Consumers now have a wide range of choices if they want to get their cable TV through the Internet, ranging from the great (Playstation Vue) to the not-so-great (Sling TV) to the awful (DirectTV Now). We’ve been waiting eagerly for Hulu to throw its hat into the ring ever since they announced they were looking into it. After all, a company that is already devoted to streaming content couldn’t possibly mess up, unless they really try.
Today Hulu cut the ribbon and unveiled what they call “Hulu With Live TV” to the masses. While it’s one of the better cable streaming options out there, it could also use a bit of work.
Hulu’s Live TV gives you six individual accounts on one plan, each with its own cloud DVR that can hold up to 50 hours of recorded content without busting. You can stream it on two devices simultaneously. If that’s not enough for you, it’s expandable: an additional $14.99 (kinda steep, if you ask us) allows an unlimited number of screens, or expanded cloud storage. Both at once cost $20.
Where it really matters is in the number of channels. Hulu’s Live TV offers over 50, including CBS Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, TNT, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC, Bravo, E!, A&E, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Disney Channel, Freeform, FX, History, Lifetime, National Geographic, TBS, USA Network, and Viceland.
Don’t bother looking for AMC; it’s not there. In fact there are several gaping holes where essential channels should be, with only the promise that they may get added eventually. Hulu may have launched this service prematurely (and they seem to be aware of this; the service is currently designated as “Beta”).
As for local channels, the biggest problem streaming cable services have had….it’s no different here. Local stations will only be offered in markets that support it, and there are only a scant few of those. Since pulling this off requires negotiating with the affiliates themselves, and doing that in all 50 states would be costly, you have to live in a super-important city like LA or NY to watch local news on Hulu’s Live TV.
The service costs $39.99 a month, which puts it at the higher end of streaming cable prices, but this price also covers the $8 basic entrance fee to Hulu itself, so it’s really around $32 with a mandatory Hulu subscription included. You’ll have access to all of Hulu’s content, including that new one critics won’t shut up about where all the women are enslaved and miserable….if that’s your thing. Only problem is, it’s the basic plan, so ads will appear. You’ll have to cough up an extra $4 to make them go away.
Overall, looking at the current state of the market, Playstation Vue is still your best deal. Hulu puts forth a good effort, and they could become the best offering if they worked on Live TV a bit harder, but we can’t say it’s worth switching at this time.