What’s the Difference Between Hulu and Hulu+ Live TV? Here’s an Honest Review

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Hulu has become a favorite in our streaming service catalog. But what’s the difference between the basic plan and Hulu+ Live TV? Here’s everything you need to know.

hulu plus live tv the great

What Is the Basic Hulu Plan?

The basic Hulu plan costs $8 per month ($15 for the ad-free version), and it permits access to the streamer’s library of content. This includes classic movies (like Twilight), old dramas (like Felicity) and Hulu Originals (like The Great). It also features non-Hulu shows that are currently airing on TV—the only downside is you can’t watch the shows in real time. Instead, they are uploaded the following day.

What Is Hulu+ Live TV?

Hulu+ Live TV customers pay $70 per month ($76 for the ad-free version) for access to everything mentioned above…plus more. This option is like cable because it has a guide with shows and movies that are airing in real time. It also has unlimited complimentary DVR storage, so you don’t have to worry about missing your favorite shows.

It features more than 85 channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, FX, TBS and more. There’s also an option to customize your plan to include any (or all) of the premium networks, like Disney+, ESPN+ and HBO Max, for an additional fee.

How We Tested Hulu+ Live TV

I’m a longtime Hulu user, but I’ve never used the Live TV add-on. That changed last week when I upgraded my account for a one-week trial. During that time, I tried to refrain from using other streaming services (i.e., Sling TV, YouTube TV, etc.) so I could have the full Hulu+ Live TV experience without any distractions. And, boy, was I surprised.

hulu plus live tv review

Is It Worth the Money?

  • Value: 18/20
  • Functionality: 19/20
  • Quality: 20/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Ease of use: 17/20

TOTAL: 94/100

The price tag might be difficult to justify if you’re already paying for other services that offer similar packages. But once I figured out how to use it, I was truly impressed by Hulu+ Live TV and how it’s a one-stop shop for all your streaming needs.

The biggest takeaway is that I never had to venture outside of Hulu+ Live TV for my streaming needs. Of course, I occasionally visited Showtime and Netflix for original content, but in terms of accessibility, it has it all.

I had grown accustomed to watching shows like American Idol the day after the episodes air. But with Hulu+ Live TV, I had the option to watch the installment in real time or DVR it to stream later that night. And with the basic Hulu plan, I didn’t have access to some networks—like Bravo—that are included in Hulu+ Live TV. (Hello, Vanderpump Rules.)

In the past, I’ve been disappointed by how limited the content is on other streamers. For example, Peacock is owned by NBC and only offers NBC-related content. So, if you want to watch The Amazing Race, you’d need an additional subscription to Paramount+. The list goes on.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case with Hulu+ Live TV. It felt like I was watching cable—not a streaming service—because it offers live television, on-demand content and DVR. The only downside is it took me a solid day to understand the user experience. (I made the mistake of accessing it on a computer first, then my TV, and the interface is slightly different.) But once I got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing streaming.

Yes, it’s expensive. But if you compare the price to an average cable plan, you’ll realize how beneficial Hulu+ Live TV is. Now that I’ve tried it, I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.


Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...