It doesn’t matter whether you watch TBS for Samantha Bee’s biting political commentary or to satisfy your MLB cravings. If you’re a TBS fan looking to get rid of your cable TV provider, you need a streaming solution that actually gets you access to the shows and sports you want. Here’s what we recommend.
Okay, that’s the short answer. The long answer is that while these three services tend to be the best for watching TBS, the right streaming solution for your household will depend on your specific needs. In general, we recommend using the following steps to figure out which service will be exactly right for your home.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to find a streaming service that checks all of your boxes and allows you to seamlessly cut the cord.
But, if you’re short on time and need a way to watch your favorite TBS comedy, like tonight, these top three services are generally good bets for streaming TBS online.
YouTube TV gets our number-one pick for a number of reasons. For starters, this service offers an unlimited DVR. That means you can record every single episode of Search Party without having to worry about recording space.
We also love how user friendly the service is. Most people are familiar with the YouTube interface, so you don’t have to learn how to navigate a new service from scratch. And since YouTube is owned by Google, it’s really easy to search for the shows, movies, and games you want. Top all that off with smooth 1080p livestreaming and you’ve got a service that’s generally very easy and pleasant to use.
Of course, YouTube TV isn’t without its drawbacks—like how it isn’t available everywhere yet. As of this writing, about 80% of people in the US can get YouTube TV, so there’s still a good chance you’ll be able to get it where you live. But it’s definitely worth scoping out in advance to make sure you can get the service in your area.
PlayStation Vue has a lot of the same benefits you get with YouTube TV, albeit a bit more toned down. Like YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue offers unlimited recording space. PlayStation also delivers a smooth streaming experience, and its interface is really similar to cable, so it’s easy to use.
That’s the good news. The bad news is we ultimately had to rank PlayStation Vue below YouTube TV because it’s just not in the same weight class. Both services offer unlimited recording space, but PlayStation Vue lets you keep your recordings for only up to 28 days (YouTube TV lets you keep recordings for up to nine months). So unless you’re planning to watch all your recorded Bob’s Burgers episodes within a few weeks, you might be better off with YouTube TV.
That being said, PlayStation does have a few benefits over YouTube TV. If you enjoy watching the MLB on TBS, chances are you’ll want to watch baseball on other channels too. PlayStation Vue’s Core package offers more sports channels than YouTube TV, and it’s only a few dollars more. So while it’s second on our list, it could be the top choice for yours.
Coming in at number three is DIRECTV NOW. Overall, we like DIRECTV NOW. It’s fairly reliable, offers a decent number of playback features, and the resolution is good (720p–1080p). It also has an interface pretty similar to what you’d get with a cable TV provider, so it’s easy to use, particularly if this is your first foray into streaming.
Another big advantage of DIRECTV NOW is its price-per-channel value. DIRECTV NOW is less expensive than YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue, and it offers one of the highest channel counts of all the streaming services on the market. Ultimately, that gets you more for your money, which is why it’s earned a coveted spot in our top three.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast. The main reason DIRECTV NOW doesn’t rank higher on our list is a bit of doozy: it doesn’t have a DVR—like, at all. Now, we know that’s not a deal breaker for everyone. If you mostly watch your favorite shows live or on demand, it’s likely you won’t even notice a difference. But if you do want to be able to record and binge-watch every episode of American Dad!, DIRECTV NOW may not be the best option for you.
The TBS channel app (Watch TBS) is great. You can livestream TBS and watch current shows on demand from any of your devices. But for as great as it is, it’s probably not going to work as a standalone streaming solution.
In order to access any TBS shows, you have to log in using credentials from either a cable provider or a streaming service. So in the end, it really only works when used in conjunction with another service.
One of the pillars of TBS content is reruns of old network shows, like Seinfeld, Friends, and Married…with Children, as well as syndicated episodes of newer shows like The Big Bang Theory. If you want TBS so you can get more of these shows, we think you’ll love Hulu with Live TV.
Not only does Hulu Live let you watch TBS live, but it also owns the streaming rights for most of the syndicated sitcoms that TBS airs, as well as other shows in the same vein (like Frasier). And since Hulu is the current king of on-demand TV, you can binge-watch it all on your own schedule.
If you watch TBS for the MLB, ELeague or college basketball (March Madness), we recommend signing up for PlayStation Vue. This service offers just about every channel a sports fan could want as part of its Core Package ($44.99 per month). In fact, it’s typically the cheapest way to get all the sports coverage you want.
PlayStation Vue’s streaming is also extremely smooth, so you don’t have to worry about missing an important play just because your streaming service suddenly decided to buffer.
If you’re simply looking to watch TBS for the lowest price possible, we advise signing up for Sling TV.
Sling didn’t make our rankings above for a number of reasons (unreliable streaming quality, poor local channel availability, confusing interface, complicated package structure, etc.). But TBS fans on a budget are sure to appreciate the Sling Orange package’s $20-per-month price tag.
Keep in mind, though, that Sling TV’s pricing can be a bit misleading. If all you want is TBS, we say go for it. But if you’re a sports fan trying to catch men’s basketball or the MLB on TBS, you may need to upgrade to a Sling Blue package ($25 per month) in order to get Fox Sports and the other channels you want—and that’s if you can get over the glitchy streaming quality.
To be clear, we’re not saying you shouldn’t sign up for Sling—it’s an effective, low-cost option and might work just fine for your needs. Just be sure to use the service’s free trial period to make sure it works smoothly with your internet connection and delivers all the other channels you want alongside TBS.
The right device for watching TBS will depend a lot on which service you choose because each streaming provider has a different list of compatible devices. That being said, most streaming providers are compatible with the major streaming devices: Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV.
There are lots of different ways to watch TBS, and we’ve covered only a few of them. To find out more about how you can enjoy all the comedy options available on TBS, check out our service reviews or shoot us an email. We’re always happy to answer specific inquiries about what services best suit your particular needs.