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How To Watch Live TV Online

By Jeremy Evans / October 5, 2017 / Tags: ,

Here’s how to watch live TV online without cable or satellite. Live stream your favorite shows, sports, and more.

watch live tv online

There are more ways to watch live TV online than ever, but sorting through the options can be confusing.

Here, we’ll give you the best ways to watch live TV online without cable, and even for free. (If you have cable and want to watch live TV online, you can skip to the bottom to see your options.)

Watch Live TV Online — 3 Main Options

So you’ve canceled your cable TV, or want to cancel, but you’re not sure how to watch live TV without it. There are several ways to watch live TV online without cable. Here they are:

1) Use a live TV streaming service

2) Watch free live TV online (limited channels)

3) Use Kodi

Let’s go over each of these three options.

1) Live TV Streaming Services

Live TV streaming services essentially replace your cable or satellite subscription. You pay a monthly subscription fee to get access to a lineup of network and cable channels that you can watch live on your devices or big-screen TV. Many services also have a DVR or on-demand function.

The table below shows the live TV streaming services available today.

I’ll cover the major players in more detail.

FuboTV

Watch live TV online -- FuboTV

FuboTV used to be just a soccer streaming service. But now it’s expanded into other sports, as well as general entertainment. In all, fuboTV now includes over 46 live sports and entertainment channels.

In the sports arena, you can use fuboTV to watch NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA basketball, NCAA football, soccer, racing, and more on channels including FOX, NBC Sports, NBA TV, NFL Network, and many others. One of the biggest draws of fuboTV is that you get tons of regional sports channels. That means you can watch your home team games without cable on fuboTV — something the other streaming services don’t provide without the workaround described below.

Plus, you can also stream other TV shows and popular channels. You can watch NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX through their various regional stations with fuboTV. Plus, watch FX, FXX, USA, Bravo, History, Nat Geo, and a bunch more.

You can try fuboTV free for 7 days.

YouTube TV

Watch live TV online -- YouTube TV channels

YouTube TV is an up-and-coming TV streaming service you can use to watch live TV online, the newest on the scene. Here’s what you get:

– Watch popular cable and broadcast channels live and on-demand
– Live stream sports on ESPN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and more
– Unlimited DVR space
– Six users can watch at the same time
– No contracts or commitments — cancel anytime.

YouTube TV is a solid cable TV alternative for cord-cutters, or anyone who likes to be able to stream TV anywhere, any time. They offer a 1-month free trial, so take advantage and try it out.

The downside is that YouTube TV only available in a handful of cities: Chicago, LA, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. That leaves a lot of people in the lurch — which is a shame, because YouTube TV does a lot of things right.

If YouTube TV isn’t available where you are, don’t fret. There’s a simple workaround. See how to get YouTube TV in any location.

Hulu Live TV

Watch live TV online -- Hulu Live TV

Hulu, the popular video-on-demand platform, now lets customers watch live TV online. It’s new service is still a little rough around the edges, but Hulu will be making rapid changes/improvements in the coming months. Hulu Live TV currently costs $39.99, making it a bit pricier than other options. They offer a 1-month free trial.

Sling TV

Watch live TV online -- Sling TV - live TV streaming service

If you like the idea of cable, but feel it has gotten way too expensive, then Sling TV might supply a happy medium for you. On paper, Sling seems a lot like a conventional cable plan: You pay a subscription fee each month to watch about a couple dozen live TV channels. However, there are no contracts with Sling TV, and no set-top box rental fees. Sling TV is particularly appealing to sports fans, as it offers both ESPN and ESPN2 — plus a handful of other sports channels. For sports lovers who want to cut the cord, Sling’s access to ESPN makes it worth the very affordable $20/month. The other popular networks you can watch with Sling TV — like AMC, CNN, TNT, BBC America, NBC, TBS, Food Network, Cartoon Network, and more — make the Sling deal very enticing.

