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Hulu Plus Live TV review: Excellent catalog, channels for the price, limited cloud DVR

If you're looking to quit cable, Hulu's Live TV service offers a smooth transition and tons of familiar TV on-demand.


At $6 a month, basic Hulu is one of the best deals in streaming, with gobs of current and past TV shows and movies. The hefty upgrade to Hulu Plus Live TV buys a healthy mix of live sports, news and local channels. That combination of live channels with Hulu's deep on-demand catalog of network TV shows and original programming is something no other live TV service can match.


Hulu Plus Live TV


  • Solid mix of channels
  • Full access to Hulu's on-demand content
  • Fun interface and zippy guide

Don't like

  • Worse live channel selection than YouTube TV
  • DVR is quite limited without the $10 upgrade

But things change fast in the world of live TV streaming services. After the latest price hikes Hulu costs the same as YouTube TV, which we like better overall for its superior cloud DVR and slightly better channel count. That said, if you have a Roku you may find that Hulu suits you better -- YouTube TV's app is currently unavailable to new users on the platform (though there is a workaround). 

While Hulu Plus Live TV still loses to YouTube TV as the best service for the money, Hulu remains a solid second-place choice for most viewers, and superior to both Fubo TV and AT&T TV. Hulu Live is an excellent premium cord-cutter choice, especially if you like having "regular Hulu" built in for the same price. If you want to save some serious money though, you should opt for Sling TV Blue ($35).

Watch this: Live TV streaming services for cord cutters: How to choose the best one for you

What do you get?

Hulu Plus Live TV expands upon the on-demand service with more than 70 live channels and throws in both a cloud DVR and program guide guide. Live TV is available via Hulu's standard app on all the major platforms including computer browsers, iOSXbox OnePS4, Android, Apple TVFire TVRoku and Smart TV systems. 

Hulu's channel count is solid but has a handful fewer major cable channels than YouTube TV. While Hulu added a bunch of Viacom channels recently, including MTV and Comedy Central, the service is still missing popular channels AMC and BBC America, which every one of Hulu's competitors offer. It's also missing PBS local stations as well as MLB Network and NBA TV, all of which are available on YouTube TV -- although unlike YouTube TV, Hulu has the History channel, Lifetime and A&E. 

In late 2020, just like YouTube TV, Hulu dropped many regional sports networks, which was a further blow for sports fans. Now if you want NBA or MLB regular season games, your best bet is AT&T TV's $85 plan. If you're football fan, though, the recent addition of NFL Network is an added sweetener. Check the channel lineup at the end of the article, or our baseball and basketball-specific guides below, to see if the Hulu Plus Live TV's mix is right for you.

Read more: NBA streaming: Best ways to watch the basketball season live online without cable

Read more: MLB streaming 2021: Watch your favorite team live every day without cable

Like its live streaming competitors Hulu has had a number of price increases since it debuted and currently costs $65 a month. On top of this, the service's biggest gotcha is the $10-a-month charge for the Enhanced DVR. Without it, the standard, non-enhanced DVR on Hulu Plus Live TV lacks the ability to fast-forward and rewind through commercials on recorded content. In addition to allowing you to fast-forward through commercials, paying for the upgrade also increases storage from 50 to 200 hours. But with the DVR add-on, this becomes the most expensive of all of the services at $75.

Premium live TV streaming services compared

Premium servicesYouTube TVAT&T TVHulu Plus Live TVFuboTV
Base price $65/month$70/month$65/month $60/month
Total number of top 100 channels 78617366
ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels YesYesYesYes
Record shows for later (cloud DVR) Yes (keep for 9 months)Yes (20 hours, unlimited hours for $10 a month)Yes (50 hours, 200 hours plus commercial skip for $10 a month)Yes (250 hours)
Step-up packages with more channels No ($20 for 4K, unlimited streams)  YesYesYes
Simultaneous streams per account 320 2 ($10 option for unlimited)3

Many people see commercial skipping as a must-have for any DVR. All of the other premium services include cloud DVRs that let you skip commercials as part of their standard functions, and the best, YouTube TV, has unlimited storage, too. In short, if you're a heavy DVR user, save yourself some money and get YouTube TV.

Read more: YouTube TV vs. Sling TV vs. Hulu vs. Philo vs. Fubo vs. AT&T TV Now: Live TV channels compared

What's it like to use?

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Hulu has been tweaking the live TV interface since it launched, and the most recent changes have been the best. Previously users could only see four and a half shows at a time in a large font with no descriptions, but this has changed to a large marquee and "cover" art for all the remaining shows now grouped by type. On the main TV streaming devices, the top of the interface has a simplified selection featuring Home, Live TV, My Stuff (favorites and DVR recordings), TV, Movies, Sports and Hubs (essentially "Channels"). In terms of user-friendliness Hulu Plus Live TV is now in line with its biggest competitor, YouTube TV, but even more friendly on the eye. 

Hulu's program guide was once one of the least usable in the category, but it's also now eclipsed that of YouTube TV. The traditional grid offers guide data, which goes 14 days out, and scrolling through pages is zippy, especially on an Apple TV. In comparison, YouTube TV's guide only displays programs up to eight hours in advance on set-top boxes, and though YT's web interface offers seven days out, we found it painfully slow to navigate.

Sarah Tew/CNET

But it's not all good news. Recording to the Hulu DVR is a little bit of a pain, for example, as you can only do it from the guide. If you want to record the show you're currently watching you need to exit to the guide first. Once there you need to either long-press the middle button (on Apple or Roku) or press the hamburger button and click record. Every other DVR-available service lets you record while you're still watching a program. 

