Being one of the most popular streaming services on the market, Hulu has enriched its offering with a bunch of add-ons and plans. This gives you plenty of options to customize your Hulu package with premium channels and extra features so you can get exactly what you need. Though that’s all well and good, so much choice can get a little confusing for those new to the service.
While one of your friends might only be paying $5.99/mo. for the service, another might be stuck shelling out over $20/mo. And one friend might have access to HBO and Showtime, and another, Cinemax and STARZ. So you might have some questions about pricing, features, and channel offerings. This post will help you navigate Hulu’s extensive list of options so you can figure out what plan best suits your needs.
How does Hulu work?
Hulu is an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service that provides subscription-based video on demand. It allows you to stream popular shows from traditional networks like AMC, BBC America, FX, HGTV, and NBC, to name a few. Although it doesn’t air new episodes simultaneously with the network, it typically lets you watch shows a day later.
Aside from this, Hulu also has a robust selection of popular movies and classic sitcoms. And perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of the streaming service is its expanding lineup of original programming. Your subscription gives you access to an extensive collection of Hulu originals, including documentaries, movies, and TV series.
Besides on-demand content, Hulu also provides live programming from national and regional networks with its Hulu + Live TV package. This means you get to watch live TV without having a separate cable or satellite subscription. And you still get everything else from the on-demand service.
In addition to the basic networks and channels that you get by default with your subscription, Hulu also offers channels and networks that you can add to your plan for an extra fee. This allows you to build your very own Hulu package personalized to your needs.
How much does Hulu cost?
Hulu’s pricing may be the most confusing part for those new to the service since it offers several customization options. The amount you pay for Hulu depends on the service tier and add-ons you select.
Although the most basic Hulu membership will set you back just $5.99/mo., the actual cost varies significantly based on which add-ons you get and how many. For example, subscribing to Hulu without commercials will cost you $11.99/mo., but you might end up paying well over $30/mo. if you choose to add a couple of premium channels to your subscription.
The same goes for the Hulu + Live TV plan, which typically costs $54.99/mo. for basic access. Here too, the actual cost varies based on which additional features and networks you choose to purchase. You might end up paying well over $100/mo. for live TV if you opt for no ads and add a few premium channels and features to your plan.
How do the Hulu plans compare?
|Hulu Basic||Hulu (No Ads)||Hulu Basic|
+ Live TV
|Hulu (No Ads)|
+ Live TV
|Access to the entire Hulu streaming library||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Access to 65+ live TV channels||X||X||✔||✔|
|Number of simultaneous streams||2||2||2||2|
|Cloud DVR storage||X||X||✔||✔|
|Access to premium add-ons||✔||✔||✔||✔|
What plans and channels does Hulu include?
Hulu Basic + Live TV and Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV have similar programming lineups, offering access to 65+ live and on-demand channels. The only difference is that the basic plan comes with ads and doesn’t allow offline viewing. Meanwhile, the No Ads plan offers an ad-free experience and lets you download videos to watch offline.
With both live TV packages, you get leading channels like ABC, Animal Planet, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, CBSN, CNBC, CNN, Disney, ESPN, FOX, HGTV, MSNBC, NBCSN, National Geographic, TLC, and TNT to name a few. Besides these, you also get access to programming from regional sports networks and local channels, depending on where you live (more on this later).
Hulu’s on-demand packages — such as Hulu (ad-supported) and Hulu (No Ads) — don’t give you access to live programming. With that said, the default streaming library comes with a decent selection of popular movies and shows, as well as classics and originals.
Some of the most popular titles from the streaming library include American Dad, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Futurama, Looking for Alaska, One Tree Hill, Seinfeld, The Mindy Project, and Untouchable.
Hulu also offers a Latino plan, check out the full review of Hulu Latino here.
What add-ons for premium channels and extras does Hulu have?
Hulu comes with plenty of premium channel, feature, and network add-ons. But note that the extra cloud DVR storage add-on is available exclusively with the service’s live TV plans.
|Add-on||Price per month||Exclusive to|
Hulu + Live TV
|Enhanced cloud DVR||$9.99||✔|
|Unlimited screens +|
Enhanced cloud DVR bundle
Are there local networks on Hulu?
Hulu + Live TV provides impressive coverage of local programming — so you can watch regionally-relevant news and sports programming. Its local channel offering includes regional extensions of popular networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, and The CW. But note that network availability will vary based on where you live.
For example, if you live in Portland, you get access to local channels like KOIN 6 and NBC Sports Northwest. But if you’re located in Orlando, your live local channel lineup will include Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Sun, and News 6 instead.
Keep in mind that Hulu only offers live local channels in certain markets, mostly in major cities. If you don’t get live regional programming where you live, you can always find a workaround using an antenna. Make the most of devices like HDHomeRun or Tablo DVR to stream live local shows directly to your TV.
Are there commercials on Hulu or is it ad-free?
The most basic Hulu plan comes with ads, but you have the option to upgrade to an ad-free version. The Hulu without commercials plan, sometimes known as Hulu Premium, costs just $6/mo. more than the basic plan, so it’s a worthy investment if you don’t want ads to disrupt your streaming experience. You can also get Hulu basic plan with ESPN+ and Disney Plus in a bundle deal.
Even for those who get Hulu’s live TV plans, there are two options – Hulu + Live TV and Hulu (Ad Free) + Live TV. Like the basic plan, the first one comes with limited ads. And the second option lets you watch content from the Hulu streaming library without commercial interruptions.
Note that the ad-free experience doesn’t apply to some on-demand content, live TV programming, or DVR recordings. So, for instance, if you watch the Giants game live, you’ll still have to sit through commercial breaks. And if you record the live game, the commercial breaks will be recorded as well.
Similarly, let’s say you want to watch the latest episode of Atlanta after it airs on FX, you still get commercials just like everyone else who watched the show on cable. But if you want to binge on old episodes of Futurama, you can enjoy an ad-free experience since you’re watching something from the Hulu streaming library.
Keep in mind that even within the Hulu streaming library, the Hulu (No Ads) plan includes a few shows featuring commercials. This applies to content for which Hulu has a distribution agreement specifically requiring ads.
Can I DVR my shows or watch on-demand content on Hulu?
Hulu’s live TV plans both come with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, so you can freely record TV shows to watch later. That’s a lot more than the 10 hours of storage that competitors like Sling TV offer. If that’s still not enough, you can get the Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on for an additional $9.99/mo. and store up to 200 hours of recordings.
Note that your cloud DVR will record the commercials as well, but the Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on gives you the option to fast-forward through ads in your recordings.
With Hulu’s Cloud DVR, you can record:
- New episodes or reruns of your favorite shows
- Daily news broadcasts
- Broadcasts of special events
- Games for teams added to My Stuff
Besides live TV programming, Hulu’s live TV packages offer on-demand content from all the channels listed earlier. In the case of new episodes of TV shows, you get to watch them on Hulu a day after they air on the network. But you get to watch older episodes at your leisure and even record them for offline viewing if you have one of the ad-free plans.
Should you cut the cord for Hulu?
As you can see, the basic Hulu and Hulu (No Ads) plans aren’t complete cable substitutes as they only give you access to the streaming library. Either of these plans will work if you’re only looking for a way to stream on-demand movies and shows. Neither is a complete cable replacement option.
But with access to live TV programming like news and sports as well as on-demand content from major TV networks, the Hulu + Live TV plan can act as a cable alternative. With more than 65 live channels and tons of add-on channels and features, the service gives you plenty of ways to customize your viewing experience.