If you're wondering whether Hayu is the right addition to your streaming diet, this Hayu review will help you decide.
What is Hayu?
Hayu is an on-demand streaming service that delivers American reality TV programming to countries outside the United States. Launched by NBCUniversal in 2016, Hayu was first available in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The company expanded in late 2018 when Hayu went live in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. By the end of 2019, Hayu had expanded to The Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong with Germany and Austria joining over the course of 2020. “We have ambitions for this to be a global brand,” NBCUniversal executive Hendrick McDermott told Variety when they first launched. While it's expanded a lot over the years, Hayu will never be available in the United States.
A 60-second summary of Hayu
Fans of American reality TV shows who live outside the United States are Hayu’s target market. By focusing exclusively on reality shows, Hayu provides a unique service with an enormous 6,000-episode content library.
Access to the on-demand service is only possible with an affordable monthly subscription. Besides letting you watch the latest shows from America, the subscription eliminates all of the advertising so you can watch shows uninterrupted.
Hayu is now available in twenty-nine countries and the schedule for further expansion is unclear. The streaming service may never be available in the United States. When traveling abroad, licensing restrictions will dictate whether you can watch Hayu at all.
Pros and cons of Hayu
Overall, Hayu does what it says on the label: streams American reality TV to other countries. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights.
- All reality TV all the time
- Low-cost subscription
- Ad-free videos
- 6,000 episodes
- Download-and-go viewing
- No content other than reality TV
- No simultaneous streaming
- Not available in the United States
- Relies on decrepit Silverlight streaming tech
How much does Hayu cost?
Hayu offers one all-encompassing subscription plan. With that single monthly payment, you unlock the entire Hayu catalog and get new episodes shortly after they air in the United States. Better yet, Hayu does not rely on advertising so you can watch your favorite reality shows uninterrupted.
Due to the nature of exchange rates and content licensing deals, the cost of Hayu varies from country to country. You can see up to update pricing for each country here.
You can also check out our comprehensive review of Hayu’s plans and pricing here.
Hayu's territory limitations
The licensing deals Hayu strikes with content providers determine in which countries TV shows are available to stream. These deals also dictate whether or not you can stream Hayu content when traveling outside your home country.
The European Union’s roaming regulations let Hayu customers who reside in the EU stream their home country’s Hayu content anywhere in the EU. For example, Irish subscribers will be able to watch the Hayu Ireland lineup while visiting Belgium. They also keep access to Hayu when visiting an EU country like Poland where Hayu is not available.
Residents of the other eight countries where Hayu is available — Australia, Canada, UK, Norway, The Philippines, Singapore, India and Hong Kong — get treated a little differently. When they visit one of the twenty-nine countries where Hayu is available, they can watch the local version of Hayu. An Australian subscriber visiting Finland, for example, would see the Hayu Finland version.
Beyond these two scenarios, Hayu subscribers lose access to their content whenever they visit a country where Hayu is not available.
Offline viewing on Hayu
One way around this is to plan ahead and download episodes to the Hayu app for Android or iOS. You can watch downloaded content wherever you travel.
Hayu's content library
Hayu’s 6,000-episode content library is devoted exclusively to reality TV shows from America. Many of these shows are produced by parent company NBCUniversal for broadcast on network television and basic cable channels. As soon as new episodes air in the United States, they become available on Hayu.
Here are some of the shows available to watch right now.
Keeping Up With The Kardashians
The quintessential reality show about people famous for being famous, Keeping Up with the Kardashians used to air on the basic cable channel E! in the United States. You can watch all the past seasons and also catch the various Kardashian spin-off shows like Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian.
Below Deck: Mediterranean
Below Deck: Mediterranean is a spin-off of the popular Below Deck series that airs on Bravo in the United States. The show follows the crew of a charter yacht as it sails the Mediterranean during the summer cruising season.
The Real Housewives
It seems like every city in America has its own Real Housewives franchise. You can watch all of them on Hayu, including the latest Real Housewives of Potomac.
Streaming quality on Hayu
Hayu has not joined other streaming companies in the rush to 4K and HDR. The streaming service’s video quality tops out at 1080p high definition. One reason for not offering higher-quality video may be the reality TV industry’s own production standards. With a focus on cost-efficiency, using HD cameras is much more affordable.
Hayu’s own technology may be standing in the way of a 4K upgrade. When NBCUniversal began developing the streaming service in 2015, it chose to use Microsoft Silverlight streaming technology. Three years earlier, Microsoft itself said it would no longer support Silverlight in Windows. The year before Hayu launched, Microsoft told the industry to stop using Silverlight. With dwindling support for the technology, it probably doesn’t make sense for NBCUniversal to move Hayu to 4K streaming until it’s worth the cost of replacing Silverlight.
Device support on Hayu
The biggest issue with Hayu’s support for streaming devices is that it only lets a subscriber use one device at a time. If you’re the only one in the family who enjoys American reality TV shows, then this isn’t much of a burden. However, you can’t use one subscription as a family account the way you can with Netflix and other streaming services.