Should you get it?

If you enjoy the mix of channels and don't need a DVR with commercial skipping, then Live TV could be what you're looking for. Its biggest trump card is its tight integration with the Hulu service -- if you like Hulu, you'll like Live TV. The interface is now a dressing on what was already a lovely window, especially with the zippy 14-day guide.

That said, for the same money YouTube offers a better service overall, and if you don't need as many channels or streaming locals (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox), Sling TV Blue offers a much cheaper rate at $35 per month.

Channel comparison

Below you'll find a chart that's a smaller version of this massive channel comparison. It contains the top 100 channels from each service. Some notes:

  • Yes = The channel is available on the cheapest pricing tier.

  • No = The channel isn't available at all on that service. 

  • $ = The channel is available for an extra fee, either a la carte or as part of a more expensive package or add-on. 

  • Not every channel a service carries is listed, just the "top 100" as determined by CNET's editors. Minor channels such as AXS TV, CNBC World, Discovery Life, GSN, POP and Universal Kids didn't make the cut.
  • Regional sports networks -- channels devoted to showing regular-season games of particular pro baseball, basketball and hockey teams -- are not listed. 

Top 100 Channels

Channel Sling Blue ($35)FuboTV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)YouTube TV ($65)AT&T TV ($70)
Total channels: 3766737861
ABC NoYesYesYesYes
CBS NoYesYesYesYes
Fox YesYesYesYesYes
NBC YesYesYesYesYes
CW NoYesYesYesYes
MyNetworkTV NoNoYesYesYes
Channel Sling Blue ($35)FuboTV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)YouTube TV ($65)AT&T TV ($70)
A&E YesYesYesNoYes
ACC Network No$YesYes$
Accuweather NoYesNoNoYes
AMC YesYesNoYesYes
Animal Planet NoYesYesYesYes
BBC America YesYesNoYesYes
BBC World News $$NoYes$
BET YesYesYesYesYes
Big Ten Network $YesYesYes$
Bloomberg TV YesNoYesNoYes
Boomerang $NoYesNoYes
Bravo YesYesYesYesYes
Channel Sling Blue ($35)FuboTV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)YouTube TV ($65)AT&T TV ($70)
Cartoon Network YesNoYesYesYes
CBS Sports Network NoYesYesYes$
Cheddar YesYesYesYes$
Cinemax NoNo$$$
CMT $YesYesYesYes
CNBC $YesYesYesYes
CNN YesNoYesYesYes
Comedy Central YesYesYesYesYes
Cooking Channel $$$No$
Destination America $$$No$
Discovery Channel YesYesYesYesYes
Disney Channel NoYesYesYesYes
Disney Junior NoYesYesYesYes
Disney XD NoYesYesYesYes
DIY $$$No$
E! YesYesYesYesYes
EPIX $$No$$
ESPN NoYesYesYesYes
ESPN 2 NoYesYesYesYes
ESPNU No$YesYes$
Channel Sling Blue ($35)FuboTV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)YouTube TV ($65)AT&T TV ($70)
Food Network YesYesYesYesYes
Fox Business $YesYesYesYes
Fox News YesYesYesYesYes
Fox Sports 1 YesYesYesYesYes
Fox Sports 2 $YesYesYes$
Freeform NoYesYesYesYes
FX YesYesYesYesYes
FX Movies $$YesYes$
FXX $YesYesYesYes
FYI $YesYesNo$
Golf Channel $YesYesYes$
Hallmark $YesNoNoYes
HBO/HBO Max NoNo$$$
HGTV YesYesYesYesYes
History YesYesYesNoYes
HLN YesNoYesYesYes
IFC YesYesNoYesYes
Investigation Discovery YesYesYesYesYes
Lifetime YesYesYesNoYes
Lifetime Movie Network $YesYesNo$
Channel Sling Blue ($35)FuboTV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)YouTube TV ($65)AT&T TV ($70)
MLB Network $$NoYes$
Motor Trend NoYesYesYesYes
MSNBC YesYesYesYesYes
MTV $YesYesYesYes
MTV2 $$$YesYes
National Geographic YesYesYesYesYes
Nat Geo Wild $$YesYes$
NBA TV $$NoYes$
NBC Sports Network YesYesYesYesYes
NFL Network YesYesYesYesNo
NFL Red Zone $$$$No
NHL Network $$NoNo$
Nickelodeon NoYesYesYesYes
Nick Jr. YesYesYesYes$
Nicktoons $$$Yes$
Olympic Channel $YesYesYes$
OWN NoYesNoYes$
Oxygen $YesYesYes$
Paramount Network $YesYesYesYes
Channel Sling Blue ($35)FuboTV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)YouTube TV ($65)AT&T TV ($70)
Science $$$No$
SEC Network No$YesYes$
Showtime $$$$$
Smithsonian NoYesYesYes$
Starz $$$$$
Sundance TV $YesNoYesYes
Syfy YesYesYesYesYes
Tastemade $YesNoYes$
TBS YesNoYesYesYes
TCM $NoYesYesYes
Telemundo NoYesYesYes$
Tennis Channel $$NoNo$
TLC YesYesYesYesYes
TNT YesNoYesYesYes
Travel Channel YesYesYesYes$
TruTV YesNoYesYesYes
TV Land $YesYesYesYes
USA Network YesYesYesYesYes
VH1 $YesYesYesYes
Vice YesYesYesNoYes
WE tv $YesNoYesYes
Channel Sling Blue ($35)FuboTV ($65)Hulu with Live TV ($65)YouTube TV ($65)AT&T TV ($70)

Hulu Plus Live TV

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Content 9Value 7