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Hulu + Live TV Review

Hulu | 2019’s Best Live TV Streaming Services

Price
$5.99–$50.99/mo.

Customer satisfaction rating

(4.335 /5)

Pros

  • Hulu Originals
  • On-demand network shows
  • Inexpensive pricing

Cons

  • Incomplete cable channel lineup
  • Incomplete sports channel lineup
  • Inconsistent local channel lineup

Data effective 5/16/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The bottom line

You probably already know Hulu—it’s the on-demand service where you stream TV shows the day after they air or watch originals like Shrill and The Handmaid’s Tale.

But you may not know Hulu + Live TV, the service’s TV-right-now bid to woo you away from cable and satellite. And at a base price of $44.99 a month, Hulu + Live TV has some serious woo.

We were already fans of Hulu’s growing slate of original series, including recent gems like PEN15 and Ramy. Hulu + Live TV sweetens the deal by giving us one less reason to click out of the app to watch a livestreaming channel.

But, Hulu + Live TV doesn’t carry several of our favorite entertainment and sports networks, and availability of local channels is spotty from city to city.

Hulu and Hulu + Live TV promotions and deals

If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, there are bundling deals available that get you free basic Hulu. If you’re a college student, that bundle can also include free SHOWTIME.

With the Disney+ launch on November 12, you can also get a deal on Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+. It’ll be $12.99 per month for all three, which comes to a savings of $4.98.

Hulu and Hulu + Live TV plans

Swipe Left to See All →
PlanPriceLive channelsCloud DVRStreams
Hulu$5.99/mo.N/AN/A1
Hulu (No Ads)$11.99/mo.N/AN/A1
Hulu + Live TV$44.99/mo.60+50 hrs.2
Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV$50.99/mo.60+50 hrs.2

Data effective as of 05/16/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The difference between classic Hulu and the newer Hulu + Live TV is made reasonably clear in the titles: Hulu is the original on-demand programming model (like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video); Hulu + Live TV adds livestreaming cable and broadcast channels (as YouTube TV and fuboTV do).

The common ground: Hulu on demand is a part of Hulu + Live TV, with no separate service hassles or secondary apps.

Like other livestreaming services making moves into cord-cutter territory, Hulu and Hulu + Live TV don’t deliver all the entertainment and sports options you may want. But together, they come closer than most—and don’t forget the endless buffet of Seinfeld episodes.

Hulu and Hulu + Live TV channels and shows

On-demand shows and movies

Before it began producing its own original series and movies, Hulu was best known as a destination to watch TV classics and new network shows after episodes aired on regular television (the dawn of cord-cutting, in other words).

This still applies today—you can see new episodes of ABC, NBC, and Fox series on Hulu soon after they air. CBS and The CW aren’t as available through Hulu as they once were, though, thanks to CBS All Access and The CW’s free streaming app.

Shows from Comedy Central, Adult Swim, and other cable networks turn up post-broadcast on Hulu, as do many recent theatrical release movies.

On-demand TV shows:

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Seinfeld
  • Broad City
  • Rick and Morty
  • Atlanta

On-demand movies:

  • I, Tonya
  • A Quiet Place
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • Free Solo
  • Office Space
Worth noting: Hulu + Live TV doesn’t livestream several popular channels, including Comedy Central, AMC, Nickelodeon, Paramount, and MTV. An additional app, like Philo TV, can help fill the channel gaps if you’re willing to spend a little more on livestreaming.

Original shows and movies

The Handmaid’s Tale is Hulu’s biggest original success, and in-house productions like Marvel’s Runaways, Future Man, and Shrill aren’t far behind rivals like Netflix Originals. Hulu has been producing its own content since 2012, with an equal number of hits and misses.

Hulu doesn’t crank out original content with the same frequency of Netflix, but its series and documentaries generate serious buzz. In 2015, Hulu scored its first Golden Globe nomination with an under-the-radar comedy called Casual years before The Handmaid’s Tale debuted.

Original TV shows and documentaries:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Shrill
  • Fyre Fraud
  • Ramy
  • Future Man
  • Marvel’s Runaways
  • The Path
  • PEN15
  • Castle Rock
  • Casual
  • Difficult People
  • The Mindy Project

Think of the children: You can set up a child-specific user profile in Kids Mode, and Hulu will abide by whatever universal age restrictions you’ve already set up on your streaming devices for li’l Tanner and Sienna.

Live sports

Aside from five seasons of Friday Night Lights, you won’t find much in the way of sports on Hulu—but Hulu + Live TV is another matter. Live regional and college ball get plenty of play, and several of the bigger sports networks are repped in the channel grid.

Live sports channels:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPNEWS
  • FOX Sports 1
  • FOX Sports 2
  • CBS Sports
  • NBC Sports
  • ACC Network
  • Big Ten Network
  • SEC Network
  • Golf Channel
  • Olympic Channel

On the downside, Hulu + Live TV doesn’t carry MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, or NHL Network, and fútbol favorites like beIN Sports and Fox Soccer Plus are also MIA.

