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Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

Best for on demand

Hulu | 2019’s Best Live TV Streaming Services

✅ Enormous on-demand library

✅ Helpful sports interface

❌ Fewer channels

Best for channel surfing

Directv Now | 2019’s Best Live TV Streaming Services

✅ Central packages that include HBO®

✅ Lots of channels

❌ Spotty on-demand availability

The bottom line: New TV vs. old TV

Hulu + Live TV speaks to all the strengths of streaming: a full on-demand library, the most popular shows for cheap, and plenty of space to record your favorite live shows.

Meanwhile, DIRECTV NOW has made backward changes that draw too much on its satellite TV origins—complete with bloated packages and pricey add-ons.

Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

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Hulu + Live TVDIRECTV NOW
Price$44.99–$50.99/mo.*$50–$135/mo.*
Live channels60+45 – 145
Max. cloud DVR hrs.200 hrs.20 hrs. (30 days)
Compatible devices1610
Max. multiple streamsUnlimited♱3
On demandYesYes
Original seriesYesNo
Customer satisfaction rating4.34 / 54.24 / 5
Free trial7 days7 days

Data as of 7/30/19. Offers subject to change.

Prices and plans: Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

Some of the most noticeable differences between Hulu Live and DIRECTV NOW are their packages and pricing.

Hulu Live keeps things simple, while DIRECTV NOW gives you lots of options—some might say too many.

(It’s us—we say too many.)

Hulu + Live TV prices and packages

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PackageChannel countPriceDetails
Hulu + Live TV69$44.99/mo.
Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV69$50.99/mo.

Data as of 7/30/19. Offers subject to change.

DIRECTV NOW prices and packages

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PackagesChannel countPriceDetails
PLUS45+$50/mo.
MAX60+$70/mo.
ENTERTAINMENT65+$93/mo.
CHOICE85+$110/mo.
XTRA105+$124/mo.
ULTIMATE125+$135/mo.
OPTIMO MÁS90+$86/mo.

Data as of 7/30/19. Offers subject to change.

Both Hulu Live plans have the same channels. But with Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV, you won’t get ads during your on-demand shows. It’s a pretty simple lineup, but it does make your decision-making process easier.

DIRECTV NOW, on the other hand, has seven packages—more than any other streaming live TV provider we could find. And some inclusions, like local and premium channels, are available only with select packages.

There’s also the drawback of how expensive DIRECTV NOW’s plans are, considering the following:

  • Most streaming providers charge an average of $0.60 per channel.
  • DIRECTV NOW costs around $1 or more per channel, even on packages that don’t include premium channels.
  • Hulu Live’s standard plan is $0.65 per channel.
  • Hulu Live’s no-ads plan is $0.74.

Sure, Hulu Live’s prices are a bit above average, but you also get Hulu’s massive on-demand library with your subscription.

There are no two ways about the numbers here—Hulu Live is the clear winner when it comes to price.

Channels: Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

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Hulu + Live TVDIRECTV NOW
Included channels60+141
Total channels (with add-ons)89164
Details

Data as of 7/30/19. Offers subject to change.

Our numbers here are just a bit different than what you might see on the providers’ webpages. Instead of using the advertised channel count, we went through and counted every channel on our own—that’s how much we love you.

As of the time of this article, DIRECTV NOW has 75 more available channels than Hulu Live. That’s certainly nothing to turn your nose up at. In fact, only fuboTV and Sling TV have more channels than DIRECTV NOW, with 182 and 266 total channels respectively.

But of course, channel count really matters only if they’re channels you like to watch. Check the lineups before you decide:

  • Hulu + Live TV channel lineup
  • DIRECTV NOW channel lineup

Premium channels: Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

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Hulu + Live TVDIRECTV NOW
HBO®$14.99/mo.$15/mo.
CINEMAX®$9.99/mo.$11/mo.
SHOWTIME®$10.99/mo.$11/mo.
STARZ®
$8.99/mo.
$11/mo.
Entertainment Add-On$7.99/mo.
Español Add-On$4.99/mo.
DIRECTV NOW Deportes
$5/mo.
DIRECTV NOW Español$10/mo.

Data as of 7/30/19. Offers subject to change.

Have you ever seen a penny and just been annoyed? We have—right now, actually.

One cent shouldn’t be a big deal, but when HBO NOW is available for $14.99, you think everyone would offer it at $14.99. Except DIRECTV NOW wants to charge you an extra penny.

