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Cloud DVR Comparison: Best Live TV Service for Recording?

Channels and price are not the only things to consider when choosing a TV service. Cloud DVR is just as important.

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Choosing the best live TV streaming service comes down to more than just a price comparison. You also have to take into consideration other factors, including channel lineup, number of streams and cloud DVR.

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In this guide, we’ll be taking a specific look at the cloud DVR offered by all of the major live TV streaming services. This includes how much space you get, whether there are any other limitations, and of course, whether you have to pay extra for cloud DVR.

Knowing this information and factoring it into the cost equation will help to reveal the true live TV streaming cost.

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Before delving into the specifics of each of the live TV streaming services, we’ll first provide a brief introduction to what cloud DVR is for new streamers. If you prefer, you can use the table of contents below to jump straight to a specific section, or the cloud DVR comparison summary for an overview of the guide’s main points.

What is cloud DVR?

Everyone is probably already familiar with DVR in general, as the option to record on a digital video recorder has been around for a long time. However, in an era where everything is moving to the “cloud,” so has DVR.

In principle, cloud DVR is not any different to the DVR we are all used to. Again, it’s digital video recording. Again, you can record your favorite TV shows and movies.

That’s not to say there aren’t differences, as there are. Although, generally speaking, DVR is all the better for making the switch to the cloud.

Physical DVR vs cloud DVR: storage

With a physical DVR device, there are physical limitations in place. The most obvious of these is the storage. Recordings are made to a physical hard drive and therefore, how much you can record boils down to the limits of the hard drive.

With cloud DVR, all recordings are stored in the provider’s data center. Much like emails, or any other form of modern-day data, the recordings are stored elsewhere, and not locally.

In theory, this means there’s no limit to how much an individual can record.

Physical DVR vs cloud DVR: tuners

Another limitation of physical DVRs is how many channels you can record at the same time. DVRs use tuners to record content and most devices usually advertise this fact as a selling point. For example, a dual or quad-tuner. If you have a dual-tuner DVR, then the maximum number of channels you can record at the same time is two.

Like with the storage, there’s no physical tuner in use with cloud DVR. Again, this means that in theory, cloud DVRs can record an infinite number of channels at the same time.

Physical DVR vs cloud DVR: devices

Another major difference between physical and cloud DVRs is the device support. Typically speaking, physical DVRs are designed for playback on one device and usually the device connected to the physical DVR. There are exceptions to this rule, but the general principle is playback on one device at a time.

Cloud DVRs differ in this respect as users can watch content back on any device or platform compatible with the provider’s service. What’s more, in theory, the video can be played back on an unlimited number of devices at the same time.

Physical DVR vs cloud DVR: main differences

To sum up, physical DVRs mainly differ to cloud DVRs in terms of how much video you can record, how many recordings you can make at the same time, and what devices you can play back the recordings on.

While cloud DVRs have the potential to bypass these limitations, that’s all in theory. The reality is far more nuanced.

Every service provider first decides whether they can, and will, offer cloud DVR. If they do, they then make the decision as to how much cloud space they’ll offer each subscriber, how many recordings each subscriber can make at the same time, device support, and whether they’ll charge subscribers for any of this.

As it is the companies making these decisions, the results inevitably vary. Explaining those differences, and in some cases, limitations, is the purpose of this cloud DVR comparison guide.

Below you’ll find detailed information on each of the main live TV streaming services. Before that, here’s a summary of the main differences.

Cloud DVR comparison summary

In the table below, you’ll see how the main services stack up against each other on DVR.

Live TV serviceFreeStorage
(Hours)
Keep for
(Days)
DevicesChannelsCan upgrade
AT&T TV
NOW
50090No limitNo limitX
fuboTV30IndefiniteNo limitNo limit✔ ($9.99 for 500)
Hulu + Live TV50IndefiniteTVs outside homeNo limit✔ ($9.99 for 200)
PhiloUnlimited30No limitNo limitX
PlayStation Vue (closed)500 programs28TVs outside homeLimitedX
Sling TV10No limitNo limitNo Disney
VidgoNo DVRXXXXX
WatchTVNo DVRXXXXX
YouTube TVUnlimited9 monthsNo limitNo limitX

AT&T TV NOW cloud DVR

AT&T TV NOW comparison

Previously known as DIRECTV NOW, AT&T TV NOW is just one of AT&T’s TV and video services.

