The streaming service Hulu has grown to more than 20 million U.S. subscribers by expanding its on-demand library of television shows and releasing original programming like the award-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
But the company is also focused on its new live TV option, Hulu with Live TV, which is an alternative to cable and satellite.
Hulu with Live TV review: What you need to know
For $39.99 per month, Hulu offers dozens of your favorite broadcast and cable channels, plus access to the provider’s entire streaming library with its Limited Commercials plan that normally costs $7.99 per month.
What makes pay-TV alternatives like Hulu unique is that there’s no cable box required and no contracts — you can cancel anytime.
Hulu with Live TV is competing with Sling TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV and others. I’ve tested out Hulu with Live TV three times since the service launched more than a year ago, most recently in August 2018.
Read on for details about the Hulu with Live TV streaming experience and my personal review…
What channels do you get with Hulu with Live TV?
The channel lineup is probably the most important factor when choosing a live TV streaming service. A Hulu subscription comes with more than 50 channels, though local stations will vary depending on where you live.
For example, I entered my ZIP code on Hulu’s website to view the available channels in Atlanta:
Live local channels
- Fox Sports South
- Fox Sports Southeast
Entertainment and lifestyle channels
- Food Network
- National Geographic
- Nat Geo Wild
- Smithsonian Channel
- Travel Channel
- Big Ten Network
- CBS Sports Network
- ESPN Bases Loaded
- ESPN Goal Line
- Golf Channel
- Olympic Channel
- SEC Network
- CNN International
- Fox Business
- Fox News
Family and kids channels
- Cartoon Network
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- Universal Kids
- Lifetime Movies
- Turner Classic Movies
Add-on premium channels
UPDATE: Starting in December 2018, Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Motor Trend (the rebranded Velocity network) and Animal Planet will be added to Hulu with Live TV.
Does Hulu with Live TV include DVR?
Like many of its competitors, Hulu lets you record your favorite live TV shows to watch later. You get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage with the base subscription, but that doesn’t come with the ability to fast-forward through commercials.
If you want that feature, Hulu says you can pay an extra $14.99 per month and get 200 hours of cloud DVR storage.
Hulu does help users manage their DVR by showing the amount of storage left. You can also choose to record all future aired broadcasts (including reruns) or only new episodes.
What equipment do I need to get started?
Hulu with Live TV requires a high-speed internet connection. After you sign up, you’ll need to use a supported device like Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick or Google Chromecast to stream content on your TV.
Here’s a list of the devices that Hulu supports, according to its website:
- Android phones and tablets
- Apple TV (4th gen or later)
- Fire Tablets
- Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
- iPhones and iPads
- LG TV (select models)
- Mac or PC browser
- Nintendo Switch
- Roku and Roku Stick (select models)
- Samsung TV (select models)
- Xbox 360
- Xbox One
Can I watch Hulu with Live TV on multiple devices at the same time?
You’re only allowed to watch on up to two screens at a time with your Hulu subscription, but you can upgrade to unlimited screens for an extra $14.99 a month.
That allows everyone in your house to stream at the same time, plus you can watch up to three screens when you’re on the go.
You can’t access Hulu on a living room device outside of your home network, according to Hulu’s FAQ page. The live TV service is for use by a single household, so sharing a subscription is not allowed.
A few thoughts about Hulu with Live TV…
When I talk to people about cable and satellite TV alternatives, many of them say they would like to pick and choose the channels they want instead of paying for a bundle.
But these new streaming options are still offering bundles, so finding the right mix of channels for your family is key.
Does Hulu with Live TV have the best channel lineup? That’s going to depend on your household’s TV viewing habits. I’ve put together a chart to help you see what the leading streaming services offer for around $40 a month.
In the meantime, here are some key takeaways from my experience testing out Hulu with Live TV…
I found Hulu with Live TV very easy to use. The clean layout makes it simple to search for live programming, record shows and movies, and access on-demand content that’s included with a subscription.
In May 2018, Hulu addressed one of its biggest flaws by adding a live TV guide, which makes channel surfing even easier.
Just want to get back to your favorite show as quickly as possible? That’s one of Hulu’s strengths. From the home screen, the “Keep Watching” and “My Channels” tabs help you pick up where you left off.
In addition, you can keep track of TV shows, movies and sporting events by adding content to the “My Stuff” category.
When Hulu with Live TV first launched in May 2017, I was disappointed. I couldn’t fully appreciate what it had to offer because of frequent buffering and error messages.
After I posted my initial article about Hulu, some of Clark.com’s readers said they also had the same performance issues.
AUGUST 2018 UPDATE: I was pleasantly surprised that I’ve had no buffering during my third time around with Hulu, so it may be worth giving the service another chance if you had trouble before.
Hulu recommends an internet download speed of 8 Mbps for the live TV service. See our guide to test your download speed.
Pricing and add-ons
Hulu with Live TV starts with a free 7-day trial to give you time to see if the service is a good fit.
The $39.99 monthly price is an excellent value if you take advantage of Hulu’s entire streaming library, but add-ons for enhanced DVR, unlimited screens and premium channels can quickly increase your bill.
For example, if you want access to Hulu’s on-demand library with no commercials, that’s an extra $4 per month.
Hulu with Live TV: Pros and cons
|One simple plan for $40/month||Expensive add-ons|
|Hulu’s on-demand streaming library included||Must upgrade DVR to fast-forward through commercials|
|50 hours of cloud DVR storage||Only two screens at once|
If Hulu’s channel lineup has everything you need, take Hulu up on its free trial offer. There’s no contract or long-term commitment. You can always cancel and try other streaming services until you find a keeper.
Read more and compare your options in Clark’s guide to the best live TV streaming plans and deals!