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Hulu Live TV Review: Great, But Not The Best For Everyone

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Hulu Live TV is a great live TV streaming service and especially for those who are already paying for basic Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. With a decent cloud DVR and on demand section as well, Hulu Live TV has a lot going for it. However, it is unlikely to be as good for families and households just looking for the most affordable way to access live TV over the internet.

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Hulu Live TV has been around for some time now. While the original Hulu on demand service officially launched back in 2008, the Hulu plus Live TV service first arrived in 2016. At the time, it provided great value for money considering it was priced at just $39.99 per month. However, following multiple price increases, as well as various changes to the channel selection over the years, Hulu Live TV is now a very different product.

Hulu Live TV Review $69.99
  • Experience
  • Channels
  • Content
  • DVR
  • Price
3.8

Our opinion

Hulu Live TV offers good value overall and provides access to a lot of content, and a subscription is likely to be a very good option for any households interested in Disney Plus and ESPN Plus as well. However, if these additional subscriptions are not of much interest, an alternate live TV subscription might be the better choice.

Pros

Free Disney+ and ESPN+
Colorful rich apps
Wide device support
Unlimited cloud DVR

Cons

Expensive
Home network restrictions
Missing some popular channels
Apps can be confusing

At $69.99 per month, Hulu Live TV offers plenty of value and a number of selling points that will make it suitable for many homes. However, it is worth being aware of exactly what’s on offer in terms of live TV, the on-demand catalog, and the DVR before signing up.

Experience and ease of use

Hulu Live TV comes with a colorful and vibrant user interface resulting in a unique and easily identifiable experience. The exact look and feel will vary depending on the device, although Hulu has done a good job of providing a uniformed experience across the many apps, platforms and devices.

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The one exception to this is the web browser version, which ultimately is a little more basic in design and appearance, compared to the mobile and TV platform (shown below) apps.

Hulu Live Android TV
Hulu live Android TV app home screen

One of the common design points across platforms is Hulu Live TV’s emphasis on surfacing content the subscriber might be interested in. This design results in a quality over quantity approach were fewer shows and movies are visible at any one time.

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Hulu relies on its algorithm to deliver content that’s either new or relevant to the user’s viewing habits and preferences. This also means that if the recommendations are not great, it can take longer to find something to watch than it would with a design that fits more content on the screen. Besides the content that’s automatically generated, Hulu offers the option to manually navigate content, although it can be a bit confusing.

On all platforms, the user is presented with primary navigation tabs, such as Browse, Live TV, My Stuff, Search and Account. Beyond this, the navigation differs depending on the device. For example, desktop users need to downward scroll, mobile app users side-scroll, while the TV app get a second row of tabs at the top.

This two-row design on TVs tends to make the interface feel more cluttered and confusing than it needs to be. Due to this, the TV app might prove especially difficult to navigate for less tech-savvy users.

Hulu Originals
Two rows is a little too much

Adding to the confusing TV app experience is the title pages. On some platforms, clicking a video title immediately starts playback. If a user wants to go to the title’s main page to read the description or choose an episode, then they need to hold down the button for a few seconds. Considering most other TV apps link through to the main page first, Hulu’s approach on select devices feels counter-intuitive and can often result in more instances where a show or movie is accidentally played.

Another criticism of the experience is that subscribers are not really able to select a playback quality. Across all platforms, Hulu only gives the option to select between “Best Available” and “Data Saver.”

Hulu live data saver
Not much choice on playback quality

The former will immediately play content in the best quality available while the latter will reduce the quality to save on data consumption. While it is good that a data-conscious option is available, it would be better if the user was able to select the actual quality they would like to view, and not be resigned to a best or worst-case scenario.

Overall, the experience and interface is visually interesting and does feel intuitive enough. However, it is likely to be a love or hate situation. Those that don’t like Hulu’s design are likely to really dislike the live TV experience.

