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Super Bowl Report Card: Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW vs PlayStation Vue vs YouTube TV vs fuboTV

The imaginary stadium is modelled and rendered.Last night the Super Bowl was once again one of the most watched sporting events in the United States. It also serves as a benchmark for the stability of live TV streaming services.

This year we had several winners and one loser, but before we jump into how each of the live TV streaming services held up, just remember live TV streaming is still a new, maturing technology. This year was a huge step forward from last year, but it was still not perfect. With that said, every year streaming is getting better and, at this rate, soon live TV streaming will be no different from traditional pay TV.

A+ Services

Almost every live TV streaming service that offered the game stayed up. Sling TV, DIRECTV NOWYouTube TV, and fuboTV all stayed up without going down once. Their steady streaming experience earned them an A+ rating.

B+ Services

During the game, Hulu turned off a few features during the game to allow them to focus on the live stream. Yet with only about 2 minutes in the game, Hulu went down hard for some subscribers.

So why give Hulu a B+ after they went down?  Well, Hulu quickly took to Twitter to notify subscribers of the outage with tips on how to quickly restore service. This is something most live TV streaming services don’t do. The open and clear communication with their subscribers moved Hulu up to a B+.

Update Hulu sent Cord Cutters News the following statement about last nights outage. “Last night, we experienced a technical issue that impacted the Super Bowl stream for some viewers on Hulu. While the issue affected only a small percentage of Hulu’s live TV subscribers, we know this is an unacceptable experience for those viewers, and we sincerely apologize for the interruption.”

PlayStation Vue was one of two live TV streaming service with a major outage during the game. Right at the start of the game, PlayStation Vue went down hard for many users and forced users to exit the app and restart before it would go live.

Update: We upgraded PS Vue to a B+ as they did a post about the outage after it happened. In the past, Sony typically did not comment on outages so we moved them to a B+. (Would like to see them post about it as the outage happens next time.)

While there were a few reports of buffering on other services these ended up being few and far between.

Final Notes

The 2018 Super Bowl was a huge step forward for cord cutting. Even the NBC Sports App stayed up and solid for most of the game. For the first time, a major event happened and streaming for most cord cutters offered the same experience as they would have had with a cable TV subscription.

While live TV streaming is still an early technology, every month the service is becoming more stable.

So how was your Super Bowl streaming?

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71 Responses to Super Bowl Report Card: Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW vs PlayStation Vue vs YouTube TV vs fuboTV

  1. Avatar
    Andrew Lindeman February 5, 2018 at 8:06 am #

    DirectTV was fine for me during the pregame. I temporarily switched out my Roku for an Apple TV on my projector for the game so that I could use my HDHomeRun for OTA. DirectTV’s compression definitely reduced some visual clarity and OTA is better in that regard. HDHomeRun doesn’t support Roku but it does support AppleTV.

  2. Avatar
    John Brewton February 5, 2018 at 8:08 am #

    VUE was down right before the national anthem, but NBC Sports worked like a charm as a backup. People were commenting they are going back to cable. Even if I did not get to watch the Super Bowl last night, I still save $1200 a year.

  3. Avatar
    GoBlueFB February 5, 2018 at 8:10 am #

    We watched on the NBC Sports app on Roku. The first quarter was heavily pixilated and there were a few instances of buffering. But after that, the app ran flawlessly and the picture was amazing. Overall, I was pretty happy with the performance.

  4. Avatar
    Mark D February 5, 2018 at 8:16 am #

    On the back end there are a lot of folks that haven’t any cable tv that watched the game via NBC app on there computers and not a streaming device service. They help choked off these streaming devices

  5. Avatar
    Amos Vryhof February 5, 2018 at 8:17 am #

    We used the NFL App until it crashed, then we watched OTA, which just went black briefly while a plane took off from the airport about half mile away. The rest of the time it was crisp and clear.

  6. Avatar
    Michael Smith February 5, 2018 at 8:18 am #

    The nbc sports app on my Roku went into reloading mode an didnt do anything with a dark screen behind the circle of death. I had to back out of the app and restart it to get back to the game. Did this numerious times and it happened to other people too. As far as vue goes, I don’t have a local channel so I went to my OTA after dinking with the nbc sports app. Vue deserves a D minus since they didn’t provide any customer support or messages on how to reset their app.

  7. Avatar
    Soyntgo4it February 5, 2018 at 8:20 am #

    Lies VUE never was down, I had no issue at all..

