Are you frustrated by the sky-high prices of cable TV? If so, you’re certainly not alone. More and more people are leaving cable providers, and the most common reason is to save money. The good news is that there are plenty of cable alternatives that are cheaper but still offer access to live TV. Today, we’ll look at two popular options: Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV.
Hulu + Live TV only offers 65+ channels and thanks to the recent YouTube TV price hike, will run you $10 less every month at $54.99/mo. Reporting 3.3 million subscribers at the end of Q1 in 2020, Hulu + Live TV offers a great well-rounded selection of channels, including access to a huge number of local networks, as well as a HUGE on-demand library. If you’re looking to have just one streaming service (instead of a combination of several), Hulu + Live TV is our top recommendation. You can try it out for free for 7 days..
YouTube TV is a branch of its parent company YouTube (no, they’re not the same thing) that offers its 2.3 million subscribers 85+ channels for $64.99/mo. YouTube TV offers a solid selection of channels, including plenty of local channels. It offers unlimited DVR storage, but has a smaller selection of on-demand content. If a big DVR is important to you, we recommend YouTube TV. You can try it out for free for 14 days.
Both of these services are among the best live streaming services available today, and both come highly recommended by soda and other industry experts. Both serve as viable alternatives to cable TV, and both are definitely worth considering for recent cord-cutters. If you would rather compare both services with other top streaming options, check out our comprehensive comparison guide. But keep reading our full Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV comparison for details.
Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV
Compare YouTube TV vs Hulu + Live TV plans
|Hulu + Live TV (With ads)||Hulu + Live TV (No ads)||YouTube TV|
|Free trial length||7 days||7 days||14 days|
|Number of channels||65+||65+||85+|
|Cloud DVR storage||50 hours||50 hours||Unlimited|
|Number of simultaneous streams||2||2||3|
Which streaming service is right for you?
So which is the better service: Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube TV?
There’s no direct answer, as it really depends on your preferences and even your location.
Hulu + Live TV is our top recommendation for folks who want a great channel selection, access to local sports, and an impressive on-demand library in addition to the live coverage. Learn more in our Hulu review (on-demand) and our Hulu Live review.
Click here to try Hulu + Live TV free for 7 days.
YouTube TV is a great option for people who love to DVR shows, as it offers unlimited storage. It’s also got solid coverage of local channels, although Hulu has an edge here. Learn more in our YouTube TV review.
Click here to try YouTube TV free for 14 days.
Things to keep in mind:
- Both offer DVR recording – YouTube TV has unlimited storage, while Hulu limits you to 50 hours (or you can pay extra to get more storage).
- Hulu with Live TV has way more on-demand content. It includes the original Hulu library free of charge.
Hulu + Live TV user experience
With the TV version of the Hulu + Live TV, you have the option of accessing a general browsing feature, as well as live TV, a search function and a My Stuff section, which provides you with a view of things you’ve chosen to keep track of. Hulu also curates some custom content discovery based on answers to a short series of questions when you first open your account on the app.
One negative is that it’s a bit of a pain to even get to the live TV section of the app—it doesn’t have its own tab. Also, when you’re channel surfing, most of the screen is blocked off with the channel list, so getting a look at the actual content while you scroll is difficult.
Hulu + Live TV works across most of the major streaming devices and platforms. Here are the compatible devices:
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Google Chromecast
- Amazon Fire devices
- Amazon Echo Show
- LG TV
- Nintendo Switch
- PS3 & PS4
- Roku devices
- Samsung smart TV
- Vizio SmartCast TVs
- Xbox 360
- Xbox One
- Xfinity Flex Streaming TV Box
- Xfinity TV Boxes
- Android smartphones and tablets
- iOS smartphones and tablets
YouTube TV user experience
The TV app for YouTube TV has a similar look to the regular YouTube website and allows you to explore upcoming programs, flip between different channels and see recently watched and recorded content. A major highlight is that when you’re browsing the grid of Top Picks For You, YouTube TV gives you a real-time preview of what’s on each channel. To top it off, the search function of YouTube TV gives great, relevant results and allows you to enter multiple terms to really narrow your search.
