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Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV STREAM

Is the new-ish DIRECTV STREAM a viable challenger to Hulu + Live TV? Our experts put them to the live streaming test.

Best value (live TV streaming)

Price: $65.99–$71.99/mo.

Channels: 70+

Cloud DVR storage: 50 hrs.

Streams: 2

Large channel lineups

Price: $69.99–$139.99/mo.

Channels: 65–140+

Cloud DVR storage: 20 hrs.

Streams: 3–20

Hulu + Live TV is both a live TV and on-demand TV streaming service, as the name suggests. In addition to over 70 live TV channels, it also gives you access to Hulu’s large library of on-demand TV shows, movies, and original series. Hulu + Live TV was also the first streaming service to employ a “+” in its name, if blame needs to be placed.

DIRECTV STREAM, formerly known as AT&T TV, is the internet-streaming sibling of DIRECTV satellite TV service. It features similar plans and channel counts to the satellite service, as well as more expensive pricing than most other live TV streaming services.

TL;DR: We prefer Hulu + Live over DIRECTV STREAM in this matchup, because we think you get more for your money with it. But, if you like fat channel counts (including most sports networks), DIRECTV STREAM might be worth it for you.

Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV STREAM pros and cons

Hulu + Live TV

Hulu included
On-demand network shows
Some popular channels missing

DIRECTV STREAM

Large channel counts
No contract
Expensive plans

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Deals and promotions

There are several deals to be had with Hulu and Hulu + Live TV, including the popular Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ bundle—check out our Hulu deals guide for all the details.

New DIRECTV STREAM subscribers can get three months of HBO Max service (usually $14.99 a month) for free when signing up for service.

Compare Hulu + Live TV and DIRECTV STREAM head to head

Price Editorial rating Channels Streams Cloud DVR Details
$65.99–$71.99/mo. 4.2/5 70+ 2 50 hrs.
$69.99–$139.99/mo. 3.5/5 65–140+ 3–20 20 hrs.

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

There’s technically only one Hulu + Live TV plan. The price differences depend on whether you don’t mind or don’t want ads in your on-demand content (it costs $6 more a month for the commercial-free experience). Again, we like Hulu + Live TV’s lower pricing.

DIRECTV STREAM’s four plans are similar to DIRECTV’s satellite plans, in both price and channel counts. Unlike DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t require an annual contract or a dish on your roof—a nice score for minimalism.

Plans and pricing

Hulu + Live TV plans and pricing

Price Channels Streams Cloud DVR Details
$65.99/mo. 70+ 2 50 hrs.
$71.99/mo. 70+ 2 50 hrs.

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

For $65.99 (or $71.99) a month, Hulu + Live TV gives you around 70 live TV channels and 50 hours of cloud DVR storage. For comparison, YouTube TV features over 100 live channels and unlimited cloud DVR storage (for nine months) for $64.99 a month. But Hulu + Live TV isn’t just a live TV service—factor in its on-demand Hulu library, and Hulu + Live TV looks like a better deal than DIRECTV STREAM.

DIRECTV STREAM plans and pricing

Price Channels Streams Cloud DVR Details
$64.99/mo. 65+ 3 (20 inside home network) 20 hrs. (Unlimited, $10.00/mo.)
$84.99/mo. 90+ 3 (20 inside home network) 20 hrs. (Unlimited, $10.00/mo.)
$94.99/mo. 130+ 3 (20 inside home network) 20 hrs. (Unlimited, $10.00/mo.)
$139.99/mo. 140+ 3 (20 inside home network) 20 hrs. (Unlimited, $10.00/mo.)

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

DIRECTV STREAM is pricey, period. The channel counts are impressive, but you’d have to pay an extra $10 a month to upgrade the cloud DVR to anything to keep up with all those channels (20 included hours, puh-leez). DIRECTV STREAM also offers to rent you its streaming box for another $10 a month, but don’t take the bait—you can use your own streaming device just as easily.

Cord-cutting savings

Not feeling Hulu + Live TV or DIRECTV STREAM? Look into the other live TV streaming services we’ve reviewed.

