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Is Hulu Plus Live TV worth $70+ every month? We did the math
One of the counter-intuitive developments in the streaming wars has been the rise of live TV streaming. In our haste to switch over the streaming, we’ve come to see the value of channel surfing and appointment viewing.
So, is Hulu live TV worth it though? We break down how the service works, what it includes, and how it stacks up against the competition.
Read more: The best streaming services
How much is Hulu Plus Live TV?
You have three plan options when signing up for Hulu Plus Live TV. The first is a bare-bones plan that only gives you live channels, without any of Hulu’s streaming library.
Related: How to fix common problems with Hulu
The other two come as bundles with other Disney services. They’re essentially both the same except for ads. The ads won’t change on the live channels themselves though. The difference is in which versions of the Hulu and Disney Plus streaming services you’ll get, included for all subscribers. Premium ad-free live channels will be ad-free either way and ad-supported live channels will still have ads.
The pricing is as follows:
- Live TV Only: $68.99 per month
- Hulu Plus Live TV (with ads): $69.99 per month
- Hulu Plus Live TV (no ads): $82.99 per month
What do you get for all that money?
The Live TV Only plan is exactly what it sounds like. It offers access to the same live channels you get with the other two plans. At a savings of just $1, it’s hard to recommend, but if live channels are all you want, that’s what you get, so you may as well save the $12 per year.
Which channels do you get with Hulu live TV?
So, how good are those live channels? The value of the service will really depend on which channels you want. 85-plus channels is all well and good, but what are they? Do they include sports? Can you get local news? Will your kids have stuff to watch? Well, yes to all of those.
Hulu live channels include the following:
- Entertainment channels like BET, Bravo, Comedy Central, E!, Freeform, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, MTV, OWN, TBS, TNT, VH1, and USA
- Family and kids channels like the Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Universal Kids, and Boomerang
- Educational channels like Discovery, History, NASA, and National Geographic
- Sports channels like ESPN, FS1, SEC, BTN, and ACCN
- News channels like CNN, Fox News, ABC News, The Weather Channel, MSNBC, and CNBC
- Local and regional channels covering news, sports, the weather, and more in your area from ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, and Telemundo affiliates
For a full list of live channels available, you can check out the Hulu website.
Every Hulu live TV plan includes the same basic features, listed below:
- Unlimited cloud DVR storage for later viewing
- Customizable live guide to plan your viewing
- Up to two simultaneous streams
- Up to six profiles
You can pay for some add-ons to make your Hulu live TV subscription suit your needs. That includes unlimited screens, which means an extra $9.99 per month. If you have roommates or kids, that can give you the peace of mind of knowing you won’t have to fight over who gets to watch their favourite show in real-time on the two screens included.
If you’re not satisfied with the included channels, you can also pay for extra bundles. There’s the entertainment bundle for $7.99 per month, which includes MTV2, the Cooking Channel, Crime + Investigation, and more entertainment channels. Then there’s the Sports add-on for $9.99 per month, giving you more, well, sports content. That’ll include NFL RedZone, FanDuel TV, FanDuel Racing, MAVTV, Outdoor Channel, and Sportsman Channel. And lastly, there’s the Español add-on, which includes CNN en Español, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familia, ESPN Deportes, FOX Deportes, History Channel en Español, and NBC Universo, all for $4.99 per month.
On top of those bundles, you can also pay for additional, individual specialty channels:
- HBO Max: $14.99 per month
- Cinemax: $9.99 per month
- Showtime: $10.99 per month
- Starz: $8.99 per month
Is Hulu Plus Live TV a better deal than other Live TV streamers?
There are quite a few live TV streaming services competing for your hard-earned cash, so it’s important to break down what you’re getting with Hulu, and how much you’re paying, just to see if Hulu live TV is worth the price compared to the competition.
Hulu is definitely on the pricier end of the live TV streaming spectrum. In the $ 65-$70-per-month range with it are services like YouTube TV, DirecTV, and Fubo TV. There are some much cheaper options, of course. Sling TV starts at $35 per month. Philo TV starts at $25 per month. And for the most extreme savings, look to FrndlyTV, starting at $6.99 per month.
With all of those options, you’ll get some variation in channel availability. Hulu does find itself at the higher end for channel selection, at over 85. That puts it in league with YouTube TV, and just behind Fubo TV, which offers over 100 channels. A lot of the cheaper plans offer about 30 channels, upping the price if you want more.
Another advantage with Hulu, as well as the other higher-tier services, is 4K streaming. You don’t get that with the cheaper three, which tap out at 1080p resolution. You’re also looking at services that charge for cloud storage, so Hulu’s unlimited DVR is a perk that levels the playing field if you plan on using it.
The two-screen limit at Hulu is probably the most glaring mark against it. Cheaper plans like Philo TV and FrndlyTV offer three and four simultaneous streams, respectively, so that extra $9.99 per month that Hulu charges for more screens can be a meaningful drawback.
On the other hand, Hulu Plus Live TV is the only such service that offers access to a wealth of other streaming services included with the cost. You won’t get Hulu, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus, or anything comparable, with the competition.
The verdict: is Hulu Plus Live TV actually worth the money?
At its lowest price point, Hulu Plus Live TV comes in around $0.80 per channel. At the deep end, you’re still paying less than $1 per channel, and that’s not counting the Disney streaming bundle you get access to on top of live channels.
Check out: YouTube TV vs Hulu Plus Live TV
So, is Hulu live TV worth it? In short, absolutely. It’s a reasonable, competitive price, for a strong service, with a diversity of desirable channels, along with unique perks via the Hulu, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus libraries.
The quality of the service will vary depending on your specific needs of course, but you’d be hard-pressed to say this isn’t a strong contender in a crowded field. If you live alone, don’t need cloud storage, only watch a few channels, or want bargain bin pricing, you can certainly do better, but pound for pound, Hulu live TV brings the goods at a reasonable price.