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Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV

Sling TV might be cheaper, but Hulu + Live TV is a far better value—unless you want kids programming.

Best for kids

Price: $30–$45/mo.

Channels: 45+

Editorial star rating: 3.89/5.00

Best value

Price: $54.99–$60.99/mo.

Channels: 60+

Editorial star rating: 4.22/5.00

Bottom line: Is Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV better?

Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV are two of the biggest players in the livestreaming TV game. One is an excellent service that offers a surprising amount of popular entertainment, sports, and local channels at an attractive price point; the other is Sling TV—but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Hulu + Live TV blew away the competition in CableTV.com’s most recent Streaming Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey, and that didn’t even cover its large catalog of on-demand and original content (you know, Hulu’s initial function). Obviously, we dig Hulu + Live TV.

Not that Sling TV should be completely written off—if you want to get into livestreaming on the cheap and like the idea of creating your own custom channel lineups (especially for kids and sports), it’s definitely worth a look. We still prefer Hulu + Live TV; let us tell you all the reasons why.

Sling TV vs. Hulu Live pros and cons

Sling TV
👍 Low priced packages
👍 Multiple sports add-ons
👎 Limited local channels

Hulu + Live TV
👍 Excellent live channel lineups
👍 Hulu on-demand library and original content
👎 Limited NFL and soccer channels

Free trials and deals

Both Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV offer seven-day free trials so you can take the services for a spin before committing. You might not even have to download the app; many livestreaming TV devices come with Sling TV already loaded.

We couldn’t find any current Hulu + Live TV deals, but have you heard of this thing called Disney+? You can bundle it with regular Hulu and ESPN+ for just $12.99 a month.

New Sling TV subscribers can also get a Amazon Fire TV Stick device (one of our favorite streaming devices at CableTV.com) with three months prepaid service.

New Slingers are also eligible for a free AirTV Mini (which integrates an antenna feed into Sling TV’s interface) with two months of prepaid service.

How are Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV different?

Swipe Left to See All →
Steaming serviceSling TVHulu + Live TV
Editorial star rating3.89/5.004.22/5.00
Price$30–$45/mo.$54.99–$60.99/mo.
Live channels45+60+
Cloud DVR50 hrs. ($5/mo.)50 hrs. (included)
Compatible devices12+12+
Multiple streams1–4 2
Free trial7 days7 days
View plans

Data effective as of 09/22/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Simply summed up, Hulu + Live TV costs a little more but delivers a lot, and you get exactly what you pay for with Sling TV—which isn’t much, at least in the base packages. When we get into Sling’s wild world of add-on options later, though, you’ll see more to like.

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV prices and plans

Sling TV prices and plans

Swipe Left to See All →
PlanPriceLive channelsCloud DVRStreams
Our pick
Sling Orange & Blue
$45/mo.45+50 hrs. ($5/mo.)4
Sling Orange$30/mo.30+50 hrs. ($5/mo.)1
Sling Blue$30/mo.40+50 hrs. ($5/mo.)3

Sling’s Orange and Blue packages cost the same but offer mostly different channel lineups. Both include entertainment staples like AMC, TNT, and Comedy Central, but they split up sports channels like ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3 (Orange only) and FOX Sports 1 and 2 (Blue only).

Of the three plans, we like the combined Orange & Blue package because of its rounded-out lineup of kids, entertainment, and sports channels. It’s not as complete as we’d like, but it’s not bad for $45. We give serious side-eye to the extra $5 for cloud DVR usage, though.

Hulu + Live TV prices and plans

Swipe Left to See All →
PlanPriceLive channelsStreams
Our pick
Hulu + Live TV (No Ads)
$60.99/mo.55+2
Hulu + Live TV$54.99/mo.55+2

Sorry, the “No Ads” qualifier applies only to the on-demand library—essentially, the Hulu side of Hulu + Live TV. There’s no getting around commercials on live TV—yet. If and when we crack that code, rest assured that we’ll be retiring as they back up the money trucks.