The entry level plan starts at $55 per month. For that price you get access to a selection of live TV channels.

When AT&T first launched AT&T TV NOW (as DIRECTV NOW), cloud DVR was not available. However, after a lengthy beta period, AT&T TV NOW opened up cloud DVR to subscribers.

AT&T TV NOW storage limitation:

Previously, AT&T only provided AT&T TV NOW subscribers with access to 20 hours of cloud DVR.

However, in January of 2020 AT&T increased the limit from 20 hours to 500 hours for both Plus and Max subscribers. Another limitation that was improved at the same time was how long you can keep recordings for.

AT&T TV NOW duration limitation:

AT&T TV NOW recordings only stay “recorded” for a maximum of ninety days. While this is less than some of the other services, it is improvement compared to the 30-day limitation that was previously in place.

Once the ninety days have been reached, recordings are automatically deleted and irrespective of whether they have been viewed or not.

AT&T TV NOW device limitation:

AT&T TV NOW does not limit the devices you can play recordings back on. As long as the device is compatible with the service in the first place, you can likely watch a recording on it.

In fact, AT&T TV NOW even lets you set recordings from most compatible devices.

AT&T TV NOW same-time recording limitation:

Just like the device support, AT&T TV NOW does not impose any unnecessary limitations on how many channels you can record at the same time.

The only limit in this respect is the storage. For example, you can in theory record 500 different one-hour shows at the same time, without issue.

AT&T TV NOW price limitation:

AT&T TV NOW does not charge for its cloud DVR. All of the features and limitations mentioned above are included with the company’s Plus and Max plans, free of charge.

AT&T TV NOW also does not offer the option to upgrade any of its cloud DVR features. For example, there’s no option to upgrade the storage limit or how long recordings stay recorded for.

AT&T TV NOW cloud DVR summary:

Here’s a recap of AT&T TV NOW’s main cloud DVR features and limitations.

  • Limited to 500 hours
  • Recordings are automatically deleted after 90 days
  • No limit on the devices you can record from or play recordings on
  • No limit on the number of recordings you can make at the same time
  • AT&T TV NOW does not charge extra for cloud DVR nor does it offer the option to upgrade

fuboTV cloud DVR

fuboTV comparison

In another life, fuboTV was a simple and straightforward sports-focused streaming service, costing just $7 per month.

A lot has changed since then and now fuboTV is a fully-fledged live TV streaming service with plans starting at $54.99 per month. Along with that higher price is a channel lineup to compete with the best of them.

The same also goes for the additional features, including cloud DVR. Although, like the other services, fuboTV does have its own specific limitations.

fuboTV storage limitation:

fuboTV lets those on its cheapest live TV streaming plan record up to 30 hours before reaching their maximum storage limit.

If 30 hours is not enough then fuboTV does also offers the option to upgrade the cloud DVR to “Cloud DVR Plus.” This upgrade costs an additional $9.99 per month and boosts the cloud DVR limit up from 30 hours to 500 hours.

Subscribers who opt for a more expensive fuboTV plan are provided with the 500-hour cloud DVR limit at no extra cost.

fuboTV time limitation:

There’s no time limit with fuboTV. The live TV streaming service allows subscribers to keep recordings for as long as they like.

fuboTV also does not automatically delete recordings. Instead, they are only removed when actively deleted by the user.

fuboTV device limitation:

fuboTV does not restrict the devices you can watch recordings on. As long as the device is compatible with fuboTV to begin with, you can watch recordings on it.

The only exception is broadcast restrictions. For example, if a video is restricted from viewing in certain areas, or on certain devices, those restrictions remain in effect. This is a common restriction among live TV streaming services.

fuboTV same-time recording limitation:

Similar to its approach to time, fuboTV won’t limit how many recordings you can make at the same time.

The only limit here is the cloud DVR storage. As long as there is space available, the user is free to record as many channels as they want, at the same time.

