Hulu Live TV has quickly become one of the top options for cord-cutters looking to stream live sports, news, and entertainment channels over the internet. With over 75+ channels and full access to Hulu‘s extensive on-demand catalog, Hulu Live TV offers a compelling value.
But in a sea of live TV streaming services like YouTube TV, DirecTV Stream, FuboTV, and Sling TV, is Hulu Live TV really the best choice for ditching cable in 2022? This in-depth, hands-on review will answer that question.
After testing Hulu Live TV extensively over the past few months across various devices, here is everything cord-cutters need to know from channel lineup to DVR features to streaming quality and beyond. I‘ll compare Hulu Live TV to the competition to help you determine if it‘s the right pay TV replacement for your household.
A Brief History of Hulu Before Live TV
Hulu began its life back in 2007 as an ad-supported on-demand video streaming service from media giants NBCUniversal, Fox, and Disney.
In the early years, Hulu helped establish the concept of a legal online option for watching recent TV show episodes in lieu of piracy or buying expensive DVD box sets. The company grew steadily and went from 480,000 subscribers in 2010 to over 12 million by 2014 .
Major milestones for the service included launching ad-free subscription plans in 2015 and obtaining exclusive streaming rights to popular shows like Seinfeld in 2019. Hulu Originals like award-winning The Handmaid‘s Tale further boosted Hulu‘s popularity.
But the biggest evolution came in 2017 when Hulu launched its live TV service. This new option let subscribers access live streams and DVR recordings of popular cable channels over the internet.
Hulu Live TV reached 2 million subscribers by 2019 . And recent figures show Hulu finished Q2 2022 with 46.2 million total subscribers across all its on-demand and Live TV plans .
Now with both robust on-demand catalog and live TV service, Hulu has firmly joined the ranks of YouTube TV and other cable replacements vying for cord-cutters‘ dollars.
Next, let‘s dive into everything Hulu Live TV offers in terms of channels, features, and usability.
Hulu Live TV Channel Lineup
Hulu Live TV provides instant access to over 75+ live channels once you sign up. The exact channel lineup varies slightly by region, but Hulu claims to offer all the major broadcast and cable networks.
Here‘s a rundown of the most popular channels included:
News Channels: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, HLN, Fox Business, CBS News
Sports Networks: ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, NFL Network, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel
Entertainment: TBS, TNT, E!, Bravo, Syfy, FX, Paramount Network, Discovery
Kids: Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Disney Junior
Plus: HGTV, Food Network, A&E, AMC, History, National Geographic, and more
In terms of local broadcast networks, availability will depend on your location. But Hulu says ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox are offered in the majority of markets.
I tested Hulu Live TV in Los Angeles and had no problems accessing the four major locals – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. The CW was noticeably missing, so fans of its DC superhero shows may need an antenna.
One channel lineup omission I noticed compared to YouTube TV is Viacom networks like Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon. Hulu does carry some Viacom channels, but not the full suite.
Below is a side-by-side comparisons of Hulu Live TV‘s base channel plan versus YouTube TV and Sling Orange:
|Channel||Hulu Live TV||YouTube TV||Sling Orange|
Hulu Live TV matches YouTube TV in most popular channels. But YouTube TV carries more niche offerings like Sundance TV, BBC World News, and Oxygen. Check Hulu‘s website to compare channels in your region.
Hulu Live TV Packages and Pricing
Hulu Live TV currently costs $69.99 per month as of October 2022. There are no annual contracts so you can cancel service any time.