Sling TV has three core plans — plus a number of “add-ons” you can get if you want even more channels. The most basic ‘Orange Plan’ costs $20/month for 30 channels and includes ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, and CNN among other favorites. The ‘Blue Plan’ has 40 channels and costs $25 but does not include the ESPN networks. Finally, there’s the ‘Orange+Blue Plan.’ This offers all of Sling TV’s channels (about 60), including the ESPN networks. Again, you can cancel at any time, and Sling even has a 7-day free trial, giving you plenty of time to decide whether you like it.

The difference between Sling Orange and Sling Blue is a bit puzzling. Sling Orange has the ESPN networks, but then Sling Blue–which is supposed to be an upgrade–doesn’t have ESPN. At the same time, Sling Blue adds Fox Sports Networks, NBC Sports Network, and the NFL Network. Wouldn’t the same people who want Fox Sports, and the NFL Network also want ESPN? Of course. In short, the Sling Blue Plan is just Sling’s way of funneling sports fans to its most expensive option, the Orange+Blue Plan.

The Orange+Blue package does what you would expect. It combines all the channels from both the Orange and Blue plans for a total of more than 60 channels. Even as the most expensive of Sling TV’s plans, it’s cheaper than cable.

Finally, Sling offers several ‘Add-On Extra’ packages. These are like little mini-packages of channels to suit different interests.

Here are some of Sling TV’s Add-On packages:

* The Sports Extra package ($5/month) includes ESPNU, ESPNEWS, the SEC Network, NHL Network, NBA TV, and Outside TV. Plus, you can watch international soccer on beIN SPORTS and Univision Deportes Network.

* Kids Extra ($5/month) adds another eight channels including Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV, Nick Jr., NickToons, TeenNick, Sling Kids, and Duck TV.

* Comedy Plus Extra ($5/month) includes MTV, MTV2, Spike, Logo, CMT, Game Show Network (GSN), and TV Land.

* World News Extra ($5/month) adds CNBC, MSNBC, The Blaze, HLN, BBC World News, France 24, Euro News, CCTV News, Fusion, NDTV 24/7, News 18 India, and Russia Today to your plan. [Although, I think you’d just be better off using our very own World News Hub, which has more channels, and it’s free.]

* Lifestyle Plus Extra ($5/month) gets you VH1, Oxygen, E!, DIY Network, Vibrant TV, WE, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, The Cooking Channel, FYI, Z Living HD, and LMN (Lifetime Movie Network).

* HBO ($15/month) comes with three live streams from HBO networks, along with the full HBO library on-demand.

* You can also get Cinemax for $10/month, and Starz for $9/month.

There are other add-on packages as well. You can browse the selection for yourself here.

Another positive feature about Sling TV is that you can watch it on more devices than its main rival–the PlayStation Vue service. You can watch on your computer (both Mac and PC), tablet (both Android and iOS), phone (Android and iOS), or on your TV using your streaming device. If you don’t have a streaming device, Sling will throw in a free Roku 2 when you sign up.

On the downside, Sling has very limited playback capabilities. Sling touts its ‘3-Day Replay,’ but it’s only available here and there. Sling also has limited on-demand options. If you go with Sling TV, you’ll probably want to invest in a separate DVR. Since a decent DVR costs close to $200, Sling’s deficiency with its playback capabilities is a legitimate source of concern.

PlayStation Vue

Watch live TV online -- PlayStation Vue streaming service

From the price, to the built-in DVR, to the number of channels available, PlayStation Vue is as close as you can get to cable television with an internet streaming service.

PlayStation Vue isn’t as popular as Sling TV because when it first came out it only worked on a PlayStation console or a Sony Smart TV. But this is no longer the case. Now, PlayStation Vue is available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TVs.

PlayStation Vue also suffers from the perception that it’s more expensive than Sling TV. But it’s misleading to state that Vue is more expensive than Sling without first considering all the factors. Yes, Vue’s cheapest plan is $10 more than Sling’s cheapest, but Vue offers a lot more channels. Also, unlike Sling, PlayStation Vue comes with DVR capabilities, so users don’t have to shell out an extra $200 for a DVR.