And AT&T—which owns DIRECTV NOW—also owns HBO.

It’s even harder to swallow all that knowing DIRECTV NOW’s old HBO price was only $5 per month.

Admittedly, HBO comes included with DIRECTV NOW’s featured PLUS and MAX packages. And sure, MAX has CINEMAX too. But if you get any other packages, expect to pay full price.

When it comes to affordable premium channel add-ons, the only streaming provider that beats any of Hulu Live’s prices is Sling TV with its $10 SHOWTIME add-on. But otherwise, Hulu Live is still the best there is.

Sports

DIRECTV NOW has several more sports channels than Hulu: FOX Deportes, GolTV, NBA TV, Tennis Channel, TVG, and Univision Deportes. It’s the better choice when it comes to Spanish-language sports programming.

But both have great sports interfaces that make it easy for you to find live games and follow your favorite teams.

Still, neither provider has Pac-12 Networks. If that’s a deal breaker for you, you can find those channels on fuboTV or Sling TV.

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ChannelsHulu + Live TVDIRECTV NOW
ABCxx
Big Ten Networkxx
CBSxx
CBS Sports Networkxx
ESPNxx
ESPN Deportesxx
ESPN 2xx
ESPNEWSxx
ESPNUxx
FOXxx
FOX Deportesx
FOX Sports 1xx
FOX Sports 2xx
GolTVx
Golf Channelxx
NBA TVx
NBCxx
NBCSNxx
SEC Networkxx
Tennis Channelx
TNTxx
TVGx
Univision Deportesx

Original series

Last year, Hulu had 27 Primetime Emmy® Award nominations for shows like The Handmaid’s Tale; The Looming Tower; I Love You, America; and March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step.

And with over 60 original shows, you’ll probably find something you like. Lots of them are well known enough that you’ll find someone by the water cooler who wants to talk about Hulu Originals with you.

But even if you didn’t know it, DIRECTV NOW gives you access to original content, too. It comes from AT&T’s AUDIENCE® Network, which is exclusive to AT&T U-verse, DIRECTV, and DIRECTV NOW.

You can get shows like Mr. Mercedes (based on Stephen King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy), comedy Loudermilk, and Off Camera with Sam Jones’ celebrity interviews.

With DIRECTV NOW, you won’t have access to quite so many originals as you’d get with Hulu, but its content is good, despite being less popular.

Compatible devices: Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

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DeviceHulu + Live TVDIRECTV NOW
Amazon Fire TVxx
Amazon Fire tabletx
Android mobile devicesxx
Android TVx
Apple TVxx
Chromecastxx
iOS mobile devicesxx
iPod touchxx
LG TV Smart TVs (select models)x
Mac computersxx
Nintendo Switchx
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Roku devicesxx
Samsung Smart TVs (select models)xx
Vizio SmartCast TV (select models)
Wii
Wii U
Windows computersxx
Windows 10 phones
Xbox 360x
Xbox Onex

You can find Hulu Live on more streaming devices than DIRECTV NOW, including the charming Nintendo Switch.

(This writer finds the Switch to be the perfect size for streaming during bubble baths, but CableTV.com doesn’t advocate taking $300 electrical devices into the tub with you.)

If you use Android TV, Amazon Fire devices, or Windows phones, pass on DIRECTV NOW because you’d need different devices to support it. And we don’t think DIRECTV NOW is worth buying new devices for.

Do I need a satellite dish for Hulu + Live TV or DIRECTV NOW?

No, streaming live TV uses an internet connection to work, not traditional TV methods.

You’ll only need a satellite dish if you use satellite internet, which is common mostly in rural areas.

Do I need a satellite dish for Hulu + Live TV or DIRECTV NOW?

No, streaming live TV uses an internet connection to work, not traditional TV methods.

You’ll only need a satellite dish if you use satellite internet, which is common mostly in rural areas.

Cloud DVR: Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

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Hulu + Live TVDIRECTV NOW
Included with package50 hrs. (unlimited days)20 hrs. (30 days)
Add-on200 hrs. for $14.99/mo.n/a

Data as of 7/30/19. Offers subject to change.

When it comes to cloud DVR storage space, it’s important to note that cloud DVRs tend to come in one of two setups:

  • Limited hours of storage space saved for an unlimited time
  • Unlimited hours of storage saved for a limited time

Unfortunately, DIRECTV NOW combines those setups for the worst of both worlds—limited hours of storage saved for a limited time. We’d wish you luck watching all your recorded shows in time, but we’d rather tell you to pick Hulu Live.

