On its own, Hulu’s massive on-demand library of high-quality shows and movies is impressive. Add live TV into the mix, and the Disney-owned platform becomes an entertainment powerhouse.
I had long been a subscriber to the Disney Bundle before I tried out Hulu’s live TV offering, and it may be tough to let it go. With more than 90 of the most popular TV channels, plus full access to everything in the Disney Bundle, this service has something for everyone in my household. You’ve got live sports, family entertainment, a nice selection of news coverage, and plenty to binge at the end of a long day.
After taking a deep dive into what the Hulu Live TV plans had to offer, I’m more convinced than ever that this is the best all-around streaming service money can buy. Curious why? Read on for my complete Hulu + Live TV review.
|Hulu + Live TV specs
|Unlimited, up to 9 months
|On-Demand Movies and TV Shows
|Live TV Streaming
|Yes, 90+ channels
|No (only select on-demand content)
Our experience with Hulu + Live TV
As a longtime subscriber to the Disney Bundle, I was already familiar with the interfaces for Hulu, ESPN Plus, and Disney Plus. All three apps are relatively easy to interact with, though ESPN Plus could use a bit of a facelift and UX upgrade.
For this Hulu review, however, I wanted to see what adding live TV into the mix would do to my experience with the app. I’m happy to report that the live experience integrated seamlessly with using Hulu’s content library, and it was easy to distinguish live content from on-demand programming. Live programs were added right to my home page with plenty of thumbnails to jump straight to what was on my favorite channels.
The Hulu interface varies a bit depending on how you access the content. Menus were laid out differently on my iPhone, laptop, and Apple TV, so it took some getting used to, but it was easy to figure out where to find content on each one. Regardless of which app you use, there’s always a specific Live section that will take you to your most recent live channel. From there, you can swipe up or tap “Live Guide” to see an interactive channel menu, which you can filter by content types like sports, news, movies, or kids.
Outside of the live guide, there are sections for TV, movies, sports, and your library of favorites and DVR recordings. Within each section, there are recommendations and browsable categories to make it easy to find what you’re looking for. I did find it a little tricky to figure out how to record content, though. Other platforms put this front and center, but Hulu makes you work for it a bit, as you’ll have to tap on individual programs in the live guide and select “Record” or tap “View details” to dig deeper and set up recordings for the entire series.
Hulu + Live TV may not offer quite as many live channels as some of its competitors, but it’s no slouch. All plans include more than 90 channels, and you can expand that lineup slightly with extra entertainment, sports, or Spanish-language programming.
All in all, I was relatively happy with the channel selection on Hulu + Live TV. Most of the big names are here. There’s entertainment and family fun across networks like A&E, the Disney Channel, Comedy Central, and VH-1. The local channel selection is better than several of Hulu’s competitors, featuring ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, NBC, and PBS. You’ll also find a great selection of news coverage on channels like ABC News, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. And there’s plenty of national and international sports coverage across the major networks, plus tons of extra live events on ESPN Plus.
The on-demand library — more than 70,000 episodes and movies and counting — is what really pushes Hulu + Live TV to the top. I loved that I could watch some of my favorite teams or shows live, then browse some of the top shows and movies across Hulu, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus to find plenty of binge-worthy series or top choices for family movie night. No other live TV streaming services offer this much variety, especially when it comes to original content that you can’t find anywhere else.
Hulu + Live TV does offer add-ons for premium channels like Max or SHOWTIME, plus some limited extras for sports, entertainment, or Spanish-language programming. These aren’t essential for getting the most out of the service, however, and I found the extra channel packages to be a bit lackluster.
DVR and recording options
All Hulu + Live TV plans include unlimited DVR. As long as you keep your subscription active (pausing is allowed), your recordings will stay in your library for up to nine months. Although live TV content will record with ads, you can fast-forward through them in your DVR.
There are a few ways to record shows on Hulu, and I found the process a little clunkier than with other live TV streaming services. For the simplest option, you can navigate to the live guide and select specific shows airing now or in the near future, then click the record icon.
If you’d like to record all new episodes of a series or a specific team’s game, you’ll need to navigate to the thumbnail or page for that show or team and tap the menu icon (three vertical dots) underneath it. Select the record icon, then you can choose to record new and reruns or only new episodes. There’s no option to record everything on a specific channel.
Viewing experience and video quality
When it comes to the viewing experience, Hulu + Live TV holds up well. Like other streaming platforms, Hulu defaults to HD on most live and on-demand content, but it will automatically adjust based on your internet bandwidth. During testing, I even had a few live programs and an on-demand show going on three devices (this worked even though Hulu says you can only do two streams at once). Quality remained consistent, but I did run into a bit of buffering for a minute. If you encounter issues, you can manually adjust streaming quality in a web browser and on iOS and Android mobile devices.
