Cable is more expensive than ever. Recent studies have shown that the cost of a standard cable bill is more than $100 per month, which is truly ridiculous.
But while canceling cable can save you a ton of money, it may leave you unable to watch some of your favorite live TV shows. This is especially hard to deal with if you love sports, cable news channels, and other cable networks.
That’s where internet TV “skinny bundles”, like DirecTV Now and Hulu with Live TV come in. In this article, we’ll look at these two “cable replacers”, and discuss their benefits and drawbacks, as well as the facts you need to know about each service.
Hulu with Live TV and DirecTV Now are both what are known as “skinny bundles”. Skinny bundles package together a selected number of cable channels, and these channels are delivered to the customer directly over the internet.
No cable connection, satellite dish, or antenna is required. As long as you have a working internet connection, you can watch internet TV.
Internet TV differs from cable in a few important ways. First, there are no long-term contracts. All major internet TV providers allow you to purchase service month-to-month, without any kind of cancellation fees or other service fees.
Internet TV also has very transparent pricing. You won’t get hit with fees for cable box rental or any other added costs. This also means that these services are quite cheap. DirecTV Now, for example, starts out at only $35/month, which is much less than cable.
Now that you understand the basics of internet TV, let’s discuss two of the most popular internet TV services; DirecTV Now and Hulu with Live TV.
DirecTV Now is run by AT&T and DirecTV, and it’s their attempt to reclaim some of the cord-cutters who decided that their cable bill was just too high. DirecTV Now offers a ton of great channels, but is a bit lacking when it comes to features. Let’s dive in.
As you can see, there are a total of four different subscription tiers for DirecTV Now. The first three allow you to get more channels, while the fourth “Gotta Have It” package includes all of the channels from the first three packages, as well as premium networks like STARZ and HBO.
DirecTV Now offers a total of four different subscription tiers, so you can easily choose the package that has the channels you want. You can see the full lineup of channels that are included on their website.
The best feature – by far – of DirecTV Now is its fantastic lineup of channels. As you might expect, DirecTV has been able to negotiate great deals with cable networks, and that means you get plenty of top coverage for a low price.
Even the lowest-tier, $35/month “Live A Little” package includes channels that most cord-cutters are looking for, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, CNN, Fox News, FX, HGTV, and much more. You can check out the full channel lineup on the DirecTV website.
And because the service offers multiple subscription plans, you can customize the channels you want based on your needs, and your budget.
DirecTV Now also has quite a bit of on-demand content. According to DirecTV, there are over 10,000 titles and 25,000 hours of on-demand shows available on the streaming service.
You can also log into “TV Everywhere” websites with your DirecTV Now information. This lets you stream on dedicated apps for channels like ESPN and CNN.
Finally, DirecTV Now supports mobile streaming on iOS and Android, and at-home streaming on devices like the Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku.
The service also has regular deals and discounts for new customers. Check out a few of them in this article!
DirecTV Now has a DVR, but it’s not quite up to snuff, especially when compared to what Hulu is offering to consumers.
The company began offering its DVR late in the game, and it’s currently only offering a 20-hour DVR for subscribers. The DVR also comes with a 30-day expiration date on your recorded videos which, quite frankly, is fairly limited for a DVR that’s already pretty small. It also doesn’t matter if you subscribe to the higher-priced subscription plans for DirecTV Now. You’ll still get the same cloud DVR.
You can also only stream on 2 devices at once with DirecTV Now, and there is no option to increase this limit. Again, DirecTV Now has claimed that they will release the ability to purchase an additional stream, but details about the cost and release date of this option have not been released.
Hulu with Live TV is a relatively new internet TV service, and it is technically still in “beta”, having launched in late 2017. However, it has quickly become quite popular for its reliable service, great apps, and streamlined user interface – as well as its good features.
Hulu with Live TV, unlike DirecTV Now, only comes with one package of cable channels. This package costs $40/month, and comes with somewhere between 40-60 channels, depending on your geographic location and partnered local TV networks.
Hulu with Live TV has a good number of solid features that make it a top pick for cord-cutters. First, it has a really good lineup of channels for the price. There are few coverage gaps.
Sports fans can get ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3, as well as Fox Sports 1 and 2, NBC Golf, and local ABC/CBS/FOX/NBC affiliates (depending on the location). News junkies get CNN and MSNBC, as well as Fox News and Fox Business. For entertainment lovers, there is TBS, FX, TNT, FreeForm, Oxygen, Cartoon Network, and more.
You also get a free DVR with Hulu with Live TV, unlike DirecTV Now, which does not yet offer a DVR. This DVR gives you 50 hours of storage. You can stream on up to 2 devices at once by default, but you can upgrade to unlimited streams for a fee.