    • Avatar
      Franklin Willis February 5, 2018 at 9:09 am #

      So…you’re saying that this tweet by the PlayStation crew is #FakeNews?

      • Avatar
        Dean G February 5, 2018 at 9:16 am #

        It says “Some” users, that doesn’t equate to a major outage or problem. Give me a break. Giving DTVN which does nothing but buffer including complaints during the game, gets an A+??????

        Plus, by their own metric, they gave Hulu a B+ because they twitted out. Is this not an announcement by Vue? And it was a simple fix of exit out, restart. LOL please spare me the “outrage”.

        • Avatar
          Franklin Willis February 5, 2018 at 9:18 am #

          I wasn’t replying to you. I was replying to @soyntgo4it:disqus who said that it never went down. Obviously it did for alot of people.

      • Avatar
        Fred Koot February 5, 2018 at 9:43 am #

        According to this account, Vue did great


        So far we have tested @DIRECTVNOW @YouTubeTV @PlayStationVue and @Hulu all are doing a great job of streaming the #SuperBowl right now.

      • Avatar
        Soyntgo4it February 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm #

        Its also says a Brief interruption not a full blown outage lol

    • Avatar
      Dean G February 5, 2018 at 9:10 am #

      I didn’t have any issue either with VUe and I wasn’t even watching the game. But when we went to the halftime show it played just fine on 2 tv’s. This is complete and utter rubbish, this article.

      • Avatar
        Barbara R February 5, 2018 at 9:15 am #

        Glad you weren’t affected.

      • Avatar
        mADMAN in MN February 5, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

        The article certainly is silly!

    • Avatar
      Lynnneez February 5, 2018 at 11:12 am #

      It was down for a freaking HOUR in Cali! Unacceptable!

    • Avatar
      andy garcia February 5, 2018 at 5:02 pm #

      I missed the first 30 minutes on my VUE. SoCal.

  8. Avatar
    shawn robinson February 5, 2018 at 8:24 am #

    I live in the Charlotte area and use ps vue. No issues at all with watching the super bowl last night.

  9. Avatar
    Fred Koot February 5, 2018 at 8:31 am #

    Do you subscribe to all services or rely on social media for your information?

  10. Avatar
    Cooper McChester February 5, 2018 at 8:33 am #

    So glad I have a antenna for locals. Saturday night someone went off the road and plowed through our local server. The whole area went down for ATT users. ATT worked hard (7 trucks) at getting it put back together but it took til 11M on Sunday. It stunk not having wifi for my guests but my antenna was my savior.

    • Avatar
      mADMAN in MN February 5, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

      If the game was most important, wi-fi is irrelevant.

      Yay, for antenna installations!

    • Avatar
      Logan February 6, 2018 at 9:50 am #

      Where in the world do you live that there’s only 1 server in the entire locale?

      • Avatar
        Cooper McChester February 6, 2018 at 11:01 am #

        outskirts of Atlanta. What was so crazy is that all the locals were blasting ATT and not the guy who plowed through the server

        • Avatar
          John A February 6, 2018 at 4:50 pm #

          I would have guessed you were in California. They never blame the right people.

  11. Avatar
    Fred Koot February 5, 2018 at 8:39 am #

    Watched it OTA on my tablet through my Hdhomerun. I had a few glitches with the signal, but mostly good.

    • Avatar
      Foscam Vision February 5, 2018 at 9:20 am #

      Used Roamio Tivo OTA. No problems.

  12. Avatar
    swkerr February 5, 2018 at 8:55 am #

    Youtube TV on X1 was perfect for the whole game. Have recording from Emby on OTA but never touched it. Since it is the Internet I would think performance would vary based on location and provider with someone from every service having some kind of problem. But…social media should be able to identify a trend if the outage was wide spread.

  13. Avatar
    mikkeee February 5, 2018 at 9:19 am #

    I had a house full of guests and PS Vue but didn’t really trust it two minutes in when my screen went blank for a minute so I went old school. Antenna feed to all TVs in the house held up extremely well in perfect HD quality with absolutely 0 buffering or twitter apologies!

    • Avatar
      mADMAN in MN February 5, 2018 at 5:44 pm #

      Antennae are reliable; pay-to-see options aren’t.
      And prone to “outages” of every kind from cut cabling to ‘rain fade’ to internet problems to software conflicts.

      It may be “old school,” Mikkeee, but it just plain WORKS!

  14. Avatar
    Robert Beier February 5, 2018 at 9:23 am #

    Watched on YouTubeTV using web on my Surface. No issues at all. Most of the other services have buffering while using my Surface even when not watching a major event. Wish YouTube had more channels, but it has proven to be the most stable for my use case.

