Streaming TV now threatens to dethrone cable TV as the dominant source of entertainment. In fact, more Americans pay for streaming services now than cable. Hulu + Live TV has quickly positioned itself as the most popular of these services, reaching 2.7 million subscribers by the third quarter of 2019. That puts it ever-so-slightly ahead of former number one, Sling TV, which had 2.686 million subscribers by that time.
Owned by Disney, Hulu + Live TV is Hulu’s flagship streaming plan, offering live sports, news and entertainment as well as access to the whole Hulu on-demand library. Sling TV is Dish Network’s attempt at streaming, and it offers a wide selection of live TV, including top cable channels, sports and entertainment and extras like an international bundle that features major channels from around the world.
Compare Sling TV vs. Hulu + Live TV plans
|Hulu + Live TV||Sling Orange||Sling Blue||Sling Orange & Blue|
|Free trial length||7 days||7 days||7 days||7 days|
|Number of channels||60+||30+||40+||50+|
|Original content available?||Yes||No||No||No|
|Cloud DVR storage||50 hours||10 hours||10 hours||10 hours|
|Number of simultaneous streams||2||1||3||4|
|Number of user profiles||6||1||1||1|
Which streaming service is right for you?
Hulu + Live TV is the more expensive option, but it comes with more programming out of the box and access to a bigger library of on-demand content. In addition, most Hulu + Live TV users will have access to broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.
Sling TV, on the other hand, costs significantly less at the outset, but may or may not include what you’re looking for. Most notably, Sling TV can’t stream local over-the-air stations. With an antenna, you can watch local channels at home using the Sling TV interface.
That said, with three different plans to choose from as well as several à la carte options, Sling TV is easier to customize. Customers looking for the best combination of live TV and on-demand content for whom price isn’t a major consideration may want to look at Hulu + Live TV. People who have a budget to consider should check out Sling TV.
If you’re quitting cable because of costs (which is the most common reason for cutting the cord, anyways), here are the basics of how these services stack up, price-wise:
Sling TV starts at $30 per month. There are two basic packages, each running $25/mo, and covering 30-40+ channels. You can also combine both base packages, paying $45/mo for 45+ channels. There are also tons of expansion options, from premium channels like HBO to niche channel packages like Sports Extra, Lifestyle Extra, etc. There’s a lot of customization options, which definitely appeals to some folks. See this Sling TV Price guide for details.
Hulu with Live TV starts at $55 per month. Unlike Sling TV, Hulu really only offers one plan. That covers 65+ channels, and also gives you access to the original Hulu on-demand library (which is normally $6/mo on its own). There are less customization options with Hulu, but at the $55 price point, Hulu offers more channels and more on-demand content than Sling TV.
Things to keep in mind:
- Hulu includes a free DVR feature; with Sling it costs an extra $5/mo for 50 hours of Cloud DVR Plus
- Sling TV’s basic packages are very affordable, but the price can add up quickly as you start to expand your channel lineup
- Sling TV has a lot of affordable ($5/mo) customization options, which lets you get only the channels you actually want
- Hulu offers far more on-demand entertainment, as well as more live channels, at the $55/mo price point
Bottom line: If you want an ultra-budget option, or you want to have more flexibility in customizing your lineup, Sling TV is great. If you want more entertainment for your money and are comfortable with $55/mo, Hulu offers more bang for your buck at that price level.
Both of these services provide a great range of channels, from live sports to entertainment to news. For full details, see the Sling TV channel list and the Hulu with Live TV channel list. For now, here’s a brief overview of the channel selection:
Hulu Live offers just one live TV package, which covers 65+ networks for $55/mo. That’s the only option currently, although subscribers can also add on premium movie channels including HBO, Cinemax, Starz, and SHOWTIME.
Sling TV offers two base packages – 30+ channels or 40+ channels for $30/mo, or both base packages for $40/mo. Then you can further expand your selection with TONS of different add-on channels. There are several different themed expansion packs, focused on sports, lifestyle networks, etc. and there are also many premium channels available.
For a better idea of what to expect with Hulu vs. Sling TV channels, let’s examine specific aspects of channel selection among these two competing services.
Coverage of local channels
Want to stream local channels? Networks like ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS and others cover local news, big sporting events, and popular network TV shows. If having access to local channels is important to you, Hulu is likely the right choice for you.
Hulu with Live TV is a leader when it comes to local channels. It covers NBC, FOX, ABC, and CBS in the vast majority of areas, and it also covers local sports channels. Hulu has the best coverage of ANY streaming service when it comes to local networks.