PlayStation Vue’s channel lineup is outstanding. In fact, Vue’s channel list is too long to include here. Here’s the full PlayStation Vue channels list.

PlayStation Vue offers four different plans. First, ‘Access’ ($30 per month) gives you a slew of basic stations, including ESPN networks. ‘Core’ ($35 per month) is the same as Access, but with more sports. ‘Elite’ ($45 per month) goes beyond Access to add in niche programming. Finally, ‘Ultra’ ($65 per month) adds HBO and Showtime to your lineup. Although PlayStation Vue is pricey, it delivers up to 90 live TV channels – including local news, sports, and many networks that used to only be available with cable or satellite.

Try PlayStation Vue free for a month.

DirectTV Now

I’ve received lots of messages from cord cutters inquiring about DirectTV Now. I include it here simply because it’s out there and it gets a lot of interest. Unfortunately, DirectTV Now is not ready for prime-time just yet. It has too many bugs and too many complaints. It’s still a new product, and Direct TV can turn it around, but for now I cannot recommend Direct TV Now.

Channel-Specific Services

Some channels have their own standalone streaming services. CBS, HBO, Showtime, and Starz all currently have a-la-carte services you can sign up for without any other TV subscription.

Each service will let you watch that channel’s programming live or on-demand on your favorite devices. If you

