Hulu is a popular cable alternative. It boasts tens of millions of subscribers, and its live offering is among the most compelling on the market.
However, it can be difficult for some cord-cutters to choose which plan is best for them. If you’re looking at Hulu vs. Hulu Live, our guide breaks down how they differ so you can pick the right option for you.
What is the Difference Between Hulu and Hulu Live?
The key difference between the two services is live TV. Hulu On-Demand is more affordable and essentially a Netflix alternative with loads of original content. It also has next-day airings of popular TV shows.
Hulu with Live TV is a satellite TV alternative with over 80 networks, from live sports to sought-after entertainment and lifestyle channels.
We’ve tested both platforms extensively, and each one is a good solution for your content viewing needs.
Here is a 30,000-foot view of how the two offerings compare.
|Specs||Hulu Live||Hulu On-Demand|
|Channels||80+/10,000+ titles||10,000+ titles|
|Free trial?||No||30 days|
As you can see, there’s quite a disparity in pricing. However, which one you choose comes down to what you watch.
Which Streaming Service is Right For You?
Choosing between Hulu and Hulu Live is more difficult than you might expect. The most significant difference is access to live channels.
They also share similarities, as both have the same internet speed for streaming requirements and give you access to the same original programming. You can even view both on the same compatible devices.
Additionally, both options stream up to 4K for select titles and Dolby 5.1, but these are primarily found in original content.
Here are the differences between the two Hulu plans.
Hulu Live is best described as a premium cable replacement. It has over 80 live TV channels, including popular networks like ESPN and FS1. Plus, it has a wealth of lifestyle and entertainment channels.
Also included is access to the Disney bundle, which includes Disney+ and ESPN+. Read our ESPN+ review to learn more about that app.
You even get Hulu basic with the live plan. Monthly plans begin at $69.99 but increase if you choose the ad-free options for Hulu or Disney+.
Read our analysis of the Hulu Live channels list to see what you receive with a subscription.
Additionally, the live upgrade includes an unlimited cloud DVR. This lets you record your favorite TV shows and movies in case you cannot watch them live. Recordings expire after nine months.
*Related: Are you trying to choose the top live TV service? Read our Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV review to learn how they compare.
The live version doesn’t currently offer a free trial, so you must pay full price when signing up.
Read our review of Hulu Live to learn more about the app.
Hulu On-Demand is a video streaming service that has no live TV networks. It’s best described as a Netflix alternative with an impressive library of content.
Plans start at $7.99 but increase to $14.99 if you want the ad-free plan.
The service includes access to all Hulu originals. It also lets you watch all ABC shows and some FOX shows the day after they air.
Beyond this, the service includes an impressive library of 1,500+ movies to watch whenever you want.
You won’t receive access to CBS or NBC shows, as those air on Paramount+ and Peacock, respectively.
Read our Hulu vs. Peacock guide to learn how those two services compare.
If you want to keep your streaming costs in check, you can pair a subscription with an over-the-air antenna to get access to all your local channels.
You don’t get the Disney bundle with the basic Hulu plan, but you can upgrade to it or add Disney+ for a reduced price.
The plan does offer a 30-day free trial to test the service.
*Feeling overwhelmed about which streaming service is best for you? Take our free quiz and find out in 30 seconds!
|Hulu Live - 80+ channels of live sports, news and more|
Stream all Hulu original shows, plus live TV from all the major networks including ESPN, HGTV, and CNN for half the cost of cable!
Most streaming platforms allow you to purchase add-ons to customize your experience. Regardless of which Hulu plan you choose, you can purchase the same add-on packages to your subscription.
If you want premium channels beyond the nearly 70 that Hulu Live offers, you can add:
- HBO Max – $15.99 per month
- Cinemax – $9.99 per month
- SHOWTIME – $10.99 per month
- STARZ – $8.99 per month
*Related: Read our review of the available HBO Max plans to learn more about that platform.
If you choose the live TV streaming service, you can purchase the following add-ons:
- Entertainment Package – $7.99 per month for American Heroes, BET Her, CNBC World, Cooking Channel, Crime + Investigation, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Magnolia Network, Great American Country Family, Military History Channel, NickToons, MTV2, MTV Classic, Science, Hallmark Drama, and TeenNick.
- Sports Package – $9.99 per month for NFL Red Zone, FanDuel TV, FanDuel Racing, MAVTV, Outdoor Channel, and Sportsman Channel.
- Español Package – $4.99 per month for CNN en Español, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familia, ESPN Deportes, FOX Deportes, History Channel en Español, and NBC Universo.
- Unlimited Screens – $9.99 per month to upgrade from two simultaneous streams to unlimited.
The best part about the add-ons is that you can cancel them at any time. There’s no contract, fees, or pressure.
Hulu Live makes it easy to get the content you want at a reasonable price.
If you have questions about how many people can use Hulu Live at the same time, read our guide on how many people can watch Hulu simultaneously.
There is a lot to like when looking at Hulu Live vs. Hulu, but you must consider which fits your needs best. Here is where each offering shines.
Hulu with Live TV is one of the top-rated alternatives to cable. It stands out by offering:
- An impressive channel lineup
- Access to the Disney bundle
- An easy-to-use 14-day guide
- Reliable streaming
- A variety of plans and pricing
- The capacity to work with most streaming devices
- Up to six profiles per account
Hulu Live is worth trying if you want a cable-like experience and the ability to watch your favorite shows.
Basic Hulu is an almost perfect replacement for Netflix if you don’t need live TV. Here’s where the service stands out:
- Tons of original content
- Ad-free option available
- Trustworthy streaming
- 30-day free trial
- Next-day access to popular ABC and FOX shows
- Impressive movie library
- Works with virtually any streaming device
If you just want access to on-demand content and original shows, Hulu is worth trying.
No service is perfect, and choosing between the two offerings can be difficult. Here is what holds both services back.
Hulu With Live TV
Hulu Live is a popular streaming service, but it’s not for everyone. Here are some things that detract from the service:
- One of the most expensive live TV streaming services
- Allows for only two simultaneous streams
- Limited parental controls
- Add-ons make the service even more expensive
- Downloads are limited
The live offering is great, but it is pricey. If cost is a concern and you still need live TV, Sling is worth considering.
Basic Hulu is a terrific platform for people who want to cut the cord on cable, but it’s not foolproof. Here is where the service falls short:
- No access to live TV
- Next-day content is limited to ABC and FOX shows
- Limited parental controls
- Allows for only two simultaneous streams
If you want to reduce your streaming costs, Hulu is a good option. However, it likely won’t be a one-stop shop that fulfills all your viewing needs.
Choosing a streaming service comes down to what’s most important to you. Hulu Live is a suitable service if you don’t care about cost and want a cable-like experience.
However, if you don’t need live TV and only want original content and some next-day shows, then basic Hulu will work for you.
Before deciding between Hulu vs. Hulu Live, analyze your budget and the channels you need to determine which is best for you.
What’s keeping you from cutting the cord?