSP are also available in a number of markets.
Read more about TV antennas here to get started with free channels.
- Review & Testing: The Best TV Antenna
- Review: The Best OTA DVRs
- How to Connect Multiple TVs to One Antenna
- Review: The Best Indoor TV Antennas
- Review: The Best Outdoor TV Antennas
- Review: HDHomeRun DVR tuners
- Review: Tablo Dual Lite
Note: This article was originally published October 18, 2022, and has been updated to reflect the latest prices and plans.