How many simultaneous streams you get with a live TV streaming service is a question 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 as well.
Right now, there’s no common consensus on the number of same-time streams. Instead, each service makes its own rules and this can lead to a confusing choice for consumers. Something that’s made all the more complicated as, unlike channels, streaming services don’t always make the number of streams as clear as the price when signing up. Sometimes a consumer may have to look through the FAQs to actually find out what limits are in place. Worst still, some consumers might only find out after the fact, and 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?
Multiple streams are a major benefit to consumers as they are no longer resigned to the physical limitations 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.
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 are 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 TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, or any of the other major services, then the table below has the answer. Following the summary, you’ll find additional information on what exactly each service defines as its simultaneous streams limit.
|Service||How many streams||Upgrade|
|DirecTV Stream||20 (at home)||X|
|fuboTV||10 (at home)||✔|
|Hulu Live TV||2||✔|
DirecTV Stream limitations
DirecTV Stream is a new service, but only in name. Previously known as AT&T TV, AT&T TV Now, and DirecTV Now, the service was rebranded in 2021. The current version of DirecTV Stream provides subscribers with the option to stream on up to 20 devices at the same time. However, this generous limit is only available when at home. If attempting to watch outside of the home location, subscribers will only have access to 3 simultaneous streams.
Previously, AT&T TV offered an option to upgrade the number of streams, but that option is no longer available to most DirecTV Stream subscribers. In addition, some legacy, discounted or international subscribers may find they are still limited to either two or three streams even when at home, depending on their plan.
fuboTV primarily offers more than one live TV plan and although this did result in a different number of streams depending on the plan, that’s not longer the case. Currently, fuboTV allows subscribers to watch on up to 10 devices at the same time regardless of the plan. The only exception here is the Latino plan which is still resigned to just two devices at the same time.
However, the 10-screen limit only relates to when connected to the home network. When outside this network, fuboTV reduces the number of simultaneous streams down to just 2. It is worth noting that there is also the option to upgrade any of the plans with the Family Share add-on which increases the number of streams outside the home network at the same time to 3.
Hulu Live TV limitations
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. In addition, some subscribers may run into issues when streaming away from home. 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’s Unlimited Screens add-on is that it does provide access to as many simultaneous streams as the subscriber needs, as long as the devices are connecting through the home network.
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 up to 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. For those looking for additional Philo streams, there’s currently 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 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 not 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 and 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.
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 is one of the newer entrants to the live TV streaming market and looks to offer a slightly different experience through its social-watching features. However, those features are designed to cater to different subscribers. If multiple people are using the same subscription, Vidgo allows the variety of live TV channels to be streamed on up to three 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 doesn’t offer an option to upgrade the number of streams for any homes that might need more. As a result, three simultanoues streams is currently the maximum available with Vidgo.
YouTube TV limitations
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. Previously, there was no option to increase the number, but that has since changed.
YouTube TV now offers base subscribers the option to upgrade their subscription through a 4K Plus add-on. This add-on not only makes it possible to watch 4K content when available, but also increases the number of simultaneous streams to unlimited. For reference, this unlimited same-time streams only applies when accessing through the YouTube TV home area. If accessing the service outside of the area, the number of simultaneous streams reverts back to 3.
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. In other words, 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 being used by the same account.
Updated June, 2022