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YouTube TV vs. Hulu Plus Live TV: The Top Streaming Services Compared

Hefty cable bill? Here are two premium live TV options which can save you money without missing out on the content you love.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
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.
David Katzmaier
Ty Pendlebury
6 min read

We're all watching more TV, and now's as good a time as any to consider a live TV streaming service. At CNET we've tested six of the major services, and our two favorites for premium cord-cutters -- who don't mind paying for the most channels and features -- are YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV

These two cost more than streaming services like Netflix, but they're still cheaper than cable

. A premium subscription lets you cut the cable TV cord while keeping features like an advanced DVR with program guide and extensive on-demand content. Both of these live services offer a large selection of live channels, such as CNN, ESPN and TNT, as well as local stations ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and more. You can access them via media streamers such as RokuAmazon Fire TV or Apple TV, your game console or your smart TV itself.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Both services have their pluses and minuses but ultimately each offers a great live TV streaming experience. In general, it's a choice between having the biggest streaming bundle for the least amount of money, or being able to watch the greatest number of top channels. Hulu has an excellent selection of channels and not only adds a gigantic catalog of on-demand shows and movies but also includes the Disney Bundle -- Disney Plus and ESPN Plus -- for the $70 price, and as a result is our current Editors' Choice. Meanwhile, after an $8 price hike, YouTube TV still offers the most of the top 100 of any service, though it will be close as Hulu will soon add both PBS and Magnolia.

Want a little bit more information? Here's how they stack up.

Hulu; screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Hulu's greatest assets are the integration of a full complement of live TV channels with a massive catalog of on-demand content, and all for the one price. Hulu's channel count is solid, including some must-have programming. Its $70 price includes the ad-supported versions of Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, and there are even higher-priced choices for people who don't want to watch ads. If you want the most bang for buck, Hulu Plus Live Tv is where the smart money is.

YouTube TV logo on a phone
Sarah Tew/CNET

With an excellent channel selection, easy-to-use interface and excellent cloud DVR, YouTube TV is an excellent cable TV replacement. It offers a $20 4K upgrade, but the downside is there isn't much to watch at present. If you don't mind paying a bit more than the Sling TVs of the world, YouTube TV offers a great live TV streaming experience.

YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV compared

YouTube TVHulu Plus Live TV
Base price $73 per month$70 per month
Free trial YesNo
Number of popular channels (out of 100) 7773
Local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels YesYes
Local PBS channels YesYes
Simultaneous streams per account 3 ($20 for unlimited and 4K)2 ($10 option for unlimited)
Family member/user profiles YesYes
Cloud DVR storage  UnlimitedUnlimited
Fast-forward through or skip commercials with cloud DVR YesYes

Read more: Best Free TV Streaming Services: Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Sling TV and More

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

Channels: YouTube wins but Hulu is catching up

The biggest difference comes down to channels. Comparing the total channel counts from our big list of the top 100 channels on every service, YouTube TV comes out on top with 77 from that list, closely followed by Hulu with 75. That total doesn't include every channel the services carry, just the ones in the top 100 as determined by the editors at CNET, but it still provides a good indication.

The two share most major national channels including Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox News, NFL, TBS, USA Network and more, but there are a few differences. 

Here's a condensed version of that list showing the 14 of those 100 channels carried by one and not the other.

Major channel differences

ChannelYouTube TVHulu Plus Live TV
A&E NoYes
BBC America YesNo
BBC World News YesNo
Boomerang NoYes
History NoYes
Lifetime NoYes
Magnolia NoYes
Sundance TV YesNo
Tastemade YesNo
Vice NoYes
WE tv YesNo

Both services offer all four of the major local channels -- ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC -- in most areas of the country, and both also carry local affiliates from The CW and MyTV. In the coming months Hulu is due to join YouTube TV in carrying PBS local stations.

Neither service offers many regional sports networks after both YouTube TV and Hulu dropped them in 2020. Beyond RSNs, however, YouTube TV has an advantage in national sports networks, with NBA TV available as part of its base package. Though YouTube TV used to have MLB Network as well, it dropped the channel earlier this year. YouTube users can pay another $11 to get the "Sports Plus" add-on that also includes Fox College Sports, GolTV, NFL RedZone and Fox Soccer Plus. In addition, users also have exclusive access to the NFL Sunday Ticket for an added $349. Meanwhile, Hulu users can sign up for a $10 package which includes NFL RedZone, Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, MAVTV Motorsports Network, TVG and TVG2.

Premium channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime are also available for extra fees, and Hulu has two optional channel packages. One is an add-on for $8 per month with 17 channels including MTV Classic, CNBC World, the Cooking Channel and Science, and the other is a Spanish-language package with seven channels for $5. YouTube TV doesn't have any other additional channel packages, although you can add individual channels like Shudder and CuriosityStream for additional fees.

Read more: Best OTA DVR for Cord-Cutters: Amazon Fire TV Recast, TiVo, AirTV and Tablo

Usability: YouTube TV has simpler menus


The YouTube TV interface on Roku.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The menus and interfaces on both are quite different from one another and from regular cable, and we like YouTube TV's menus better overall. 