Live TV Streaming Services — Compare Channels & Costs

Service FUBO TV
(Free trial)
YOUTUBE TV
(Free trial)
HULU LIVE TV
(Free trial)
DIRECTV NOW
(Free trial)
SLING TV
(Free trial)
PLAYSTATION VUE
(Free trial)
OTHER
Package & Price Premier ($35/mo) Basic ($35/mo) Basic ($40/mo) Basic ($35/mo) Orange ($20/mo)** Blue ($25/mo)** Extras ($5/mo) Access Slim ($30/mo) Core Slim ($35/mo) Elite Slim ($45/mo) Varies
A&E Premier Basic Basic Orange Blue
ABC Premier Basic Broadcast Extra On-demand On-demand On-demand
Acorn TV Amazon Video
Adult Swim Basic Basic Orange Blue
AHC Basic Elite
AMC Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
Animal Planet Basic Access Core Elite
Baby TV Extra Basic Kids Extra
BBC America Basic Orange Blue
BBC World News Basic World News Extra
beIN Sports Premier Sports Extra Core Elite
BET Basic Blue Lifestyle Extra Access Core Elite
BET Gospel Elite
BET Jams Elite
BET Soul Elite
Big Ten Network (BTN) Premier Basic Basic Basic
Bloomberg TV Basic Orange Blue
Boomerang Basic Basic Kids Extra Elite
Bravo Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
Cartoon Network Basic Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
CBS Premier Basic CBS All Access
CBS Sports Premier Basic Basic
Centric Elite
Cheddar Amazon Video
Chiller Extra Basic Basic Basic Elite
Cinemax Basic Extra $10/mo
Cloo Elite
CMT Basic Comedy Plus Extra Access Core Elite
CMT Music Elite
CNBC Extra Basic Basic Basic World News Extra Access Core Elite
CNBC World Basic Elite
CNN Basic Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
Comcast SportsNet Basic Basic Basic Blue
Comedy Central Basic Blue Access Core Elite
Comedy Central Stand-Up Amazon Video
Comedy TV Basic
Comic Con HQ Amazon Video
Con TV Amazon Video
Cooking Channel Basic Lifestyle Extra Elite
Curiosity Stream Amazon Video
CW Basic
Destination America Basic Access Core Elite
Discovery Basic Access Core Elite
Discovery Family Basic Access Core Elite
Discovery Life Basic Elite
Disney Channel Basic Basic Basic Orange Access Core Elite
Disney Junior Basic Basic Basic Kids Extra Access Core Elite
Disney XD Basic Basic Basic Kids Extra Access Core Elite
DIY Network Basic Lifestyle Extra Access Core Elite
Dove Channel Amazon Video
Drama Fever Instant Amazon Video
Duck TV Kids Extra
E! Premier Basic Basic Basic Lifestyle Extra Access Core Elite
El Rey Premier Basic Orange Blue
EPIX Hollywood Extra
EPIX Drive-In Hollywood Extra
EPIX Hits Hollywood Extra Elite
EPIX2 Hollywood Extra
ESPN Basic Basic Basic Orange Access Core Elite
ESPN Bases Loaded Sports Extra
ESPN Buzzer Beater Sports Extra
ESPN Goal Line Sports Extra
ESPN2 Basic Basic Basic Orange Access Core Elite
ESPNews Basic Basic Basic Sports Extra Core Elite
ESPNU Basic Basic Basic Sports Extra Core Elite
Esquire Network Access Core Elite
Euronews World News Extra
Flama Orange Blue
Food Network Basic Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
Football Report TV Premier
Fox Premier Basic Blue* On-demand On-demand On-demand
Fox Business Premier Basic Basic Access Core Elite
Fox College Sports Premier Elite
Fox News Premier Basic Basic Basic Access Core Elite
Fox Sports 1 (FS1) Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
Fox Sports 2 (FS2) Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
Fox Sports Regional Premier Basic Basic
Fox Soccer Plus Premier
France24 World News Extra
Freeform Basic Basic Basic Orange Access Core Elite
Fuse Premier Basic
Fusion Premier Basic World News Extra Elite
FX Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
FXM Premier Basic Basic Basic Elite
FXX Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
FYI Premier Basic Basic Lifestyle Extra
Gaia Amazon Video
Galavision Orange Blue
Golf Channel Premier Basic Basic Basic Sports Extra Core Elite
Hallmark Channel Premier Basic
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Premier
HBO Basic Extra $15/mo HBO Now / Amazon Video
HGTV Basic Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
Hi-Yah Elite
History Premier Basic Basic Orange Blue
History Vault Amazon Video
HLN Basic Basic World News Extra Access Core Elite
Hoopla Kidz Plus Amazon Video
IFC Basic Orange Blue Core Elite
Impact Elite
Investigation Discovery Basic Access Core Elite
Lifetime Premier Basic Basic Orange Blue
Lifetime Movies (LMN) Premier Basic Basic Lifestyle Extra
Local Now Premier Orange Blue
Logo Basic Comedy Plus Extra Elite
Maker Orange Blue
MGM HD Elite
MLB Network Basic MLB.TV / MLB At Bat
MLS Soccer TV MLS Live / Fubo TV
Motor Trend Amazon Video
MSG Premier
MSNBC Premier Basic Basic Basic World News Extra Access Core Elite
MTV Basic Comedy Plus Extra Access Core Elite
MTV Hits Elite
MTV Live Elite
MTV U Elite
MTV2 Basic Comedy Plus Extra Access Core Elite
Nat Geo Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
Nat Geo Wild Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Elite
NBA TV Premier Basic NBA League Pass
NBC Premier Basic Blue* On-demand On-demand On-demand
NBCSN Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
NDTV World News Extra
NESN Premier Access Core Elite
News 18 India World News Extra
Newsy Orange Blue
NFL Network Premier Blue Core Elite NFL Game Pass, US & Int'l
NFL RedZone Premier Sports Extra Core Add-On ($40) Elite Add-On ($40) NFL Game Pass Int'l
NHL Hockey TV Basic NHL.TV / NHL Mobile App
Nick Jr. Basic Blue Kids Extra Access Core Elite
Nickelodeon Basic Access Core Elite
NickToons Kids Extra Access Core Elite
One World Sports Premier Elite
Outside TV Sports Extra Elite
OWN Basic Access Core Elite
Oxygen Premier Basic Basic Basic Lifestyle Extra Access Core Elite
Polaris+ Orange Blue
Pop Basic Access Core Elite
Pursuit Channel Basic
Revolt Premier
RT World News Extra
Science Basic Access Core Elite
Screen Junkies Plus Amazon Video
SEC Network Basic Basic Basic Sports Extra Core Elite
See So Amazon Video
Showtime Basic Showtime Anytime / Amazon Video
Smithsonian Earth Amazon Video
Spike Basic Comedy Plus Extra Access Core Elite
Sprout Premier Basic Basic Basic Elite
Starz Amazon Video
Sundance TV Basic Hollywood Extra Core Elite
Syfy Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
Tastemade Amazon Video
TBS Basic Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
TeenNick Basic Kids Extra Elite
Tennis Channel Basic
TLC Basic Access Core Elite
TNT Basic Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
Travel Channel Basic Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
TruTV Basic Basic Blue Comedy Plus Extra
Turner Classic Movies Basic Basic Hollywood Extra Core Elite
TV Land Basic Comedy Plus Extra Access Core Elite
UFC TV UFC Fight Pass
UMC Amazon Video
UniMas Premier Basic Blue Broadcast Extra
Universal HD Extra Elite
Univision Premier Basic Blue Broadcast Extra
Univision Deportes Sports Extra
UP Faith&Family Amazon Video
USA Premier Basic Basic Basic Blue Access Core Elite
Velocity Basic Elite
VH1 Basic Lifestyle Extra Access Core Elite
VHI Classic Elite
Vibrant Lifestyle Extra
Viceland Premier Basic Basic Orange Blue
Weather Channel Premier Basic
Weather Nation Basic
WeTV Lifestyle Extra Access Core Elite
YES Premier Basic Basic Basic Orange Blue Access Core Elite
YouTube Red Originals Basic
Package & Price Premier ($35/mo) Basic ($35/mo) Basic ($40/mo) Basic ($35/mo) Orange ($20/mo)** Blue ($25/mo)** Extras ($5/mo) Access Slim ($30/mo) Core Slim ($35/mo) Elite Slim ($45/mo) Varies
Service FUBO TV
(Free trial)
YOUTUBE TV
(Free trial)
HULU LIVE TV
(Free trial)
DIRECTV NOW
(Free trial)
SLING TV
(Free trial)
PLAYSTATION VUE
(Free trial)
OTHER

