YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: A comparison guide – Entertainment Weekly News

As anyone with a TV, tablet, laptop, or cell phone knows, streaming services have gone through a major evolution within the last decade. One of the biggest changes: You no longer need a cable subscription to access live TV channels. If you're just joining the millions of people who have cut the cable cord, you may be wondering which streamer is the best replacement. For many TV watchers, the choice typically comes down to YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV.
The reason these two services often end up at the top of the list is that they both provide a wide variety of live and on-demand content, including sports, entertainment, news, and more. The fact that they offer similarly priced plans and channel lineups make it even more difficult to choose between them. To help you decide which live TV streaming service makes the most sense for your household, I tested both YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV to learn the ins and outs of each platform.
Base price
$64.99/month ($54.99/month for first 3 months)
$69.99/month
Free trial?
Yes
No (live TV is not included in Hulu’s standard free trial)
No. of channels
85+
75+
Sports coverage
ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, FS1 & 2, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel, and more
ESPN, CBS Sports, FS1 & 2, NFL Network, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel, and more
On-demand TV shows & movies?
Yes
Yes
No. of simultaneous streams
3 (unlimited screens is an add-on option)
2 (unlimited screens is an add-on option)
The base plan is $54.99 per month for the first three months
The base price for Hulu + Live TV is $69.99 per month ($75.99 for the ad-free version) while YouTube TV costs $64.99 per month, though new subscribers of the latter get a total of $30 off during their first three months, bringing the cost down to $54.99 per month. YouTube also has a Spanish-language plan for $34.99 per month.
While Hulu's live TV package is slightly more expensive, it includes access to Disney+ and ESPN+, meaning subscribers are essentially getting three streaming services and more than 75 channels for less than $70 a month, making it one of the best bundle deals in the industry. Hulu's add-on options also cost less than YouTube's — an average of $9 extra per month vs. $18 per month — but both platforms give you a little bit of everything in their basic plans so that the add-ons act as a bonus rather than a necessity for most users.
The best part is that neither service requires a long-term contract, allowing you to cancel your subscription at any time without penalty — a huge perk to choosing streaming over a cable provider.
For the full list of prices, skip down to TV bundles and add-ons.
Hulu offers a 30-day free trial for its standard and ad-free on-demand streaming plans, but that does not extend to its live TV services. In this category, YouTube TV has a leg up on Hulu because prospective subscribers like myself can test out YouTube's live TV channels for free over a period of five days (note: The time frame may differ during promotional periods). Though I do wish that the YouTube TV trial was longer, I appreciated that I didn't have to commit to a full month in order to see if the service was right for me.
Hulu's live TV package comes with more than 75 channels, though the exact number varies based on your zip code (see the full lineup for your area here). There's a little something for everyone: national and local news and sports, entertainment, lifestyle, family-friendly programming, and more. Subscribers also gain access to the hundreds of shows and movies in Hulu's streaming library, including original content like Only Murders in the Building and The Handmaid's Tale. Personally, I loved checking out Hulu's extensive slate of documentaries. 
The streamer's dashboard lets you easily toggle between different types of programming as well as your 'favorites' tab, where recorded content lives. Hulu's live TV interface reminds me of traditional cable 'guides,' with a scrolling layout that showcases what's on each network right now. 
YouTube TV offers slightly more channels in its base plan than Hulu — 85+ vs. 75+ — but the offerings fall into the same categories. Each network provides a mix of live and on-demand content, and during my free YouTube TV trial, the service promoted air times of movies it thought I would like based on my interests.
The navigation on YouTube TV is pretty straightforward, allowing users to search for specific titles and switch from the platform's home screen to live channels to their personal library.
I've discovered that what generally keeps people tied to their cable providers is local news and sports channels. No one wants to lose coverage of their favorite teams. Luckily, both Hulu and YouTube have plenty of options for sports fans.
With Hulu + Live TV, select NFL, NHL, and NCAA games are available through channels like CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC. Plus, I was able to create a custom dashboard in the app that tracks all of my top teams. The Live TV bundle also includes ESPN+, which streams soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, and college basketball events. If that's not enough content for you, the service offers a sports add-on for $9.99 per month with six more channels, including NFL RedZone and MavTV.
