Premium streaming service Hulu has been providing quality content to Americans since 2007. It’s not just the award-winning titles in its library that make Hulu a great choice, but the fact it also offers a comprehensive replacement to cable TV if you opt for the Hulu + Live TV plan. Add in some quality Hulu originals and it’s one of the most versatile streaming platforms on the market.
Hulu was one of the first competitors to challenge Netflix in the now very competitive streaming wars in the US, but the service hasn’t quite pipped its rival to the most viewers worldwide yet. However, Hulu arguably offers a wider range of new and classic shows than Netflix and Amazon, not to mention the thousands of movies that make up its impressive library.
You can plunge into quality titles like the Emmy-winning The Handmaid’s Tale and watch entire seasons of TV series from networks like FX and ABC. All of which is available with an affordable Hulu plan and, unlike Netflix, Hulu has the option of over 65 live broadcast channels if you want them.
The streaming service is already great value but students can access tons of shows and movies, including award-winning originals such as Nomadland and The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, for even less. Hulu has a lot to offer and we’ll explain exactly what a subscription actually entails and how to sign up.
Hulu explained – what is Hulu and Hulu + Live TV?
As our full Hulu review explains, a basic Hulu subscription grants you instant access to over 2,500 films and 1,650 TV series This includes original series and movies from Hulu as well as from major networks like ABC, AMC, Comedy Central, VH1, FX, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel – plus new episodes of hit TV shows a day after airing.
If you want fewer interruptions upgrade to the ad-free plan for an extra $6 (for licensing reasons ads remain on a select few programs). And you can make the service what you need it to be by adding extras to your basic plan. Unlimited Screens, for example, lets you share your account with any number of people (theoretically) as long as they’re connected to your home network. Or you can add premium channels like HBO Max or Showtime for an extra fee.
For those missing the eclectic diversity of traditional cable, then a Hulu + Live TV subscription will grant you more than 65 channels without breaking the bank. You’ll get news and sports (local and national), reality TV and documentaries, scripted comedy and drama, lifestyle programming, and much more. That’s on top of the thousands of hours of on-demand content that comes with a Hulu basic plan. You’ll also benefit from Hulu’s Cloud DVR, which lets you record up to 50 hours of live television.
The same Hulu basic extras are available with a Hulu + Live TV plan. Additionally, you can purchase the Enhanced Cloud DVR to increase your storage to 200 hours, or bolster your line-up with the Entertainment Network and Español Network Add-ons.
Know which plan you want to go for? You can sign up to Hulu now!
Hulu shows and movies: what can you watch
An entry-level Hulu membership lets you binge entire seasons of hit shows, catch new episodes the day after broadcast, enjoy kid’s entertainment and Hulu Originals, and watch TV series and films old and new from major studios.
There are hundreds of exclusive Hulu Originals, among them the Emmy-winning The Handmaid’s Tale and the Golden Globe-nominated Palm Springs. Castle Rock, Little Fires Everywhere, The Act and Monsterland are just a few gripping original drama series, while idiosyncratic comedies include Future Man, PEN15, Woke and Ramy. But, in addition to more mature material, you’ve got a healthy dose of children’s entertainment, like the Steven Spielberg-produced Animaniacs revival and Utopia Falls.
The platform also hosts older shows from dozens of networks, among them A&E, AMC, VH1, MTV, TNT, Disney Channel, and Discovery. So, you’re just a click away from Sons of Anarchy (FX), Modern Family, Black-ish, and American Idol (ABC), Broad City and Key and Peele (Comedy Central), and animated classics like Bob’s Burgers and The Simpsons (Fox). Whatever you pick, you’ll have a lot of fun watching it.
Of course, you can bulk up your roster of content with the renowned Disney Plus Bundle. It unites a mind-boggling amount of popular TV shows from Hulu and blockbuster films from Disney+ with live sports action from ESPN+ – and all at a very reasonable price.
What can you watch with a Hulu + Live TV subscription?
Everything detailed above, PLUS over 65 live channels which range from sports, news, lifestyle, entertainment, film, documentary and children’s programming. Subscribers receive both local and national channels, so depending on your location you could get well over the advertised number (a New York City zip brings back well over 80).
Hulu + Live TV has something for everyone. You get ample sports coverage from myriad ESPN channels, the Big Ten Network, Motortrend, CBS Sports and more, while breaking news comes from the likes of CNN, Fox, NBC and CNN International.
There’s a respectable amount of general entertainment here too. Thirsty TV and film fans will be sated by ABC, FX, The CW, A&E, Bravo, Turner Classic Movies and TNT, while those looking to work their gray matter can turn to Discovery, National Geographic, or Animal Planet. Then there are the networks looking to pacify younger viewers, with programming from the Disney Channel, Freeform, Cartoon Network and Universal Kids.
How much does Hulu cost?
It’s $5.99 a month or $54.99 a year for the basic Hulu plan, which makes it one of the best value VOD platforms around. Students have it better, though, because they only need to pay $1.99 for the same content. Note that you can upgrade to the ad-free plan, or purchase Premium channels, but doing so will increase your monthly bill.