YouTube TV: In general the YouTube TV interface is easier to use, and not just to people used to using regular YouTube . If you're using the desktop or app versions, Google's streamer offers a streamlined structure -- even if it's not as pretty as Hulu. 

Hulu Plus Live TV: If it was all a matter of which interface is more fun, then Hulu would take it. Hulu's look is brighter, and though it lacks YouTube's comprehensive search, it's still relatively easy to drill down into the kind of content you want to watch. 

The difference in the number of simultaneous streams is worth noting, especially for families and other households who watch a lot of TV. YouTube TV lets you stream to three different devices -- say, the living room TV, a bedroom TV and a tablet -- at the same time, while Hulu lets you stream to two. Pay Hulu a hefty $10 extra per month and it will upgrade your number of streams to unlimited. On the other hand, the only real reason to pay for the $20 4K upgrade on YouTube is to also get unlimited streams.

YouTube TV has rightly earned accolades for its excellent cloud DVR but Hulu closed the gap with an upgrade in 2022. Both now have unlimited storage and let you fast-forward through commercials in recorded content, so while we still consider YouTube TV's DVR the gold standard, Hulu's is very good too.

Read more: Best TV Antenna for 2023

On-demand and originals: Hulu with the runaway win


Only Murders in the Building is an Hulu exclusive


YouTube TV includes on-demand TV shows and movies from participating networks and shows, much like your cable service, and also offers YouTube Originals commercial-free. But it pales in comparison to Hulu. 

As we mentioned above, a Hulu Plus Live TV subscription unlocks all of the on-demand TV shows and movies available on the standard Hulu service, including thousands of episodes of network TV shows, as well as originals like The Bear, The Handmaid's Tale, Only Murders in the Building, Pam & Tommy and the movie Palm Springs. It also includes an ad-supported Disney Plus and ESPN Plus subscription, with their massive on-demand libraries.

Read more: Hulu: The 42 Best TV Shows to Watch Now

Which service is best for you?

Both services represent the peak of what live TV streaming has to offer, and both are better overall than the other two major premium options, FuboTV and DirecTV Stream. Your choice between the two comes down to cost, channel selection, usability and content, and it's pretty close between the two Hulu enables you to integrate a wide channel selection with its exemplary on-demand library which may be worth it for some. In the end though it's all about having access to your favorite channels, so choose the service which gives you the channels you want.

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. That price is listed next to the service's name.
  • No = The channel isn't available at all on that service. 
  • $ = The channel is available for an extra fee.
  • Not every channel a service carries is listed, just the "top 100" as determined by CNET's editors. Minor channels like 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. To find out if your local RSN is available you can search YouTube TV by ZIP code here and search Hulu Plus Live TV by ZIP code here.

Read more: Best live TV streaming service for cord-cutters: YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu and more compared

Top 100 Channels

Channel Hulu with Live TV ($70)YouTube TV ($73)
Total channels: 7377
ABC YesYes
CBS YesYes
Fox YesYes
NBC YesYes
CW YesYes
MyNetworkTV YesYes

A&E YesNo
ACC Network YesYes
Accuweather NoNo
Animal Planet YesYes
BBC America NoYes
BBC World News NoYes
BET YesYes
Big Ten Network YesYes
Bloomberg TV YesNo
Boomerang YesNo
Bravo YesYes
Cartoon Network YesYes
CBS Sports Network YesYes
Cheddar YesYes
Cinemax $$
CMT YesYes
CNN YesYes
Comedy Central YesYes
Cooking Channel $No
Destination America $No
Discovery Channel YesYes
Disney Channel YesYes
Disney Junior YesYes
Disney XD YesYes
E! YesYes
ESPN 2 YesYes
Food Network YesYes
Fox Business YesYes
Fox News YesYes
FS1 YesYes
FS2 YesYes
Freeform YesYes
FX YesYes
FX Movies YesYes
FXX YesYes
Golf Channel YesYes
Hallmark YesYes
HBO/HBO Max $$
History YesNo
HLN YesYes
Investigation Discovery YesYes
Lifetime YesNo
Lifetime Movie Network YesNo
Magnolia Network NoNo
MGM+ (formerly EPIX) No$
MLB Network NoNo
Motor Trend YesYes
MTV YesYes
MTV2 $Yes
National Geographic YesYes
Nat Geo Wild YesYes
NFL Network YesYes
NFL Red Zone $$
NHL Network NoNo
Nickelodeon YesYes
Nick Jr. YesYes
Nicktoons $Yes
OWN YesYes
Oxygen YesYes
Paramount Network YesYes
Science $No
SEC Network YesYes
Showtime $$
Smithsonian YesYes
Starz $$
Sundance TV NoYes
Syfy YesYes
Tastemade NoYes
TBS YesYes
TCM YesYes
TeenNick $Yes
Telemundo YesYes
Tennis Channel NoNo
TLC YesYes
TNT YesYes
Travel Channel YesYes
TruTV YesYes
TV Land YesYes
USA Network YesYes
VH1 YesYes
Vice YesNo
WE tv NoYes