FuboTV is a great over-the-top streaming service for sports fans. As it expands its entertainment options, fuboTV wants to become the ideal replacement for a cable subscription. Is it ready for prime time? Check out our full review of fuboTV to find out.
We’ll start with a quick introduction to fuboTV and then explain how Americans and Canadians can get its mix of sports and entertainment channels. We’ll walk through fuboTV’s layout and it’s content before giving you our honest review.
- 1 What Is FuboTV All About?
- 2 How Do I Get FuboTV?
- 3 Device Support
- 4 FuboTV Walkthrough
- 5 What Is The Content Like?
- 6 Overall Review
- 7 Final Comments
What Is FuboTV All About?
FuboTV is making a big push to become cord cutters’ first choice as an live, over-the-top streaming service. It has inked deals with Fox, NBC, CBS, as well as Scripps, the owner of Food Networks. That expanded content makes fuboTV interesting, but interface limitations could be deal-breakers for general streaming video fans. They will find larger catalogs and better-quality services elesewhere.
Things are different for sports fans. FuboTV started as a sports network and that is where its strengths still lie. Half of its networks are dedicated to broadcasting sports – especially soccer. There are some limitations in fuboTV’s sports coverage, with limited access to local broadcasts, restrictions imposed by the big sports leagues, and the absence of ABC and ESPN.
Yet despite those limitations, fuboTV makes a credible sports-centric alternative to the traditional cable providers. It is a great choice for cord-cutting soccer fans. Sports fans with broad interests will appreciate its coverage of sports ranging from darts to drag racing to Australian Rules Football. However, die-hard fans of the major American sports leagues like the NFL may find fuboTV’s limitations outweigh the monthly subscription cost.
How Do I Get FuboTV?
The full sixty-four channel lineup at fuboTV is only available to people living in the United States and its territories. Canadians can subscribe to a more limited lineup with a dozen channels. If you think fuboTV might be right for you after reading this review, then take the company up on its seven-day free trial and see if you like its combination of sports and entertainment content.
The signup process is straightforward starting with the option to use Google, Facebook, or your e-mail to sign-in.
You can get fuboTV with a $34.99 monthly subscription. That’s a 30% promotional discount off its $49.99 monthly subscription rate which the company insists is a limited time offer. A recent promise on Facebook tells current subscribers that “your subscription price will never increase so long as you do not cancel with us.”
You can add additional packages that expand your service to include Spanish-language or Portuguese-language networks as well as other premium offerings.
FuboTV’s browser app delivers live and on-demand content to Macs and PCs. While any browser will work, fuboTV recommends Chrome since “it has all of the necessary plug-ins by default that make it most compatible with our video player.”
FuboTV supports Android and iOS devices with native apps and streaming boxes like Roku and Apple TV with more limited apps. FuboTV does not support the major gaming platforms.
In this section, we’ll look at the way fuboTV organizes its website and apps. We’ll take a look at specific content later on in the review.
FuboTV Browser App
After the registration process is complete, you arrive at the fuboTV home page which is the sports page. No secrets about what the focus is on here.
When you scroll down you get a listing of every sporting event streaming today. You can find upcoming events to record for later, or you can find previously aired events to watch on-demand.
The Sports screen’s sub-menu lets you filter the long list of live streams by specific sports.
Within each sport you’ll find filters for leagues within that sport. It’s a nice feature for the other sports, but it’s essential for soccer given the sheer number of matches you can watch on fuboTV.
The Other section is a grab-bag. The filters in this screenshot show your traditional summer Olympic sports, but darts tournaments, field hockey matches, and beach volleyball tournaments were also on the schedule.
The Entertainment screen opens with a sampling of four live streams. Further down are galleries of recommended and recently aired programs. The sub-menu lets you explore fuboTV’s on demand TV and movie options.
The galleries at the top of the Series screen lets you see what programs are streaming live right now, what recently aired programs you can watch on demand, and what upcoming programs you can schedule to the DVR.
Scroll down a little more to get the on-demand section, which is a straight alphabetical listing of 427 programs. The only way you can search this list is by using the browser’s search function since fuboTV doesn’t provide filters or a search function of its own.
The Movies screen has galleries for current, recently aired, and upcoming live streams just like the Series screen.
Scroll down a bit more and you’ll see the on-demand section. It’s a little better than the Series screen since you can filter by genre, but your browser’s search function is still the only way to find titles directly.
Unlike any cloud DVR you’ve ever seen, fuboTV gives you ten recording slots. It doesn’t matter if the recording’s a 30-minute rerun of Cheers or a 2-hour soccer match – they both count as one recording in the DVR.
The My DVR screen lets you watch or delete recorded programs and cancel scheduled programs. Once the number of recorded and scheduled programs hits ten, then you’re done until you delete some of your recordings. Or just wait for fuboTV to erase the recording – all recordable programs expire after ten days.
FuboTV’s programming guide works like just about any other with two exceptions. You have to wait until thirty minutes after the broadcast ends before you can watch the recording. And you only get a six hour window into the future – no recording next week’s game.
FuboTV On iPhone
The iOS app structure almost matches the website. The Sports section lets you filter by sport and league to watch the live sportscasts. Live entertainment streams are only accessible through the Guide section rather than the Entertainment section.
Unfortunately, the app’s on-demand entertainment is weak. Content is organized by network rather than genre. Unless you know that it’s the Hallmark Channel that carries Cheers, the lack of search functions forces you to scan each network for available programs.
FuboTV On Apple TV
FuboTV’s app for the 4th-generation Apple TV is better than nothing but hard to recommend since you can only watch live streams from its networks. You can’t drill down to individual sports, you can’t access on-demand content, and you can’t access your DVR content.
FuboTV’s support site makes it clear that trying to use AirPlay from the iPhone app will be a hit-or-miss experience. It didn’t work for me.