Live TV and on-demand

Hulu Live TV is not short on live TV considering the service provide subscribers with access to more than 75 channels. While Hulu also includes access to some local channels, the exact number available will vary depending on the subscriber’s location. Before signing up, consumers do have the option of viewing a more locally accurate list of channels by entering their ZIP code on the website. Below is an example of the additional channels available for those residing in the San Francisco 94105 ZIP code:

Hulu locals
You can search by zip code for local channels

In terms of the selection, it is pretty good with Hulu having done a decent job of balancing entertainment, sports, and news. As a result, most families will find the selection varied enough, but there are some caveats to be aware of. A major one is Hulu Live TV has been the subject of multiple disputes in recent times, resulting in the loss of some local affiliates and regional sports networks. If these are important, it might be worth checking exactly which locals are available before signing up. It is also possible that any channels available at the time of signing up could be removed if the service encounters another dispute in the future. Of course, that is somewhat of a concern with any live TV service and not just Hulu.

The TV guide itself is fairly basic, albeit usable. Besides the All setting, channels can be filtered based on genre, recently viewed, or by My Channels – when setting up a subscription, Hulu provides the opportunity to select favorite networks to create the My Channels filter.

Hulu TV guide

Overall, while channels are not Hulu’s strongest selling point, they are not its weakest point either. The selection is adequate enough and navigating through the live TV guide is easy to do.

One of the biggest selling points with Hulu is the amount of content that’s available in general. Besides all the shows and movies provided live or through the on-demand section, subscribers also get access to the entire basic Hulu back catalog. This is Hulu’s Netflix-like service with a selection of shows and movies, including Hulu Originals, such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Castle Rock, PEN15, and more. This service typically costs a minimum of $6.99 per month.

Hulu Originals
Hulu Live TV includes Hulu Originals

If all that’s not enough, a Hulu Live TV subscription now also includes access to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus as well, greatly expanding the level of content a subscriber has access to. With all of these subscriptions bundled into one, Hulu Live TV is packed with content, making it one of the most robust live TV services around. Those in need of extra content can also add a premium network to the package, albeit at an additional monthly cost.

Hulu Live premium networks:

Premium NetworkPrice p/m
Cinemax$9.99
HBO Max$14.99
Showtime$10.99
Starz$8.99

One of the nicer parts of the interface is how well these premium channels integrate with the rest of the experience. For example, Hulu does provide separate sections for those who just want to navigate directly to a premium network to see what’s new, or to continue watching a show or movie they’ve already started.

Hulu HBO add-on
Premium network content is easily found when looking for it

However, premium content is also integrated with the other content, making switching between premium and non-premium videos super easy.

Hulu TV with HBO
Premium content is nicely integrated with basic content

It is worth noting this is not the case for ESPN and Disney Plus content. While some ESPN Plus content can be viewed through the Hulu app, all of the Disney Plus shows and movies do need to be accessed through the standalone Disney Pus app. Regardless of this, the sheer amount of content that’s housed within the one app, and integrated as well as it is, does add to the experience. Overall, if access to as much content as possible is a major selling point then this is one of the main reasons to consider Hulu’s live TV service.

Cloud DVR

One area that’s often overlooked when choosing between live TV services is the cloud DVR and the recording experience in general, but it’s an important part of the decision-making process. The good news is that Hulu is fairly generous with its cloud DVR. It is not the best, but all things considered, it is one of the better recording experiences available with a live TV streaming service.

A major positive is that Hulu now offers an unlimited cloud DVR. Previously, Hulu did only provide subscribers with 50 hours of recording space along with an option to upgrade to 200 hours at an additional cost per month. However, the service has since removed that limitation, with all subscribers now able to record as much live TV as they want. cloud DVR for free with the standard live TV subscription. In addition, Hulu does not limit how long a user can keep recordings for. Navigating and managing the DVR is also fairly simple, with the list located under the My Stuff section.

However, Hulu does place a limitation on how long recordings can be stored for with the maximum being nine months. After this point, recordings are automatically deleted. Although the DVR list is easily found under the My Stuff section, another concern is that it is not as user-friendly as it could be. For example, navigating through other areas of the site and content is far more visual, making it easy to find specific shows and movies to watch. In contrast, the Manage DVR section is more limited and requires greater concentration. Considering this is content the subscriber has actively expressed interest in, it should be given more prominence.