One major downside to the experience of the YouTube TV app is that channels aren’t organized alphabetically, which can make finding a specific one hard. Plus, there isn’t a queue, so lining up content you want to watch later isn’t an option.
As far as compatible devices, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV have similar lists of supported devices, but YouTube TV is compatible with more smart TVs, while Hulu works with Xbox 360 and Nintendo Switch. Here’s a look at YouTube TV supported devices:
- Android TV
- Samsung smart TVs
- LG smart TVs
- Vizio SmartCast
- Hisense Smart TV
- Sharp Smart TV
- Google Chromecast
- Roku Players & TV
- Apple TV
- Fire TV devices
- Xbox One
- PS4 & PS4 Pro
- Android smartphones & tablets
- iOS smartphones and tablets
Pro tip: Find the best device to watch YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV with our list of best video streaming devices.
Hulu + Live TV
Like YouTube TV, Hulu allows you to manage your account by switching plans, updating payment information, viewing billing history and managing username and password preferences.
Hulu has several personalization features, but they’re slightly different from those of YouTube TV. You can set up profiles for different users, as well as your own personal Tastepicker settings and save content in the My Stuff area. Users can also like and dislike shows and movies, which helps Hulu match your preferences. If you’re dissatisfied with what Hulu presents, you can opt to stop receiving suggestions.
Though the Hulu Cloud DVR isn’t as extensive as the unlimited offering from YouTube TV, subscribers still get 50 hours of space. The biggest selling point for Hulu DVR? Your recordings never expire.
YouTube TV has a subscription center that allows you to manage the user settings on your account. You can update payment methods, change login credentials, pause or even cancel your membership.
As a YouTube TV subscriber, you can customize your programming, whether you’re watching broadcast TV, news, sports or other shows. Keep in mind that there is no YouTube TV history channel. It also lets you record shows to build your own library of content. With its Live tab, you’re able to set up your own viewing preferences instead of depending solely on the YouTube algorithm.
With YouTube TV, unlimited Cloud DVR lets you record and save your favorite shows without having to worry about running out of storage space.
Hulu + Live TV
A big plus to the Hulu + Live TV subscription is full access to the Hulu on-demand library. This is a HUGE library of thousands of TV shows and movies, and even some award-winning Hulu Originals that aren’t available anywhere else. Some great picks are This Is Us, The Handmaid’s Tale, Modern Family, The Good Place, How to Get Away with Murder and Love Island.
Hulu offers several shows through its line of original programming. These include Castle Rock, Casual, Catch 22, Letterkenny, PEN15, Ramy, The Act, The Looming Tower and Veronica Mars.
Hulu lets subscribers watch content on two screens at once. If you need more streams, you can upgrade to unlimited streams for $9.99/mo.
Cinemax, HBO, Showtime and STARZ come as add-on options along with four additional entertainment choices on a live TV plan. These add-ons are great for those who want to watch top-notch shows and movies on-demand. Each add-on will run you anywhere from $8.99/mo. to $14.99/mo., depending on which one you choose.
Sports fans rejoice with Hulu. The service offers ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN College Extra, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line, GOLF channel, FS1, FS2, Big 10 Network, CBS Sports Network, NBCSN, SEC Network, Olympic Channel, and more.
When it comes to local sports teams, Hulu is currently bringing more to the table. Hulu currently carries 600+ local network affiliates, compared to YouTube’s 400+.
Top local coverage
Currently, Hulu with Live TV carries ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS local networks in the largest number of areas, offering more coverage than YouTube TV. Among all live TV streaming services, YouTube TV local coverage stands out.
