Hulu is enormously popular for its on-demand catalog of currently-airing TV shows and movies. But how does its live TV service compare? Our Hulu + Live TV review digs into this growingly popular internet TV option to see how well it serves cord-cutters.
What is Hulu + Live TV?
Hulu launched its live TV streaming service in the spring of 2017. Less than a year later, Hulu + Live TV amassed more than 450,000 subscribers. As of 2021, Hulu’s Live TV streaming service has over 4 million subscribers, with around tens of millions more using its on-demand service.
Live TV is a fully-fleshed out option for cord-cutters that delivers over 70 channels, including local broadcast networks, regional sports networks, national sports networks, entertainment TV, news, and even movie channels. Hulu also rolls its on-demand service in for the cost of the subscription, making it an option cleverly designed for both those who want on-demand TV and live TV.
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If you’re a fan of live TV and on-demand video, Hulu + Live TV is a perfect pairing. Although the service has slightly fewer channels than YouTube TV, it comes in at a better price, and also has Hulu’s massive on-demand library as part of the package.
Hulu + Live TV also stands a chance to be one of the best services on the market as it continues to bundle options. Disney now owns the service, and Hulu + Live TV subscribers may find discounts to Disney+ in the future and a massive load of Disney content on the way.
The service is not perfect, however. Subscribers still complain about the user interface, which isn’t terrible but which Hulu is still struggling to get right. Additionally, the service still lacks some key channels that many users may want.
There are thankfully more pros than cons to Hulu + Live TV, which is a testament to how quickly this service has grown in 2 years.
- Large library of channels. Hulu’s price-to-networks ratio is good, with 60+ channels for $64.99 per month.
- Excellent selection of features. Hulu provides a generous 50-hour cloud DVR and 2 simultaneous streams per account.
- Hulu on-demand included. You’ll get access to the entire Hulu on-demand library as part of the package, making this service unique among the other options.
- Large app library. You can use Hulu + Live TV on a large number of devices. It’s also the only internet TV service that works with the Nintendo Switch.
- Great streaming quality. Hulu + Live TV offers high-quality HD streaming and has invested heavily in its architecture to make sure streaming is clear and buffer-free.
- Pricey, by comparison. At $64.99 per month, Hulu + Live TV is pricey compared to Sling TV or Philo.
- Some UI complaints. Some users complain about the user interface, which Hulu acknowledges still needs some work. Hulu continues to tweak the interface every few months.
Hulu + Live TV’s primary subscription costs $64.99 per month. Besides giving you access to more than 70+ live TV channels, you get the Hulu on-demand library. The core features include fifty hours of recording space on the cloud DVR and simultaneous streaming to two devices.
|Hulu + Live TV|
7-Day Free Trial
2 simultaneous streams
ESPN and Disney
Hulu’s Enhanced Cloud DVR will cost you an extra $9.99 per month. You get 200 hours of recording time and the ability to fast forward through commercials.
The Unlimited Screens upgrade also costs $9.99 per month and lets you stream to as many devices as your home network can handle. Away from home, the Unlimited Screens upgrade lets you stream to three devices at once.
Hulu bundles both upgrades together for $14.98 per month.
Hulu + Live TV Channels
Your channel package through Hulu varies slightly by location. Local broadcast networks and regional sports networks can be different, based on your geographic region and zip code. However, the channel packages are fairly consistent, and everyone gets the same entertainment cable TV networks and national sports networks.
The full list of available channels includes:
- ABC News
- CBS News
- Animal Planet
- Big Ten Network
- Cartoon Network
- CBS Sports Network
- Cheddar Business
- CNN International
- COZI TV
- The CW
- Discovery Channel
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- ESPN News
- ESPN College Extra
- ESPN Bases Loaded
- ESPN Goal Line
- Food Network
- Golf Channel
- History Channel
- Investigation Discovery
- National Geographic
- Nat Geo WILD
- NBC Sports Network
- Olympic Channel
- SEC Network
- Smithsonian Channel
- Travel Channel
- Universal Kids
This list may be different than Hulu’s current line-up of channels. Hulu regularly adds or removes channels, based on contract agreements.