2) Watch Free Live TV Online

You can watch live TV online for free (legally), but the channels are limited. You won’t find the popular network and cable channels streaming live online for free (that is, without requiring a TV login). But if you want to watch live news online, or watch live streaming TV from channels outside the mainstream you can find some good stuff.

Go here to watch free live TV online on a variety of channels.

You can also check the website of any channel you’re interested in to see if they have a free live stream. Or, browse our TV station database of free live TV channels from around the world.

Watch Free Live UK TV

A great source to watch live TV online for free is UK TV. Most people don’t know they can watch tons of high-quality TV shows, documentaries, news, sports and more from the UK. See, in the UK, popular channels like BBC and ITV are free, and they live stream all their programming free online.

Go here to browse channels and watch free live UK TV online.

The catch is that anyone outside the UK is blocked from watching the live streams. But there is an easy way to get past the location-blocks and get access to tons of great programming. See how to unblock UK TV.

3) Watch Free Live TV On Kodi

Watch live TV online -- on Kodi

Kodi is a bit of a different animal. You can use Kodi to watch live TV — totally for free — on hundreds of the most popular channels like HBO, Showtime, ABC, NBC, AMC, FX, and ESPN.

What Is Kodi?

But is Kodi legal? It’s complicated at best. So if you’re wary of violating copyright laws, steer clear of Kodi.

For the rest of you, you can learn more about how to use Kodi and how to watch Kodi live TV.

Watch Live TV Online With Cable

If you have cable and want to watch live TV online, the first thing to check is whether you can do so via your TV provider. Check to see if your cable company has a streaming app, or offers live streaming of the channels in your subscription on their website.

You can also watch live streaming TV on many channel’s websites. You’ll just need to log in with your credentials to get access to live streams.

Sometimes channels will only allow viewers in certain locations to watch live TV online. This is very annoying. If you ever see a message like “Live stream not available in your area” then it just happened to you. See how to unblock TV channels with location restrictions and get access.

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