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Cable TV vs. Streaming TV: Are YouTube TV, DirecTV Now and Sling TV really a better deal?

Cable TV vs. Streaming TV: Are YouTube TV, DirecTV Now and Sling TV really a better deal?
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If you’re paying more than $100 per month for traditional cable or satellite TV — which is about the national average — money expert Clark Howard has encouraged you to consider live TV streaming services that start around $40 per month.

Team Clark hears from people who’ve made the switch and love it, but others aren’t sure streaming services are a better deal.

The truth is that both TV services have their pros and cons. Cable TV is more expensive than streaming services like YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue — but you generally get more channels with cable.

In addition, streaming services require a high-speed internet connection, which isn’t necessary for cable subscribers.

RELATED: Streaming TV comparison: Which service has the best channel lineup?

Comparison chart: Key differences between cable TV and live TV streaming services 

Need a little help to sort it all out? We did our best to put together this comparison chart that shows the key differences between a typical cable TV package and a typical streaming TV package.

Use this as a tool to help you decide whether cable or streaming will be the best fit for your household:

Typical cable TV package  Typical streaming TV package 
Monthly cost $100 $40
Number of channels 150+ 50+
Cable box or equipment fees Yes No
Streaming device No Yes
Internet connection Not required Required
Free DVR Sometimes Sometimes
Premium networks (HBO, Cinemax, SHOWTIME) Extra monthly fee Extra monthly fee
Watch anywhere from phone, computer or TV Less flexibility Greater flexibility
Contract or cancellation fees Yes/Sometimes Generally no
Broadcast TV and sports fees Yes No
Free trial period No Yes

More details 

Finding an affordable streaming service with a channel lineup that meets your wants and needs may be the biggest challenge.

The leading live TV streaming services still don’t let you pick and choose the channels you want, but most of them include popular networks like ESPN, Disney, HGTV, Bravo, CNN, Fox Sports 1, TBS, TNT and USA.

Here’s a handy chart that lists the channel lineups with each provider!

If you ditch that $100 monthly cable TV bill and sign up for a $40 per month streaming service, you’ll save $720 in just one year.

Team Clark has been testing various live TV streaming services over the past few months. Some of the key differences are price, channel lineup, DVR, supported devices and the ability to watch multiple streams at once.

Read about Clark’s favorite and compare your options in our guide to the best live TV streaming plans and deals in 2018!

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