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Simultaneous Streams Comparison: Which Live TV Service Is Best?

Price and channels matter, but so does simultaneous streaming. Find out which service will let you stream on the most devices at the same time.

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How many simultaneous streams you get with a live TV streaming service is a question more consumers should be asking, more often. While services could let subscribers stream on an unlimited number of devices at the same time, due to various reasons, they don’t. Instead, every service tends to place a limit on the number of devices and in some cases, the type of devices.

Right now, there’s no common consensus on the number of same-time streams. Service makes their own rules and this can lead to a confusing choice for consumers. Something that’s made all the more confusing as unlike channels, streaming services don’t always let you know how many streams you get when they’re quoting the price.

Most of the time you’ll have to look through the FAQs to actually find out what limits are in place. Some consumers might only find out after the fact, once they actually hit the limit by trying to access on another device.

This simultaneous streams comparison includes detailed information on how many streams are offered by each of the main live TV streaming services. You’ll also find some additional information that might help to make an even more informed decision. This includes whether there are additional caveats to the same-time streams limit, or whether you can pay extra to gain more streams.

What is simultaneous streaming?

Simultaneous streams are a major benefits of streaming. No longer are viewers resigned to the physical limits of a device or even their proximity to the device. Instead, simultaneous streams allow users to access content on any device they want, and irrespective of whether someone else is watching something else in the same home.

For example, with simultaneous streams one family member can be watching a movie on the family TV in the living room. At the same time, another family member can be watching the latest episode of their favorite TV show on their smartphone in their bedroom.

Hulu simultaneous streams
Source: Hulu

With wide device support and simultaneous streams, families are now free to watch as much as they want, as often as they want, and on what device they want. That’s the theory, anyway. While there’s no longer any physical or proximity limits with streaming, the major services still limit consumers.

Simultaneous streams comparison summary

Below is an overview of how the main live TV services compare on simultaneous streams. If you just want to know the exact number of streams included with Hulu Live, Sling TV, or YouTube TV, then the table below has the answer. Below the summary, you’ll find additional information on what exactly each service defines as its simultaneous streams limit.

ServiceHow many streamsUpgrade
AT&T TV NOW3
fuboTV3/5
Hulu + Live TV2
Philo3
Sling TV1/3
Vidgo3
WatchTV1
YouTube TV3
Updated: September, 2020

AT&T TV NOW limitations

AT&T TV NOW comparison

AT&T TV NOW has been the subject of multiple price increases over the last couple of years and up until recently, those hikes had not resulted in any improvement to simultaneous streams.

AT&T TV NOW provides subscribers with the option to stream live TV on three devices at the same time. This is irrespective of whether you subscribe to the Plus or Max plan.

Previously, AT&T TV NOW offered an option to upgrade the number of streams to three. However, as that’s now the default number, the option to upgrade is no longer available to Plus and Max customers. Subscribers on a discounted or international plan are still resigned to two streams, with the option to increase the number of streams to three for an additional $5 per month.

fuboTV limitations

fuboTV comparison

fuboTV primarily offers two main plans, Family and Elite and the number of streams depends on the plan chosen. At present, Family subscribers receive three streams while Elite subscribers get access to five streams at the same time.

For Family subscribers who want more streams, there is the option to upgrade to five streams through an add-on. fuboTV’s ‘Family Share Max’ add-on costs an additional $16.99 per month.

Hulu Live TV limitations

Hulu TV comparison

Hulu Live TV has quickly become a major player in the live TV streaming industry. In a short space of time it has risen the ranks and now boasts one of the largest user bases around. While the content is plentiful, the service’s base package is a little less generous with simultaneous streams.

Hulu Live TV subscribers can access the service on two devices at the same time. Similar to fuboTV, Hulu Live TV also offers the option to upgrade the number of streams through an ‘Unlimited Screens’ add-on, priced at an additional $9.99 per month.

One of the major differences with Hulu is that its Unlimited Screens add-on does provide access to as many simultaneous streams as a subscriber wants, as the devices are connecting through the home network.

Read more: You Can Watch Hulu Live Away from Home (But Not on All Your Devices)

Philo limitations

Philo TV comparison

Philo might be considered a cheap service, but it’s far from cheap when it comes to features and simultaneous streaming is no exception. In spite of its low cost, Philo subscribers can currently stream on three different devices at the same time.

Unlike some of the other services, subscribers can technically start a fourth stream, although only three will continue to play. For example, Philo will automatically end the first stream when a fourth is started. This is different to other services that tend to provide a warning to the fourth streamer, forbidding them from accessing the service and explaining the limit has been reached.

However, for those looking for more streams, there’s not much choice. Three streams at the same time is the absolute limit with Philo, as there’s no option to upgrade.

Sling TV limitations

Sling TV comparison

Sling TV is designed to be an affordable service. At the same time, it is designed to satisfy more demanding consumers through an a la carte approach. For example, while the base price is low, subscribers can add channels or features and create a more custom and richer live TV streaming package.

Regardless of how robust the Sling TV package is, the number of same-time streams is determined by the plan. Sling TV offers two main plans – Sling Orange and Sling Blue – and both cost $30 per month. The two plans now only differ in the selection of channels, but also in the number of streams.

Sling Orange/Blue streams breakdown:

  • Sling Orange subscribers get access to just one stream at a time.
  • Sling Blue subscribers get access to three streams at the same time.

However, Sling TV does also offer the option to subscribe to a combined Sling Orange + Blue package. While this joint package does not offer any additional streams, it does incorporate both limits. For example, although Sling Orange + Blue subscribers can stream on up four devices at the same time, the four-device limit is dependent on the channel.

Read more: Sling TV: When 4 Streams Doesn’t Actually Mean 4 Streams

To explain, some channels are only available through Sling Orange and that channel is still bound by the Orange plan’s one-stream limit. Therefore, only one device can access that channel at a time, even for Sling Orange + Blue subscribers.

Vidgo limitations

Vidgo live tv

Vidgo is one of the newer entrants to the live TV streaming market and while it is not quite the finished product, simultaneous streams is one of its strengths. Vidgo currently allows subscribers to stream a variety of channels on up to three different devices at the same time.

At the moment, there does not appear to be any major restrictions when it comes to Vidgo’s streams, although that might change in the future. Vidgo also currently does not offer an option to upgrade the streams for anyone who needs more than three.

WatchTV limitations

AT&T WatchTV comparison

AT&T no longer allows new WatchTV subscribers, although existing subscribers can still access the service. In general, WatchTV lacks considerably in terms of additional features and simultaneous streams is no exception.

WatchTV subscribers can only stream on one device at a time. What’s more, WatchTV does not offer any option to upgrade.

YouTube TV limitations

YouTube TV comparison

One of YouTube TV’s main benefits is that it does not offer much in the way of customization. While this approach won’t suit those looking for more of a custom TV package, it does mean YouTube TV subscribers tend to get all the primary features the service has to offer, without having to pay any additional costs or fees.

YouTube TV currently allows its subscribers to stream on up to three different devices at the same time. As there are so few customization options with YouTube TV, there’s no option to increase the number.

It’s also worth noting that the number of streams is related to the devices and not accounts. For example, YouTube TV lets a subscriber share a subscription with up up to five other people (six in total). As the hard limit applies to devices and not accounts, only three accounts can stream at the same time. If one sub-account is being used to stream on a computer and a smartphone at the same time, that will count as two streams, even though they are under the one account.

Read more: Cloud DVR Comparison: Best Live TV Service for Recording?

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

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