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Fubo Review: Top-Tier for Sports, but Channel Selection Falls Short

 Fubo Review: Top-Tier for Sports, but Channel Selection Falls Short


01-fubo

Pros

  • Fans of soccer will find plenty to love
  • Quick and easy navigation, especially on Roku
  • Huge DVR storage and 4K content included

Cons

  • Lacks CNN, TNT, TBS and other Turner channels
  • YouTube TV and Hulu Live are better overall

For cord-cutters live TV streaming services like YouTube TVSling TV and Fubo have become replacements for cable. The selection of channels on these services is diverse, just as with cable, but Fubo differentiates itself from rivals with a sports-centric focus. But is it enough to compete against some strong contenders?

At $80 a month, Fubo still has a decent channel lineup, although it’s the only service in its price range to lack major Turner networks including CNN, TNT and TBS. If you’re a fan of soccer, however, this is the streaming service to get because no other competitor offers a more comprehensive list of games, or ways to find them, in both 4K and HD. Beyond soccer it’s also one of the best sports streaming services, full stop.

Yet, all of the other services in this price range present stronger packages. Hulu Plus Live TV offers a wealth of on-demand content including Disney Plus, and YouTube TV has even more channels and a superior DVR. More crucially, DirecTV Stream has a competitive channel selection comparable to Fubo. Overall, while Fubo has kept evolving over the years it still remains a niche player in the live TV streaming arena.

What is Fubo?

Fubo home screen Fubo home screen

Fubo/Screenshot by CNET

Fubo launched in January 2015 as a soccer (er, football) streaming service, but it has expanded its reach within live TV streaming to include channels for local networks, lifestyle, true crime, dramas and movies. In the past few years it has lost important channels such as CNN, TBS, Lifetime and A&E, but its origins are still apparent with dozens of sports-centric channels. Of our top 100 channels, though, Fubo has the lowest among all the premium services at 56, followed closely by DirecTV Stream at 57. Meanwhile, YouTube TV leads with 78.

Fubo offers a smattering of live 4K sports programming, and in the past this has included events as diverse as the Super Bowl and the Westminster Dog Show. Currently, the upcoming 4K events page lists a mix of English Premier League and NCAA basketball tournament, aka March Madness, but the service has plenty of non-4K too with the UEFA Europa League. See the next section for an in-depth rundown.

Fubo once offered a $65 starter package, but this has been phased out in favor of the $80 Pro plan, which comes with 4K, 1,000 hours of cloud DVR storage, 10 screens and a total of 196 channels. Move one level up to the $90 Elite plan, and you’ll get a bunch of extra channels (though only two more from the top 100) along with the Pro plan’s perks, like the DVR upgrade. It’s a massive improvement from the paltry 30 hours of recording the service offered a few of years ago. The cloud DVRs on YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV are unlimited, for what it’s worth.

Top services compared

Monthly price Sports channels RSNs? Simultaneous streams Cloud DVR
Fubo $80 for Pro plan (196 channels) ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN FS1, FS2, Bally Sports Yes 10 at home (2 outside home) 1,000 hours
DirecTV Stream $80 for Entertainment Package with basic sports (90+ channels); $109 for Choice plan with deluxe sports (125+ channels) ESPN, ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, TBS, TNT, F1, RSNs Yes 20 at home (3 outside home) Unlimited
Hulu with Live TV $77 ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, TBS, TNT, FS1, FS2 Limited 2 (pay an extra $10/month for more) Unlimited
YouTube TV $73 ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, TBS, TNT, FS1, FS2, league channels Limited 3 Unlimited
Sling Starts at $40 ESPN, TBS, FS1, some major networks No 1 for Orange, 3 for Blue, 4 for Orange & Blue 50 hours (pay $5/month for 200)

Sports on Fubo

Fubo has sports in its DNA, and it offers channels such as ESPN, FS1, FS2, BeIN Sports, the Big 10 and the Golf Channel, along with most of your local networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. Its lineup also includes Bally Sports. However, its lack of TNT and TBS could be a dealbreaker for many baseball, basketball and hockey fans.