In the meantime, we say go with Hulu + Live TV (No Ads). We prefer to not have our Letterkenny and Castle Rock binges interrupted by commercials; we’re going to assume you’re with us on this.

Cord-cutting savings

You could save up to $100 a month by switching from cable or satellite to a livestreaming TV service. Streaming doesn’t require a monthly rental fee for a receiver/DVR box, there are no installation charges, and there are far fewer filler channels (like music and shopping networks) to pay for.

Sling TV vs.  Hulu Live fees and extra charges

Aside from sales taxes in some areas and the usual late-payment penalties, there aren’t any surprise fees with Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV—there are also no contracts, BTW. You can quit service at the end of any billing cycle, a definite advantage over lockdown-driven cable and satellite providers.

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV live channels

To keep things simple, we’ll highlight Sling TV’s Orange & Blue package below. It offers the most channels (45+), and it’s closer in price to Hulu + Live TV’s basic package.

We’ll also include brands from our 2020 Best Livestreaming TV Services review for comparison (it’s pretty good; you should check it out).

Jump to: Live sports | Local channels | Premium channels
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV channels vs. the competition

Swipe Left to See All →
Live channelsBest for kids
Sling TV
(Orange & Blue)
Best value
Hulu + Live TV
Best overall
YouTube TV
Cheapest
Philo
A
A&E
ABC
ACC Network
AMC
Animal Planet
B
BBC America
BBC World News
BET
Big Ten Network
Bloomberg TV
Boomerang
Bravo
C
C-SPAN
Cartoon Network / Adult Swim
CBS
CBS Sports Network
Cheddar News
CINEMAX®
CMT
CNBC
CNN
Comedy Central
COMET
Cooking Channel
COZI TV
The CW
D
Destination America
Discovery Channel
Discovery Family
Disney Channel
Disney Junior
Disney XD
DIY Network
E
E!
El Rey
EPIX®
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNEWS
ESPNU
F
Food Network
FOX
FOX Business Network
FOX News
FOX Soccer Plus
FOX Sports 1
FOX Sports 2
Freeform
Fuse
Fusion
FX
FXM
FXX
fyi
G
Galavision
Golf Channel
H
Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
HBO®
HGTV
HISTORY
HLN
I
IFC
Investigation Discovery
ION
L
Lifetime
Lifetime Movie Network
M
MLB Network
Motor Trend
MSNBC
MTV
MTV2
MTV Classic
N
NatGeo WILD
National Geographic Channel
NBA TV
NBC
NBCSN
NBC Universo
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon / Nick at Nite
Nicktoons
O
Olympic Channel
OWN
Oxygen
P
Pac 12 Network
Paramount Network
PBS
Pop
S
Science
SEC Network
SHOWTIME®
Smithsonian Channel
Sportsman Channel
Stadium
STARZ®
SundanceTV
Syfy
T
TBS
TCM
TeenNick
Telemundo
Tennis Channel
TLC
TNT
Travel Channel
TruTV
TV Land
U
Universal Kids
Univision
USA Network
V
VH1
Viceland
W
WE TV
Weather Channel

Across all packages and services, the availability of broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, The CW, and PBS varies by region—unlike with cable and satellite, not all local affiliates are on-board with streaming yet.

The CW and PBS are particularly hard to come by, but they are available through their own streaming apps and the ole, ever-reliable antenna.

Sports channels

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV sports channels vs. the competition

Swipe Left to See All →
Sports channelBest for kids
Sling TV
(Orange & Blue)
Best value
Hulu + Live TV
Best overall
YouTube TV
Cheapest
Philo
ACC Network
Big Ten Network
CBS Sports Network
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNEWS
ESPNU
FOX Sports 1
FOX Sports 2
Golf Channel
MLB Network
MLB Bases Loaded
NBA TV
NBCSN
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Olympic Channel
Outdoor TV
Pac 12 Network
SEC Network
Sportsman Channel
Stadium
Tennis Channel

Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV have about the same amount of included sports channels, but Hulu has a slight edge thanks to its wider local-channel lineup.

