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Hulu Plus Live TV Review: Best Premium Bundle for Cord Cutters

Now including Disney Plus and an unlimited DVR, Hulu's Plus Live TV is the best streaming service bundle.

Updated April 28, 2023 7:04 a.m. PT

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Written by  Ty Pendlebury
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Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He majored in Cinema Studies when studying at RMIT. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
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Hulu Plus Live TV
8.8/10 CNET Score
$70 at Hulu
8.8/ 10
SCORE

Hulu Plus Live TV

$70 at Hulu

Pros

  • Solid mix of channels
  • Fun to use
  • Hulu's on-demand, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus included
  • Unlimited DVR

Cons

  • YouTube TV has a stronger live channel selection

At $7 a month, basic Hulu is one of the best deals in streaming, with gobs of current and past TV shows and movies. But if you want more -- and I mean, a lot more -- the upgrade to Hulu Plus Live TV adds a healthy mix of live sports, news and local channels, plus Hulu's newest secret weapons: the ad-supported Disney bundle and an unlimited DVR. It's also 10 times the price of the basic subscription at about $70. That combination of live channels with Hulu and Disney and a deep on-demand catalog, however, is something no other live TV streaming service can match.

Prices in live TV streaming change constantly, and Hulu competitor YouTube TV just made one of its biggest jumps in years to $73. The main advantage YouTube TV maintains over Hulu is a better live channel selection, but Hulu now costs slightly less and is supplemented by Disney and DVR upgrades. If you're looking for the best value, and especially if you already subscribe to Disney Plus, switching to Hulu Plus Live TV brings a wealth of content for one (slightly cheaper) price.

streamingtvservices
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 75 live channels and throws in both a cloud DVR and program guide. Live TV is available via Hulu's standard app on all the major platforms, including computer browsers, iOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Android, Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and smart TV systems. 

Channels: Hulu's channel count is solid but has a handful fewer major cable channels than YouTube TV. The service is missing popular channels AMC and BBC America, which every one of Hulu's competitors offers. It's also missing PBS local stations, though in the coming months that will change, as well as NBA TV, which is available on YouTube TV. As a counterpoint to this, Hulu does offer the History Channel, Lifetime and A&E, none of which are on YouTube TV. With the December 2021 price hike to $70, the Hulu Plus Live TV package also includes ad-supported Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, which -- with the already-included Hulu -- is a $13 value on its own.

Read more: A Guide to Streaming Your Favorite Live TV Channels Without Cable

Sports: Just like YouTube TV, Hulu has dropped many regional sports networks, so if you want MLB regular season games, your best bet is DirecTV Stream's $100 plan. The same goes for the NHL and NBA during those sports' regular seasons. If you're a football fan, though, the included NFL Network is a sweetener. For further channel inclusions, check the lineup at the end of this article, or our baseball guide below, to see if the Hulu Plus Live TV's mix is right for you.

Read more: Best Sports Streaming Service for 2023

Premium live TV streaming services compared

Premium servicesYouTube TVDirecTV StreamHulu Plus Live TVFuboTV
Base price per month $73$70$70$75
Total number of top 100 channels 77627356
ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels YesYesYesYes
Record shows for later (cloud DVR) Yes (unlimited)Yes (20 hours, unlimited hours for $10 a month)Yes (unlimited)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
hulu-plus-live-tv-4
Ty Pendlebury/CNET

What it's like to use

Hulu has been tweaking its live TV interface ever since it launched, and the most recent changes have been the best. A large marquee and "cover" art features on the Home page, and shows are now arranged in a traditional grid according to type. Across the major TV streaming devices, the top of the Hulu interface has a simplified selection featuring Home, Live, TV, My Stuff (favorites and DVR recordings), TV, Movies, Sports and Hubs, which are essentially channels broken up by genre -- sports, movies and so on. In terms of user-friendliness, Hulu Plus Live TV is now in line with its biggest competitor, YouTube TV, but even more lovely to the eye. 

Hulu's program guide -- located by pressing up in the Live tab -- is a traditional grid with guide data up to 14 days out. Scrolling through these pages is zippy, especially on an Apple TV. In comparison, YouTube TV's guide has undergone some recent improvements on streaming boxes, which means it's not only faster but now displays nine days in advance (up from a paltry 8 hours). However, the web version of YouTube TV is still painfully slow to navigate.

hulu-plus-live-tv-show-page

The Hulu Plus Live TV show page will be familiar to users of regular Hulu, but it also features a record button and a "live" badge.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Also, there's a difference between the "My Stuff" and "record" options when you bring up an individual program's page. My Stuff is similar to the My List function on other streaming services -- adding a program bookmarks it -- while Record actually can record instances of it to your DVR (either one-offs or whole seasons). You can fast-forward and rewind ads on recorded material but not on shows from the catalog, such as your My Stuff tags. Getting recordings onto your DVR does involve a bit of a trick, though. You can't simply press "record" while watching a live program. Instead, you need to exit the guide, click on the program to access its page and then select the option to record. Hulu also offers time-shift capabilities on live programs, including pause, rewind and fast-forward (though no ad-skipping is available). 

