Hulu vs. Hulu Live: Which is Best for Your Needs?
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I know you’re here to read about Hulu vs. Hulu Live. Before I jump into how to watch your favorite shows, I want to share a little story.
The other day while I did something I almost never do anymore. I went shopping. As I killed time waiting for my kids to finish up an activity, I browsed through my favorite stores’ sites.
Finding something I really wanted, I bought it. Without any remorse and no worrying about where the money would come from.
I could do this because I had an extra $80 lying around. That’s money I used to spend on cable. But since we cut the cord, I now have some monthly play money that I can use however I want.
What does that have to do with Hulu vs. Hulu Plus and how to watch Hulu shows?
Cutting the cord is the starting point for getting the shows you want and putting more money back in your pocket. That’s money you can save; use to pay down debt; put towards financial goals and countless other things.
When it comes to cable or Hulu, the answer is Hulu. Or any other streaming provider, really. There are many. That’s a good thing because it means more choice for us.
What I like most about Hulu is that it puts most of my favorite content in one place. I can easily watch the shows I like and the price is right.
With that said, let’s jump into which option is best for you.
Hulu vs. Hulu Live Review
Around since 2007, Hulu has had 13 years to perfect its content and viewing experience. It started out free, then moved to a low monthly fee. Now, it offers two streaming options – Hulu and Hulu Live. Differences between the services include:
- Cost – Hulu costs a reasonable $5.99 per month. The Live version (sometimes called Hulu Plus or Hulu with Live TV) costs $54.99 per month.
- Content – Regardless of which option you choose you receive access to all original content (like The Handmaid’s Tale and movies) and its large library of shows on other networks (like NBC, ABC, CBS, HGTV, History Channel and more).
- Hulu Live includes live streaming content, original shows and a large library of on demand content.
Which one is best for you depends on what you want to watch.
Hulu is like Netflix. Hulu Live is like Netflix plus live TV.
It’s like having Netflix AND cable for reasonable fee and no contract. You can cancel, pause or change either service any time with no penalties or fees.
What Comes With the Basic Platform?
Hulu is similar to Netflix and Amazon Prime. It’s a robust library loaded with on-demand content to enjoy. Hulu Basic (or just Hulu) is its most popular plan. That’s likely because it’s only $5.99 per month.
You can stream TV shows, movies, and many shows from lots of different networks anytime, anywhere. All you need to watch Hulu is a smart TV, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Unlike Netflix and Amazon Prime though, you will have commercials on Hulu. In fact, if you’re looking for Hulu without commercials, it really doesn’t exist. If you’re used to watching TV, you likely won’t mind the commercials.
In fact, we’ve had Hulu for several years now and feel that overall, there are a bit fewer commercials than what you’d see with live TV.
For just $5.99 per month, you get access to a lot of TV shows and movies. While there’s simply too much content to catalog in this post, here’s a sampling of some of what comes with a basic subscription.
TV Shows and Movies
There are more than 1,750 TV shows on Hulu, including:
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Family Guy, Law & Order SVU
- Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, This is Us, and Will & Grace
There are over 1,500 movies on Hulu, including:
- 12 Monkeys, A Quiet Place, Borat
- Dazed and Confused, Free Solo, Office Space
- The Dark Knight, The Oath, The Shining, and Zombieland
If you’re looking for free movies, all of the content on Hulu comes with your subscription, so you won’t have to pay extra for any of them.
What Comes With the Live Upgrade?
The short answer is live TV.
In fact, the difference between Netflix and Hulu is that with Hulu Live you can watch live TV. It’s just like cable, but without the nasty contract.
This options costs $54.99 per month. That’s less than half the cost of cable.
It’s better than cable because you get everything that comes with a basic subscription plus a whole lot more. The Hulu Live TV channels list is extensive.
There are nearly 70 channels, including:
- ESPN, HGTV, Disney Jr
- FS1, FS2, A&E
- USA, CNN, Fox News
Those are just the highlights. Hulu Live delivers the best of cable and on-demand content. You get live TV of course, but you also get access to past seasons of your favorite TV shows.
With Hulu Live, you receive:
- The five most recent episodes of TV shows
- Past seasons of many TV shows
- Hulu TV shows and original content
- 67+ channels of live TV programming
- 1,500+ movies
- Ability to add on HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz
Speaking of add-ons, there’s more than just content add-ons that you can use to customize your experience. There’s tech add-ons too.
If you want premium channels beyond the nearly 70 that come with Hulu Live, you can add:
- HBO – $14.99 per month
- Cinemax – $9.99 per month
- SHOWTIME – $10.99 per month
- STARZ – $8.99 per month
You can also add one of two packages:
- Entertainment Package – $7.99 per month, for: American Heroes, CNBC World, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY Network, FYI, LMN, and Science.