  15. Avatar
    Dale Rogers February 5, 2018 at 9:27 am #

    I streamed the game on DirecTv Now. It buffered once for a couple of seconds during a commercial and was otherwise flawless.

  16. Avatar
    southhendo February 5, 2018 at 9:28 am #

    Couple of issues with the stream on PS Vue hanging, but only for a moment or two. Didn’t notice the outage at the start of the game, as I tuned in late.

  17. Avatar
    Wambie February 5, 2018 at 9:30 am #

    I watched at my Dad’s on Dish and the screen went blank twice. So some of this might be a NBC issue.

    • Avatar
      Joseph ewing February 5, 2018 at 11:31 am #

      That happened everywhere – even on cable. Presumably NBC.

  18. Avatar
    Kevin Jordan February 5, 2018 at 9:36 am #

    Did anyone else with Hulu on a Roku have weird issues with audio where it slowed down? Also have issues occasionally with it looping back and repeating a portion of a show that also happened frequently with the Super Bowl.

    • Avatar
      Leo Dimilo February 5, 2018 at 11:25 am #

      I did…it was happening so frequently, I canceled my hulu live subscription and went with YouTube live instead. With YouTube I had absolutely no problems and the picture quality was better. Completely offtopic to the super bowl but Hulu really needs to improve their UI. The live section was completely missing during the super bowl (and before). How on earth they got a B+ is beyond me

  19. Avatar
    LMan February 5, 2018 at 10:01 am #

    Used Fubo for my local NBC station stream, and the NBC Sports app. Both worked flawless although Fubo was about 30-60 seconds behind the NBC app.

    • Avatar
      icwhatudidthere February 5, 2018 at 12:20 pm #

      I was curious about that. I wonder how much of a delay these streaming services introduce with live broadcasts. YouTube TV didn’t seem like much but I’ve seen 5-10 second delays on DTVN in the past.

  20. Avatar
    Rocksleeper February 5, 2018 at 10:08 am #

    DTVN worked awesome during the super bowl.

    Wish they would put the same resources to all their other streaming.

  21. Avatar
    Mike Blakeslee February 5, 2018 at 10:17 am #

    It was weird because in the living room we had the game on in the beginning, actually a lil bit before it started, and it was fine but it wasn’t until our oldest son was sent to his room to watch it because we were going to watch something else did PSVue mess up. It was still playing in the living room when I was asked to come fix his TV and found that the content/guide/etc wasn’t loading.

    So after restarting his AFTV-Stick2 not once but twice to no avail trying to open PSVue and still found everything not loading properly did I decide to pop on his Xbox One and open YouTube TV. Luckily I had started a free trial a few days prior to try the new Roku YouTube TV app. After all that he was able to watch the whole game w/no problem. We decided to tune back to the game in the living room in the last quarter and had no issues. So I assume everything was resolved by that point.

    Also at no point did PSVue reach out to inform us, let alone any other subscribers to apologize for this. However I’m not going to cancel w/them over this one thing that happened. Over the past year & a half they’ve been one of the best streaming services out there! I’ve tried every service and compared to the others wouldn’t let a lil thing like this decide their fate when others have had way more serious issues and remain up there on people’s minds (DTVN to mention one).

    As it was said in the article, live TV streaming is still new and every service is working thru their own different kinks. I’m sure next year there won’t be any problems or issues. At least I hope that’s the case.

  22. Avatar
    bobbob davis February 5, 2018 at 10:45 am #

    Last two minutes with Direct Now was not viewable.

  23. Avatar
    Lynnneez February 5, 2018 at 11:11 am #

    Psvue totally crapped out for me. I liv3 in silicon valley area of California and it was absolutely down at the start of the game and for us it did not come back on soon. Even the tweet from them saying it’s back up came at 4:48, which us too damn late! I had to scramble to try the NBC app which was up but kept freezing. Ultimately we used Hulu but believe me that my husband will not be holding any Superbowl parties at our house in the future without cable. I love psvue but whether some of you can’t believe the article it did in fact FAIL HARD for nearly a freaking HOUR of the game for many people. I personally give them a C. An hour is unacceptable and guests who don’t give a crap about cord cutting don’t care how much they tweeted. They only care that they missed part of the game. I’m still hearing it from my husband now!

  24. Avatar
    Teddy G February 5, 2018 at 11:11 am #

    Not even a single small hiccup from Playstation Vue from beginning to the very end during the game. Connecticut btw. Found the news above surprising.

