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Here’s how Hulu’s $40-a-month live-TV service stacks up against its rivals

AP Photo/Dan Goodman
Hulu is joining the live-TV party.
  • Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Fresh off the release of its critically acclaimed TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu is rolling out a new live-TV offering.

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 TaleThe 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

FeaturesHulu (beta)SlingTV Orange or BluePlayStation 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 channels50+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 ShowtimeEpix ($2.99/$3.99), Spanish channels ($3.99/$4.99)
Video on-demandYes, including Hulu’s libraryYesYes
Simultaneous streams23 for Blue5
Profiles per account615
Cloud DVRYes, 50 hoursOn certain devices, for an extra $5/month for 50 hoursYes, stored for 28 days
Works withChromecast, 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 devicesPS4, PS3, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, web browsers, select iOS and Android mobile devices
Selling pointHulu’s on-demand libraryVery customizableSimultaneous streams, works with PlayStation


FeaturesDirecTV NowYouTube TV
Basic plan cost/month$35$35
Live channels60+50+
Add-ons (cost per month)HBO ($5), Cinemax ($5), Starz/Encore ($8)Showtime ($11), Fox Soccer Plus ($15)
Video on-demandYesYes
Simultaneous streams23
Profiles per account16
Cloud DVRNoYes, unlimited, stored for 9 months
Works withAmazon Fire, Android devices, iOS devices including Apple TV (4th gen.), and Chromecast (Android only)Chromecast
AvailabilityUSNew York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Philadelphia
Selling point$5 HBO and credit toward service for AT&T Unlimited Plus wireless customersIntegrates 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.

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