Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV have become the favored streaming services for cord-cutters. Their channel lineups and affordable pricing make them great alternatives to expensive cable subscriptions. But which one is your best option? Flixed’s comparison of YouTube TV versus Hulu with Live TV will help you decide.
Quick Introduction to the Two Streaming Services
Hulu and YouTube launched their streaming services in 2017 when the TV industry still regarded cord-cutting as the fringe activity of the tech community. Since then, they’ve surpassed dominant players at the time: Dish Network’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.
Already the dominant player in user-generated content, YouTube took a different approach when it decided to jump into the live TV streaming business. Rather than launch nationwide, it slowly rolled out city by city so it could guarantee subscribers would get their local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC stations. Now available across the United States, YouTube TV is the only streaming service that guarantees access to your local network affiliates. It even added support for local PBS stations.
Hulu was founded all the way back in 2007 by Fox, NBC and Disney (the owner of ABC). At the time, on-demand streaming services like Netflix only got access to TV shows after a season was over. Hulu was where you could stream recently-aired TV episodes while the season was in progress. When the company launched Hulu with Live TV, it had already had a customer base numbering in the millions. Hulu with Live TV offered a competitive combination of channel lineup, pricing and features. But throwing in access to its larger on-demand library was what really got people’s attention.
Subscriptions and Add-ons
Strictly from the point of view of pricing, we have to call it a draw. Hulu with Live TV is $10-per-month cheaper and has more subscription options. But YouTube TV edges it out on a price-per-channel basis.
For $65 per month, you will get more than eighty-five channels plus standard features that competing services offer as a premium.
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Unlike many streaming services, YouTube TV does not offer channel expansion packs. Instead, it offers an à-la-carte menu of channels that you can add for an additional fee.
Some of these are the traditional premium movie channels Showtime, HBO Max and Starz. But you can also choose channels and streaming services that appeal to specific interests. Acorn TV, for example, has a catalog of TV shows from the UK, Canada and Australia. CuriosityStream provides high-quality documentaries that focus on history, science and nature.
Learn more about YouTube TV’s pricing and packages here.
The $55 monthly subscription delivers nearly seventy channels, competitive features and Hulu’s large on-demand catalog. There’s also an option to remove advertising from the on-demand content (but not from live or recorded content).
|Hulu + Live TV|
7-Day Free Trial
2 simultaneous streams
ESPN and Disney
Two add-on options let you expand the channel lineup further. The Entertainment Add-on offers eleven entertainment, lifestyle and news channels. The Español Add-on includes seven Spanish-language channels.
Disney now owns most of Hulu so we are seeing more cross-promotions with Disney’s other streaming services. For only $7 more than the Hulu with Live TV subscription, you can also get access to ESPN+ and Disney+.
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Through Hulu, you can subscribe to the big premium content providers Starz, Showtime, Cinemax and HBO Max. In the case of HBO, you don’t just get the cable channel — you also get HBO Max’s on-demand catalog and original content.
Learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s pricing and packages here.
Basic Cable Channel Lineups
Those considering YouTube TV versus Hulu with Live TV may see YouTube’s larger channel lineup as the dealmaker. You’ll get a wider selection of sports channels plus a few others that may be must-sees for your family.
Since most of the TV production companies had ownership stakes in Hulu, the streaming service could always count on having a solid lineup of basic cable channels. All of the major cable news and sports networks are there. So are the most popular entertainment and lifestyle channels like HGTV, Travel Channel, Disney Channel and Lifetime.
Cord-cutting sports fans may be the most disappointed with Hulu. None of the channels from the major sports leagues are part of the lineup.
Learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s channel lineup here.
YouTube TV’s selection of basic cable channels has grown over time to meet the needs of almost every household. For sports fans, YouTube matches Hulu’s lineup and adds the MLB channel, the NBA Channel, and the Tennis Channel. You can also get channels like AMC, Nickelodeon and the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Learn more about YouTube TV’s channel lineup here.
Local and Regional Channel Lineups
Most streaming services have struggled to deliver local TV stations. Even though they may have had a deal with the national networks, most local stations are independently owned. Streaming services have to cut deals owner-by-owner.
YouTube TV did the hard work and it wins this category hands-down. Even though Hulu does a decent job, YouTube TV is the only streaming service that can guarantee access to local network affiliates.
Except for YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV does a better job than most at delivering your local network affiliates. Even if you can’t get one of your local channels, there’s a pretty good chance that the network’s programming will be available in Hulu’s on-demand library.
Learn more about Hulu with Live TV’s local channels here.
No matter where in the United States you live, you can count on getting your local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC station through YouTube TV. Most places can get their local Telemundo and The CW stations as well. Support for regional sports networks is just as strong.
Learn more about YouTube TV’s local channels here.
Supported Devices and Simultaneous Streaming
If you only look at the standard features, the YouTube TV versus Hulu with Live TV comparison falls YouTube TV’s way. The two streaming services support the most popular streaming platforms. And YouTube TV’s simultaneous streaming limits are a little more generous.