But then there’s Sling TV’s Sports Extra add-on package (we told you the add-ons would come into play here eventually). This is where Sling TV really evens up the scoreboard.

For an additional $10 a month, you can get Sling TV’s Sports Extra Orange package, which includes NBA TV, ESPN SEC, ESPN SEC+, PAC 12 Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, NHL Network, BeIN Sports, ESPN Goal Line, Stadium, ESPN Bases Loaded, Outside TV, and Tennis Channel.

Or, for the same price, you can opt for Sports Extra Blue package, which gets you RedZone NFL Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, NBC Golf, BeIN Sports, Pac 12 Network, Stadium, Outside TV, Olympic Channel, and Tennis Channel.

Whew. We’re winded just thinking about all that action.

True sportsballers may want them both—overlapping channels and all—for $20 a month. Of course, there’s no combined Sports Extra Orange & Blue add-on package because that would make too much sense. You’re killin’ us here, Sling TV.

Local channels

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV local channels vs. the competition

Swipe Left to See All →
Local channelBest for kids
Sling TV
(Orange & Blue)
Best value
Hulu + Live TV
Best overall
YouTube TV
Cheapest
Philo
ABC
CBS
The CW
FOX
NBC
PBS
Telemundo

As we mentioned before, local channel availability varies for both services, but Hulu + Live TV offers more of them. For a better idea of what you can get in your area, punch your zip code into Hulu + Live TV or Sling TV’s site.

ABC, CBS, The CW, Telemundo, and Univision are MIA from all Sling TV packages no matter where you are, so don’t bother looking for them.

Want more local channels?

Regardless of which livestreaming service you subscribe to, we recommend also getting a digital HD antenna. You’ll not only receive local channels that your service doesn’t carry, but you’ll also probably find some channels you’ve never heard of (like Charge!, a 24/7 action-movies network).

Check out CableTV.com’s guide to over-the-air antennas.

Premium channels

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV premium channels vs. the competition

Swipe Left to See All →
Premium channelBest for kids
Sling TV
(Orange & Blue)
Best value
Hulu + Live TV
Best overall
YouTube TV
Cheapest
Philo
CINEMAX
EPIX
HBO
SHOWTIME
STARZ

Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV offer close to the same array of premium channels, all of which you could also get through the channels’ standalone apps for about the same prices. If you like the convenience of having all your TV available on one service, though, go with the add-ons.

Speaking of add-ons, there’s a world of difference between Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV in this category. Hulu offers only two add-ons besides premiums: Entertainment, which includes 10 extra lifestyle and news channels for $7.99 a month, and Español, which gives you seven similar lifestyle channels in Spanish for $4.99 a month.

Sling TV, on the other hand, offers a staggering 36 multiple- and single-channel niche add-ons beyond its Sports Extra variations and four premium channels, all priced between $5 and $15 a month. The old “something for everyone” promise tends to be overused, but yeah, Sling TV can probably make it happen.

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV original shows and movies

Popular original shows and movies

Sling TV

  • None

Hulu + Live TV

  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Letterkenny
  • Dollface
  • Castle Rock
  • Shrill
  • Fyre Fraud

Sling TV doesn’t produce any original content—and since there are already too many shows to keep up with, we should probably thank it for that. Not every service has to contribute to Peak TV.

Hulu + Live TV, on the other hand, gives you access to Hulu’s 50+ original comedies, dramas, movies, documentaries, and kids’ shows. Sure, that’s no match for Netflix’s monthly onslaught of originals, but what Hulu lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. Hulu has everything from award-magnet dramas (like The Handmaid’s Tale) to timely documentaries (like Fyre Fraud) to smart comedies (like Shrill).

But we’re still most grateful to Hulu for acquiring Canadian cult series Letterkenny—”pitter-patter!”

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV specs and features

They differ in content and approach, but Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV are pretty similar on the technical side—as are most TV services of any type. You probably couldn’t tell an Xfinity HD picture from a DIRECTV HD picture, DVRed or live, any better than we could, and we’re experts.