  25. Avatar
    Mark Miller February 5, 2018 at 11:54 am # was our selection of choice. It worked flawlessly.

    The family and guests were very impressed as was my VERY cable cutting skeptical wife. In fact, this experience may allow us to move forward fully to cut the cord as currently I’m still in the “prove it” mode with her. We also have PlaystationVue on another tv and its performance as others noted here was not good for us in Ohio with downtime and pixelation. The frame rate differences were quite distinctly worse when comparing it to YTTV and of course local NBC digital OTA.

    So far after 3 months of direct comparison of all the big players, other than a distinct lack of channels compared to the others out there picture quality and reliability of YTTV is winning the race. If they continue to add channels and maintain service levels for money as they are its a lock. (They added local Star 64 WTTR FWIW in the Cincinnati market over the weekend btw).

    Oh, and perhaps the ultimate compliment to YTTV – Late arrivals were SHOCKED it wasn’t regular cable or OTA. In fact a techy relation of mine made me prove it. He is now interested once I laid out the cost savings possible. But like many, lack of channels may hold them back for now…

    • Avatar
      Leo Dimilo February 5, 2018 at 12:02 pm #

      I have to agree…I tried sling and was somewhat impressed (although their lack of local channels really turned me off). I tried HULU and was greeted with buffering issues and weird glitches and a UI that needs to come with a manual. YouTube tv works flawlessly and the UI is super simple. Plus the DVR is amazing.

  26. Avatar
    Ottis DA Da aD February 5, 2018 at 12:23 pm #

    I just used the NBC Sports app on Roku since My antenna cord got damaged a few weeks ago. Only had one issue, the commercials wouldn’t stop on one of my TV’s and delayed the game on that stream by 3 minutes vs the other tv that I had on in another room.

  27. Avatar
    davehuze February 5, 2018 at 12:54 pm #

    It wasn’t widespread but I recall there was a number of complaints with PSVue last year during the Super Bowl including the app freezing up. We switched to YTTV this fall and I was pleased that we had a solid signal all night long.

  28. Avatar
    bigh February 5, 2018 at 1:10 pm #

    I watched recorded on TIVO with OTA antenna. Was able to skip all commericals and half time nonsense. Went live during the commerical at the end!!

  29. Avatar
    Dr.Chop February 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm #

    psvue was down. It wouldn’t even load my guide before the game started. Powered off the firestick and cleared the cache, no luck. Installed the NBC app to stream, and it did okay most of the game. Quality was up and down, a few buffer issues, but the real problem was the last 45 sesecon of the game. Just froze! Looks like a learning lesson for all streaming

  30. Avatar
    Shawn Stuckey February 5, 2018 at 1:58 pm #

    Sling here in Florida was great from start to finish on Roku Ultra Box. I switched here and there to the Nbc app and it was up, no lagg, just fuzzy at times here and there.

  31. Avatar
    Smoochy18 February 5, 2018 at 2:20 pm #

    It’s super frustrating that people continue to perpetuate the myth that cord cutting means just streaming. The TV antenna for the Super Bowl kicked butt. It was free, beautiful picture and totally reliable. And it didn’t suck up the data allowance. 🙂

    • Avatar
      mADMAN in MN February 5, 2018 at 5:32 pm #

      >>… perpetuate the myth that cord cutting means just streaming.<<

      Now THAT is the most perceptive, on-target, comment I’ve ever read on this site! I’m done with any form of pay-to-see TV, for good.

      For those who seemingly MUST PAY for television signals, and then complain about its failures (to quote the article “… just remember live TV streaming is still a new, maturing technology.”) during arguably THE most important sports’ fans event of the year, I say this:

      Oh, boo-hoo!
      Crocodile tears for all of you!

      >>The TV antenna for the Super Bowl kicked butt. It was free, beautiful picture and totally reliable.<<
      Same here.

      I learned my lesson about broadcast reliability -vs- alternative options also during a football game. Several friends, gathered to watch a Rose Bowl via my cable system, were horrified when the signal went out.

      I jumped up and re-connected my TV's built in antenna, via a slip-on 'F' connector, and lost no more than a single minute of the game.

      UCLA -vs- Illinois, January 2nd 1984.
      That's right — over 34 years ago!

      If a game is that important, especially with guests in your home, anyone who isn’t ready with a back-up option for BROADCAST events, is beyond foolhardy.