The most unique feature of Hulu with Live TV is that your subscription comes with a totally free Hulu on-demand subscription – an $8/month value. You can access all of Hulu’s video content, including original shows, movies, and syndicated programs.
Hulu with Live TV is missing a few channels like AMC and Comedy Central. It also is a bit expensive, especially with optional upgrades like a bigger DVR and more simultaneous streams.
In addition, you can’t get more TV channels even if you want them, and your options for adding on premium networks are somewhat limited compared to DirecTV Now.
Hulu has over 20 million subscribers. However, this includes subscribers both to Hulu and Hulu with Live TV. There are over 800,000 Live TV subscribers in the mix.
Fact 1: Hulu with Live TV and DirecTV Now Both Have Lots of VOD (Video-On-Demand) Content
Hulu with Live TV does have more on-demand content than DirecTV. You can get access to more than 3,000 shows and hundreds of top films, across just about every imaginable genre. It’s estimated that Hulu spent 2.5 billion on content in 2017, so this is no surprise.
However, DirecTV Now also has plenty of on-demand content. You won’t be able to do things like watch entire seasons of Seinfeld, but if you miss a favorite show, you can easily watch it on-demand with the service.
Fact 2: DirecTV Now Is Supposed to Get Some Serious Upgrades… Soon
The much-rumored “DirecTV Now 2.0” upgrade package has been in the works for quite some time, and it was first announced in late 2017. With this upgrade will come the ability to add a third simultaneous stream, and a free 20-hour cloud DVR, as well as a cosmetic refresh of the DirecTV Now apps and website.
The release date for this upgrade has not been announced but is anticipated to be sometime in spring 2018, so we should hear more about the details quite soon.
Fact 3: Hulu with Live TV Has Better Family-Friendly Options and Features
If you are planning on sharing your internet TV subscription with your family members or housemates, Hulu with Live TV is probably a better choice for you.
This is because of the extra features and add-ons that Hulu with Live TV offers. Unlike DirecTV Now, you can upgrade the number of simultaneous streams available to you, for a fee. For $15/month, you can get the “Unlimited Screens” package, which lets you stream on 3 devices outside your home network, and on unlimited devices inside your home WiFi network.
You can also boost your DVR storage to 200 hours with a $15/month “Enhanced DVR” package. If desired, you can combine both of these packages for a $20/month flat fee.
This makes it much easier to share your account, and let everyone watch their favorite shows at once.
Hulu with Live TV offers HBO for $4.99 month for 6 months, but then the price spikes to $14.99/month. You can get Cinemax for $9.99/month, and SHOWTIME for $8.99/month.
DirecTV Now has better prices for premium channels. You can add HBO for just $5/month, with no promotional period. Cinemax is $5/month, SHOWTIME is $8/month, and STARZ is $8/month. If you love premium channels, DirecTV Now is a better choice for you.
Fact 5: DirecTV Now and Hulu with Live TV Both Let You Log In to Cable Websites
Both DirecTV Now and Hulu with Live TV let you log into cable websites. For example, you can go to the FX website and watch live TV by entering your DirecTV Now or Hulu with Live TV login credentials.
Fact 6: DirecTV Now and Hulu with Live TV Have Excellent Device Support
Both Hulu with Live TV and DirecTV Now have great device support. They both support the following:
- Streaming on web browsers
- iOS and Android
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV
However, Hulu with Live TV supports a few more additional devices that are not supported by DirecTV Now, such as the Xbox One and Xbox 360, as well as some select Samsung Smart TVs.
Fact 7: You Can Try Both DirecTV Now and Hulu with Live TV for Free
If you are interested in either of these services, you can get a free trial now. You can get a free trial of Hulu with Live TV through their website and see if you like the service.
And if you are interested in DirecTV Now, you can give it a try with a free 7-day trial, or you can sign up for the service immediately to get DirecTV Now for $10/month for 3 months.
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DirecTV Now Vs. Hulu with Live TV: Which Is Better?
The answer to this question depends on the features you need, the channels you want to watch, and a few other factors. It all comes down to your personal preferences. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re not sure which service is right for you:
Do you need a large channel selection?
If you need a really large selection of channels, DirecTV Now is likely a better choice for you. You can get up to 120 channels with the service, ensuring that you never miss out on your favorite shows.
But if you don’t need as many channels, Hulu with Live TV may be better for you.
Do you need a spacious DVR?
If you need a good DVR, you’re out of luck with DirecTV Now. You will only get 20 hours of storage for free and videos that expire in just one month. That’s not much, compared to the 50 hour limit of Hulu with Live TV.
Are you sharing your account with multiple people?
Because DirecTV Now can only be streamed on 2 devices, and you can’t upgrade to get more streams, it’s not ideal for sharing with a large family. If you really need a lot of simultaneous streams, Hulu with Live TV will likely be a better choice for you.