What Is The Content Like?
Sports programming is where fuboTV shines – especially if you’re a soccer fan. Some of the sports-focused networks like BeIN and Eleven Sports Network provide 1080p high-definition streams while networks owned by Fox and NBC stream in 720p.
FuboTV’s stable of networks carry matches from the major leagues across Europe and Latin America. You can even subscribe to Chelsea F.C.’s own streaming channel.
FuboTV also provides an outlet for outside-the-mainstream sports (at least from an American perspective). You’ll find rugby, Australian rules football, darts, track-and-field, and more.
FuboTV’s ability to deliver games from the major American sports leagues is hampered by licensing deals. There’s no deal with Disney which means fuboTV can’t carry anything from ABC Sports or ESPN.
Things aren’t that straightforward with Fox, NBC, or CBS even though fuboTV has deals with all three. Those deals only apply to the handful of stations the networks own directly. FuboTV has to negotiate separate streaming deals to get the remaining six hundred local affiliates on board. There’s a good chance your local station isn’t available and that means you can’t get the national network stream either.
If CBS broadcasts your local team on Thursday Night Football, but your local CBS affiliate hasn’t signed up with fuboTV, then you’re out of luck. On the other hand, if a game is broadcast on your regional sports channel, then you can watch it. Unless you use a smartphone app. The NFL won’t let fuboTV stream its games to smartphones.
The screen shot above comes from a PDF fuboTV’s support staff created to help people understand which NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL teams they might be able to watch. It’s complicated.
FuboTV offers live and on-demand streaming from nearly forty networks thanks to deals with major content production companies including:
- NBCUniversal: NBC, CNBC, CNBC World, MSNBC, Bravo, SyFy, Chiller, E!, USA, Oxygen, Sprout, and Weather Channel
- Scripps Interactive Networks: Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel
- A+E Networks: A&E, Viceland, History Channel
- Fox: Fox News, Fox Business, FX, FXM, FXX
Disney-owned properties like Disney Channel, ABC and Freeform are the biggest gaps in fuboTV’s lineup.
The fuboTV interface lets you jump into live streams either from the Entertainment screen for from the Guide screen. The player buffers each stream quickly with smooth playback thanks to the 720p resolution feeds.
The 427 programs available on-demand is respectable even if it pales in comparison to Netflix and Hulu. Unfortunately, there’s less to it than you’d think. The Hallmark Channel only gives fuboTV six of the 275 episodes of Cheers. USA was a little more generous when it provided eighteen of its 410 episodes of Law & Order: SVU, but they were episodes twelve to sixteen of season four and episodes ten through twenty of season eighteen.
For current-run TV series, some networks let fuboTV stream the entire season to date while others only provide the most recent episodes. Syfy lets you watch the entire second season of Wynonna Earp through late September, but Fox only gives you the five most recent episodes of The Exorcist.
As of early August, fuboTV had 133 movie titles available for on-demand streaming. These streams are exactly the same as what you would see on cable, including the channel’s ads. When you filter by genre it looks like there are a lot more movies to watch, but movies are categorized in multiple genres. For example, 2012 is an Action, Drama, and Horror movie though, strangely, not a Science Fiction movie.
Check Your Browser Settings
FuboTV’s content protection system relies on cookies which means you may have to whitelist the website in your browser before you can begin streaming some programs. Once I did that, I had no problem accessing content.
Although I never ran into this, fuboTV warns of potential issues with Flash-based streams. Modern browsers often disable Flash for security reasons. Should one of fuboTV’s content providers use Flash, you may have to enable it in your browser’s settings.
Deciding how to evaluate fuboTV was tough. Should I treat it as a general over-the-top network that competes with Sling and DirecTV? Or should I treat it as a niche, sports-focused service that happens to have a growing entertainment lineup?
In the end, I had to treat fuboTV as a niche service. Many of my critical comments about fuboTV are common to over-the-top services. Even CBS All Access can’t stream locally in every market.
From a sports fan’s perspective, however, those criticisms pale in comparison to the benefits fuboTV offers.
Content Quality: 8
FuboTV deserves a high score for the sheer range of sports you can watch – most at full high-definition. Issues like limited local station availability and licensing restrictions are common to all over-the-top services.
FuboTV has a broad entertainment selection, streaming at 720p, that will meet most viewers needs. Inadequate search capabilities – especially on mobile – detract from the experience.
The biggest issue for sports and entertainment alike is the absence of Disney-owned networks like ESPN and ABC. That keeps it from being the single over-the-top solution for cord cutters.
Streaming Quality: 7
Streaming quality varied from channel to channel. I experienced buffering issues and dropped frames when streaming both 1080p and 720p streams to a laptop over Wi-Fi. These usually went away after a few minutes. Streaming to an Ethernet-connected Apple TV had no problems.
Device Support: 7
Inconsistent device support is where fuboTV falls flat. You ought to have the same experience – and access to all the features – no matter which app you use.
That’s not much of an issue for this review since the inconsistencies are most noticeable in fuboTV’s entertainment offerings. All of its live sports coverage is available across all devices. Streaming boxes like Roku and Apple TV cannot access fuboTV’s DVR functions.
Gaming consoles are the biggest gaps in fuboTV’s device strategy – there are no apps for Xbox or PlayStation.
Die-hard sports fans who have abandoned cable ought to give fuboTV their undivided attention. Soccer fans should start paying $34.99 now. If neither of those apply to you, then move along to another service.
It’s best to look at fuboTV as an over-the-top service for sports fans that happens to have entertainment streams. That could change as the company tightens up its devices support and adds more deals with networks like ABC. If you have missed sports ever since dropping your cable subscription, then fuboTV is worth considering. If you are a soccer fan, then fuboTV is the service for you.