  32. Avatar
    Duelingdragon February 5, 2018 at 2:35 pm #

    Used OTA and that obviously was perfect. I will say, Vue was a good 30 seconds behind OTA feed. I’ve heard of a few seconds, but half a minute seemed a bit much. Wonder if that was how they solved their issues last night.

    • Avatar
      mADMAN in MN February 5, 2018 at 5:45 pm #

      >>Used OTA and that obviously was perfect.<<

      That says all that needs to be said…

  33. Avatar
    John B February 5, 2018 at 3:16 pm #

    Vue was fine for me. I was watching before the game started.

  34. Avatar
    hleigh February 5, 2018 at 4:03 pm #

    Watched via Firestick (ethernet connection). Went down during halftime show (NFL APP). Tried to switch to chromecast (also ethernet), but wouldn’t let me cast it due to broadcast rights. Had trouble logging into NLF app and nbc app at that time. Rest of the game it did pretty well.

  35. Avatar
    Roy Koczela February 5, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

    I have SlingTV. With 20 seconds to go in the game, it died. I quit out of the app (was on my AppleTV) and tried to get back in, but by then, it had disappeared from my schedule.

    I guess if Sling got an “A+”, then this didn’t happen to others… but it was… annoying.

  36. Avatar
    PROZAC February 5, 2018 at 4:25 pm #

    Sling tv was flawless…

  37. Avatar
    AMS February 5, 2018 at 5:29 pm #

    We tried out the Hulu stream last night, but the picture quality wasn’t great — DEFINITELY low framerate, and at times, the compression artifacts made it look like standard def on top of that. I ended up switching back to DirecTV, since I haven’t canceled yet. Were the other streaming services better? Are they all at 1080/60fps?

    • Avatar
      mADMAN in MN February 5, 2018 at 5:36 pm #

      An antenna is a one-time purchase.
      It doesn’t relay “artifacts,” it doesn’t “buffer,” and it doesn’t “drop signal.”

      You oughtta try it.

      • Avatar
        AMS February 5, 2018 at 5:43 pm #

        We get it. You like antennas.

        I have an antenna.

        This post wasn’t about antennas.

      • Avatar
        Rocksleeper February 5, 2018 at 11:57 pm #

        I live in Socorro, NM.

        Nearst NBC Affiliate tower is 80 miles away.

        It’s a desert, so lots of wind and sand interferance.

        I’ve tired an atenna where I lived…it “artifacts” and “buffers” at my location.

  38. Avatar
    Joe Capua February 5, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    I have Directnow and the buffering was so bad, the game was unwatchable. I signed up for Slings 14 day free trial which performed 100%.

  39. Avatar
    John Burgess February 5, 2018 at 7:49 pm #

    nfl had like a 10% decrease in viewership from last year, still was a lot of people though.

  40. Avatar
    Cherese February 5, 2018 at 8:14 pm #

    I disagree with Directv Now getting an A+. Despite having chrome beta, Roku beta, Roku regular login with two NBC streams, all three buffered for me terribly after halftime ended. I went to the nbc website and streamed the rest of the game, and there were issues with that stream as well. They have a lot of work to do…..

  41. Avatar
    zimmuze41 February 5, 2018 at 8:16 pm #

    Vue was down on Roku starting at the National Anthem, but was working fine on Fire Stick in another room. With a houseful of guests I had OTA back-up ready to go.

    I re-tested Vue about a minute into the game and it was great.

    Strange that there was a 60 second delay between the two streams. OTA = on time, Roku = 45 second delay, Fire stick = 90+ second delay.

  42. Avatar
    TaiPeng February 6, 2018 at 2:05 am #

    PS Vue is dying. Of course they would be the worst but Hulu is bad too? I would have thought DTVN would be bad too? So the $35 option work and the $40 options don’t? Ha ha.

  43. Avatar
    Kevyn Bradley Grams February 6, 2018 at 4:34 am #

    Watched the game on King 5 Seattle Via PlayStation Vue on PlayStation 4 Pro. Only had one buffering issues for about 3 seconds during the final minutes of the game. Otherwise no issues at all. Clear and clean picture quality all the way through. Much better performance than Direct TV at the party I went to last year.

  44. Avatar
    David1970 February 8, 2018 at 7:20 pm #

    I could not stream the game. I have Vue but they do not have any major networks in the Providence market. I am in the Providence market despite living in MA.
    So nothing has changed here. Funny to read B+ because they told you that there was an outage?? What you didn’t know? If Nat’l Gid has an outage I don’t think they get a B+.