Note: fuboTV says cloud DVR is available on “most channels.” Users might find that not all channels or programs can be recorded.

fuboTV price limitation:

How much the cloud DVR experience costs through fuboTV mainly comes down to how much a user needs, and whether they are on the cheapest plan or not.

If 30 hours is more than enough for those on the entry-level fuboTV plan, then there’s no charge. If opting for the “Plus” cloud DVR add-on, $9.99 will be added to the monthly fuboTV base subscription cost.

All other fuboTV plans come with the premium cloud DVR experience included in the price and with no option to upgrade beyond this, there’s no additional cost to those who subscribe to fuboTV plan other than the cheapest one.

fuboTV cloud DVR summary:

Here’s a recap of fuboTV NOW’s main cloud DVR features and limitations.

  • Subscribers to the entry-level plan are limited to 30 hours, but can upgrade.
  • Subscribers to any plan other than the cheapest, get access to 500 hours of cloud DVR.
  • Recordings are available indefinitely or until deleted by the user
  • No limit on the devices you can record from or play recordings on
  • No limit on the number of recordings you can make at the same time
  • fuboTV does not charge extra for cloud DVR, but does offer subscribers on the cheapest plan the option to upgrade the storage limit to 500 hours for an additional $9.99 per month

Hulu Live TV cloud DVR

Hulu TV comparison

In a short space of time, Hulu Live TV has risen from a new player to a major player.

Technically, Hulu Live TV only offers one live TV subscription, priced at $54.99 per month. However, users do have the option to upgrade the plan to an ad-free version.

In addition to the access to live TV channels, Hulu Live TV subscribers also get access to the standard Hulu on-demand subscription included with the price.

Another included feature with Hulu Live TV is cloud DVR and here’s what you need to know.

Hulu Live TV storage limitation:

Hulu Live TV is fairly generous with its cloud DVR access. For example, all subscribers have the option to record up to 50 hours.

There is no additional charge for this, although those in need of even more storage can upgrade to Hulu’s “Enhanced Cloud DVR.”

This upgrade costs an additional $9.99 per month and provides access to a 200-hour cloud DVR storage limit

Hulu Live TV time limitation:

In addition to the free storage limit, Hulu Live TV also does not limit how long recordings stay recorded for.

Hulu Live TV will allow you to keep recordings indefinitely, as long as the account maintains an active subscription.

However, Hulu does automatically delete older recordings when the storage limit is reached to make way for newer ones.

Hulu Live TV device limitation:

In general, Hulu Live TV will let you watch recordings (and live streams) on as many devices as you want.

However, there is a limitation when it comes to living room devices. Hulu is a single-household service. This means Hulu requires subscribers to select a “home network.”

Once a network has been determined, the same Hulu account cannot be accessed on living room devices (including TVs) that are not connected to the same home network.

For clarity, you can watch on as many TVs on the same network as you want, or on mobile devices outside the network. You just cannot watch on TVs connected to other networks.

Read more: Understanding Hulu’s home network policy

Hulu Live TV same-time recording limitation:

Hulu Live TV does not appear to have any major limitations on simultaneous recordings.

You can record multiple channels at the same time, and even set recordings up from multiple devices.

Hulu + Live TV price limitation:

There’s no major price limitation with Hulu Live TV. The service comes with 50 hours of cloud DVR for free.

Those in need of a greater storage allowance can opt to upgrade to Hulu’s Enhanced Cloud DVR.

This will results in an increase of the storage limit from 50 hours to 200 hours. It will also result in an increase in price by an additional $9.99 per month.

Note: An additional Hulu Live TV cloud DVR limitation is the ability to fast-forward through the ads. This option is only possible for those who have upgraded to Enhanced Cloud DVR.

Hulu Live TV cloud DVR summary:

Here’s a recap of Hulu Live TV’s main cloud DVR features and limitations.

  • Limited to 50 hours, but can be upgraded
  • Recordings remain available indefinitely
  • Hulu limits the number of living room devices you can watch on, but not mobile devices
  • No limit on the number of recordings you can make at the same time
  • Hulu + Live TV does not charge extra for cloud DVR, but does offer the option to upgrade to 200 hours for an additional $9.99 per month
  • Only subscribers who have upgraded can fast-forward through ads.

