YouTube TV is the live TV streaming service that I recommend to about 50% to 75% of cord-cutters who still want access to the most popular cable and broadcast TV networks.
But for those who don’t want YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV is frequently my second recommendation.
I’ve been reviewing live TV streaming services since 2016. I’ve tested all of the major services and primarily use YouTube TV these days.
In this article, I’ll compare YouTube TV and Hulu Live to help you decide which one you should get. Let’s begin!
Table of Contents:
- Monthly Price
- Channel Lineup
- Original Content
- Cloud DVR
- Streaming Quality
- Supported Devices
- Multiple Streams
- User Experience
- Customer Service
Since YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV launched, the two services have flip-flopped on price multiple times.
Hulu Live increases to $76.99 a month in October 2023, while YouTube TV’s base plan is $72.99 a month after a March 2023 price increase.
Both services typically offer their best deals at the beginning of football season.
One thing that’s different: YouTube TV regularly offers a free trial, but Hulu Live does not. YouTube TV’s free trial varies in length, but it’s usually between one and three weeks.
Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV’s channel lineups have a lot in common. They both offer local broadcast TV channels, ESPN, TBS, TNT, HGTV and popular cable news networks.
There are some differences, which is why I recommend that you review the channel lineup before you sign up.
One common compliant from YouTube TV users is that it doesn’t carry A&E Networks, including A&E, History and Lifetime. If you want those networks, Hulu Live has them.
Meanwhile, YouTube TV has AMC Networks that Hulu Live excludes from its plan.
I have a full guide to help you compare the best live TV streaming options here.
YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV primarily distribute content from their channel partners that own popular broadcast and cable TV networks.
However, Hulu Live does include original content with the Disney Bundle.
Every Hulu + Live TV subscriber gets access to the Disney Bundle (Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+) at no additional charge. You can pay extra for ad-free versions of Hulu and Disney+.
YouTube TV doesn’t include extra original content with the base plan — not even YouTube Premium.
When you’re comparing the cloud DVRs for Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV, at first glance you may think they’re pretty much the same.
But coming from someone who has tested both services, there’s more that you need to know.
First of all, YouTube TV and Hulu Live both offer unlimited cloud DVR storage and recordings can be saved for up to nine months.
When you set a recording, you’ll be able to fast-forward through the commercial breaks.
The big difference is that YouTube TV records all episodes in a series — new and reruns. You don’t have the option to record or delete a single episode in a series.
For some users with lots of recordings, this makes managing YouTube TV’s DVR library a chore.
With Hulu Live, you have more flexibility and can choose to record a single episode, new episodes or all episodes — new and reruns.
We’ll see if YouTube TV listens to the feedback and makes any changes.
With a solid internet connection, I’ve been able to stream YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV without buffering. There have been playback errors occasionally, but not frequently.
What about streaming in 4K? That’s a question I get asked all the time.
The majority of content on broadcast and cable TV networks is available in HD (high-definition), not 4K. You can expect either 720p or 1080p.
YouTube TV offers a 4K Plus add-on that includes 4K content — mostly sporting events.
Although 4K content with YouTube TV is pretty limited, this is still a plus for the service. Hulu + Live TV doesn’t offer 4K in the base plan or with an add-on.
You can stream Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV on all of your devices: TV sets, phones and computers. But you do need a compatible device.
Both of these services support the most popular devices. I put together this partial list:
|YouTube TV||Hulu + Live TV|
|Streaming media players: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast||Streaming media players: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast|
|Smart TVs: Samsung, LG, Vizio, Sony, Sharp, Google TV, Android TV||Smart TVs: Samsung, LG, Vizio, Android TV,|
|Gaming consoles: Xbox, PlayStation||Gaming consoles: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation|
|Phones and tablets: Android and Apple (iOS)||Phones and tablets: Android and Apple (iOS)|
|Web browsers||Web browsers|
|See the full list||See the full list|
If you want to stream using your smart TV, most streaming services will only support the most recent model years. If yours is not supported, you can get a separate device such as a Roku.
I walk you through this process in my beginner’s guide to cutting the cord.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Hulu + Live TV is not compatible with 5G home internet services like T-Mobile Home Internet and Verizon Home Internet. Learn more here.
If multiple people in your household will want to use YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV at the same time, this is an important factor to consider.
YouTube TV allows for three simultaneous streams in the base plan, while Hulu Live only includes two.
Larger households may need more than two or three simultaneous streams. Both services have add-ons that allow for unlimited in-home streams and three streams on the go.
YouTube TV’s unlimited screens feature is part of the 4K Plus add-on that I mentioned earlier.
YouTube TV is constantly evolving its service, while Hulu + Live TV doesn’t appear to have invested in the user experience as much.
I prefer YouTube TV’s live guide over Hulu Live — specifically how YouTube TV lets you customize it.
Here’s an interesting fact: When Hulu + Live TV first launched, it didn’t even have a traditional live guide. The service added one after complaints from its users.
I also think YouTube TV is better for sports fans since it began offering multiview to watch four screens at once.
The biggest user experience complaint that I hear about YouTube TV is the inability to record or delete single episodes in a series. I mentioned this issue earlier in the article.
Many cable TV subscribers are used to calling up their provider when there’s a problem.
Live TV streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV offer customer service, but they typically try to assist you through help docs and live chat.
With Hulu Live, there is a phone number to call: 877-824-4858.
YouTube TV works differently. There isn’t a direct line for you to call, but you can request that someone from YouTube TV call you back.
However, you’ll need to go through the online prompts and describe your issue first.
Bottom line: If you want to talk to someone, you can do that with either Hulu Live or YouTube TV. The process of getting someone on the phone is just different.
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