The popular streaming platform Hulu launched a new service in 2017: Hulu Live TV. It’s a great livestreaming TV service, but with its debut come a lot of questions that we hope to clarify for you.
Questions like: What is “Hulu Live TV?” and How is it different from regular “Hulu?”
Hulu itself has been around since 2007 — over a decade, as of writing. The overarching company is an online streaming service. “Hulu” has on demand content from popular networks and shows, as well as originals; the “Live TV” part is an upgrade that provides — you guessed it — live TV. You still get the on demand streaming, but you can also watch cable channels live without being locked into a contract.
To sum that up, in addition to the on demand content you retain, Hulu Live TV gives you:
- 60+ live channels;
- A cloud DVR; and
- The ability to stream on 2 or more devices at once.
Hulu Plus vs. Hulu Live TV vs. Hulu with Live TV
As an aside, we want to clear up a sometimes-confusing point real quick. When Googling around for reviews about Hulu, you’ll come across different names: “Hulu Plus”, “Hulu Live TV”, “Hulu with Live TV” — what are the differences?
All 3 of these terms are talking about the same thing: Hulu with Live TV channels, the cloud DVR, etc — the whole shebang.
Hulu Live TV Plans + Pricing
*Some channels still have ads.
On demand content aside, you basically get two options with Hulu Live TV: Limited commercials, or no commercials.
The first, includes brief, periodic commercials with your programming. The second is a little more nuanced. Despite the “ad-free” tagline, some of your shows will actually still have commercials that air before and after your program. This is due to licensing agreements with content providers.
But, unlike the “limited commercials” package, your show will stream uninterrupted -- just an ad before and an ad after that you’ll have to sit through. So not bad. And in both cases, you get the ability to stream from 2 devices simultaneously as a standard feature.
When compared to competitors like DIRECTV NOW or YouTube TV, you’ll get fewer channels with Hulu Live TV — and for pretty close to the same price. But, it’s hard to beat Hulu’s on demand library. So just make sure that you’ll get your favorite channels before you switch to Hulu Live over DIRECTV NOW or YouTube TV.
|Unlimited streams + Enhanced DVR||
Like any good TV provider, Hulu Live TV offers add-ons to bolster your base package. In this case, that means you can boost your 2 simultaneous streams up to “unlimited” for an extra $9.99 a month, or boost your streams and upgrade to the “Enhanced DVR” with 200 hours of storage for $14.99 a month.
You can also tack on the “Entertainment” or “Espanol” add-on packs for extra apiece.
You can also add premiums like HBO, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, and STARZ for between $8.99 and $14.99 a month — a little pricier than DIRECTV NOW or Sling TV’s premium channels pricing.
If you’ve been keeping track, these add-ons and premium channels add up fast.
Say you want to go commercial free ($50.99 a month), you like STARZ ($8.99 a month) and you want the Unlimited Streams + Enhanced DVR ($14.99 a month), plus the Entertainment add-on ($7.99 a month) — that adds up to a grand total of $82.96 a month. Ouch.
In contrast, just looking at the DVR and channel count, YouTube TV offers unlimited storage standard and over 73 channels -- for just $40 a month.
Hulu Live TV Channel lineup
|Base||ABC, ABC News Live, A&E, Animal Planet, Big Ten Network, Boomerang, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, CBSN, CBS Sports Network, CNBC, CNN, CNN International, CW, Cheddar, Cozi TV, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Disney Jr, Disney XD, E!, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN College Extra, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line, FOX, FOX Business, FOX News, Food Network, FS1, FS2, FX, FXM, FXX, Freeform, HGTV, History Channel, Headline News, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, MSNBC, MotorTrend, NBC, NBC Golf, NBC SN, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Olympic Channel, Oxygen, Pop, SEC ESPN, Smithsonian Channel, SyFy, TBS, TCM, Telemundo, TLC, TNT, Travel Channel, Tru TV, Universal HD, USA, Viceland|
|Entertainment add-on||American Heroes, Cooking Channel, CNBC World, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY Network, FYI, LMN, Science|
|Espanol add-on||CNN en Espanol, Discovery en Espanol, Discovery Familia, ESPN Deportes, History Channel en Espanol, Universo|
It’s true that you can get more channels from other livestreaming TV providers. But, where Hulu Live TV wins is by adding in all of their on demand content. Although you may only get around 60 live channels (70+ with the Entertainment add-on), you don’t lose any of that on demand content — Live TV is just an upgrade, allowing you to watch more of the shows you love in one place.
That said, Hulu Live’s channel list is pretty well-rounded. You’ve got all the basics: ABC, CBS, TNT, plenty of sports, etc. We don’t like that they’re missing many Viacom channels — like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, or MTV, which are offered by DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV.
Hulu Live TV has all 4 of the big local networks — but like any online streaming provider, availability will vary. You’ll have to use their availability checker and input your zip code to see what’s available for your area.
For example, when I did it, I got a local ABC, FOX (plus 2 FOX sports channels), and NBC.
Not bad, but yours will differ.
Don’t see the networks you like? It’s a good idea to pick up a digital antenna to view them over the air.
|Channels||Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN 2, ESPNews, ESPNU, FS1, FS2, Golf Channel, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, SEC Network|
Hulu with Live TV gives you a very solid selection of sports channels to choose from, but compared to DIRECTV NOW’s lineup and sports package options (including the coveted NFL SUNDAY TICKET, of course), it comes up short.
The good news is that Live’s sports channels all come standard — no extra fees for more here (minus ESPN Deportes, only included in the Espanol add-on).
We’ve referenced Hulu’s on demand library multiple times at this point, and for good reason — Hulu was originally on demand only. As such, it’s still available for customers. It airs current seasons of most popular shows running on ABC, NBC, FOX, CW, and CBS, usually available a day after they air.
Plus, you’ve got literally thousands of shows that are traditionally available on cable — although they tend to run a season behind. In addition, Hulu also has a good selection of “Hulu Originals” in their repertoire, like the popular “Handmaid’s Tale”, for example.
Hulu also offers a decent selection of movies, as well, and are constantly adding new ones.
Hulu Live TV Compatible devices
|Supports latest app||Supports Classic Hulu app only|
|Android phones and tablets, Apple TV, Chromecast, Echo Show, Fire Tablets, Fire TV and Fire sTick, iPhones and iPads, LG TV, Nintendo Switch, Mac and PC browsers, Playstation 3 + 4, Roku and Roku Stick (select), Samsung TV (select), VIZIO SmartCast TVs, Windows 10, Xbox 360, Xbox One||Android TV, Apple TV (2nd + 3rd gen), LG TVs and Blu-ray players (select), Roku and Roku Stick (select), Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players (select), Sony TVs and Blu-ray players, TiVo, VIZIO TVs (select)|
So what devices can you view Hulu Live TV on? Technically, all you need is the app, but to have a smooth experience, you should also have the right device to be able to access every feature. While most newer devices can do so, some can only support the “Classic Hulu” app.
That means you won’t be able to access or stream Live TV, premium add-ons, or new features — just the on demand streaming library. There’s a lot of “select models” going on, if you didn’t notice — so follow the link to check on yours if you’re not sure.
Hulu Live TV User experience
In Hulu’s 2018 update, they made some huge improvements on their 2017 version: they made things simple, yet still pretty logical. You’ve got a “Browse” tab, a “My stuff” tab, your “Search” bar and your profile. That’s nice.
Taking it a step further, when you hover or click on the Browse tab, you get a wide selection of categories to choose from, like popular Networks, TV Shows, Movies, and Hulu Originals; in addition, you get a ton of genres you can browse through.
Unfortunately, Live TV is a little behind – you can only really see the shows that are currently playing. This lack of a “guide” feature makes the Live TV experience feel a little awkward and incomplete.
Hulu Live TV Cloud DVR
|Standard Cloud DVR||50 hours||Included|
|Enhanced Cloud DVR||200 hours||$9.99/mo.|
Hulu Live TV’s cloud DVR gives you 50 hours of recording storage – pretty standard for most live streaming services that offer a DVR. You can upgrade for around $10 bucks a month to 200 hours, which is a solid improvement – but Hulu Live still doesn’t catch up to YouTube TV, which includes unlimited recordings and storage at no extra charge.
Another potential downside: Hulu’s On Demand library means that if you want to record a show live with your DVR, then watch it later – but it become On Demand before you do – you’ll have to watch the On Demand version, commercials and all.
But on the positive side, Hulu Live has an On Demand library, so you probably won’t have to record as much, which is nice.
Hulu Live TV vs. The Competition
YouTube’s cloud DVR is better than Hulu with Live TV’s – it’s just a fact. YouTube gives you unlimited recording for an unlimited amount of time; you can’t beat that.
However, Hulu Live’s addition of an On Demand library, as well local channels and original shows, might win choice for some people.
Hulu Live TV’s big advantage over Sling TV is that Hulu has a huge library of On Demand content, too. So while Sling is cheaper overall, you get more for your money with Hulu Live.
DIRECTV NOW offers the most channel options of all livestreaming TV service providers. It’s just a fact. So for those of you who love lots of channels — DIRECTV NOW is the one to go with. And, if you love sports, DIRECTV NOW is king.
Plus, you can get premiums included in some plans, and add-on prices are considerably cheaper for them than Hulu, too — just $5-$8 for your favorites.
Recap - final thoughts
Hulu Live TV provides a solid livestreaming service with a decent array of popular channels, local availability, and major network shows. Plus, the on demand library gives you even more options when it comes to major network TV shows, movies, and more.
We wish their DVR was a bit more inclusive of being able to record content that’s available on demand (to avoid those pesky commercials), 50 hours is still better than DIRECTV NOW’s offering.
For a mid-range pricing, you get plenty of live channels, access to the on demand library, as well as add-on and premium content. Overall, Hulu Live TV is a good option when you’re cutting the cord.
Hulu Live TV vs. Cable
The biggest differences between Hulu Live TV and a cable subscription is that there are no wires and no contracts — which means you can cancel at any time without penalty.
Although Hulu Live TV has fewer channels, you get a large, reliable on demand library of popular content, as well.
Does Hulu Live TV offer a free trial?
Yes. Hulu Live TV has a free 1-week trial. Cancel it ahead of that date and you won’t be billed. Hulu On Demand has a free 1-month trial, too.
Does Hulu offer any special deals?
Aside from the free 1-week trial, Hulu Live does not offer any special discounts or deals. Try it out for a week for free, then if you don’t cancel ahead of that deadline, you’ll be billed $44.99 a month until you cancel.
How many people can watch Hulu Live TV at once?
Hulu Live TV allows 2 users to stream content from 2 different devices simultaneously. The “Unlimited screens” add-on allows an unlimited number of users and devices to stream simultaneously.