Live channels

Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV STREAM live channels

Channel
A&E
ABC*
ACC Network
AMC
Animal Planet
AXS TV
BBC America
BBC World News
BET
BET Her
Big Ten Network
Bloomberg TV
Boomerang
Bravo
C-SPAN
Cartoon Network / Adult Swim
CBS*
CBS Sports Network
Cheddar News
CINEMAX®
CMT
CNBC
CNN
Comedy Central
Cooking Channel
The CW*
Destination America
Discovery Channel
Discovery Family
Disney Channel
Disney Junior
Disney XD
DIY Network
E!
EPIX®
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNews
ESPNU
Food Network
FOX*
Fox Business Network
Fox News
FOX Soccer Plus
FS1
FS2
Freeform
Fuse
FX
FXM
FXX
FYI
Galavisión
Golf Channel
Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
HBO Max
HGTV
HISTORY
HLN
IFC
Investigation Discovery (ID)
Lifetime
Lifetime Movie Network
MLB Network
MOTOR TREND
MSNBC
MTV
MTV2
MTV Classic
Nat Geo WILD
National Geographic Channel
NBA TV
NBC*
NBC Sports Network
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon / Nick at Nite
Nicktoons
Olympic Channel
OWN
Oxygen
Pac-12 Network
Paramount Network
PBS*
Pop
Science
SEC Network
SHOWTIME®
Smithsonian Channel
Sportsman Channel
Stadium
STARZ®
SundanceTV
Syfy
TBS
TCM
TeenNick
Telemundo*
Tennis Channel
TLC
TNT
Travel Channel
truTV
TV Land
Universal Kids
Univision
USA Network
VH1
VICE
WEtv
Weather Channel
Hulu + Live TV DIRECTV STREAM ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTV STREAM CHOICE DIRECTV STREAM ULTIMATE DIRECTV STREAM PREMIER
$8.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo.
$5.99/mo. $5.99/mo. $5.99/mo.
$14.99/mo. $14.99/mo. $14.99/mo. $14.99/mo.
$10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo.
$8.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo.

*Availability varies by area. Data effective as of post date.

The numbers look close, but Hulu + Live TV’s single 70-channel plan gives you more popular cable channels than DIRECTV STREAM’s cheapest (ENTERTAINMENT) plan, including sports networks. The CHOICE plan is more comparable to Hulu + Live TV, but costs around $15 more a month.

Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV STREAM sports channels

Channel
ACC Network
Bally Sports
Big Ten Network
CBS Sports Network
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNews
ESPNU
FS1
FS2
Golf Channel
MLB Network
NBA TV
NBC Sports Network
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Olympic Channel
Pac-12 Network
SEC Network
Sportsman Channel
Stadium
Tennis Channel
YES Network
Hulu + Live TV DIRECTV STREAM ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTV STREAM CHOICE DIRECTV STREAM ULTIMATE DIRECTV STREAM PREMIER

Data effective as of post date.

This is where the pigskin really hits the astroturf: Hulu + Live TV covers sports pretty well (especially on the college level). But, if you’re willing to shell out more for either DIRECTV STREAM’s ULTIMATE or PREMIER plans, you can get nearly all the sports networks you’ll ever want—minus a couple of NFL channels that aren’t on Hulu + Live TV, either.

If you’re wondering, NFL SUNDAY TICKET is still exclusive to DIRECTV satellite, and not available on DIRECTV STREAM.

Hulu + Live TV vs. DIRECTV STREAM local channels

Channel*
ABC
CBS
The CW
FOX
NBC
PBS
Telemundo
Hulu + Live TV DIRECTV STREAM ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTV STREAM CHOICE DIRECTV STREAM ULTIMATE DIRECTV STREAM PREMIER

*Availability varies by area. Data effective as of post date.

Both Hulu + Live TV and DIRECTV STREAM carry local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC stations. Worth noting: DIRECTV STREAM recently added PBS and PBS Kids.

Local channels are easy to get, though—all you need is a digital antenna to pick up area broadcasts over-the-air for free.

Premium channels and add-on packages

Channel
HBO Max/HBO
CINEMAX
SHOWTIME
STARZ
EPIX
Hulu + Live TV DIRECTV STREAM
$14.99/mo. $14.99/mo.
$8.99/mo. $10.99/mo.
$10.99/mo. $10.99/mo.
$8.99/mo. $10.99/mo.
$5.99/mo.

Data effective as of post date.

The only difference here is that Hulu + Live TV doesn’t offer EPIX as a premium add-on channel. DIRECTV STREAM offers all five of the biggest premium add-ons (all of which you could also subscribe to with separate standalone apps, btw). DIRECTV STREAM ekes out a small victory here.