Cloud DVR

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV cloud DVRs vs. the competition

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Cloud DVRBest for kids
Sling TV
(Orange & Blue)
Best value
Hulu + Live TV
Best overall
YouTube TV
Cheapest
Philo
Storage includedNone50 hrs.Unlimited
(for 9 mos.)
Unlimited (for 30 days)
Upgrades50 hrs.
($5/mo.)
200 hrs. ($9.99/mo.)NoneNone

Hulu + Live TV includes 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, whereas Sling TV will charge you an extra $5 a month for that same 50, which sort of eats into the “savings” between the two. That’s far from the whole DVR story here, however.

Hulu + Live TV’s included DVR lets you record only series, not individual episodes. That’s standard practice for many livestreaming services, but this isn’t: you can’t fast-forward through commercials on your recordings. To get that basic function every other service offers, you’d have to upgrade to Hulu’s Enhanced DVR add-on—which also nets you 200 hours of storage space—for an extra $9.99 a month.

Sling TV’s DVR, on the other hand, will allow you to record single episodes, full seasons, or new episodes of series exclusively, just like cable and satellite DVRs do. They’re cool options, but you can’t record ESPN or any other Disney-owned channels at all.

Hulu + Live TV’s cloud DVR wins here pretty easily, and not just because Hulu doesn’t charge extra for one. Okay, maybe a little.

YouTube TV’s cloud DVR is included, and it has unlimited storage capacity. But it does delete content after nine months. So you can record as much as you want, but make sure not to record so many Golden Girls reruns that you can’t finish watching in time.

Multiple streams

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV streams vs. the competition

Swipe Left to See All →
Multiple streamsBest for kids
Sling TV
(Orange & Blue)
Best value
Hulu + Live TV
Best overall
YouTube TV
Cheapest
Philo
Streams included4233
UpgradesNoneUnlimited screens ($9.99/mo.)NoneNone

Sling TV’s plans continue to baffle, even down to the tech specs. Stay with us here: Sling Orange allows for only one device stream; Sling Blue allows for three between TVs, tablets, phones, and computers; and Sling Orange & Blue allows up to four. Streaming math shouldn’t be this hard.

Hulu + Live TV keeps things a little simpler: you get two streams included, or you can upgrade to unlimited in-home streams (and three mobile streams) for an extra $14.99 a month.

We like Sling TV’s Orange & Blue four-stream allowance; Hulu + Live TV’s two seems stingy.

Compatible devices

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV devices vs. the competition

Swipe Left to See All →
Compatible devicesBest for kids
Sling TV
(Orange & Blue)
Best value
Hulu + Live TV
Best overall
YouTube TV
Cheapest
Philo
AirTV Player
Amazon Echo Show
Amazon Fire TV Cube
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Android phones and tablets
Android TV
Apple TV (4th gen)
Apple TV 4K
Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast built-in
Hisense TVs
iPhone and iPad
LG TVs
Nintendo Switch
NVIDIA SHIELD
PC and Mac Web browsers
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Roku
Roku Express
Roku Ultra
Samsung TVs
VIZIO TVs
Wii
Xbox 360
Xbox One

Some devices, like PlayStation 3 and 4, support the regular Hulu app but not Hulu + Live TV. Likewise, the only gaming device that Sling TV will work on currently is Xbox One. No, we don’t get why livestreaming TV is more difficult to accommodate than livestreaming gaming, either.

Best streaming devices

Looking for the right livestreaming TV device to go along with your new (or continuing) cord-cutter lifestyle? We’ve reviewed some of the best streaming devices on the market.

Video quality

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV resolution vs. the competition

Swipe Left to See All →
Best for sports
Sling TV
(Orange & Blue)
Best overall
Hulu + Live TV
Best DVR
YouTube TV
Cheapest
Philo
Video resolution1080p1080p1080p720p

In general, live TV streams at 720p HD, while on-demand content can stream up to 1080p. This is true for both Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV—if they were streaming at 1080p all the time, they’d be telling everybody.

