FuboTV review: Solid choice for sports fans, but with some holes in its game - CNET

2 months ago 95

In the near future, live TV streaming services like YouTube TV, Sling TV and FuboTV are what live television is going to look like. There'll be no set-top cable box -- instead all of your live TV shows will be streamed over the internet. To differentiate itself from rivals, FuboTV has a sports-centric focus, and the addition of Disney-owned networks like ABC and ESPN helps fill out gaps in its schedule. The attendant $5 increase to $60 per month also makes Fubo one of the most expensive options.

Like

Solid selection of channels with a sports bentFans of soccer will find plenty to loveQuick and easy navigation, especially on Roku

Don't Like

Lacks CNN, TNT, TBS and other Turner channelsYouTube TV is better overall for $5 moreHulu Live is a better value for $5 less

FuboTV has a robust channel lineup, and changes to the interface and suggestion engine have made it a lot more usable and fun, but I like two other services in this price range better. The cheaper Hulu Plus Live TV offers better value and a wealth of on-demand content, while YouTube TV offers a better experience and even more channels for just $5 more. It doesn't help that when adding Disney's networks, Fubo dropped Turner's, meaning it no longer carries popular channels like TNT and TBS -- so subscribers won't get NBA or MLB games from either network. Overall, Fubo is a better service than it was -- but still remains a niche player catering mainly to sports fans.

What is FuboTV?

fubotv-1

FuboTV's home screen on an Apple TV is uncluttered and friendly.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

FuboTV launched in January 2015 as a soccer (er, football) streaming service and has expanded its reach with an extensive list of channels. Of our top 100 channels Fubo has 65, second only to YouTube TV with 75. FuboTV branches out into most categories including crime, drama and movies, but its origins are still apparent with dozens of sports-centric channels.

Fubo has offered live 4K sports programming in the past for events such as the 2019 Super Bowl, the Westminster Dog Show and the NCAA basketball tournament (March Madness). Due to the effects of the coronavirus, however, such coverage is on hold and the upcoming 4K events page on FuboTV hasn't been updated in months

As sports leagues restart, Fubo allows you to follow most of the action, particularly soccer like the UEFA Europa League. While the addition of ESPN and ABC are particularly welcome, besides dropping TNT and TBS the service also lost Fox's regional sports networks in January. The chart at the end of this article has a full comparison of how FuboTV's channel lineup fares against competitors.

The cloud DVR comes with just 30 hours of recording by default, although users can boost this to 500 hours for an extra $9.99 a month. By comparison, YouTube TV's DVR has unlimited storage. I found that I filled Fubo's 30-hour limit without trying at all, so heavy DVR users will probably want to budget for the upgrade -- especially if you record entire TV series or games from your favorite teams.

Live TV streaming services compared


Base price Free trial ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels Simultaneous streams per account Family member/user profiles Cloud DVR Fast-forward through or skip commercials with cloud DVR
AT&T TV Now FuboTV Hulu Plus Live TV Sling TV YouTube TV
$55/month for 45-plus channels $60/month for 100-plus channels $55/month for 60-plus channels $30/month for 30-plus (Orange) or 45-plus (Blue) channels $65/month for 85-plus channels
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Yes, in many markets Yes, in many markets Yes, in many markets Fox and NBC only in select cities Yes, in many markets
2 ($5 option for 3) 2 ($6 option for 3) 2 ($15 option for unlimited) 1 (Orange), 3 (Blue) 3
No Yes Yes No Yes
Yes (50 hours, 200 hours for $10 a month) Yes (30 hours, 500 hours for $10 a month) Yes Yes Yes (keep for 9 months)
No (Yes with $15 option) Yes No (Yes with $10 option) Yes Yes

What's it like to use?

fubotv-2 Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The basic menus are an improvement on the previous interface which, despite having the same options, felt overly cluttered as all of the entries were the same-size text. Options across the top of the home screen are Search, Home, Sports, Shows, Movies, Guide, Recordings and a smaller Account button. 

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 Roku, Fire TV Stick, Apple TV ($179 at Apple), 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, for example, the top navigation menu is hidden and requires an upwards swipe, but this looks more elegant than the Roku version which has a visible menu on all content pages. I liked Roku best for browsing -- it was responsive and let me use the fast-forward key to zip through the thumbnails. 

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My least favorite Fubo platform was the standard Amazon Fire TV Stick, and this is likely due to the hardware itself -- the first clue was the lack of a fast-forward capability that Roku offers. 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. The newer Fire TV 4K was better, but it still lacks Alexa integration for quick voice searches.

Should you get it?

Even compared with a month ago, FuboTV is more enjoyable than ever, thanks to some interface upgrades. Further, it offers the second-most "must-have" channels behind YouTube TV. If you're a hardcore sports fan, or simply want one of the most diverse range of channels, it's worthwhile signing up for a week to try it out. If you want the best value at this level, though, it's Hulu where your money is best spent.

Top 100 channels compared

Channel Hulu with Live TV ($55) AT&T TV Now ($55) FuboTV ($60) YouTube TV ($65) Total channels: ABC CBS Fox NBC PBS CW MyNetworkTV Channel Hulu with Live TV ($55) AT&T TV Now ($55) FuboTV ($60) YouTube TV ($65) A&E ACC Network AMC Animal Planet BBC America BBC World News BET Big Ten Network Bloomberg TV Boomerang Bravo Channel Hulu with Live TV ($55) AT&T TV Now ($55) FuboTV ($60) YouTube TV ($65) Cartoon Network CBS Sports Network Cheddar Cinemax CMT CNBC CNN Comedy Central Cooking Channel Destination America Discovery Channel Disney Channel Disney Junior Disney XD DIY E! EPIX ESPN ESPN 2 ESPNEWS ESPNU Channel Hulu with Live TV ($55) AT&T TV Now ($55) FuboTV ($60) YouTube TV ($65) Food Network Fox Business Fox News Fox Sports 1 Fox Sports 2 Freeform FX FX Movies FXX FYI Golf Channel Hallmark HBO HGTV History HLN IFC Investigation Discovery Lifetime Lifetime Movie Network Channel Hulu with Live TV ($55) AT&T TV Now ($55) FuboTV ($60) YouTube TV ($65) MLB Network Motor Trend MSNBC MTV MTV2 National Geographic Nat Geo Wild NBA TV NBC Sports Network Newsy NFL Network NFL Red Zone NHL Network Nickelodeon Nick Jr. Nicktoons OWN Oxygen Paramount Network Channel Hulu with Live TV ($55) AT&T TV Now ($55) FuboTV ($60) YouTube TV ($65) Science SEC Network Showtime Smithsonian Starz Sundance TV Syfy Tastemade TBS TCM Telemundo Tennis Channel TLC TNT Travel Channel TruTV TV Land USA Network VH1 Viceland Weather Channel WE tv Viceland Weather Channel WE tv Channel Hulu with Live TV ($55) AT&T TV Now ($55) FuboTV ($60) YouTube TV ($65)
60 45 65 75
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