Philo cloud DVR

Philo TV comparison

Because of its low price, Philo might be considered a budget live TV streaming service, but it’s not budget in all areas.

Yes, Philo does not offer an as extensive channel lineup as the other services, but it is significantly cheaper than most other services.

Just as importantly, Philo does not cheap out on the features and this includes cloud DVR.

Philo storage limitation:

While the channel lineup on Philo might be limited, the cloud DVR storage is not.

Philo is the first service on this list so far to offer unlimited cloud DVR.

Philo subscribers are able to record as much as they like, and at no extra charge.

Philo time limitation:

Although Philo subscribers can record everything they want, they do have to watch it back within a set time-frame.

Philo automatically deletes cloud DVR recordings after 30 days. Interestingly, Philo subscribers are unable to delete their own recordings.

Philo explains that as this is a truly unlimited cloud DVR, there’s no need for subscribers to worry about trivial things, such as managing their own cloud DVR recordings.

Philo device limitation:

Philo does not appear to limit the devices you can record from or watch recordings on.

The only notable limitation is the number of devices that can stream at the same time, in general.

Philo same-time recording limitation:

The low-cost live tv streaming service offers unlimited cloud DVR. As a result, Philo subscribers can record as much as they want.

This includes as many channels as they want, at the same time.

Philo price limitation:

Philo has taken a very simple approach to its cloud DVR by offering a completely unlimited experience, with the exception of how long recordings remain recorded.

All of this is included in the base Philo subscription price. In addition, as the service is already unlimited, there’s no option to upgrade.

Philo cloud DVR summary:

Here’s a recap of Philo’s main cloud DVR features and limitations.

  • Unlimited cloud DVR
  • Recordings are automatically deleted after 30 days. Users cannot delete recordings
  • No limit on the devices you can record from or play recordings on
  • No limit on the number of recordings you can make at the same time
  • Philo does not charge extra for cloud DVR, and as it is unlimited, there’s no option to upgrade

PlayStation Vue cloud DVR

PlayStation Vue comparison

PlayStation Vue was Sony’s take on live TV streaming. However, the service closed in January, 2020. Below, is the cloud DVR experience that was on offer while PlayStation Vue was available.

PlayStation Vue was never the cheapest option, considering plans started at $49.99 per month. However, PlayStation Vue did pack in the features, including cloud DVR.

PlayStation Vue actually had a far more curated cloud DVR expereince than the others on this list. This makes explaining how it worked a little more complicated.

PlayStation Vue storage limitation:

Technically, PlayStation Vue offered unlimited cloud DVR. That is, there was no limit to how many hours you could record.

However, not all content could be recorded through PlayStation Vue. For example, content that was available on-demand was not also available for recording.

Due to this, PlayStation Vue’s cloud DVR storage limit was better understood in terms programs, not hours. According to PlayStation Vue, subscribers were able to record “unlimited episodes on up to 500 programs.”

PlayStation Vue time limitation:

Sony’s live TV streaming service only allowed recordings to stay recorded for up to 28 days. This was the shortest of all of the live TV streaming service that offer cloud DVR on this list.

After the 28-day period, recordings were automatically deleted.

PlayStation Vue device limitation:

Similar to Hulu, PlayStation Vue employed a “home” approach to content.

This meant that PlayStation Vue subscribers were free to watch recordings on as many devices as they liked (while abiding by their plan’s simultaneous streams limitation). However, outside of the home area things were different and dependent on the device.

Outside the home, subscribers were once again free to watch recordings on any device. Unlike Hulu, this actually included living room devices, such as TVs. The caveat here was only one living room device could watch PlayStation Vue (live or recorded) at a time.

For example if a user streamed content, recorded or not, on a living room device outside of the home, the TV in the home would be disabled from streaming at the same time.

Again, this only applied to living room devices, such as smart TVs.

PlayStation Vue same-time recording limitation:

PlayStation Vue did not limit how many recordings you could make at the same time.

The only limitation was what could or couldn’t be recorded. As long as the shows were allowed to be recorded, there was no limit to simultaneous recordings.

