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Hulu Live TV vs YouTube TV: What’s The Difference & Which Is Best?

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Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV are two of the most popular live TV streaming services in the United States, and signing up to either offers a premium live TV experience. However, these are two very different services and understanding the differences in price, channels, on-demand content, and DVR support, can help to determine which one is best for a household.

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YouTube TV first launched back in 2017, although it was only available in select locations in the US. It wasn’t until early 2019 when YouTube TV officially claimed to offer nationwide access. Since then, and in spite of multiple price increases, YouTube TV has gone on to become the most popular live TV service based on the number of subscribers. Part of the reason for its continued popularity is the channel lineup and premium features.

While Hulu has been around for years now, the live TV side of the service didn’t make its debut until 2017. At the time, a subscription was priced at just $39.99 and offered great value, considering it also unlocked access to basic Hulu. Since then, the price has increased considerably, but so has the value on offer. Today, Hulu Live TV has grown into one of the most popular live TV streaming services in the US, and partly thanks to maintaining its focus on providing as much content to subscribers as possible.

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Here’s a closer look at how the base plans for the two live TV streaming services compare on some of the most important features:

Hulu Live TV vs YouTube TVHulu logoYouTube TV simultaneous streams
Streaming Better Rating
Price (p/m)$70$65
Channels75+85+
Simultaneous Streams23
DVR (Hours)UnlimitedUnlimited
TV EverywhereYesYes
Free TrialNo7 days
Hulu Live TVYouTube TV

At a glance, the information above does point to YouTube TV being the better deal overall. After all, it is not only cheaper but also comes with access to more live TV channels. However, the picture is a little different when actually focusing on what each service provides.

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YouTube TV is cheaper, but Hulu has more content

One area where there’s not much difference is in the lack of options. Both Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV only offer one main base plan. Even though there are ways to customize both base plans, consumers don’t have much choice when looking to save on the cost of either. That said, YouTube TV is cheaper than Hulu Live TV in general. While the base YouTube TV plan currently costs $64.99 per month, the base Hulu Live TV plan will set subscribers back $69.99 each month.

Of course, there is a difference between price and value, and this is actually where Hulu comes into its own. Even though Hulu Live TV costs $5 more than YouTube TV, it offers better value overall. This is because the base Hulu Live TV plan not only provides access to live TV and basic Hulu, but also Disney Plus and ESPN Plus as well. For any homes that are already paying for either basic Hulu, Disney Plus or ESPN Plus, they will likely find their overall streaming costs are lower if signing up to Hulu Live TV instead of YouTube TV. If currently signed up to all three of these additional subscriptions, the difference in price could be considerably lower.

Espn Plus, Disney Plus, Hulu
Hulu Live TV comes with additional subscriptions

With what is basically four subscriptions bundled into one, Hulu offers access to far more content than YouTube TV. While it is possible to also bundle a number of premium networks and services with YouTube TV, this can increase the monthly cost considerably. YouTube TV is cheaper, but Hulu offers more content, which translates to better value overall.

YouTube TV is better for busier households

Although the base Hulu Live TV plan unlocks more content, that’s only one of the factors that should be taken into consideration. Another important one is DVR and this is an area where YouTube TV takes the lead. While both services offer an unlimited DVR, YouTube TV has the advantage of providing its subscribers with a more unique recording experience. Each user gets their own DVR making it possible to only see the recordings that the family member has made. In contrast, Hulu’s DVR is more congested and harder to manage due to all of the recordings being stored in the same list.

Another key area where YouTube TV offers more than Hulu Live is simultaneous streams. While YouTube TV allows up to 6 accounts per subscription, only 3 devices can actually watch YouTube TV at the same time. However, Hulu Live TV is even more limiting with its simultaneous streams policy only allowing 2 devices to access the service at the same time. Even though both also offer the option to upgrade to unlimited at-home streams for an additional monthly cost, YouTube TV’s base plan is slightly more accommodating, resulting in a better option for families and busier households.

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A last and important point to note is that while YouTube TV offers a free trial, Hulu Live TV doesn’t. Being able to use a streaming service for free for a limited time can be a great way to figure out whether it is the right solution for an individual household. Due to this difference, YouTube TV offers more of a worry-free introduction period, while Hulu subscribers will only find out if its live TV service is right for them after paying for the first month.

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Hulu Live TV vs YouTube TV: summary

In reality, and in spite of their popularity, neither Hulu Live TV nor YouTube TV is perfect and both do come with limitations that may affect some homes more than others. At the same time, both do also excel in certain areas which can help to narrow down the decision.

With Hulu Live TV also providing access to basic Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, a subscription offers greater value. This alone makes Hulu Live TV the better option for homes that want access to as much content as possible, at the cheapest price possible. This bundling approach also makes it easier to manage multiple subscriptions in general, as homes don’t have to worry about varying payment dates.

In contrast, YouTube TV is likely to be the best option for larger families and busier households in general. With an unlimited (and personalized) cloud DVR, as well as a greater number of simultaneous streams, YouTube TV is better positioned to cater to homes where many people will be sharing the same subscription. For those simply interested in live TV, it also comes with more channels.

Whether Hulu Live or YouTube TV is the best option overall will depend on what the person paying for the subscription wants and expects from a live TV streaming service, and the channel selection is likely to play a major role in that decision. Once the channel lineups have been compared, the information here on the general cost, experience, and limitations should further help to decide on whether Hulu or YouTube offers the best live TV service for an individual household.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been editing and writing about technology and streaming for online publications since 2014, and believes the best streaming approach is to rotate between services as needed.

John's preferred live TV streaming service right now is YouTube TV although he does tend to switch live TV services multiple times each year to keep up to date with their changes. Outside of live TV, John also actively streams HBO Max (for the shows), Peacock (for Premier League), and Paramount Plus (for Champion's League). However, John is also currently subscribed to Apple TV+, Discovery+, Hulu, Starz, Showtime, and Shudder.

Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or say hi on Twitter

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