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What is the biggest streaming live TV service?

NFL studio show on Hulu Live TV
Hulu with Live TV is the largest live TV streaming provider in the United States. (Image credit: CordCutters)

There's no shortage of streaming services that provide live TV in the United States. Otherwise known as a multi-channel video programing distributor (MVPD), these are services like Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, AT&T TV Now, Sling TV, FuboTV, and Philo. They have multiple channels — some have multiple packages of channels — and other bells and whistles that they're happy to sell you for a monthly subscription.

So which is the largest live TV streaming service in the United States? Here's how it breaks down (we think) as of Oct. 22, 2020:

  1. Hulu with Live TV (3.4 million subscribers)
  2. Sling TV (2.3 million subscribers) or YouTube TV (2 million-plus subscribers)
  3. Youtube TV or Sling TV (tie)
  4. AT&T TV Now (683,000 subscribers) as of Sept. 30, 2020.
  5. Fubo TV ( 286,126 subscribers)

Hulu with Live TV is the largest provider of streaming live television in the United States, with some 3.4 million paid subscribers. It's been buoyed in no small part by the massive success that is Disney+, which has brought more eyeballs to Hulu thanks to a pretty major bundle that includes Hulu's video-on-demand service with ESPN+ and Disney+ for just $12.99 a month.

If you get it on its own, Hulu with Live TV runs $54.99 a month.

Second place gets a little more muddied. Sling TV has reported 2.311 million paid subscribers as of May 7, 2020, and YouTube TV has said it has more than 2 million paid subscribers. But it didn't get any more specific than that. 

Given that Sling TV has been on a downward trajectory the past few quarters it's entirely possible that YouTube TV has overtaken it. But until Google gives more specific numbers, we simply don't know. Both companies have been heavy advertisers the past couple years, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them trade positions at some point. So for now, call this one a tie.

Fourth place is owned squarely by AT&T TV Now. (Which used to be called DirecTV Now.) Note that this is the streaming-only arm of AT&T's massive video category. There's also the similarly named AT&T TV, which requires proprietary hardware from AT&T hooked into an AT&T internet connection. 

AT&T TV Now's numbers have been steadily dropping as well, falling 46 percent year over year to land at 720,000 paid subscribers as of June 30, 2020. It lost 68,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2020, and 138,000 subscribers in the quarter before that.

And in fifth place is FuboTV. There's no doubt that it's the smallest of the bunch at 286,126 paid subscribers as of June 30, 2020, and that number dropped from 287,316 subs at the end of March. But it's still up about 47 percent year over year, Fubo said — and you have to remember that with Fubo emphasizes sports, and sports are seasonal even before the COVID shutdown. So it's growing, but that growth is slowing.