Hulu also offers a lot of its original programming, though not live content, in 4K. This is indicated by a badge on the show’s home page. Hulu’s 4K content looked and sounded excellent on my Apple TV 4K, and I didn’t have any lagging.
The biggest complaint that many viewers levy against Hulu is the ads on on-demand content. Unless you upgrade to the ad-free plan, ads of 30–90 seconds play at the beginning of most programs and then every 10 minutes or so during many on-demand shows. However, many of the on-demand movies actually play ad-free after showing around 90 seconds of ads beforehand. It’s up to you to decide if the extra $13 a month is worth it to get rid of all the promotions. Note that the ad-free upgrade also unlocks the option to download content for offline viewing.
Personalization and security
Hulu’s personalization options are decent, though they leave a little to be desired. You can create up to seven profiles, which leaves plenty of room for a family to customize the viewing experience for each person. Note that Hulu limits viewing to two concurrent streams, however, so not everyone can enjoy their own programming at the same time.
Where Hulu really comes up short is in its limited parental controls. Essentially, you can either create a Kids profile or micromanage what your kids can watch. The Kids profile limits content to only the most family-friendly options — I found very little that my teen and tween children would want to watch in there. That left me the only other option of blocking access with a PIN code.
Since you can’t set different maturity levels for different profiles or restrict access to certain programs, parents who want to limit access for their kids would have to enter their PIN and monitor their viewing for every session. However, I did appreciate that I could log into Hulu on my Apple TV and it would only ask for the passcode for content rated TV-MA or R. Nonetheless, this system seems a little clunky and outdated, given that Hulu’s partner service, Disney Plus, allows much more fine-tuning with parental controls.
Sports fans: yay or nay
Hulu + Live TV is a great choice for sports fans who want plenty of other live and on-demand entertainment. Between more than a dozen sports-focused channels and loads of live sports in ESPN Plus, there’s a lot for fans to enjoy here. The platform even features TBS and TNT, which are home to many MLB, NHL, and NBA games and conspicuously absent from sports-focused competitor Fubo. However, Hulu’s biggest downfall is its lack of regional sports networks (RSNs), which leaves fans having to look for supplemental options to keep up with their favorite local teams.
How does Hulu + Live TV compare to other streaming services?
|Cost Per Month
|Hulu + Live TV
|Unlimited at home
3 outside home
|10 at home
3 outside home
I’m far from the only reviewer to say that Hulu + Live TV is the best all-around streaming service, and my time exploring the platform in depth has only reinforced my opinion. You simply can’t find Hulu’s mix of live TV and high-quality on-demand content on any other service, especially when you consider the included Disney Bundle. You get more value for the price with Hulu + Live TV.
Nonetheless, Hulu + Live TV isn’t right for everyone. Fubo and DIRECTV STREAM offer more regional sports coverage, and YouTube TV has a larger channel lineup. Sling TV, meanwhile, offers a more streamlined, budget-friendly option. Each streaming platform has its niche, and Hulu + Live TV is clearly targeting the cord-cutters who want a simple, all-in-one package.
How to subscribe to Hulu + Live TV
Setting up your Hulu + Live TV subscription is easy and only takes a few minutes. Here’s how it works:
- Visit the Hulu + Live TV homepage and select “Sign Up Now.”
- Enter your email and other personal info and create an account password. Select “Continue.”
- Provide your credit card information and complete your account registration.
- Review your selected service and select any add-ons or change your plan.
- Sign in and set up your account preferences, favorite shows and teams, DVR recordings, and more.
Since there’s no Hulu + Live TV free trial, your credit card will be charged immediately. You’ll be automatically charged on the same day each month until you cancel.
Final Take: Is Hulu worth it?
If you’re used to the basic Hulu experience, Hulu + Live TV is a significant upgrade. With some of the best live TV, plenty of live sports, and tons of bonus content on Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, this package truly offers the most complete streaming experience on the market today. The only thing holding it back is the lack of RSNs. Still, if you only want to pay for one streaming service and still have the cable experience, Hulu + Live TV is for you.
Is Hulu + Live TV good for sports fans?
With more than a dozen sports channels and access to ESPN Plus, Hulu’s live TV streaming service has a lot to offer sports fans. You’ll find plenty of national and international sports here, but Hulu doesn’t offer any regional sports networks.
Is it worth it to get Hulu?
Hulu has one of the best on-demand libraries of any streaming platform, and Hulu + Live TV bolsters that with more than 90 live TV channels and full access to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. If you’re looking for a good all-in-one package, Hulu + Live TV is a great choice.
Is Hulu + Live TV better than regular Hulu?
It depends on what you’re looking for. Hulu + Live TV gives you everything in the basic Hulu plan, plus access to more than 90 channels and the Disney Bundle. You’ll pay nearly $70 a month more for the live TV plan, but that may be worth it if you like the channel lineup and all the extras that come with it.
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