- Español Package – $4.99 per month, for: CNN en Español, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familia, ESPN Deportes, History Channel en Español, and Universo.
You can also upgrade your DVR and screen bandwidth. Hulu Live includes:
- 50 hours of cloud DVR storage
- Watch content on two screens
- Watch on your favorite device (iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Samsung Smart TVs, LG smart TVs, Nintendo Switch)
But, for $14.99 per month, you can sign up for Hulu’s enhanced cloud DVR add-on, which includes:
- 200 hours of cloud DVR storage
- Watch on unlimited screens
- Record as many programs as you want at the same time
If you watch a lot of live sports, you may appreciate the extra DVR storage. If you want to end fighting over the remote in your home, you’ll love the unlimited screens.
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 exactly the content you want at a reasonable price. Lastly, read our guide on how many people can watch Hulu at a time to learn how account sharing works.
Can You Watch the Original Shows Without Hulu Live?
Hulu originals are one of the perks of paying for the service. Regardless of the two you choose, you will get all Hulu original movies and shows.
Like Netflix, Hulu has invested a lot of money in original content. Sometimes, it picks up popular shows, like The Mindy Project, that networks cancel. The Handmaid’s Tale is its most decorated original show.
The originals you receive with a subscription include:
- Handmaid’s Tale, Casual, Difficult People
- Future Man, Castle Rock, Freakish, and Harlots
You don’t need Hulu Live to watch any of these shows. A basic subscription for $5.99 per month provides you access to all Hulu originals.
Hulu vs Hulu Without Ads Comparison Chart
The streaming service offers two separate choices for its basic service: with or without commercials. It’s not really commercial-free however. Hulu without Ads costs $11.99 per month.
You will still see some commercials before some shows. Hulu explains what no ads means on its site.
Hulu Live also includes a no ads option. It costs $60.99 per month and still includes ads during live streaming content. Disney+ is available with both options.
You can bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+, saving you 25 percent versus individually subscribing to each platform.
Read our Disney+ review to learn more about the streaming service.
Read our ESPN Plus review if you want to learn more about that streaming service.
If you’re not certain if Disney+ will meet your content needs for content more than Netflix, read our Disney+ vs. Netflix guide to see how they differ.
What Devices Can I Watch the Provider On?
What can’t you watch Hulu on? It’s easy to watch content on most devices.
I’ve even watched it on my phone while waiting to catch a flight in the airport. Super simple. You can stream Hulu on:
- Laptop and Desktop computers
- Samsung, LV and any smart TV
- iOS, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast
- Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
Watching Hulu on Amazon Fire TV Stick is our favorite option. We travel a lot and like taking the Fire Stick with us.
We can plug it into any TV with an HDMI port and watch our favorite shows. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection.
Hulu Plus vs. Cable
If you still have cable and are trying to decide if the Live option will work for you, consider your budget and viewing habits.
What shows and movies do you watch? Do you love TV? Are there prime time shows you don’t want to miss? If you answered yes, Hulu Live is for you.
You won’t notice a difference from cable. Except for the cost, of course. You’ll pay a lot less to keep watching your favorite TV shows.
Hulu with Live TV costs $54.99 per month. The average American spends $110 per month on cable. That’s a huge savings.
Other benefits over cable is that you can pause, change, or cancel your service any time. No fees. No penalties. You can also try Hulu Live for free for a week to see if you like it before cutting the cord.
If you’re more of a movie buff, try the basic version for free for a month. Should you like it, great, but if not, Netflix might be a better option.
Maybe you like TV, but find you mostly watch shows on the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC). We’re like that. Try Hulu basic for $5.99 per month and buy a digital antenna, like the Mohu Leaf 50, on Amazon.
We bought a digital antenna and love it. Clarity is great. The price is even better. One time fee gets you free network TV for the life of the antenna.
There are lots of ways to watch local TV channels without cable.
If you’re worried about getting your local channels without cable, don’t. It’s no reason to keep cable.
If you’re looking for a great streaming service that fits any budget, Hulu is it. If you don’t need live TV, Hulu basic for $5.99 can’t be beat.
Add a digital antenna and you can watch your favorite local network shows live.
If you enjoy live TV and want to watch shows on HGTV, ESPN, CNN, History Channel and more, try Hulu Live.
No clunky box. No nasty contract. Cancel anytime.
If you’re still not sure, try Hulu Live risk-free with Hulu’s free 7-day trial.
Have you tried Hulu Live? Do you like watching live TV? What channels do you wish you could get without cable? What’s keeping you from cutting the cord?