Sling TV, on the other hand, is not focused on local networks. They offer some very limited coverage – FOX in 15+ markets, and NBC in 10+ markets. CBS, ABC, The CW and others are not offered, although Sling does carry some regional sports networks in some areas.
If local channels are important for your family, we recommend Hulu with Live TV.
Coverage of sports channels
For those wanting to watch sports online, both Hulu and Sling TV offer a lot of options. It’s tough to pick a clear winner in this category.
Sling TV subscribers can enjoy networks like ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ACC Network, FS1, FS2, and NBCSN, which are all available in one of the base packages. If you want even more sports coverage, the Sports Extra package adds NBA TV, SEC Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, NHL Network, and more for just $5-$10 per month.
Hulu Live subscribers can access ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN College Extra, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, FS1, FS2, GOLF, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, SEC Network, and more. And, of course, Hulu also offers great coverage of NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, and regional sports networks.
Depending on what sports you like to watch, either of these services could work. That said, if local teams (particularly football teams) are important to you, Hulu Live is a great option. That’s because Hulu Live covers local channels (NBC, FOX, etc) in most areas, which are vital for local sports and watching football online.
Coverage of premium channels
Hulu Live offers HBO ($15/mo), Cinemax ($9.99/mo), Starz ($9/mo), and SHOWTIME ($11/mo). That’s it, currently, although the service is likely to continue expanding.
Sling TV offers Starz ($9/mo) and SHOWTIME ($10/mo). There are also tons of lesser-known premium channels on Sling TV, including EPIX, CuriosityStream, Docurama, and more.
At this point in time, Sling TV offers more options when it comes to premium channels. Prices for these add-ons are pretty much the same on both services.
Coverage of entertainment channels
For general entertainment, both of these services offer great options. It’s tricky to compare the two because of the different packages offered, so we’ll try to sum things up in a way that’s easy to understand:
Sling TV offers more channels overall, with 100+ available in total. However, to get all these channels you’d have to use a lot of add-ons, which would bump your monthly rate up quite a bit. What you can do, however, is just add specific types of channels – for instance, the “Lifestyle Extra” add-on adds channels like VH1, Hallmark, FYI, BET, DIY Network and more for $5/mo.
Hulu offers fewer channels (65+ total), but a good value for $55/mo. It covers most of the popular networks, although it is missing some key channels, including Comedy Central and AMC.
Here’s how we’d describe the two:
- Hulu Live offers a great, diverse package of 65+ popular TV channels, for a fair price of $55/mo.
- Sling TV offers smaller base packages, with ample opportunity to expand selection with targeted add-on packages.
Both Sling TV and Hulu work over the internet, and don’t come with any sort of cable box or included device. Instead, you can use your favorite devices to stream TV over the internet. You’ll need a compatible device, but don’t worry – almost everything works!
BOTH services work on these devices:
- Apple TV
- Android mobile devices (phones & tablets)
- Google Chromecast
- Amazon Fire TV
- Amazon Fire Tablets
- iOS mobile devices (phones & tablets)
- Xbox One
- Select Samsung smart TVs
In addition, Sling TV works on Nvidia Shield, AirTV, Xiaomi, and Select LG smart TVs.
In addition, Hulu works on Xbox 360 and Nintendo Switch.
Bottom Line: In this category, there’s not a clear winner. The most popular streaming devices are compatible with both services. Sling TV covers a few more devices overall, but also leaves out a few that Hulu covers.
Hulu Live TV vs Sling TV: Features
What about unique features? How do these services stack up?
If you want to record live TV to watch later, you’ll want a service that lets you record. Thankfully, both of these services offer DVR recording. Both also don’t require a physical device, as your recordings are stored digitally in the cloud.
Hulu with Live TV includes a free DVR feature with 50 hours of storage allowed. You can upgrade to 200 hours of storage for an additional fee (currently $14.99/mo).
Sling TV offers a DVR recording capacity up to 10 hours for free and an add-on feature, for $5/mo. It includes 50 hours of storage.
Want to watch on more than one device at once? If you have a large family, or a household with roommates, this is essential.
Hulu with Live TV offers 2 simultaneous streams for free. You can upgrade to Unlimited Screens for $14.99/mo.
Sling TV offers 1 stream in the Sling Orange package, and 3 in Sling Blue.
While both of these services are primarily for watching live TV, there are also times where you’ll just want to binge-watch some on-demand shows! Both services offer some on-demand content, but this is one area where Hulu is a clear leader.
With Hulu Live, you get access to the live channels and to Hulu’s huge on-demand library. This covers literally thousands of TV shows, movies, and exclusive Hulu Originals like The Handmaid’s Tale. It functions a lot like Netflix, with tons of options that you can watch at any time. You’ll find entire seasons of popular TV shows, including recent episodes in many cases.