Complicating matters, the Hayu app's availability varies by country. Check Hayu's device help page for the latest status.
Hayu on Roku
Hayu has an app for Roku’s streaming boxes and sticks. The app will also appear in the app store of any smart TV that uses the Roku platform.
Hayu on Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV app store has the Hayu app for all devices running Amazon Fire TV, including televisions based on the Fire TV platform.
Hayu on Apple TV
The Hayu app for the Apple TV is optimized for the big screen experience.
Hayu on iPhones and iPads
Hayu has apps for iOS, but the app gets dismal reviews with a 4-star rating. Many people run into billing issues or the app suddenly logging them out of their accounts. The most common complaint is that the mobile app forgets your recently-watched shows or where you stopped watching the most recent show.
Hayu on Android phones and tablets
You'll find the Hayu app for Android in the Google Play Store where it only gets a 2.5-star rating. Just as with iPhone owners, Android owners complain about technical glitches and billing problems. Hayu’s Android app also seems to struggle with remembering your recent activity.
Hayu on Smart TVs
Hayu has not cut any deals directly with TV manufacturers. However, many television-makers use platforms from Amazon Fire TV, Android TV or Roku to run their app stores. The Hayu app should be available on all of them.
Hayu on desktops and laptops
Rather than using a dedicated app, Hayu subscribers can stream content through most desktop browsers. As mentioned earlier, NBCUniversal developed Hayu on the Silverlight platform. If you have not updated your operating system and browser within the past year or two, your browser may show a message asking you to download the Silverlight plugin from Microsoft and install it.
The latest versions of Apple’s Safari browser, Google’s Chrome browser, the Firefox browser and Microsoft’s Edge browser will not let you install Silverlight. Hayu uses an alternate technology to support streaming to these browsers.
Hayu on other platforms
Although the devices listed above are the only official options for watching Hayu, there are workarounds that could let you watch Hayu on a device the streaming service does not support.
Hayu has agreements with other streaming services that let these third-party companies sell Hayu subscriptions. By subscribing indirectly, you can watch Hayu using that streaming service’s apps.
Let’s say that you prefer to send streaming video to your LCD television through a PlayStation 4 game console. Hayu does not offer a PlayStation app. However, Amazon Prime Video does. People living in Canada or the United Kingdom can use Amazon Prime Video Channels to subscribe to Hayu. That then lets them watch Hayu on the PlayStation 4.
The other streaming services that resell Hayu subscriptions include MTV3 Cmore (Finland), Netgem (United Kingdom), Now TV (United Kingdom and Ireland), Roku (in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada), Telstra TV (Australia), TV2 (Norway) and Virgin Media (United Kingdom).
How is Hayu's customer support?
Hayu provides a self-help resource for its subscribers as well as a direct customer support option. Customers can find solutions for general issues on the customer support website. The site is divided into six categories: Billing, Account, Video, Devices & Partners, Content and General. Within each section, you will find anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Whoever categorizes the FAQs isn’t always consistent. Questions about Silverlight, for example, are split between the Video and General categories.
You will see another issue with the support site when you check the Devices & Partners FAQ. There is no organization to this category. Rather than grouping the FAQs by device, each question seems to have been added to the category as they came up. You may have to scroll through the full 84-question list to find the question you’re looking for.
If the support site’s general solutions don’t fix your problem, you can get direct customer support from Hayu. Click the support site’s “Message Us” button to start a support ticket. Alternatively, you can contact the @hayuhelps Twitter account.
How to cancel Hayu
Hayu has a no-questions-asked policy for cancellations. Simply go into the account section of the Hayu website or app and select “Cancel Subscription”. You can reactivate your account at any time. If you do, Hayu will remember your viewing history and favorites.
Keep in mind that this process won’t work if you subscribed to Hayu through the Apple App Store, Amazon Channels or in-country service providers. You have to manage your subscriptions through those platforms. Follow their instructions if you want to cancel your Hayu subscription.
How is Hayu's refund policy?
When you cancel your Hayu subscription, you will not get a refund. Your account remains active until the end of the current subscription period.
Maybe replays of Keeping Up With The Kardashians is your guilty pleasure (or maybe not so guilty, we won’t judge). Or maybe you want to see the latest episode of Top Chef without waiting for it to appear on your local TV channels.
Hayu is a great way for people around the world to watch American reality TV programming. A huge library of content and access to the latest episodes as soon as they air in the United States makes Hayu a huge draw for fans of reality TV. Interested in other services? Check out a full review of Hayu alternatives here!
Chris Casper • Author
Chris Casper is a former tech industry product manager who escaped from California for New Mexico. Now he writes about science and tech while searching for the perfect green chile sauce.
Desiree Wu • Editor
Desiree is a full-time Honours Business Administration student at Ivey Business School at Western University. She also served as an Editorial Intern at Flixed. Desiree is based in London, Ontario.