Here‘s an overview of what you get in the base Hulu Live TV monthly package:
- 75+ live channels
- 50 hours of cloud DVR storage
- 2 simultaneous screens
- Unlimited in-home streams
- 3 concurrent out-of-home mobile streams
- Full access to Hulu‘s on-demand library
Hulu Live TV offers decent value at $70/month considering you get a broad range of channels plus Hulu‘s streaming catalog and basic DVR features. But costs can add up with extra channels and add-ons:
- HBO Max: $14.99/month
- Showtime: $10.99/month
- Cinemax: $9.99/month
- Unlimited Screens: $9.99/month
- Enhanced Cloud DVR: $9.99/month
Compared to other live TV streaming services, Hulu Live TV lands in the middle of the pack in terms of pricing:
- YouTube TV: $64.99/month
- DirecTV Stream: $69.99/month
- FuboTV: $69.99/month for starter plan
- Sling TV: From $35/month
YouTube TV matches Hulu on channels for a bit less. But Hulu‘s on-demand catalog makes it a stronger overall value. Sling TV is cheaper but has far fewer channels.
How Does Hulu Live TV Streaming Quality Stack Up?
Now let‘s explore how Hulu Live TV performs in actual testing when it comes to video quality and reliability. After all, you want a live TV service that offers crisp HD channels with minimal buffering.
I tested streaming on a Roku Ultra connected by Ethernet to a 200 Mbps internet plan. Under these ideal conditions, Hulu Live TV streams smoothly in 720p resolution at 60 frames per second.
On live sports and news channels, the picture quality proved sharp with vibrant colors and no major compression artifacts. The 60fps framerate provided smooth motion essential for sports viewing.
Comparatively, YouTube TV can stream some channels at 60fps but maxes out at 720p resolution. Hulu matches YouTube TV in delivering a polished HD picture for most channels. 720p resolution looks great on any HDTV under 50 inches.
In two weeks of testing during peak evening hours, channel switching was nearly instantaneous. I encountered less than a handful of minor buffering incidents.
According to statistics Hulu provides to internet providers, their streams average between 3.5 and 5 Mbps bitrate for 720p video plus stereo audio . This level allows reliable streaming even on slower internet speeds.
Overall, Hulu Live TV delivers an excellent streaming experience and HD picture quality that matches or exceeds other live TV competitors. Sports fans will appreciate the smooth 60fps video. The service can stream reliably even on connections under 25 Mbps.
Hulu Live TV DVR and Cloud Storage
Hulu Live TV includes 50 hours of cloud DVR storage in the base $70 plan. This allows you to record live TV including entire series or teams to watch on-demand later.
I found the DVR functionality straightforward to use. Just click record on any show directly from the program guide or channel stream. Hulu then saves it automatically to your DVR library to watch anytime before it expires in nine months.
50 hours translates to around 50 individual recordings with most 1 hour long. During testing, I encountered no errors saving shows to the DVR. Recordings appeared quickly in the library after airing live.
The only drawback is having to pay $9.99/month extra for the "Enhanced DVR" add-on to skip commercials in DVR recordings. Otherwise, you need to manually fast forward through ads.
50 hours of included DVR space beats cheaper services like Sling TV which offers only 10 hours. But YouTube TV includes unlimited storage for no extra charge.
For most households, 50 hours should be sufficient to record favorites. Power users who want more space will appreciate the 200 hours of storage included with Hulu‘s Enhanced DVR option.
Supported Devices for Hulu Live TV
Hulu Live TV works across a wide range of media players, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and mobile devices:
- Fire TV devices like Fire stick and Fire TV Cube
- Roku and Roku TV models
- Apple TV boxes and AirPlay
- iPhone and iPad with iOS 12 or higher
- Android phones and tablets with 6.0 and up
- Chromecast devices including Chromecast with Google TV
- Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Playstation 4 and 5
- Select LG, Samsung, and VIZIO smart TVs
- Web browsers on Mac and PC
You can stream on up to 2 devices concurrently under the base Hulu Live TV plan. Unlimited in-home streams are supported along with 3 simultaneous mobile device streams when away from home.
Profiles allow personalizing recommendations and DVR libraries for everyone in the family. Kids profiles can be configured with parental controls to block inappropriate content.
Hulu Live TV is accessible across platforms beyond just mobile. The service works great whether streaming to your smart TV or on desktop and tablets when traveling.