If you aren’t satisfied with the Hulu + Live TV base channel offerings, you can get additional news and lifestyle programming for $7.99/mo. The channels in this package include American Heroes Channel, CNBC World, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY, FYI, Lifetime Movies and Science.
For those who want Spanish programming, get CNN en Español, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familia, ESPN Desportes, History Channel en Español and NBC Universo for an additional $4.99/mo.
Pro tip: The channels covered by these two services are varied and well-balanced. For details, see the Hulu Live channel list and the YouTube TV channel list.
YouTube Live TV offers a good selection of on-demand content from many of its network partners like FOX, FX, CBS and Cartoon Network. Watch the most recent episodes of your favorite shows, but you may be limited when it comes to older episode availability.
All YouTube TV subscribers get access to YouTube movies and Originals, such as Bad Internet, Broke, Foursome, I’m Poppy, Kings of Atlantis, Lifeline, Me and My Grandma, Scare PewDiePie, Sherwood, Sideswiped and Wayne.
YouTube TV has Hulu + Live TV beat when it comes to simultaneous streams. The service offers three streams compared to two available to Hulu subscribers. However, Hulu allows subscribers to add on unlimited screens, while YouTube TV does not.
YouTube TV has a pretty good channel selection (with the exception of A&E and History Channel), but subscribers have the option to expand their offerings with premium add-ons like HBO Max, Showtime, STARZ, Epix, Cinemax, AMC Premiere, Curiosity Stream, NBA League Pass Acorn TV and more. These add-ons will run you from $4.99/mo. all the way up to $39.99/mo., depending on which ones you choose.
YouTube TV sports offers live access to ESPN networks, FS1, FS2, NBCSN, NBA TV, MLB Network, BTN, SEC Network, CBS Sports Network, Olympic Channel, GOLF Channel, and more. It also has good coverage of local networks and local sports channels, second only to Hulu Live.
Unlimited Cloud DVR
If you’re a DVR junkie, YouTube TV will appeal to you. The 50 hours offered by Hulu + Live TV pales in comparison to the unlimited storage space YouTube TV boasts. The only other live TV streaming service that offers unlimited DVR storage is Philo, but Philo recordings expire after 30 days.
Click here to try Hulu with Live TV free for 7 days.
Click here to try YouTube TV free for 7 days.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV is a great option for cord cutters, but the base plan doesn’t offer everything. If you want to expand your watching experience with feature upgrades, the additional costs to create the perfect watching experience can really add up.
For instance, the baseline screen allowance of two simultaneous streams is rather low. For families who need several outlets to watch at once, unlimited screens might be necessary, but it tacks on $9.99/mo. Similarly, 50 hours of DVR storage may be enough for some, but for those who love to record, you’ll have to pay $9.99/mo. more for 200 hours of storage.
As far as content, Hulu + Live TV has a great selection, but it’s missing some notable entertainment channels (Comedy Central and AMC) and league networks.
When it comes to the downsides of YouTube TV, the recent price hike to $64.99/mo. With only one plan option is at the top of the list. The single tier of YouTube TV packages means that those who don’t want as much programming can potentially pay for more than they need. Another con of no plan upgrades: options for ad-free programming and offline viewing are off the table. Though you have to pay more, both features are available options with Hulu + Live TV.
Though YouTube TV does have on-demand content available, the offerings aren’t as extensive as Hulu + Live TV. Subscribers have access to the latest episodes from partner networks, but older episodes are only available for select shows.
As far as Cloud YouTube TV DVR, YouTube TV stands out with unlimited hours of storage space. However, there is a caveat you should be aware of: recordings expire after nine months.
Our hot take
There’s a lot to consider when deciding between Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV. YouTube TV has standout DVR capabilities, but Hulu + Live TV wins when it comes to content offerings and plan customization. But here’s something to chew on: BOTH services offer free trials. That means you have a risk-free way to try out both – even at the same time, if you wanted to! And both are contract-free, so even if you do keep one, you’ll never have to commit to more than one month at a time.
Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV