At $6 a month, basic Hulu is one of the best deals in streaming, with gobs of current and past TV shows and movies. Its Hulu Plus Live TV upgrade may cost a lot more at $55, but that monthly fee buys one of the best live TV streaming services around. Hulu Plus Live TV is currently our favorite service for people looking to quit cable TV yet keep a healthy mix of live sports, news and local channels. And it also includes Hulu’s deep on-demand catalog of network TV shows and original programming, something no other live TV service can match.
- Solid mix of channels for the money
- Full access to Hulu’s on-demand content
- DVR is quite limited without the $10 upgrade
When YouTube TV ($65 at YouTube TV) jacked its price from $50 to $65, Hulu Plus Live TV instantly became our favorite premium-priced service — especially for those who were initially attracted to YouTube TV as a way to save money. While YouTube TV offers more top channels and a superior DVR, Hulu Plus Live TV is a better value at $10 per month less.
What do you get?
Hulu Plus Live TV expands upon the on-demand service with a healthy selection of live channels and throws in both a cloud DVR and program guide guide. Live TV is available on via Hulu‘s standard app on all the major platforms including computer browsers, iOS, Xbox One, PS4, Android, Apple TV ($179 at Apple), Fire TV ($34 at Amazon), Roku and Smart TV systems.
Hulu‘s channel count is solid but has a handful fewer major cable channels than than YouTube TV and Fubo TV. Important channels missing from Hulu include AMC, BBC America, MTV and Comedy Central. Check the channel lineup at the end of the article, to see if the Hulu Plus Live TV’s mix is right for you.
Like most other live TV streaming services, Hulu has had a number of price increases since it debuted and currently costs $55 a month. The service’s biggest gotcha is the $10-a-month charge for the Enhanced DVR. Without it, the standard, non-enhanced DVR on Hulu Plus Live TV lacks the ability to fast-forward and rewind through commercials on recorded content. In addition to allowing you to fast-forward through commercials, paying for the upgrade also increases storage from 50 hours to 200 hours.
Premium live TV streaming services compared
|Premium services||YouTube TV||AT&T TV Now||Hulu Plus Live TV||FuboTV|
|Total number of top 100 channels||75||45||59||68|
|ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Record shows for later (cloud DVR)||Yes (keep for 9 months)||Yes (20GB, keep for 30 days)||Yes (50 hours, 200 hours plus commercial skip for $10/month)||Yes (30GB, 500GB for $10 a month)|
|Step-up packages with more channels||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Simultaneous streams per account||3||2 ($5 option for 3)||2 ($10 option for unlimited)||2 ($6 option for 3)|
Many users see commercial skipping as a must-have for any DVR. Adding it brings the monthly price of Hulu Plus Live TV up to $65, which is the same price as YouTube TV. And all of the other premium services include cloud DVRs that let you skip commercials as part of their standard functions and the best, YouTube TV, has unlimited storage, too. In short, if you’re a heavy DVR user you might consider the extra $10 per month for YouTube TV worth paying.
Read more: YouTube TV vs. Sling TV vs. Hulu vs. Philo vs. Fubo vs. AT&T TV Now: Live TV channels compared
What’s it like to use?
Hulu’s program guide was once one of the least usable in the category, but it’s now become even more extensive than YouTube TV’s. The traditional grid offers guide data which is 14 days out and scrolling through pages is zippy, especially on Apple TV. In comparison, YouTube TV’s guide only displays programs up to eight hours in advance.
Recording to the DVR is a little bit of a pain — you can only do it from the guide. If you want to record the show you’re currently watching you need to exit to the guide. Once there you need to either long-press the middle button (Apple/Roku) or press the hamburger button and click record. Every other DVR-available service lets you record while you’re still watching it.
Should you get it?
If you enjoy the mix of channels and don’t need a DVR with commercial skipping, then Live TV could be what you’re looking for. Its biggest trump card is its tight integration with the Hulu service — if you like Hulu, you’ll like Live TV. The recent upgrades are the dressing on what was already a lovely window. Hulu Plus Live TV is now the premium service to get, at least until its own inevitable price bump.
If you don’t need as many channels or streaming locals (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox), Sling TV Blue offers a much cheaper rate at $30 per month — guaranteed for a year — and that price makes it our favorite live TV streaming service overall (Note that ViacomCBS is the parent company of ClearTips).
Below you’ll find a chart that’s a smaller version of this massive channel comparison. It contains the top 100 channels from each service. Some notes:
- Yes = The channel is available on the cheapest pricing tier.
- No = The channel isn’t available at all on that service.
- $ = The channel is available for an extra fee, either a la carte or as part of a more expensive package or add-on.
- Not every channel a service carries is listed, just the “top 100” as determined by ClearTips’s editors. Minor channels such as AXS TV, CNBC World, Discovery Life, GSN, POP and Universal Kids didn’t make the cut.
- Regional sports networks — channels devoted to showing regular-season games of particular pro baseball, basketball and hockey teams — are not listed.
Top 100 channels compared
|Channel||Hulu with Live TV ($55)||AT&T TV Now ($55)||FuboTV ($60)||YouTube TV ($65)|
|Total top channels:||59||45||68||75|
|BBC World News||No||$||$||Yes|
|Big Ten Network||Yes||$||Yes||Yes|
|CBS Sports Network||Yes||$||Yes||Yes|
|Fox Sports 1||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fox Sports 2||Yes||$||Yes||Yes|
|Lifetime Movie Network||$||$||Yes||No|
|Nat Geo Wild||Yes||Yes||$||Yes|
|NBC Sports Network||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|NFL Red Zone||No||No||$||No|