On Sling TV, there is a limited amount of on-demand content. It functions more similarly to on-demand offerings from cable providers, so it’s a lot more limited.
If on-demand viewing is important to you, we recommend Hulu.
TV Everywhere App Authentication
TV Everywhere Apps are third-party apps offered by specific TV channels. They let you watch content from that particular channel on your mobile devices, while on-the-go. As an example, you can use the WatchESPN app to stream content from the ESPN family of networks.
Before you can actually use these apps, you must prove that you have paid access to the channel, either from a cable provider or a streaming service. You login with your details to “authenticate” the app.
Hulu with Live TV offers app authentication for many 3rd-party apps, including WatchESPN, CBS Sports, TNT, and many more.
Sling TV offers app authentication for some 3rd-party apps, including WatchESPN, NFL Mobile, and many more.
Bottom line: In terms of features, the Sling TV vs. Hulu Live TV comparison ends up pretty similar. It’s up to you to compare the different unique features and decide which offers a better value for your situation.
Both services have smooth desktop and mobile apps and work with most streaming devices. Hulu + Live TV is compatible with Amazon Fire Sticks, Android phones, tablets and TVs, Apple TVs, Chromecast products, LG TVs, iPhones and iPads, Roku devices, Samsung TVs, Vizio TVs and even some gaming consoles.
Sling TV is compatible with fewer gaming platforms, but works on all the major streaming devices and TVs mentioned above, with the exception of Vizio TVs.
Sling Orange only offers one simultaneous stream, whereas Hulu + Live TV provides two. Sling Blue gives you three, and if you opt for Sling Blue & Orange, you’ll get to watch on four screens at once.
Hulu + Live TV beats Sling TV when it comes to personalization, largely because it lets customers create up to six different user profiles. This means your friends or family can get personalized recommendations and record their own shows. Sling TV doesn’t support multiple user profiles, so there’s only one set of recommendations, recordings and favorites to utilize.
Both services offer cloud DVR storage for free, but Hulu + Live TV offers 50 hours versus Sling TV’s 10. You can upgrade Sling TV’s DVR to 50 hours for $5/mo. Hulu + Live TV offers 200 extra hours for $9.99/mo.
Sling TV offers several extras packages to customize your service, but what you get depends on your basic package. For example, with Sling Orange, the Sports Extra add-on gives you access to ESPNU, ESPNEWS, NBA TV, NHL Network and SEC network and costs $10/mo. For Sling Blue customers, the Sports Extra add-on provides Golf Channel, NFL Red Zone, NHL Network, extreme sports and international soccer.
Sling TV also gives you the opportunity to purchase premium channels such as Epix, Showtime and Starz at prices between $5/mo. to $15/mo. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer HBO. Since what programming you can add depends on your package, it’s helpful to do some research first.
Hulu + Live TV features a variety of options, including premium channels like HBO, as well as themed packages like the Español add-on, which includes Spanish language channels. This service also has an unlimited screens add-on for $9.99/mo. This feature, however, only works if you’re watching from home. Otherwise, it only gives you one additional simultaneous stream (for a total of three).
Hulu will also let you bundle that add-on with the extended DVR for $14.98/mo, and you can eliminate commercials entirely for $6/mo.
When it comes to originals, Sling TV doesn’t compete at all — it simply doesn’t have any. Although you will have access to some original content if you purchase a subscription to a premium channel such as HBO or Showtime. Hulu + Live TV has a full lineup of exclusive original shows, including titles such as Castle Rock, The Handmaid’s Tale, Harlots, Shrill and Veronica Mars.
Hulu + Live TV’s main disadvantage is cost. At $54.99/mo., it’s one of the most expensive live streaming services out there. Still, it has a ton to offer for the price. But, if you want a fully commercial-free experience, you’ll have to shell out another $6.00/mo.
The biggest drawback with Sling TV is the lack of local and broadcast stations. The only way to catch local news and programming with Sling TV is to use an antenna, so you can’t use the DVR to record local programming. If there’s a game on ABC you want to record, for example, you won’t be able to.
While Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV are in the same category, they’re different beasts. Hulu + Live TV is the better option for those who would like a complete entertainment experience. Even though it’s not the cheapest streaming service, it still costs less than cable TV and provides a ton of content. It’s also the best bet of the two if you’re a sports fan.
Sling TV is better for cost-conscious people — particularly if the channels you’re interested in watching are all housed in one plan, either Sling Orange or Sling Blue.