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YouTube TV vs Hulu: Which live TV streamer is your best bet?

Here's are some helpful tips for aspiring cord-cutters.
By
May 1, 2022
Hulu stock photo green background 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If you’re considering cutting the cord but still like to catch up with your favorite shows or sporting events as they air live, you do have options. Two of the biggest players in the live TV streaming game are YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV. So, who comes out on top in the match-up of YouTube TV vs. Hulu?

That will depend on what you’re looking for specifically, as the two services offer slightly different options. Read on for everything you need to know about the two before making your choice.

Live TV vs. library content and originals

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Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The biggest difference between YouTube TV and Hulu is the type of content featured on the two services.

In reality, we can’t really compare Hulu as a whole to YouTube TV, because the Disney-owned streamer has a whole back-catalog of series and movies, as well as Hulu originals, to round out its streaming offerings.

Read: Can streaming fully replace cable TV?

On the other hand, YouTube TV is an alternative to cable, giving viewers access to live channels via their internet connections. You can access movies and shows on-demand, but they’re not part of a subscription the way they are on Hulu. They’re pay-per-view. YouTube TV is mostly just for live TV, despite some original programming too.

So, what are we really comparing?

In short, the real fight is between YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV, which narrows the field to two options for folks who want a streaming service that still lets them watch their favorite shows and live events while they’re airing.

What is YouTube TV?

YouTube TV is a streaming service that includes live channels. That means you can watch things like live sports and hit series as they air on broadcast and cable channels. The service can be used on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV.

It also includes YouTube Originals, though the service largely divested from its original productions and now mostly features children’s and unscripted programming in small numbers.

What is Hulu Plus Live TV?

Hulu Plus Live TV similarly offers streaming live channels, including sports and popular broadcast and cable stations. It can also be used on a variety of devices.

The main differentiating feature is that Hulu Plus Live TV automatically includes the standard Hulu streaming service (at different price points depending on whether or not you want ads). This means that, on top of live TV, you can access Hulu originals like The Handmaid’s Tale and Only Murders in the Building, along with all the third-party series and films available to Hulu subscribers.

Channels

Picture of YouTube TV on a Google Pixel.

The live channels included on YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV are quite similar, with YouTube TV offering over 85 channels and Hulu just over 75. Both offer access to well-known channels like ABC, NBC, Fox News, BET, TNT, Discovery, Cartoon Network, and more.

The two services are very similar in terms of channel offerings, though you should check both, including your local offerings, before deciding. PBS, for example, is part of your YouTube TV subscription, but not Hulu.

Check out: Every channel available on YouTube TV

Both services also allow you to sign up for additional premium channels at an extra cost, and neither has an edge here, as the premium channels are priced the same on either service. These include HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz, available on both YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV. YouTube alone offers Epix, though.

Live sports channels are where YouTube TV shines, coming out ahead of Hulu with three extra channels: NFL Network, MLB Network, and NBA TV. Otherwise, their sports offerings are almost the same.

YouTube TV’s sports channels are as follows:

  • ACC Network (ACCN)
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN and ESPN2
  • ESPNews
  • ESPNU
  • FS1 and FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • SEC Network

Hulu Plus Live TV sports channels are as follows:

  • ACC Network (ACCN)
  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN and ESPN2
  • ESPNews
  • ESPNU
  • ESPN College Extra
  • FS1 and FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • Olympic Channel
  • SEC Network

Pricing

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Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

At first glance, YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV come in at the same price, making Hulu seem like a clear winner with its included library of major titles outside of its live channels. It’s a bit more complicated than that, though.

A basic subscription on Hulu comes in at $69.99 per month. That gets you the lower-tier ad-supported service, and it includes Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. You can go ad-free for $75.99, but that doesn’t affect your live channels.

The basic YouTube subscription is slightly lower at $64.99 per month, but it’s generally comparable.

Read: Can Netflix stay ahead in the streaming wars?

The big difference comes with add-ons. YouTube TV stays at $64.99 per month regardless. That includes everything available, including unlimited DVR storage, which allows you to fast-forward through ads when watching saved programming.

On Hulu, you get 50 hours of DVR included with your subscription, and you can’t skip ads. To bump that up to 200 hours and fast-forward capabilities, you’ll need to add $9.99 a month to your bill, making it noticeably more expensive than YouTube.

Availability

Hulu Science Fiction section shown on smartphone
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

While some live TV streaming services are available outside the US, it isn’t a factor when considering YouTube TV vs. Hulu.

Both services are exclusive to Americans. If you’re anywhere else in the world, well, you’re out of luck. Or rather, both services lose. You’ll have to check your local internet providers for live TV streaming, or sign up for a service like Fubo TV (available in Canada and Spain), for example.

So, this is strictly a comparison for American customers.

YouTube TV vs. Hulu: The verdict

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Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Hulu Plus Live TV is the clear winner in the YouTube TV vs. Hulu battle if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck. The standard Hulu library is huge, and you get to have access to that on top of your live channels and in addition to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. All of that comes in at just $5 more than what YouTube charges anyway.

There’s a big caveat here. If your main interest is live TV, YouTube TV has more channels. More than that, it gives you unlimited DVR storage space at no extra cost. With Hulu, you’d have to pay an extra $9.99 a month for more DVR space, and you’d still be getting fewer channels for more money.

If you’re a sports fan, YouTube also offers more sports access, along with a few other channels you can’t get from Hulu, but Hulu throws in ESPN Plus.

The best way to break it down is to say that Hulu Plus Live TV is the obvious choice if you want a more rounded service, including standard streaming fare, but still want to watch some shows as they air. Meanwhile, YouTube TV is more for hardcore cable fans who want to cut the cord without losing the basic cable experience and don’t much care about the other streaming features.