N.B. When setting up a new Hulu Plus Live TV account, be sure to check the option at the bottom that says, "I'd like to pause, rewind and fast-forward Live TV, so I want Hulu to create temporary recordings." I have yet to get confirmation from Hulu, but it's unclear if you can do timeshifting if this box isn't checked.

Should you get it?

If Hulu Plus Live TV's channels meet your needs and you subscribe to the services in the bundle already, Hulu Plus Live TV is a perfect fit. Its biggest trump card is its tight integration with the Hulu service (as well as Disney Plus and CNN Plus). The interface is now a dressing on what was already a lovely window, especially with the zippy 14-day guide.

That said, for a bit more, YouTube TV offers a more robust, cable-like service. Or if you don't need as many channels or streaming local network affiliates (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox), Sling TV Blue offers a much cheaper rate at $40 a 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 select services. 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 Compared

ChannelPhilo ($25)Sling Orange ($40)Sling Blue ($40)Hulu with Live TV ($70)YouTube TV ($73)FuboTV ($75)DirecTV Stream ($75)
Total channels 43243573775662
ABC NoNoNoYesYesYesYes
CBS NoNoNoYesYesYesYes
Fox NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
NBC NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
PBS NoNoNoNoYesNoYes
CW NoNoNoYesYesYesYes
MyNetworkTV NoNoNoYesYesNoYes
A&E YesYesYesYesNoNoYes
ACC Network No$NoYesYesYes$
Accuweather YesNoNoNoNoYesYes
AMC YesYesYesNoYesNoYes
Animal Planet YesNoNoYesYesYesYes
BBC America YesYesYesNoYesNoYes
BBC World News Yes$$NoYesNo$
BET YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Big Ten Network NoNo$YesYesYes$
Bloomberg TV YesYesYesYesNoYesYes
Boomerang No$$YesNoNoYes
Bravo NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Cartoon Network NoYesYesYesYesNoYes
CBS Sports Network NoNoNoYesYesYes$
Cheddar YesNoNoYesYesYes$
Cinemax NoNoNo$$No$
CMT Yes$$YesYesYesYes
CNBC NoNo$YesYesYesYes
CNN NoYesYesYesYesNoYes
Comedy Central YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Cooking Channel Yes$$$No$$
Destination America Yes$$$No$$
Discovery Channel YesNoYesYesYesYesYes
Disney Channel NoYesNoYesYesYesYes
Disney Junior No$NoYesYesYesYes
Disney XD No$NoYesYesYesYes
E! NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
EPIX $$$No$No$
ESPN NoYesNoYesYesYesYes
ESPN 2 NoYesNoYesYesYesYes
ESPNEWS No$NoYesYes$$
ESPNU No$NoYesYes$$
Food Network YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Fox Business NoNo$YesYesYesYes
Fox News NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
FS1 NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
FS2 NoNo$YesYesYes$
Freeform NoYesNoYesYesYesYes
FX NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
FX Movies NoNo$YesYes$$
FXX NoNo$YesYesYesYes
FYI Yes$$YesNoNo$
Golf Channel NoNo$YesYesYes$
Hallmark Yes$$YesYesYesYes
HBO/HBO Max NoNoNo$$No$
HGTV YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
History YesYesYesYesNoNoYes
HLN No$YesYesYesNoYes
IFC YesYesYesNoYesNoYes
Investigation Discovery YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Lifetime YesYesYesYesNoNoYes
Lifetime Movie Network Yes$$YesNoNo$
Magnolia Network Yes$$$NoYes$
MLB Network No$$NoNo$$
Motor Trend YesYesNoYesYesYesYes
MSNBC NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
MTV Yes$$YesYesYesYes
MTV2 Yes$$$Yes$Yes
National Geographic NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Nat Geo Wild NoNo$YesYes$$
NBA TV No$$NoYes$$
NFL Network NoNoYesYesYesYesNo
NFL Red Zone NoNo$$$$No
NHL Network No$$NoNo$$
Nickelodeon YesNoNoYesYesYesYes
Nick Jr. YesYesYesYesYesYes$
Nicktoons Yes$$$Yes$$
OWN YesNoNoYesYesYes$
Oxygen NoNo$YesYesYes$
Paramount Network Yes$$YesYesYesYes
Science Yes$$$No$$
SEC Network No$NoYesYes$$
Showtime No$$$$$$
Smithsonian YesNoNoYesYesYes$
Starz $$$$$$$
Sundance TV Yes$$NoYesNoYes
Syfy NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
Tastemade Yes$$NoYesYes$
TBS NoYesYesYesYesNoYes
TCM No$$YesYesNoYes
TeenNick Yes$$$Yes$Yes
Telemundo NoNoNoYesYesYes$
Tennis Channel No$$NoNo$$
TLC YesNoYesYesYesYesYes
TNT NoYesYesYesYesNoYes
Travel Channel YesYesYesYesYesYes$
TruTV No$YesYesYesNoYes
TV Land Yes$$YesYesYesYes
USA Network NoNoYesYesYesYesYes
VH1 Yes$$YesYesYesYes
Vice YesYesYesYesNoNoYes
WE tv Yes$$NoYesNoYes