Local channels

Hulu + Live TV features over 60 entertainment and sports channels, including most popular cable networks, as well as local stations that carry ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and The CW.

But local channel availability varies greatly by area, and very few ZIP codes get all of them—check with Hulu for what’s available in your area. Sorry, Riverdale fans: The CW is the least-available livestreaming channel on Hulu Live lineups across the US. Double sorry, Antiques Roadshow buffs: PBS isn’t on Hulu Live or any other livestreaming service.

Local livestreaming channels (availability varies by area):

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • FOX
  • NBC
  • The CW
  • Telemundo

MIA CW? If Hulu Live doesn’t get the live channel in your area, you can still catch The CW’s stream of all of its shows the day after airing for free through its app and website. For other missing local channels, there’s always the over-the-air antenna solution.

Channel add-ons

You can customize any Hulu plan with premium add-ons like HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, and STARZ.

Hulu + Live TV also offers an “Entertainment” add-on package, which includes channels like American Heroes, Destination America, DIY, FYI, and Lifetime Movies.

There’s also an Español package that includes CNN en Español and Discovery Famila.

Hulu and Hulu + Live TV add-on channels:

  • HBO ($14.99/mo.)
  • CINEMAX ($9.99/mo.)
  • SHOWTIME ($10.99/mo.)
  • STARZ ($8.99/mo.)
  • Entertainment ($7.99/mo.; Hulu + Live TV only)
  • Español ($4.99/mo.; Hulu + Live TV only)

Hulu offers no sports channel add-ons—sorry, sports ball fans.

Combine Hulu or Hulu Live with another streaming service

If Hulu doesn’t give you everything you want, try pairing it with another streaming service to fill in the blanks—you’ll probably still save money over a cable or satellite subscription.

Swipe Left to See All →
Philo TV
$20/mo.
ESPN+
$4.99/mo.
fuboTV
$44.99 for first mo.
$54.99/mo. after
Fill in Hulu + Live TV’s channel gaps, including Comedy Central, AMC, Paramount, and MTV.Get additional, exclusive sports coverage, commentary, and documentaries. Satisfy your soccer appetite and pick up extra livestreaming entertainment channels.

Hulu and Hulu + Live TV specs and features

Cloud DVR

Hulu + Live TV’s included cloud DVR gives you 50 hours of storage for recording live shows. Not bad, but, unlike other cloud DVRs, you can’t fast-forward through commercials.

Skipping through commercials on recorded shows is allowed if you opt for the $14.99 a month Enhanced DVR that comes with 200 hours of cloud storage. That many hours seems excessive, until you realize how quickly nine seasons of Bob’s Burgers can pile up (that’s 80 hours of hamburger puns, FYI).

Go for the combo: Want to save five bucks? The Enhanced DVR ($14.99/mo.) and unlimited screens ($9.99/mo.) options can be added together as a $19.99-a-month combo.

Multiple streams

Hulu + Live TV allows two simultaneous streams between TVs, tablets, phones, and computers, while Hulu alone allows just one.

For an additional monthly $9.99, you can upgrade to unlimited simultaneous Hulu Live streams. That’ll get you watching on multiple TVs and up to three mobile screens—as long as they’re all on the same home Wi-Fi network.

Yes, you read that right. So even if your mom across town has the password to your account, she’ll have to wait to watch Blue Bloods.

Compatible streaming devices

While the classic Hulu app is available on almost every streaming TV device out there, not all of them support the Live TV function.

Most Blu-ray players, TiVos, and VIZIO TVs will let you stream Hulu’s on-demand content but not live programming. Likewise, Android TV and PlayStation don’t support Hulu Live.

Hulu + Live TV is supported on these devices:

  • Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablet
  • Echo Show
  • Apple TV (4th generation and later)
  • Roku, Roku Stick
  • Xbox 360, Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Google Chromecast
  • iPhone, iPad
  • Android phones, tablets
  • LG TVs (select models)
  • Samsung TVs (select models)
  • PC, Mac web browsers

Video and audio quality

Hulu + Live TV streams at 60 FPS (frames per second), which lines up with the HD picture quality you’re used to with other services.

Likewise, Hulu’s connection quality is consistently strong, with little buffering or interruptions. If you’re binge-watching the first season of ER and George Clooney looks a little fuzzy, it’s only because it was filmed in 1994.

On the sound side, most of Hulu’s content, both its on-demand library and live channels, streams in 2.0 stereo audio. Some on-demand shows and movies support Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround Sound—if your device can handle it. Audiophiles may want to locate their device’s manual.

Our final take

For Hulu devotees, there’s even more to like about Hulu + Live TV, especially if you’ve been looking for an excuse to cut the cord completely.

It’s missing a few key entertainment and sports channels but, at $44.99 a month—which includes the content-loaded, on-demand Hulu experience—Hulu + Live TV offers more than cable or satellite ever could at the same price.

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