Also, while regular Hulu does offer some content in 4K HDR, neither Hulu + Live TV nor Sling TV can handle that resolution for livestreaming.

Both Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV stream with standard 2.0 stereo audio.

Internet check

Most streaming services recommend a bare minimum of 5 Mbps of internet speed to avoid buffering and glitching—we think you should aim higher. 25 Mbps is a more realistic speed to keep all your devices streaming smoothly. If you need more speed, check out our reviews of the best cheap internet providers.

Channel guide

They may have channel grids that look like traditional cable and satellite TV guides, but Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV’s layouts are far more interactive and customizable.

With the exception of local stations, there are also no channel “numbers” associated with networks—relax, it’s only weird for a minute.

Hulu Live TV Channel Guide | Cabletv.com

Hulu + Live TV’s channel guide is tinged with its trademark green, with shortcut tabs located to the left. Its transparency is a nice touch because it allows you to see what’s still happening live behind the grid.

Sling TV channel guide | Cabletv.com

Sling TV’s channel guide is made up of opaque blacks and greys, with shortcut tabs along the top. It’s nothing fancy, but who’s studying grids when there are shows to watch? Exactly.

Commercials

We’ve talked plenty about the advantages that livestreaming TV has over cable and satellite, but there’s also an annoyingly large disadvantage: you can’t always skip over DVRed commercials.

You certainly can’t skip ‘em with basic Hulu + Live TV. You can pay an extra 15 bucks for the privilege, but even then, some networks won’t allow you to fast-forward through ads.

The same no-skip restriction also applies to some networks on Sling TV—except for CBS, one of the biggest culprits of non-skippable commercials, only because you can’t get CBS with Sling TV.

So overall, ad-skipping is easier and cheaper with Sling TV than with Hulu + Live TV but only by a slight margin.

Our final take: Is Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV worth it?

Despite a handful of drawbacks, we prefer Hulu + Live TV to Sling TV. You get not only more channels but also full access to Hulu’s on-demand and original content, a definite built-in bargain. Its packages and pricing are also way easier to understand. We don’t want to think; we just want our shows.

But if you’re an obsessive customizer who wants to go all-in on à la carte package stacking—especially if you have kids—Sling TV might be perfect for you. Us? We’re going with Hulu + Live TV.

Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV FAQ

Is regular Hulu included with Hulu + Live TV?

When you subscribe to Hulu + Live TV, you also get access to Hulu’s library of on-demand shows and movies.

The Hulu + Live TV (With Ads) is the basic $5.99-a-month Hulu plan supplemented with live channels. Hulu + Live TV (No Ads) is the $11.99 Hulu plan that runs no commercials on its on-demand content, plus live channels (which do have ads).

How are Sling Orange and Sling Blue different?

Sling’s Orange plan ($25/mo.) offers around 30 channels and only a single stream per subscription. Sling Blue (also $25/mo.) has about 42 channels and allows up to three simultaneous streams. Several channels overlap between the two, like AMC, Comedy Central, TBS, TNT, and CNN.

Sling Blue has more channels, including Syfy, FX, FXX, and FOX Sports 1 and 2, but Sling Orange carries popular networks ESPN, Disney Channel, and Freeform. The Sling Orange & Blue plan combines all the channels for $40 a month.

Is Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV better for sports?

Hulu + Live TV carries several sports channels that Sling TV doesn’t, including AAC Network, Big Ten Network, and CBS Sports Network. Sling TV has only two major sports networks that aren’t available on Hulu + Live TV: NFL Network and Stadium.

But Sling TV offers channel-loaded sports add-on packages that more than even the score. If you need your sports, Sling TV is the better choice.

Bill Frost has been a journalist and TV reviewer since the 4:3-aspect-ratio ’90s. His pulse-pounding prose has been featured in The Salt Lake Tribune, Pacific Northwest Inlander, Coachella Valley Independent, Salt Lake City Weekly, and many other dead-tree publications. In addition to his CableTV.com work, Bill is a senior writer and streaming TV columnist at SLUGMag.com. By night, Bill cranks a Flying V with his band at the bar.

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