Best streaming service DVRs of 2020

Over the past ten years, live TV streaming has gone from a novelty to a full-on threat to traditional cable, and for good reason. Streaming services allow users to travel anywhere and still catch live broadcasts, games and movies on a variety of devices. For a while, cable had one advantage: the digital video recorder (DVR). You could record anything in perfect digital quality and watch it at any time. Now, however, streaming services have caught up. All offer some sort of cloud DVR service, which allows you to record shows, games or other broadcasts and access them when you want. We looked into several live TV streaming services and came up with our best cloud DVR options. 

Best streaming service DVRs

  • fuboTV 
  • Hulu + Live TV 
  • Philo 
  • Sling TV 
  • YouTube TV 

Our methodology and research

Number of streaming service DVRs researched: 12

Criteria used: We researched the best live TV streaming services, comparing their DVR options for storage, functionality and more. We focused entirely on DVRs, ignoring other factors like channel lineup, user experience, device compatibility and the like. 

Compare best streaming service DVRs 

YouTube TVPhilofuboTVSling TV BlueHulu Live + TV
Starting price$49.95/mo.$20/mo.$44.99/mo.$30/mo.*$54.99/mo.
Included DVR storageUnlimitedUnlimited30 hours10 hours*50 hours
DVR storage time9 months30 daysForeverForeverForever
Extra DVR costN/AN/A$9.99/mo. for 500 hours$5/mo. for 50 hours$9.99/mo. for 200 hours
Fast-forward/ rewindYesYesYesYesYes

*Sling TV Blue and Orange start at $30/mo, Sling TV Orange + Blue at $45/mo. All Sling TV’s packages include 10 hours of cloud DVR storage.

Find the right streaming service DVR for you 

If you’re shopping for a streaming service and you’re keen on a great DVR, you’ll first want to know about storage capacity. After that, consider how long you get to keep the things you save (it’s not always forever), whether you can fast-forward, rewind, pause or resume and if you can fast forward through commercials.

Best unlimited storage: YouTube TV DVR 

Standout Features

YouTube TV’s DVR stands out thanks to its unlimited storage. You can navigate, pause and resume with the DVR, and it even lets you fast forward through some commercials. 

Potential drawbacks

Unfortunately, you can only keep YouTube TV DVR recordings for nine months. 

What to record on YouTube TV

YouTube TV’s DVR lets you record the entire range of YouTube TV content, including TV shows and sports broadcasts from channels like CNBC, Disney, ESPN, NBC Sports, SyFy, USA and more.

Best for skipping commercials: Philo DVR

Standout features

Philo offers unlimited cloud DVR storage, and it only costs $20/mo. and allows you to fast forward through commercials.

Potential drawbacks

Philo only lets you keep recordings for 30 days, and the service doesn’t carry broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, PBS, NBC or local access channels.

What to record on Philo

The service’s lineup has 59 channels featuring plenty of entertainment programming from major channels such as A&E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps and Viacom.

Best DVR upgrade: fuboTV DVR 

Standout features

If you can’t get unlimited storage out of the box, the next best thing is a cheap, big upgrade. fuboTV gives you 50 hours for free. You can score 500 hours of storage for $9.99/mo. The service permits you to keep recordings for an unlimited period of time.

Potential drawbacks

At $54.99/mo., fuboTV costs more to start than the other services here. The service offers relatively specialized programming geared toward sports fans, making it a prime fit for those interested in watching the big game.

What to record on FuboTV

fuboTV has tons of sports channels, so you can record lots of on-the-field action. The service also has a nice selection of regular TV shows and news offerings. You can record major sports leagues like NFL, NHL, NBA, college sports and notably, lots and lots of international soccer. The service also carries news broadcasts from channels like CNN and MSNBC. Other options include content from a wide variety of outlets like A&E, Adult Swim, Bravo, Discovery and Oxygen.

Best DVR for those interested in recording live TV on a budget: Sling TV 

Standout features

Both Sling Orange and Sling Blue cost $30/mo. and come with 10 free hours of DVR recording space. It’s the cheapest plan we reviewed that provides access to channels such as ESPN, FOX, and NBC. Make sure Sling TV offers the local channels you’re interested in before taking the plunge — viewers in some locations don’t have access to some broadcast networks. 

Potential drawbacks

Sling TV gives users the least amount of storage in this lineup, and it’s more expensive to upgrade than all the other services reviewed. If you upgrade the DVR, you’ll pay $5/mo. for 50 hours of extra storage.

What to record on Sling TV

You can record just about anything you have access to, with the exception of a short list of digital networks. That list includes two sports channels, so there may be a game or two you can’t capture. However, most shows, games and movies are available, including CNN, Disney, ESPN, NBCSN, Vice and many others.

Best DVR included in a bundle: Hulu + Live TV

Standout features

Hulu + Live TV lets you keep your recordings forever. The DVR features fast forward, rewind, pause and resume functionalities. The extended DVR costs $9.99/mo. and gives you 200 extra hours of storage. Disney owns Hulu, which means you can take advantage of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ bundles. That bundle costs $12.99/mo., but Disney will drop the $6/mo. cost of Hulu with ads if you have Hulu + Live TV. That means you can get Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu + Live TV for $61.98/mo. Individually those costs would add up to $66.97. These savings can really add up over time.

Potential drawbacks

You can’t fast forward through commercials with the Hulu + Live TV DVR unless you upgrade to the enhanced DVR for $9.99/mo. 

What to record on Hulu + Live TV

Hulu + Live TV offers access to nearly 600 local affiliates, as well as regional sports networks from Comcast, Fox Sports and NBC Sports. You can also record from a variety of entertainment, news and sports cable channels like CNN, ESPN, FX, NatGeo, Smithsonian and TNT.

The takeaway 

Ultimately, you’ll probably want to make a decision about what streaming service to select based on content. Unlimited recording capacity won’t get you very far if you don’t have anything to record. The bottom line on cloud DVRs is you probably shouldn’t make your decision based only on the DVR. 

Every streaming service now offers a cloud DVR of some kind, and they all function in pretty much the same way. Even the smallest DVR holds quite a bit of material — most people really don’t need unlimited DVR storage. That having been said, cloud DVRs are a great feature to have. They’re a super convenient way to record movies, shows, sporting events and whatever else you want to watch. Just remember, you can’t record what you can’t receive, so check the channel lineup before you make a purchase. 

Aaron Trumm

Aaron Trumm has been writing, creating content, and producing media, online presences and music for 25 years. He is the founder and head of NQuit Music, holds a master’s degree from Stanford University, and was once the 10th ranked slam poet in the world. He's written for publications like Recording Magazine, Linux Journal, Computer Music Magazine, and SonicScoop, to name a few. He also enjoys sports and fitness so much that he's a certified personal trainer and often writes in that area as well.