Specs and features

Cloud DVR

Service
Hulu + Live TV
DIRECTV STREAM
Included storage Upgrades
50 hrs. 200 hrs. ($14.99/mo.)
20 hrs. Unlimited ($10.00/mo.)

We’d consider Hulu + Live TV’s 50 hours of cloud DVR space to be the bare minimum, which makes DIRECTV STREAM’s included 20 look, well, sad.

Both can be upgraded to unlimited storage for a price, but other live TV streaming services are far more generous with their clouds (fuboTV starts at 250 hours of storage, for example). We give Hulu + Live TV the W for cloud DVR space, even though it’s not much of a contest.

Multiple streams

Service
Hulu + Live TV
DIRECTV STREAM
Simultaneous streams Upgrades Offline downloads
2 Unlimited ($9.99/mo.)
3–20

We’ve never understood Hulu + Live TV’s insistence on two simultaneous streams when the standard is at least three (as with DIRECTV STREAM). DIRECTV STREAM also claims to support up to 20 simultaneous streams when connected at home. If you’re going to put this to the test, we recommend a fast internet service. Easy win for DIRECTV STREAM here.

Compatible devices

Device
Amazon Fire Cube, Stick, TV
Android phones, tablets
Android TV
Apple TV (4th gen.)
Apple TV 4K
Chromecast, Chromecast with Google TV
Echo Show
iPhone, iPad
LG TVs (select models)
Nintendo Switch
NVIDIA SHIELD Pro TV
PC, Mac web browsers
PlayStation 3, 4, 5
Roku Ultra, Express, Premiere, Stick, TV
Samsung TVs (select models)
TiVo Stream
Wii
Xbox One
Hulu + Live TV DIRECTV STREAM

Hulu + Live TV is available for more devices, but DIRECTV STREAM is on most of the popular ones (excluding PlayStation).

Also, is Wii ever going to make a comeback as a TV streaming device? These are the questions that keep us up at night.

Video and audio quality

Both Hulu + Live TV and DIRECTV STREAM steam live TV at 720p and most on-demand content at 1080p (or Blu-ray quality—remember Blu-rays?). Some of Hulu’s on-demand shows and movies are available in 4K UHD (if your device can handle it); DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t do 4K at all. Video edge to Hulu + Live TV.

Hulu + Live TV home screen
Hulu + Live TV home screen

Sound-wise, both services stream standard 2.0 stereo audio, with some programming available in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound—but you’d need a decent soundbar to notice it. We call this one a draw.

DIRECTV STREAM channel guide
DIRECTV STREAM channel guide

Check your internet

To get the most out of live TV streaming, you’ll want a fast internet connection. If you need more speed, check out our reviews of the best cheap internet providers.

Final take: Is Hulu + Live TV or DIRECTV STREAM worth it?

We think Hulu + Live TV wins the streaming showdown here: it has a majority of the most popular live TV channels, with the added bonus of the giant on-demand Hulu library of TV shows, movies, and originals. As a live/on-demand hybrid TV streaming service, Hulu + Live TV can’t be beat (mostly because it’s the only one).

While we do like DIRECTV STREAM’s abundance of channels, we’re not here for the price tag. Newbie cord-cutters might enjoy the easy transition from satellite to streaming (the interface is nearly indistinguishable from DIRECTV, save for the lack of channel numbers), but DIRECTV STREAM is a bit pricey for our cost-to-value tastes.

Methodology

Our experts employed hours of hands-on testing and crunched the numbers, rating Hulu + Live TV and DIRECTV STREAM on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction. Then we matched up the live TV streamers head to head to give a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

Hulu + Live TV vs. Philo FAQ

Is Hulu + Live TV better than DIRECTV STREAM?

After reviewing both, we think Hulu + Live TV is a better streaming service than DIRECTV STREAM. Hulu + Live TV is less expensive, it features an excellent lineup of popular channels, and it gives you access to the on-demand Hulu library of TV shows, movies, and originals.

What’s the best streaming service to replace DIRECTV?

In the head-to-head matchup between Hulu + Live TV and DIRECTV STREAM, we prefer Hulu + Live TV. However, our pick for best overall live TV streaming service is YouTube TV, which features over 100 live channels, an unlimited cloud DVR, and Google-enhanced search capability.

Do Hulu + Live TV and DIRECTV STREAM carry local channels?

Both Hulu + Live TV and DIRECTV STREAM carry local channels affiliated with ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, though availability varies by area. Other than YouTube TV, DIRECTV STREAM is the only live TV streaming service that has PBS.