Jumping between live TV, DVR recordings, and Hulu‘s streaming library feels seamless thanks to the polished Hulu interface.
The home screen is simple to navigate with separate menus for Live, My Channels, Browse, and My Stuff sections. You can easily jump to live channels or continue watching shows from your DVR.
Hulu surfaces recommendations for streaming content along with trending live shows. Search makes finding anything quick and easy.
The live guide provides 14 days of TV listings with options to favorite channels and schedule recordings. It feels responsive to scroll through on a Fire TV Stick.
DVR management is straightforward from My Stuff. You can view recordings, schedule series, and adjust expiration dates. Filtering by genre helps sort through recordings.
Hulu provides one of the best user experiences across streaming platforms. The mobile app is just as responsive with similar menus tailored for small screens.
Additional Features That Add Value
Beyond just channels and DVR storage, Hulu Live TV includes other perks that add to its overall value:
In-home streaming – Stream Live TV on unlimited devices connected to your home network. Great for households with multiple TVs and viewers.
Out-of-home streaming – Stream Live TV and recordings on up to 3 mobile devices outside the house. Download shows to watch offline.
Multiple user profiles – Create customized profiles for each family member including kids. Simplifies recommendations.
Parental controls – Block certain ratings and set restrictions on profiles. Useful for protecting children from inappropriate content.
Cloud DVR upgrades – Get up to 200 hours of DVR space and skip ads in recordings for $9.99/month.
Premium networks – Easily add premium channels like HBO Max and Showtime starting at $9.99/month.
Streaming library – Watch thousands of shows, movies, and Hulu Originals on-demand without any extra cost.
These perks make cutting cable easier. Of course, power users may look for extras like an unlimited screens option. But Hulu covers core essentials at a fair price.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Hulu Live TV in 2022?
Based on my experience testing Hulu Live TV, here is a rundown of the main pros and cons as a cable TV replacement:
- Broad channel lineup with locals, sports, news, and entertainment
- Polished HD streaming quality with 60fps for sports
- 50 hours of included DVR storage
- Smooth user experience across TV and mobile
- Bundle includes full Hulu on-demand catalog
- In-home and out-of-home streaming options
- No annual contracts – cancel anytime
- Does not carry some Viacom channels
- Pay extra for unlimited screens and enhanced DVR
- Localized channel availability can vary
- Can‘t customize channel bundles
- Ad support not optional for basic plan
The main downsides are somewhat limited Viacom and local channel availability. Sports fans may also want more niche sports offerings.
But Hulu Live TV nails the core essentials like broadcast networks, sports, news, and robust DVR features. For $70/month, you get strong value especially when the full Hulu on-demand catalog is included.
Is Hulu Live TV the Best Choice for Cord Cutting in 2022?
Hulu Live TV stands as a top pick for ditching cable this year. The channel lineup covers must-haves like locals, ESPN, news channels, and more at a fair price.
Streaming quality proves smooth and reliable in HD resolution. Cloud DVR grants flexibility in recording shows to watch later. And the user experience feels seamless jumping between live TV and thousands of on-demand shows and movies.
While costlier than budget options like Sling TV, you‘re paying for premium channel breadth and features that compete closely with YouTube TV. Access to Hulu‘s streaming library only sweetens the deal further.
For households looking to replicate the cable TV experience over the internet, Hulu checks nearly every box. Cord cutters who want robust live sports, news, DVR, and on-demand binge watching will find tremendous value.
In the end, Hulu Live TV stands neck-and-neck with YouTube TV for your cable replacement consideration in 2022. Hulu pulls ahead based on its on-demand catalog. But you can‘t go wrong with either service, especially at under $70 per month.
If you have yet to cut the cord, Hulu Live TV deserves your close consideration. The editorial team here recommends giving the free trial a complete test drive on your devices to best judge if it‘s the right cable alternative for your home.