Hulu TV cloud DVR
Manage DVR section not as visually striking as the rest of the app.

One of the reasons recording don’t have the prominence they should is Hulu’s tendency to push people towards the general My Stuff section. However, as this section includes more than just the recordings, the user experience would be improved if the DVR section was more easy to navigate. On a positive note, Hulu used to require subscribers to upgrade to the Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on to skip the ads, but that limitation has also now been removed making it possible to skip the commercials when watching recordings..

Hulu Live TV: price and value

Hulu Live TV is priced okay, relatively speaking. Over the past couple of years, live TV streaming services have been the subject of routine price increases and Hulu Live TV is no exception. At $69.99 per month, Hulu Live TV offers even better value to those who already subscribe to the $6.99 basic Hulu, or those who see value in Hulu’s back catalog.

In fact, Hulu also began bundling Disney Plus and ESPN Plus subscriptions with its live TV service in December 2021. With these two additional subscriptions also now included in the price, the cost of the actual live TV service comes down significantly for any homes that are already subscribed to all three services. For those households, Hulu as a TV provider makes a lot of value sense and is likely to be a much better option than opting for a different live TV service where the subscriber is going to end up paying for live TV and the additional subscriptions separately.

Where Hulu’s pricing does run into issues is once you remove those additional subscriptions from the equation. If no interested in Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, or even basic Hulu, then Hulu Live TV suddenly becomes an expensive option. Furthermore, there are various add-ons that may be required for some homes, increasing the overall cost in the process.

Optional Hulu live costs per month:

Add-onsPrice p/m
Premium Networks$8.99 to $14.99
Sports$9.99
Unlimited Screens$9.99
Entertainment$7.99
​​​​Español$4.99

Hulu Live TV review summary

For many homes, Hulu Live TV is going to be a good option. It is the live TV service that provides the most content through its base package, and the integration makes it a great one-stop shop for TV and on-demand content. Likewise, the additional benefits included in the base package do genuinely add to the overall experience.

That said, all of its worth is largely dependent on the home wanting access to all of the features and benefits on offer. As each unneeded one is factored out of the equation, Hulu as a live TV provider becomes that little bit more questionable. For those households, an alternate live TV service is likely to offer better value at the same price or a cheaper price in general.

Hulu Live TV additional info

Consumers new to streaming might want to familiarize themselves with some of the more fundamental aspects. This not only includes which devices a service like Hulu Live TV supports, but even the quality of the connection to begin with.

Services like Hulu Live TV provide access to live TV channels and content over the internet. Due to this, the quality of the internet connection can greatly impact on the streaming experience.

Hulu recommended minimum internet speeds:

SpeedWhat to expect
3 MbpsSuitable for streaming library
8 MbpsSuitable for live TV streams
16 MbpsSuitable for 4K streaming

Providing a suitable connection is available, consumers will also want to make sure they are using a device that’s compatible with Hulu Live TV.

Popular supported platforms and devices:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android TV (select models)
  • Apple TV (4th generation or later)
  • Roku
  • Samsung TVs

Along with a reliable internet connection and a supported device, consumers will also need to choose the right plan to suit their individual needs. Hulu Live TV is primarily only one plan, priced at $69.99 per month, but there are some variations to that plan.

Hulu Live TV plan options:

Hulu planPrice p/m
Live TV $69.99
Live TV (No Ads) $70.99
Live TV Only $75.99

It’s worth noting the “No Ads” version simply refers to the removal of ads during Hulu on demand content, as episodes and movies provided through the live TV section will still be subject to commercials. In this sense, it is the same difference between the $6.99 and $12.99 per month basic Hulu plans.

For those considering the “Live TV Only” option, this plan doesn’t just remove access to the Hulu on-demand catalog, but it also lacks the option to add premium networks. In addition, a free trial is not available with the Hulu Live TV Only plan.

Additional resources:

Hopefully the information above is enough to help decide whether Hulu Live TV is the right live TV streaming service for you. However, if still undecided, some of the guides and resources below may help to make the decision a little easier.

John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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