But things change if you pay for Hulu’s Unlimited Screens option. Everyone in the family can stream to their own devices at the same time. Sure, you’re paying a little more each month, but how much is family peace worth?
Hulu has a single app that supports on-demand subscribers and live TV subscribers. If you upgrade from the on-demand service, the live TV features will automatically appear.
- Living room devices: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Echo Show and Roku.
- Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain Samsung, LG and Vizio televisions as well as some devices based on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV or Roku.
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
- Game consoles: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.
- Desktop browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari.
By default, your Hulu with Live TV subscription lets you use only two devices at the same time. Unlike any other streaming service, you can pay a monthly fee to unlock that limit and use as many devices as you want on your home network. The upgrade also lets your family use three mobile devices simultaneously when away from home.
For more information about Hulu with Live TV’s device support, click here.
For more information about Hulu with Live TV’s simultaneous streaming, click here.
The standard YouTube app does not support live TV. You have to get the YouTube TV app to access the service on your devices.
- Living room devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku.
- Smart TVs and Blu-ray players: Certain models from HiSense, LG, Samsung and Vizio as well as televisions based on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Roku.
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android and iOS.
- Game consoles: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
- Desktop browsers: Chrome and Firefox are recommended.
The simultaneous streaming limit on YouTube TV is three devices. The company doesn’t offer an upgrade.
For more information about YouTube TV’s device support, click here.
For more information about YouTube TV’s simultaneous streaming, click here.
Recorded and On-Demand Content
The winner of this one will come down to your personal preference. If your priority is live TV, then YouTube TV’s unlimited cloud DVR makes it the best choice. On the other hand, people who want a large selection of on-demand content will prefer having Hulu’s enormous on-demand catalog.
Hulu’s cloud DVR has a fifty-hour recording capacity which is about average in the live TV streaming industry. Another monthly fee will expand the recording capacity to two hundred hours. You have to get this upgrade in order to fast forward through commercials.
You can create up to six profiles to keep everyone’s viewing history and recommendations separate. However, the DVR recording capacity only applies to the overall account.
Unlike most other streaming services, Hulu’s on-demand catalog contains content from more sources than the live TV channel lineup. This on-demand content is heavily weighted to TV shows that are currently running. You don’t get as much back-catalog content.
The exception to this rule is Disney-owned channels. Programs from ABC, FX and other channels that aren’t kid-friendly enough for Disney+ are posted to Hulu’s on-demand library.
For more information about Hulu with Live TV’s cloud DVR, click here.
For more information about Hulu with Live TV’s on-demand library, click here.
YouTube TV’s cloud DVR policies are the most generous in the industry. You can record as many programs as you want and YouTube will keep them on file for up to nine months.
You can also create six profiles for your household. But the profiles are not limited to just watch histories and recommendations. Each person gets an unlimited-capacity cloud DVR library.
YouTube TV’s on-demand library is not much different from most other live TV streaming services — with the exception of Hulu. You’ll find recently-aired content from each channel as well as some movies.
However, people with a separate YouTube Premium subscription can watch YouTube’s user-generated content without ads.
For more information about YouTube TV’s cloud DVR, click here.
For more information about Hulu with Live TV’s on-demand library, click here.
When it comes to original content, YouTube TV versus Hulu with Live TV isn’t much of a debate. Hulu chalks up the win easily. The streaming service has had a consistent, focused approach to producing quality content. YouTube Originals, on the other hand, are all over the place.
Shortly after Netflix’s original programming strategy started to take off, Hulu began to produce its own original content. You can watch the Emmy Award-winning production of The Handmaid’s Tale, the miniseries adaptation of Catch-22 and a host of other content that appeals to the wide range of interests among Hulu’s customers.
With Disney taking ownership of Hulu, the production schedule seems to be ramping up. Hulu will be the home for Disney-produce content that doesn’t fit into the kid-friendly scope of Disney+.
If you follow Google at all, you know that the company’s culture doesn’t do consistency well. YouTube is no different. At first original programming was meant to support YouTube Red, the ad-free subscription version of YouTube. As a result, the content centered around successful YouTube creators.
Then in 2018, YouTube began producing scripted content — TV shows. But still wasn’t available on YouTube TV without a separate subscription. Then in 2019, YouTube stopped producing scripted TV shows and made originals free to watch with ads.
Even the YouTube TV site is confused. The main marketing pages say that you can watch YouTube Originals only with a YouTube Premium subscription. But the help pages explain that you can watch them with ads through YouTube TV.
Best for Cord-cutters: Hulu with Live TV?
The comparison of YouTube TV versus Hulu with Live TV is almost too close to call. Price-wise they are about the same even if you upgrade Hulu’s features. In the end, it’s the on-demand content that tips the balance. Hulu’s catalog of recently-aired movies and TV shows is significantly larger than YouTube’s. And the original programming doesn’t even compare.
Having said that, more options for watching sports and a better chance of getting all of your local network affiliates may sway you towards YouTube TV.