Hulu + Live TV Local Channels
You can get ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, The CW, Telemundo, and several regional sports networks through Hulu’s Live TV service. However, your package may be different, and it may include more or fewer local network options. For example, in the Washington DC region, you can get ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, and two regional NBC sports channels:
To determine your exact package, go to Hulu’s sign-up page, and then click on one of the links that state “View Channels In Your Area”.
Normally, you’d need to sign up for a cord-cutting service to view its TV schedule. That’s no longer the case thanks to our free TV guide for Hulu + Live TV. You can view channel schedules for every Hulu channel on any device with a web browser using our TV guide. That includes popular cable TV channels like ESPN, CNN, HGTV, or History Channel.
Our TV guide also has several handy features, including color coding based on the type of content on each channel, customized grids, and a future look at schedules days in advance.
Hulu + Live TV Stream Quality
One of the highlights of Hulu’s Live TV service is its excellent streaming quality, both for on-demand videos and live TV.
The live TV player autoplays the last channel you watched. The on-screen controls are straightforward. You can pause live TV as well as skip back and forth in ten-second jumps.
The gear icon lets you lower the video quality when bandwidth-challenged, toggle closed captions, and toggle the live TV autoplay.
In general, Hulu + Live TV delivered smooth, high-resolution video streams. I experienced buffering and resolution issues during prime time, although this ended within a few minutes of starting a stream. Once it settled in, the picture quality on Apple TV and iPad was excellent.
Most of the networks Hulu carries distribute their video feeds in 1080i Full HD resolution. ABC, ESPN and Fox are the exceptions. They limit their streams to 720p high definition. Hulu + Live TV does not offer 4K resolution or high dynamic range content, although owners of Xbox One game consoles can stream 4K video-on-demand.
Hulu has rolled out 60 frames-per-second video across many of its channels. While this is the standard frame rate for broadcast and cable TV, streaming services often use 30 frames-per-second to save on bandwidth. Hulu’s upgrade will make fast-paced action in sports and entertainment programs look much better.
Hulu has invested heavily in making its service as accessible as possible, both for the on-demand and Live TV services. As such, Hulu + Live TV is available on more devices than most of its competitors.
You can stream Hulu + Live TV on the following:
- TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up), Amazon Fire TV and TV Stick, Chromecast and Roku (most models)
- Smart TVs: LG TV (select models), Samsung TV (select models), Android TV and Roku TV
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android (5.0 and up), iOS (11 and up), Amazon Fire (tablets)
- Game consoles: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Xbox 360
- Desktop browsers: Most Mac and PC browsers
- Smart home devices: Amazon Echo Show (video and voice controls)
- Desktop operating systems: Windows 10 (dedicated app)
Hulu + Live TV on Roku
You can use Hulu + Live TV on any Roku model that’s updated to firmware version 8.1. However, some older Roku models may not offer the full available features you’ll get with Hulu Live TV. Check here for more details.
Hulu + Live TV on Fire TV Stick
Hulu’s Amazon Fire TV Stick offers a Hulu Live TV app. You can download it directly through the Fire TV app store. Fire TV devices running Android 4.4 or above are required. The app currently has a 3.8 out of 5 stars in the app store.
Hulu + Live TV on Apple TV
You’ll need an Apple TV 4th Generation or newer in order to stream Hulu + Live TV on these devices. You can download the app through the app store. The app has a near-perfect rating, with most negatives related to somewhat wonky aspects of the app and ads (which are not related to the app’s design).
Hulu + Live TV on iPhones and iPads
The Hulu + Live TV app has a 4.7 out of 5 stars for iOS devices. You can download it any iOS device running iOS 11.0 or better. You can use it on devices that aren’t updated to iOS 11.0, but you’ll have limited features. There are few negative reviews to point to, but most identify some minor issues with app design.
Hulu + Live TV on Android Phones and Tablets
You’ll find this app is well received on Android devices, with a 4.0 out of 5 rating. You can use the app on devices running Android version 5.0 or higher. Most negative reviews in Google Play are unrelated to the app, with complaints relating to content, ads, payment issues, and more.