PlayStation Vue price limitation:

While PlayStation Vue’s cloud DVR was a little more complicated than the others, Sony did not charge anything for the feature.

All PlayStation Vue subscribers, regardless of plan, had access to the same cloud DVR benefits. In addition, PlayStation Vue did not offer any option to upgrade the cloud DVR.

PlayStation Vue cloud DVR summary:

Here’s a recap of what were PlayStation Vue’s main cloud DVR features and limitations.

  • No limit on the number of hours you could record, but the number of programs were limited
  • Recordings were automatically deleted after 28 days
  • PlayStation Vue limited the number of living room devices that subscribers could play recordings on – when outside a designated home area
  • No limit on the number of recordings you could make at the same time
  • PlayStation Vue did not charge extra for cloud DVR, nor offer the option to upgrade

Sling TV cloud DVR

Sling TV comparison

Sling TV is one of the oldest, and most subscribed-to live TV streaming services around. It also happens to be one of the cheaper options with plans starting at just $30 per month.

Sling TV is able to offer low prices as it doesn’t include quite as many channels as the others. Instead, Sling TV adopts an a la carte approach where users can add more channels if they want, and pay for them on top of the base subscription.

When it comes to cloud DVR, a similar approach is in use.

Sling TV cloud DVR storage limitation:

Sling TV limits cloud DVR to 10 hours per account.

Those looking to upgrade can do so with the Cloud DVR Plus add-on which increases the limit to 50 hours per account.

There’s currently no option to increase the cloud DVR limit beyond 50 hours with Sling TV.

Sling TV time limitation:

Sling TV does not limit how long recordings can stay recorded for.

The only limit is the storage limit. Those who subscribe to the upgraded cloud DVR service also gain a “protect” option to ensure content stays recorded for as long as they want it to.

While Sling TV does not limit the time you can keep a recording, it will automatically delete older content to make way for newer recordings – unless that recording has been marked as protected.

Sling TV device limitation:

Generally speaking, Sling TV does not limit the devices you can record from or watch recordings on.

The only exception to this rule is Xfinity X1 devices.

For all other devices, as long as it is compatible with Sling TV, it will have access to cloud DVR.

Sling TV same-time recording limitation:

This is another area where Sling TV does not impose any limits.

Sling TV allows subscribers to record as much content as they like, within their storage limit. This includes recording on as many channels as they want, at the same time.

The only exception is Sling TV does not offer cloud DVR on all channels. For example, cloud DVR is disabled on all Disney and ESPN channels, as well as on demand-only channels.

Sling TV price limitation:

Sling TV’s 10 hours of cloud DVR is offered free to all live TV subscribers, regardless of plan. Those looking for a higher limit can upgrade using the Cloud DVR Plus add-on.

At present, Sling TV’s Cloud DVR Plus add-on costs an additional $5 per month.

The low-cost service does not offer any additional cloud DVR-related upgrades to purchase.

Sling TV cloud DVR summary:

Here’s a recap of Sling TV’s main cloud DVR features and limitations.

  • Limited to 10 hours
  • Recordings are available indefinitely or until the user deletes them, but older recordings are automatically deleted to make way for newer ones
  • No limit on the devices you can record from or play recordings on
  • No limit on the number of recordings at the same time, but not all channels can be recorded
  • Sling TV charges $5 extra for Cloud DVR Plus which increases the limit from 10 to 50 hours, and add a “protect” feature to ensure recordings stay recorded.

Vidgo cloud DVR

Vidgo live tv

Compared to the other live TV streaming services on this list, Vidgo is one of the newer ones. As a result, it is yet to become the finished product and is missing many common features.

One of those missing features is cloud DVR with Vidgo currently lacking an option to record programs.

However, this is understood to be a temporary issue as Vidgo says it intends to add cloud DVR in the future. The company has not specified when that might happen, or even if there will be an additional charge on top of the existing cost of a Vidgo subscription plan.

In the meantime, Vidgo remains an option subscribers should avoid if a cloud DVR experience is important to them.

Watch TV cloud DVR

AT&T WatchTV comparison

AT&T’s WatchTV is designed to be a low-cost live TV streaming service. At $15 per month it is the lowest-priced live TV streaming service on this list.