YouTube TV features most of the same coverage, and though ESPN+ is not an option here, subscribers have access to at least four of the network's channels. Like Hulu, YouTube has its own add-on called Sports Plus for $10.99 per month. But this package is bigger than its competitor's, boasting more than a dozen extra channels (NFL RedZone and beIN Sports included).
However, when it comes to local sports coverage, I don't recommend Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV since access to regional sports networks (RSNs) isn't guaranteed for every user. Instead, head over to DirecTV Stream, where three of the four plans include a greater amount of RSNs for no additional fee.
Both streamers offer various add-on packages that allow you to customize your viewing experience with content that interests you the most. Here's a quick breakdown of the different plan and bundle options for each service.
Sports
$10.99/month – 14 additional sports channels
$9.99/month – 6 additional sports channels
Entertainment
$29.99/month – HBO Max, Starz, and Showtime bundle
$7.99/month – 16 additional entertainment channels
Spanish
$14.99/month – 25+ additional Spanish channels
$4.99/month – 7 additional Spanish channels
Unlimited streams
$14.99/month – add-on includes 4K viewing on some, but not all, content
$9.99/month
Single channel
35 options at varying prices
– HBO Max ($14.99/month)
– Starz ($8.99/month)
– Showtime ($10.99/month)
– Cinemax ($9.99/month)
Overall, Hulu + Live TV's add-ons are cheaper, but that's because they come with less channels in each bundle. If you want access to HBO Max, Starz, and Showtime, it's less expensive to go with YouTube TV's Entertainment Plus add-on ($29.99 per month vs. $34.97 per month), but if you only need two out of the three, it might make more sense to bundle through Hulu.
Ultimately, you should pick the streamer that better caters to your unique viewing needs. Use the table above to figure out the cost per month based on the additional channels you plan to tack on to your bill.
Pros
* 85+ channels
* $30 off your first three months
* Free trial available
* Highly customizable with multiple plans and add-ons
* On-demand TV shows and movies
* Unlimited DVR storage
* 75+ channels
* Disney+ and ESPN+ included
* Ad-free package available
* Highly customizable with multiple plans and add-ons
* On-demand TV shows and movies
* Unlimited DVR storage
Cons
* No ad-free plan
* Only one English-language plan available
* No free trial for live TV
* Only allows for two simultaneous streams
FuboTV is another strong competitor in live TV streaming. For the same starting price as Hulu ($69.99 per month), it offers more live channels (130 to begin with) but less on-demand content. After testing the platforms, I feel that FuboTV is best for families because it allows unlimited simultaneous streams on up to 10 different devices at no extra cost. Plus, in addition to the popular kid-friendly channels you get in the base plan (Disney and Nickelodeon included), there's a Fubo Extra add-on for $7.99 per month that comes with even more family-focused programming.
In fact, FuboTV offers more add-on options than Hulu and YouTube combined, though Hulu has the edge in terms of bundling thanks to its partnerships with Disney+ and ESPN+. Also, Fubo doesn't have unlimited DVR storage like Hulu and YouTube, so that's something to keep in mind if you tend to record a lot of content. However, Fubo takes the crown for sports thanks to its comprehensive coverage. There are five add-ons dedicated to sports, allowing you to customize your viewing experience to include your favorites.
After testing both services, I found Hulu + Live TV to be the better streamer for me. A big selling point is the combined access to Disney+ and ESPN+ as well as to Hulu's original and on-demand content, which I like to binge-watch on a regular basis.
However, if you're looking for a cheaper alternative to cable, YouTube TV is a fantastic option for streaming live shows, sporting events, and more.
What's great about Hulu and YouTube is that they offer a lot of the same features and have user-friendly interfaces, which make them a joy to use. Deciding between the two will ultimately come down to which channels and on-demand programming you want most.
In order to provide comprehensive and unbiased reviews, our writers test each of the streaming services highlighted. When possible, we try out the platforms using a free trial, but will pay for a subscription if a trial period is not offered.
Comparing each service to its competitors is an important part of the research process so that we can help readers make the smartest buying decisions. Our research team collected data on more than 40 different streamers, allowing us to compare and contrast platform features, price, available channels, and more.
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