As stated earlier, Hulu’s Live TV on-demand library is absolutely massive thanks to the inclusion of the regular Hulu service. The result is an impressive 85,000+ TV episodes and movies to choose from.
You can easily navigate through Hulu’s on-demand library by typing in the name of what you want. That includes character names, show names, or just genres.
You’ll also find content by using the “Browse” button. Browse arranges TV series and movies by more than a dozen genres including Science & Technology, Action, and News.
Hulu organizes on-demand content in various ways using a grid layout to make it easier to navigate. However, it can be difficult to find exactly what you want sometimes, especially since the service has so much content available.
Hulu’s DVR option is excellent for the price of the service. You’ll get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage for no additional fee. You can expand that to 200 hours with the Enhanced DVR add-on.
Hulu offers a fairly straightforward page that identifies how much storage space you have left.
DVR videos will still display advertisements. Some may not let you fast forward of skip through the content, especially not during ads. If you’re on the “No Ads” option, you’ll still get ads for your recorded on-demand videos from live TV channels, but you won’t have to worry about ads from the on-demand content.
Hulu lets you set up automatic recording for different shows or other live TV content. That way you’ll be able to get your shows ready to go without having to hit record on each show.
Once you start running out of space, Hulu will automatically start deleting your saved videos, starting with the oldest video. Otherwise, you can keep your recordings indefinitely.
Hulu + Live TV Customer Support
If you’re having a problem with your service, Hulu will try to get you to use the Help Center knowledgebase first. There are numerous documents available in the Help Center, although if you’re dealing with very technical issues you won’t find much help here.
You can log in through the Help Center page for “personalized support”. This mostly just offers up direct links to account information pages and suggested content, however.
If you need more direct assistance, Hulu also offers a Chatbot, a community forum, a live chat, and phone support.
As with most services of this kind, we’ve found chat support to be the fastest and least frustrating experience. You can get chat support in a few seconds in most cases.
Still, phone support is also fast, and Hulu even lets you know on its website what your phone support wait time will be so that you don’t have to call and listen to elevator music while on hold.
As with most services of its kind, you can cancel your Hulu + Live TV subscription from your account settings. To cancel, do the following:
- Log in to Hulu and click on “Account”
- Scroll down, then click on “Cancel Your Subscription”
- On the bottom, select “Continue To Cancel”
- Select a reason for cancellation, then click “Continue To Cancel”
- Ignore the next pop-up and select “Continue To Cancel”
- Ignore the next pop-up (again) and select “Continue To Cancel”
If you try to rejoin Hulu, note that you won’t get a free trial again if you’re using the same email address and/or the same payment method. Additionally, during the cancellation process, Hulu may try to offer you a free month to keep your account active or ask you to pause your account instead of cancel.
Hulu + Live TV Refund Policy
Hulu offers no refund with its Live TV or regular on-demand video streaming service. You’ll be able to continue watching content for the paid-for month, however.
As of 2020, over 2 million people have launched Hulu + Live TV to a high spot among the internet TV services on the market. It’s now one of the most popular options and growing fast. There’s also great potential for the service to offer even more bundles with Disney+ once Disney fully takes over.
The 60+ channel package has most channels cord-cutters want. The inclusion of the full Hulu on-demand library as well makes it hard to ignore. If Hulu offers what you need today, then go for it.
Other Great Streaming Services
Hulu+Live TV makes a fairly compelling case with its live TV and on-demand features. But it’s not all-encompassing. You can add even more streaming options, and cheaply if you want more sports and more family-focused entertainment.
Disney+, for example, comes in at just $6.99 per month and offers hundreds of TV shows and movies. All of the content available exists under Disney’s library of ownership, so you’ll get access to classic and newer Disney-branded TV shows and movies, including those typically only available through Disney Channel.
ESPN+ is great if you find some gaps in the types of sports coverage you want. Hulu+Live TV has a great selection of sports channels, including ESPN1 and 2, but you’ll find ESPN+ is like adding another ESPN channel to your line-up for $5.99 per month. ESPN+ offers an exclusive selection of sports, as well, including UFC events.