While that’s great news for those who want to save as much as possible, WatchTV is also a live TV streaming service that’s lacking in features.

Just like Vidgo, WatchTV currently doesn’t offer the option to record programs through a cloud DVR feature.

WatchTV is primarily designed to be a live-only TV service and so there’s no cloud DVR included in the price, or no option to add cloud DVR as an upgrade.

Furthermore, and unlike Vidgo, AT&T has never indicated or suggested a WatchTV recording option is in the pipeline. If cloud DVR is important to you, then WatchTV is not the live TV streaming service for you.

YouTube TV cloud DVR

YouTube TV comparison

YouTube TV is a newer service compared to some of the others.

Priced at $49.99 per month, YouTube TV is not necessarily any cheaper than the others, and provides access to a similar channel lineup. As a means to distinguish itself from the rest, YouTube TV does focus on the experience and additional features.

For example, YouTube TV has always been a very pro-cloud DVR service and offers one of the best cloud DVR experiences around.

This includes a personalized DVR for each account connected to the one paid YouTube TV master account.

While YouTube TV is generous with its cloud DVR, that doesn’t mean it’s totally free of limitations.

YouTube TV storage limitation:

YouTube TV has always been all-in with cloud DVR and this means an unlimited recording experience.

The Google service does not limit recording space in any way and so subscribers are free to record as much content as they like.

In fact, five additional accounts can be linked to the one paid account and each sub-account will have access to its own unlimited cloud DVR.

YouTube TV time limitation:

While there’s no storage limitations in place, YouTube TV does limit how long recordings stay recorded for. However, compared to other services, this limitation is far more accommodating.

Cloud DVR recordings made using YouTube TV remain recorded for up to 9 months.

YouTube TV device limitation:

Sticking with the unlimited theme, YouTube TV does not limit the devices you can record from or watch recordings on.

As long as the device is compatible with YouTube TV, it is free to make use of the cloud DVR feature.

YouTube TV same-time recording limitation:

YouTube TV also does not limit how many channels can be recorded at the same time.

Besides the 9-month limitation, this is a truly unlimited cloud DVR. As much content can be recorded at the same time, and on as many channels as the user wants.

YouTube TV price limitation:

YouTube TV’s cloud DVR is one of the service’s main features. Therefore, YouTube TV does not charge customers for access to cloud DVR. In addition, YouTube TV does not offer any cloud DVR upgrades for purchase.

All YouTube TV subscribers have access to the full cloud DVR functionality as part of their base subscription.

YouTube TV cloud DVR summary:

Here’s a recap of YouTube TV’s main cloud DVR features and limitations.

  • Unlimited cloud DVR
  • Recordings are automatically deleted after 9 months
  • No limit on the devices you can record from or play recordings on
  • No limit on the number of recordings you can make at the same time
  • YouTube TV does not charge extra for cloud DVR, nor does it offer the option to upgrade

Read more: Simultaneous streams comparison

Last updated April 29, 2020.

John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Clarity to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingclarity.com or on Twitter

2 replies on “Cloud DVR Comparison: Best Live TV Service for Recording?”

I’ve been a go big subscriber since the service launched back in 2016. One thing missing from the guide above is Go Big subscribers are still on the 20 hours of dvr storage which is complete bs. There is not an add on option to pay for the 500 hours of dvr storage. I feel they want us to leave or switch to plus or max because to be honest there losing money with the go big subcribers. Im actually at my limit i need more dvr storage asap. 20 hours can be taken up if you record all the cbs abc and nbc late night shows that come on weekly.

One other important feature to consider if you update the DVR comparison is the ability to manage your DVR content. Two factors to consider: 1) the ability to record new episodes only and not re-runs. If a DVR can not distinguish between the two, then your DVR content becomes bogged down with rerun content that you need to weed thru. 2) the ability to delete individual episodes after you watch them or decide you don’t want to keep them. This is especially important if you can not block reruns from recording. Both of these factors are significant in keeping DVR content manageable. For instance, I enjoyed my free trial week for YouTube TV but the DVR experience was a deal breaker on both of the factors I listed above.

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