Even though 50 hours isn’t a ton of space, Hulu Live’s included cloud DVR trounces DIRECTV’s because it doesn’t automatically delete your shows after a period of time. And while Hulu Live’s add-on hours are pricey, at least it gives you that option.

User experience: Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

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Hulu + Live TVDIRECTV NOW
Channel guidexx
Live playback featuresx
Commercial skipping
Max. multiple streamsUnlimited*3

*Some restrictions apply

We tend to put price, channels, and supported devices first when it comes to streaming services. But you also want to make sure you enjoy using the service, and which is how channel guide, playback features, and simultaneous streams come into play.

Channel guide—DIRECTV NOW

Hulu Live seems to bank on you searching for or knowing your favorite shows and channels, and if you don’t, it can be a struggle to navigate.

That’s a lot of responsibility to put on you, so DIRECTV NOW’s more classic guide is the winner here.

Hulu + Live TV channel guide on a desktop computer.

While Hulu Live’s guide is simple, it’s hard to see what shows are coming up. Playing your video when you’re using the guide is nice, but DIRECTV’s smaller window plays just as well without leaving you in the dark about what’s coming up.

DIRECTV NOW’s channel guide on a desktop computer.

When it comes to TV guides, DIRECTV NOW’s traditionalism pays off. You can look days ahead or behind to see everything happening on live TV.

And for even better usability, you can click on a title that isn’t playing at the moment to bring up a series card. From there, you can learn more about the show and its available on-demand episodes.

With such a user-friendly guide, DIRECTV NOW makes both browsing and planning your TV time a cinch.

Interface—Hulu + Live TV

The interfaces of Hulu Live and DIRECTV Now are similar. They both recommend plenty of great shows to watch and help you pick up where you left off in previous sessions.

We prefer Hulu Live here because of its browsing tab. When you select a genre, you’ve got personalized recommendations, live TV, and on-demand series all in one place.

With all the options streaming live TV can give you, it’s good to have some direction.

Playback features and commercial skipping—Hulu + Live TV

For live TV watching, Hulu Live makes it easy to pause, rewind as far as the beginning of the episode, and fast-forward to what’s airing right now. But once the commercials start playing, you’re stuck.

You get a commercial countdown, though, so at least you know they won’t last forever.

DIRECTV NOW, on the other hand, has a pause feature, and that’s about it. With some shows, you can restart an episode from the beginning, but you can’t rewind or fast-forward at all.

So while Hulu Live’s features aren’t everything we dream of, it’s got enough features to keep us from worrying about someone walking in front of the TV at a pivotal point.

Multiple streams—Hulu + Live TV

The number of streams is a close match for us. Both DIRECTV NOW and Hulu Live come with two included streams. You can upgrade to three streams on DIRECTV NOW for $5 per month.

We like that price point, but families may need more streams than that.

Hulu Live’s upgrade gives you unlimited screens on your home Wi-Fi, plus three on-the-go streams. At $14.99 per month, this upgrade is nearly three times the cost of DIRECTV NOW’s, but you can do a lot more with it.

The total user experience

Even though DIRECTV NOW has the superior channel guide, Hulu Live’s overall interface, playback features, and available streams will give you the better experience—once you find what you’re looking for.

Hulu + Live TV takes the crown

In almost every category, Hulu Live shows a better understanding of what users want from a streaming service, and it’s willing to give it to them.

DIRECTV NOW doesn’t skimp when it comes to sports. But if sports are what you want to stream, check out fuboTV’s better DVR, three simultaneous streams, and lower prices before you make your decision.

If you agree with us that Hulu + Live TV sounds like the better choice, go ahead and start your seven-day free trial.

Find out more

For more streaming live TV options, check out our ranking of the best streaming services.

About the Author

Rachel has spent the past two years at CableTV.com writing articles that demystify hidden fees, DVRs, sound systems, and more. She makes door-to-door DISH and DIRECTV salespeople uncomfortable with her in-depth questions—but if that’s what it takes to get you the best TV experience, she’s happy to do it. In addition to writing for CableTV.com, Rachel’s work has been featured on Today.com, TechGuySmartBuy.com, HowtoWatch.com, and SatelliteInternet.com.

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