The $39.99-a-month streaming service, which is now being beta-tested nationwide, includes more than 50 live-TV channels from network owners such as Disney (ABC, ESPN), Fox (Fox News, FX), NBCUniversal (E!, USA Network), CBS (CBS, Pop), A&E (A&E, Lifetime), Scripps (Food Network, HGTV), and Turner (CNN, TBS).
Hulu’s offering, which was announced last year, may seem a little late to the party. It joins rival services from media companies including Dish Network, Sony, AT&T, and Google. But its biggest selling point, as you might imagine, is Hulu itself.
The live-TV package comes with Hulu’s catalog of more than 3,500 on-demand TV shows and movies, including shows such as FX’s Atlanta that aren’t available through other streaming subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, entire series of shows like Family Guy, and Hulu originals such as the aforementioned The Handmaid’s Tale, The Path, and The Mindy Project.
For $4 more a month—$43.99—viewers can also watch those on-demand programs free of commercial interruptions.
And Hulu offers add-ons like enhanced DVR that come with 200 hours of storage and additional functionality such as the ability to fast-forward through recorded ads, for an extra $14.99 a month.
Comparing the internet’s live-TV starter packages
|Features||Hulu (beta)||SlingTV Orange or Blue||PlayStation Vue|
|Basic plan cost/month||$39.99 ($43.99 with ad-free on-demand)||$20 or $25 with local and regional-sports channels||$29.99 ($39.99 in the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, SF, Miami)|
|Live channels||50+||30+ or 40+||45+|
|Add-ons (cost per month)||Enhanced DVR ($14.99), unlimited screens ($14.99), enhanced DVR + unlimited screens ($19.99), Showtime ($8.99)||Lots of add-ons in English and Spanish that range from $5-$15, including sports, comedy, and kids packages, and premium channels like Starz and Showtime||Epix ($2.99/$3.99), Spanish channels ($3.99/$4.99)|
|Video on-demand||Yes, including Hulu’s library||Yes||Yes|
|Simultaneous streams||2||3 for Blue||5|
|Profiles per account||6||1||5|
|Cloud DVR||Yes, 50 hours||On certain devices, for an extra $5/month for 50 hours||Yes, stored for 28 days|
|Works with||Chromecast, Apple TV (4th gen.), Xbox One, iOS and Android mobile devices. More to come.||Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, LeEco, AirTV, Xiaomi, ZTE, ChannelMaster, LG, Xbox One, web browsers, and select iOS and Android mobile devices||PS4, PS3, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, web browsers, select iOS and Android mobile devices|
|Selling point||Hulu’s on-demand library||Very customizable||Simultaneous streams, works with PlayStation|
|Features||DirecTV Now||YouTube TV|
|Basic plan cost/month||$35||$35|
|Add-ons (cost per month)||HBO ($5), Cinemax ($5), Starz/Encore ($8)||Showtime ($11), Fox Soccer Plus ($15)|
|Profiles per account||1||6|
|Cloud DVR||No||Yes, unlimited, stored for 9 months|
|Works with||Amazon Fire, Android devices, iOS devices including Apple TV (4th gen.), and Chromecast (Android only)||Chromecast|
|Availability||US||New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Philadelphia|
|Selling point||$5 HBO and credit toward service for AT&T Unlimited Plus wireless customers||Integrates with YouTube|
Note: This is the breakdown of each service’s basic tier. Some, like PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, offer additional packages with more channels and features.
Hulu, a joint venture between Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal, and Turner, has an existing base of cord-cutters it can draw from, too.
As of last May, Hulu had 12 million paid subscribers in the US—the only country where it’s available. This year, the company changed the way it reports users after its free model was eliminated. It now says it has 47 million monthly unique viewers, a number that factors in accounts with multiple profiles for different users, the company announced at a presentation in New York yesterday, where it unveiled the live-TV beta.