Additionally, many sports fans will need access to their local regional sports networks, or RSNs, to watch their home team’s games. Fubo now offers 35 RSNs in its base package for viewers around the country –beating out DirecTV Stream’s count. You will need to check to see if Fubo carries your local networks and RSNs. Fans looking for league-owned channels will have to pay for an additional package. The Sports Lite add-on includes NHL, NBA, MLB, SEC and Tennis channels for $10 a month.

In terms of the competition, DirecTV Stream carries TBS and TNT, RSNs, and additional channels like MLB Network, NBA TV, SEC Network but to access them you’d have to pay $109 a month, which is still $29 more than Fubo Pro and Sports Lite combined, and $9 more than Elite with Sports Lite. Hulu with Live TV also has TBS and TNT, but only carries four RSNs and even their sports add-on lacks many league-owned channels. The bulked-up Hulu costs $77 a month and includes the Disney Bundle, which also gives subscribers access to ESPN Plus. The chart at the end of this article has a full comparison of how Fubo’s channel lineup fares against competitors.

What’s it like to use?

Fubo live sports home screen on streaming app Fubo live sports home screen on streaming app

Fubo/Screenshot by CNET

While it may be missing some important channels, the interface feels custom-built for sports fans. Fubo’s home screen features a specific “sports” tab that unlocks a menu right out of a sports-lover’s dream. Up top is a scrolling line of featured shows and matchups, along with local games. Below that is a clean, easy-to-read list of every upcoming game airing on the service that day sorted by time and sport type. You can click on a live event and immediately begin watching, with the option to record or in some cases, start playback from the beginning. You can tap on the DVR button to record the game or even record all of the games of one of the individual teams playing.

If looking at the whole daily schedule of games is too much, or you are in a hurry and looking for a particular sport, Fubo breaks down the menu even further. Directly under the “Fubo Spotlight” section is a list across the top of the screen of just about every sport you could want. Just click on the sport you’re looking for and a list of all the events in that sport will pop up. From there, you can even narrow it down further by league. For example, clicking on “hockey” will bring up all the hockey games airing today and for the rest of the week. But I can also toggle between the various league tabs to sort between the NHL, NCAA and AHL games — all with DVR options readily available. Fubo offers a comprehensive way to quickly find, record or watch a sporting event. There isn’t another service that even comes close to Fubo’s ease of use when it comes to sports, not even YouTube TV.

Fubo movie selection Fubo movie selection

Fubo has a large catalog of on-demand movies.

Fubo/Screenshot by CNET

The user interface offers a number of selections on the side of the screen including Search, Home, Sports, Shows, Movies, Guide and My Stuff. Most of these menus summon a Netflix-like grid, which groups similar types of content, but I found the navigation speed varied according to platform. I used the interface on the most popular devices including the Roku, Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, iOS and the Chrome browser. I found that while the mobile and browser versions worked as expected, the TV iterations varied, and some were slicker than others.

If you’re using the Apple TV or Roku, for example, the navigation menu is hidden and requires side click or swipe. Of all the platforms, I liked Roku best for browsing — it was responsive and let me use the fast-forward key to zip through the thumbnails on discovery pages.

Watch this: Live TV streaming services for cord cutters: How to choose the best one for you

My least favorite Fubo platform was the standard Amazon Fire TV Stick, and this is likely due to the hardware itself. Scrolling, whether it was up, down, left or right, was laggy with a noticeable stutter, and each thumbnail would take a couple of seconds to appear, though the newer Fire TV 4K was faster.

Should you get it?

With the loss of a number of important channels over the last two years, Fubo has lost much of the diversity it once offered, and now defaults to a sports-rich offering. If you are a hardcore sports fan, or its particular selection of channels interests you, it’s worthwhile at least signing up for a week to Fubo try it out. If you want the best value at this level, though, it’s YouTube TV or Hulu Plus Live TV where your money is best spent.