At $64.99, the Hulu + Live TV plan isn’t cheap. But for that you get a plethora of live TV coupled with an incredible amount of on-demand content. Again, you can pay extra to tweak your subscription plan, by upgrading your Cloud DVR to 200 hours or purchasing Unlimited Screens, and the ad-free option is available here too. There’s no dodging the adverts on live broadcasts, but you can fast-forward through them if watching content recorded on your DVR.
Hulu: is there a free trial?
Oh yes! And it’s a doozy. If you want to try the Hulu basic or it’s Hulu (No Ads) equivalent, you’re entitled to a 30-days free trial, which gives you a month to explore the platform’s thrillingly diverse programming. Note that the free trial is only available to new members or eligible returning customers (that means a year must have lapsed since you were last subscribed).
Meanwhile, Hulu + Live TV plan provides a 7-day free trial before you have to pay a thing. Cancel before the week is up to avoid being charged, or do nothing to keep your subscription active.
How to sign up to Hulu
Registering to Hulu is pretty simple. Just click on the “Start your Free Trial” button on the homepage and select the plan you want to subscribe to. There are four options: basic Hulu, the Hulu (No Ads) plan, Hulu + Live TV, and the Hulu, Disney Plis, and ESPN Plus bundle option located just below the three main options.
After you click “Select” on the plan you want, you’ll be asked to enter your email address, account password, name, and date of birth. Press “Continue” to enter your billing information on the next screen, including credit card details and zip code. Valid methods of payment are U.S based credit or debit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover), or a digital payment service like PayPal or Venmo, and remember that you won’t be charged until the free trial expires.
Then just submit your info, sign in and start streaming!
Hulu app: what devices can you watch on?
The latest Hulu app and all its features, including Live TV and Premium Add-ons, are supported by the follow devices:
- Android phones and tablets
- Android TV (select models)
- Apple TV (4th generation or later)
- Echo Show
- Fire Tablets
- Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
- iPhones and iPads
- LG TV (select models)
- Nintendo Switch
- Mac and PC browsers/apps
- PlayStation consoles
- Roku (select models)
- Samsung TV (select models)
- VIZIO SmartCast TVs
- Xbox consoles
- Xfinity Flex Streaming TV Box*
- Xfinity X1 TV Boxes
Click here for a detailed list of Hulu-compatible devices and models.
* While PlayStation 3 and Xfinity devices have the latest Hulu app, they do not support live TV programming.
Hulu in 4K and HDR
If you’ve got the hardware to support 4K Ultra HD, then you’re in luck because some of Hulu’s best shows are available to stream in this format. Considering Hulu is home to over 4,000 titles, it’s a pretty small selection. But it still provides around seventy with which you’ll get a sharper image, deeper colour, and 8 million pixels pummelling your eyeballs.
Pretty much all Hulu Originals are ready to stream in 4K – that includes supernatural thriller Helstrom, science-fiction comedy Future Man, all seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, and horror anthology series Into the Dark. There’s also a clutch of FX titles to enjoy too, like Mayans M.C, Black Narcissus, and the star-studded miniseries Mrs America. Any content available in this format will display a “4K” badge on the details page.
You can currently watch 4K UHD content on the following devices: Apple TV (5th generation and above), Chromecast Ultra, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, LG TVs (2017 UHD models and above), Roku, Vizio SmartCast TVs, and Xbox One (S and X models).
However, HDR is not supported right now, so all 4K UHD content would be streamed in Standard Dynamic Range (SDR).
Hulu vs Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video vs HBO Max
The most ubiquitous VOD platform, Netflix boasts over 5,000 films and TV series. It produces hundreds of Netflix Originals a year, including Oscar-nominated films and highly popular shows like Stranger Things. But at $8.99 a month for an entry-level plan, providing one stream in SD quality, a Netflix sub doesn’t offer the best value. Hulu may have less content, but for a few dollars less a month you still get thousands of thrilling titles, two simultaneous streams, and access to HD and UHD content.
Amazon Prime Video is even pricier than Netflix. But with circa 18,000 titles its content library is more beefed up than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Granted, the overall quality is questionable, but Prime Video does include plenty of brilliant Amazon Originals like The Boys and high-calibre movies old and new.
Yes, it’s around twice the price of Hulu. But the benefits of a subscription, such as free delivery, Prime reading and ad-free music streaming, justify the inflated price. On the downside, you’re limited to three streams per account (you can purchase “Unlimited Screens” with Hulu), and, when it comes replicating the cable experience, Hulu + Live TV is far more cost-effective than adding individual Amazon Channels.
On the most expensive end of the VOD spectrum is HBO Max. It’s the most expensive of the quartet, even with the recent introduction of its ad-supported plan, which allows you to stream to three different devices at once. If you’re a fan of HBO’s output – and let’s face it, who isn’t? – then registering is a no brainer. Yet as well as ground-breaking dramas like Six Feet Under, The Wire, and Game of Thrones, subscribers get a wide range of titles from Warner Brothers, their subsidiaries, and third-party companies.
That means easy access to all Studio Ghibli animations, DC Comics movies, The Lord of the Rings films, and a curated selection of classic movies thanks to TCM. Or you could just add HBO Max to Hulu as a Premium Add-on.