Hulu with Live TV Review

Hulu has a top-notch mix of live and on-demand content, but its interface needs some serious work.
hulu logo
Hulu has a top-notch mix of live and on-demand content, but its interface needs some serious work.
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5
Channels:
57+
Price:
$39.99/mo
Contract Terms:
None

Overview

Hulu with Live TV debuted in 2017 and joined a lineup of other live TV streaming providers trying to snag those cord-cutters. If you’re a proud cord-cutter yourself and all you want is the most popular live cable channels and a handful of local options, then Hulu Live should serve your needs quite nicely.

Hulu with Live TV package prices and channels

Package namePriceChannelsDetails
Hulu with Live TV (Limited commercials)$39.99/mo.57+Free trial
Hulu with Live TV (No commercials)$43.99/mo.57+Free trial

That said, Hulu’s interface is definitely unpopular (we don’t like it either), and its live TV navigation is a bit challenging. But Hulu’s killer combination of original content and on-demand shows alongside live TV channels still wins big points from us.

Hulu with Live TV compatible devices:

  • Apple TV (fourth generation and up)
  • Fire tablets
  • Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
  • Xbox One and Xbox 360
  • Roku and Roku Stick (on certain models)
  • iOS and Android smartphones/tablets (via Hulu app)
  • Chromecast
  • Web browsers
  • Samsung TVs (on certain models)
  • LG TVs (on certain models)
  • Nintendo Switch, Wii, and Wii U

Just as a heads up—because Hulu with Live TV is still in beta testing for many devices, you might have to follow these extra steps to add the live option.

Hulu with Live TV plans and pricing

Hulu offers just one live TV option with decent pricing and (almost) all the channels most people want to watch. 

Hulu offers two live TV streaming plan options, and they’re currently still in beta. That means Hulu is still testing its service and gathering information, so you might encounter some bugs or random issues, especially if you test the service on streaming devices like Roku or Apple TV.

Hulu with Live TV package prices and channels

Package namePriceChannelsDetails
Hulu with Live TV (Limited commercials)$39.99/mo.57+Free trial
Hulu with Live TV (No commercials)$43.99/mo.57+Free trial
Info Box icon

Want to see all available channels?

Check Hulu with Live TV’s full channel list and enter your ZIP code to see which channels are available in your area.

Keep in mind, DIRECTV NOW and YouTube TV will both give you more channels than Hulu with Live TV—and for a similar price—so make sure Hulu runs all your favorite shows before you settle on its service.

Neither ABC nor CBS are currently live in our area, and we were pretty bummed we couldn’t watch Grey’s Anatomy or The Late Late Show live.

What does Hulu with Live TV offer?

With its library of on-demand and original content, Hulu with Live TV is a force to be reckoned with.  

While you can get more channels from other streaming companies, we like that Hulu with Live TV comes with Hulu’s entire library of on-demand and original content. Your Hulu Live subscription includes Hulu’s $7.99 Limited Commercials plan. If you already have that plan, then the Live TV part is just an upgrade that lets you watch more stuff in one place.

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Account tip #1

Hulu with Live TV allows up to six account users, so your whole family can keep their shows separate. (Keep in mind, you still get only two simultaneous streams.)

What we don’t like is that you can’t get Viacom channels—think MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central—with Hulu Live. (at least not yet.) However, competitors DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV will both let you get your Broad City fix.

Add-ons can get expensive

Hulu with Live TV monthly bill, with add-ons

Add-onPrice
Hulu with Live TV$39.99
No commercials upgrade$4.00
Enhanced cloud DVR$14.99
Unlimited screens$14.99
Bundle discount*$-10.00
Total$63.97

*For purchasing both the enhanced cloud DVR and unlimited screens add-ons.

Hulu Live’s extras add up fast. For example, your Live TV plan comes with a cloud DVR. Great—we love cloud DVRs! But you get only 50 hours of storage. Want more than that? The next step up is Hulu with Live TV’s enhanced cloud DVR with 200 hours of storage—for $14.99 per month.

What about commercials?

Do you hate to see so many ads? Hulu has a plan for that: the No Commercials option is available for $4 more per month. Together with the Enhanced Cloud DVR, that’s an extra $18.99 per month, and you’re still at only the 57+ channel level. In comparison, YouTube TV offers 73+ channels for $40 per month, and its cloud DVR has unlimited storage.

Money icon

Account tip #2

If you get both the enhanced cloud DVR add-on and the unlimited screens upgrade, you get $10 off your total bill.

Hulu Live also restricts how many screens you can watch on at once. With the regular Hulu with Live TV plan, you get only two screens. If you want more, you can upgrade to the unlimited screens add-on—for $14.99 per month.

For that price, you might as well get cable (or YouTube TV) and have more than 57 channels.

Hulu with Live TV user experience

Hulu’s interface is hard to use and missing some key features. 

Hulu updated its interface in 2017, and users had some immediate negative reactions. And we don’t blame them. Hulu Live is confusing to use (especially at first), and its structure is not conducive to quickly finding your favorite shows.

hulu tv mobile view

Our biggest complaint is that, rather than organize shows by category and lay them out for you on one page, Hulu makes you scroll through each show individually before you can find what you actually want. It takes a lot of clicks before you can get to what you were looking for or even to finish exploring your options.

Hulu’s live TV option also makes it difficult to see everything that’s on and find a show you want to watch. It doesn’t really have a guide where you can see what will be on different channels at which times. It tells you only what’s playing right now. So it’s harder to plan ahead or see what will be on later.

My Stuff makes it hard to see unwatched episodes.