Top 100 channels compared

Channel Philo ($25) Sling Orange ($40) Sling Blue ($40) YouTube TV ($73) Hulu with Live TV ($77) DirecTV Stream ($80) Fubo ($80)
Total channels: 42 24 35 78 75 57 56
ABC No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
CBS No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBC No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
PBS No No No Yes Yes Yes No
CW No No No Yes Yes Yes (limited) Yes
MyNetworkTV No No No Yes Yes Yes No
Channel Philo ($25) Sling Orange ($40) Sling Blue ($40) YouTube TV ($73) Hulu with Live TV ($77) DirecTV Stream ($80) Fubo ($80)
A&E Yes Yes Yes No Yes $ No
ACC Network No $ No Yes Yes $ Yes
Accuweather Yes No No No No Yes Yes
AMC Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
Animal Planet Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
BBC America Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
BBC World News Yes $ $ Yes No $ No
BET Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Big Ten Network No No $ Yes Yes $ Yes
Bloomberg TV No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Boomerang No $ $ No $ Yes No
Bravo No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Channel Philo ($25) Sling Orange ($40) Sling Blue ($40) YouTube TV ($73) Hulu with Live TV ($77) DirecTV Stream ($80) Fubo ($80)
Cartoon Network No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
CBS Sports Network No No No Yes Yes $ Yes
Cheddar Yes No No Yes Yes $ Yes
Cinemax No No No $ $ $ No
CMT Yes $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
CNBC No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
CNN No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cooking Channel Yes $ $ No $ $ $
Destination America Yes $ $ No $ $ $
Discovery Channel Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney Channel No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney Junior No $ No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney XD No $ No Yes Yes Yes Yes
E! No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ESPN No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
ESPN 2 No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
ESPNEWS No $ No Yes Yes $ $
ESPNU No $ No Yes Yes $ $
Channel Philo ($25) Sling Orange ($40) Sling Blue ($40) YouTube TV ($73) Hulu with Live TV ($77) DirecTV Stream ($80) Fubo ($80)
Food Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Business No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox News No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FS1 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FS2 No No $ Yes Yes $ Yes
Freeform No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
FX No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FX Movies No No $ Yes Yes $ $
FXX No No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
FYI Yes $ $ No Yes $ No
Golf Channel No No $ Yes Yes $ Yes
Hallmark Yes $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
HBO/Max No No No $ $ $ No
HGTV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
History Yes Yes Yes No Yes $ No
HLN No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes No
IFC Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
Investigation Discovery Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lifetime Yes Yes Yes No Yes $ No
Lifetime Movie Network Yes $ $ No Yes $ No
Channel Philo ($25) Sling Orange ($40) Sling Blue ($40) YouTube TV ($73) Hulu with Live TV ($77) DirecTV Stream ($80) Fubo ($80)
Magnolia Network Yes $ $ Yes Yes $ Yes
MGM+ $ $ $ $ No $ No
MLB Network No $ $ No Yes $ $
Motor Trend Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
MSNBC No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV Yes $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV2 Yes $ $ Yes $ Yes $
National Geographic No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nat Geo Wild No No $ Yes Yes $ $
NBA TV No $ $ Yes No $ $
NFL Network No No Yes Yes Yes $ Yes
NFL Red Zone No No $ $ $ No $
NHL Network No $ $ No No $ $
Nickelodeon Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nick Jr. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes $ Yes
Nicktoons Yes $ $ Yes $ $ $
OWN Yes No No Yes Yes $ Yes
Oxygen No No $ Yes Yes $ Yes
Paramount Network Yes $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Science Yes $ $ No $ $ $
Channel Philo ($25) Sling Orange ($40) Sling Blue ($40) YouTube TV ($73) Hulu with Live TV ($77) DirecTV Stream ($80) Fubo ($80)
SEC Network No $ No Yes Yes $ $
Showtime No $ $ $ $ $ $
Smithsonian Yes No No Yes Yes $ Yes
Starz $ $ $ $ $ $ $
Sundance TV Yes $ $ Yes No Yes No
Syfy No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tastemade Yes $ $ Yes No $ Yes
TBS No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
TCM No $ $ Yes Yes Yes No
TeenNick Yes $ $ Yes $ Yes $
Telemundo No No No Yes Yes $ Yes
Tennis Channel No $ $ No No $ $
TLC Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
TNT No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Travel Channel Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes $ Yes
TruTV No $ Yes Yes Yes Yes No
TV Land Yes $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
USA Network No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VH1 Yes $ $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vice Yes Yes Yes No Yes $ No
WE tv Yes $ $ Yes No Yes No
Channel Philo ($25) Sling Orange ($40) Sling Blue ($40) YouTube TV ($73) Hulu with Live TV ($77) DirecTV Stream ($80) Fubo ($80)



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