Hulu ditched its Queue function for a section called My Stuff, which organizes your shows first by category, then by show, then by episode.

hulu tv interface

My Stuff makes it more difficult than Queue did to see all unwatched episodes for the shows you regularly watch since you have to click into each show individually to see episodes.

Overall, the new Hulu interface makes it difficult to browse multiple show options quickly and easily, difficult to figure out what will be playing live at what time, and difficult to know which episodes you’ve watched and which ones you haven’t.

We’d like to see Hulu take another stab at the whole interface thing and make it easier to navigate.

Hulu with Live TV has the right idea, minus the interface.

Although Hulu with Live TV is still in beta, it’s available nationwide (unlike YouTube TV) and already has a solid number of channels under its belt. Hulu’s existing on-demand and original content libraries also give it an edge over the competition. So even with the user hate for the new interface, we think Hulu Live is pretty promising.

Hulu with Live TV Cloud DVR

Hulu with Live TV’s cloud DVR is convenient and easy to use—but sometimes you’re stuck watching on demand.

Hulu’s cloud DVR works almost exactly the way YouTube TV’s DVR does. Click the + icon to add a show or episode to My Stuff, and all future episodes will be saved for you there.

Hulu doesn’t actually let you record very much… We think that defeats the purpose of a DVR.

Unfortunately, Hulu doesn’t actually let you record very much. If there’s an on-demand version of the show available, you must watch that version. We think that defeats the purpose of a DVR—which is to let you fast-forward through unwanted commercials. Plus, that makes it not so much of a DVR as a subscription feature.

If you upgrade to Hulu’s No Commercials plan for an extra $4 a month, you can avoid commercials for most of Hulu’s on-demand content. But keep in mind, the “no commercials” label doesn’t apply to live TV.

Hulu with Live TV vs. other streaming services

We like Hulu for its original and on-demand content, but other streaming services have more live TV options.

While Hulu has competitive pricing for the channels you get, you don’t get to choose among tiered packages with variable pricing and channel offerings like you do with other streaming and cable services. Hulu with  Live TV does have most of the popular cable channels, but there are some notable exceptions, including the CW and Investigation Discovery.

Hulu with Live TV vs. the competition

ChannelsPriceMax # of simultaneous streamsFree trial
Hulu with Live TV57+$39.99/mo.2Free trial
Sling TV30-50+$25-$40/mo.4Free trial
DIRECTV Now60-120+$40-$75/mo.3Free trial
fuboTV71+$44.99-$49.99/mo.3Free trial
PlayStation Vue49-90+$44.99-$79.99/mo.5Free trial
YouTube TV73+$40/mo.3Free trial

Hulu with Live TV vs. Sling TV

Sling TV is the original live TV streaming service, and it’s still the cheapest option out there. If you want live TV and you’re on a budget, then Sling is a solid choice. That said, Hulu has on-demand and original content you won’t find on Sling.

To get the best of both worlds, we recommend signing up for Sling’s Blue plan alongside Hulu’s $11.99-per-month no commercials streaming plan. That way, you get 45+ channels and access to live TV on basically every device as well as Hulu’s unique content—and at $36.99 per month, you’ll still pay less than you would for Hulu with Live TV.

Winner for budgetWinner for binge watching
Sling TVhulu logo

Hulu with Live TV vs. DIRECTV Now

DIRECTV NOW has more channels than Hulu with Live TV (or any other live TV streaming service, for that matter). For channel junkies, there’s really no better option. We have found DIRECTV NOW to be a bit clunky to use, but considering how we (and other users) feel about Hulu’s new interface, they might be equal as far as usability goes.

That said, DIRECTV NOW has better options for US sports lovers than most streaming services out there, including Hulu Live. If you don’t care about Hulu’s on-demand content and you want lots of channels, including sports streams, then DIRECTV NOW should be your pick.

Winner for sportsWinner for on-demand content
directv now reviewhulu logo

Hulu with Live TV vs. PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue gives you fewer channels than Hulu, and for more money. PlayStation’s lowest-priced plan costs $15 more than Hulu Live, and for only 49 channels instead of 57+.

We definitely like PlayStation Vue’s interface better than Hulu’s, but considering the price difference, and the fact that Hulu has better original content, Hulu with Live TV takes the prize on this one.

Winner for most
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Hulu with Live TV vs. YouTube TV

Hulu Live has an edge over YouTube TV when it comes to original content. We’ve heard way more about shows like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale than we have about anything from YouTube Red. (Although we heartily recommend the cat documentary Kedi on YouTube Red.)

Hulu Live also has a few more local channels than YouTube TV, and it works with more streaming devices too. YouTube TV doesn’t currently work with Amazon Fire devices. Until it does, we’ll give the win to Hulu.

That said, YouTube TV has way more channels than Hulu does, and its interface is a million times more user-friendly. For now, we’ll call it a tie, depending on whether you want original content or more channels.

Winner for channelsWinner for on-demand content
YouTube TV logohulu logo

The bottom line

Hulu with Live TV shows a lot of promise, especially in the way it combines on-demand and original content with live television. 

hulu logo

Hulu with Live TV summary:

  • Live TV channels alongside original and on-demand content
  • Add-on and premium channel options
  • Mid-range pricing
  • Cloud DVR
  • Beta versions of service available on most devices

We’d like to see Hulu Live add more channels, such as Comedy Central. But in the meantime, we’re happy we at least have Food Network’s Cupcake Wars (which YouTube TV does not have) and HGTV. As Hulu continues to develop its live TV offerings, we think its original and on-demand content will help it stand out from its competitors.