Whether you're cutting the cable cord for the first time or you're an experienced streamer, comparing live TV streaming services can be complicated and confusing. YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV arguably are the top two cable-replacement streaming services, and both have pros and cons depending on your family's needs. We've broken down the differences between the two services so you can make a more informed decision and avoid wasting money.
Price: YouTube TV — $65 per month
For your monthly $65 fee, you get at least 85 channels of live broadcasting. Your account can have up to six profiles on it, so each member of your household — or anyone you want to share your login information with — can have their own preferences and history. You'll be able to have up to three simultaneous streams of your account going at the same time, whether it's on a TV or mobile device. You can try the service for free with a two-week trial.
Price: Hulu + Live TV — $70 per month
For $70 each month, you get at least 90 channels of live broadcasting. That includes Disney+ and ESPN+, which might tip the scales in favor of Hulu for parents and sports fanatics. Like YouTube TV, your account can have up to six profiles, but you'll only be able to have two simultaneous streams going at the same time. If you have a lot of teens that'll want to stream at the same time, it'll cost $10 more per month for unlimited simultaneous streams. There is no free trial available for Hulu + Live TV.
Channel Lineup: YouTube TV
YouTube TV has the most top 100 channels in its lineup — 78 — than any other live streaming TV service. That includes the four big networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) and local PBS stations. Some channels that YouTube TV has that Hulu + Live TV doesn't:
Notable omissions from the YouTube TV lineup include Vice, Lifetime, History, Cooking Channel, A&E, and Bloomberg TV. For an extra monthly fee, you can add on a sports package with NFL Red Zone, or premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and EPIX.
Channel Lineup: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV has fewer top 100 channels than YouTube TV, but it's still a robust lineup with 73 of them. It includes the four networks, but does not include local PBS stations (for that you'll have to use a good old antenna). Some channels that Hulu + Live TV has that YouTube TV doesn't:
Notable omissions from the Hulu + Live TV lineup include AMC, BBC America, IFC, MLB Network, NBA TV, and WE tv. For additional fees, you can add on channels like HBO Max, Showtime, Cinemax, and an entertainment package that includes 16 channels like the Cooking Channel, Science, and MTV2. And let's not forget that the subscription comes with Disney+ and ESPN+, big draws in their own right.
DVR: YouTube TV
Since these services stream live TV just like cable would, you need a DVR system to record things if you want to watch them later. YouTube TV's cloud DVR — that just means the videos are stored remotely and not on a physical drive in your house — is considered one of the best because it's got an unlimited amount of storage. This means you can record whatever you want without worrying about whether there will be enough space, though keep in mind that recordings are auto-erased after nine months. It also has almost all the capabilities of a hardwired DVR, so if you're used to recording shows from cable, this might be the best option for you.
DVR: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV's cloud DVR only lets you record up to 50 hours of programming. That may sound sufficient, but the real kicker is that it doesn't let you fast forward or rewind through commercials like you can with a cable DVR. In order to do that, you'll have to pay $10 per month for "enhanced" DVR capabilities. That upgrade will also get you at least 200 hours of recording space, but it's a deal breaker for a lot of people who record most of what they watch.
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Interface: YouTube TV
The interface on YouTube TV is pretty simple. It has three main tabs that divide content into live streaming channels; a "Library" section that includes your DVRed shows and any purchases; and a "Home" section. Live streaming channels appear in a grid that will be familiar to anyone who's used a cable channel guide before, but it can be slow to navigate. There's a search function on every page, so you can find content pretty quickly.
Interface: Hulu + Live TV
There are seven tabs on Hulu + Live TV's main interface, including "My Stuff" which includes DVRed content and favorites, and separate tabs for movies, news, and sports. It's a bit more detailed, and is great for integrating both Hulu's live TV and on-demand content. The program guide is the traditional grid pattern, and it shows content up to 14 days out.
Add-ons: YouTube TV
There are add-ons you can pay for to tailor your service, of course. For YouTube TV, that includes 4K Plus, which gives you 4K high-definition video for certain content for $20 per month. There isn't a whole lot of 4K content yet, so it's probably not worth the charge if you're not a sports fan. The upgrade does increase your number of simultaneous streams from three to unlimited, however.
Add-ons: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV has a fewoptional add-ons, but some that most people consider essential, driving up the cost. The first is upgrading the on-demand Hulu content to the no ads version, which brings the monthly total to $76 per month. There's also the previously mentioned enhanced cloud DVR add-on for $10 per month that allows you to fast forward through commercials and increases your storage to 200 hours of content. Finally, there is an unlimited screens add-on for $10 per month. If you bundle those last two together, it'll cost $15 per month.
On Demand Content: YouTube TV
The on-demand content on YouTube TV basically mimics that of a cable provider. It's not particularly fleshed out, and on demand versions of currently airing shows are usually delayed. YouTube TV does have some original content as well, but it's never reached the same level of popularity as Hulu's or that of other streaming services.
On Demand Content: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu started as an on-demand streaming service, so like Netflix, it has a robust amount of on-demand content that subscribers to Hulu + Live TV can watch. It also includes some top-tier, super popular shows, like "The Handmaid's Tale," that you can only watch on Hulu. There's a small catch, though: Unless you pay $6 more per month to upgrade, you'll have to watch ads in on-demand content.
In a Nutshell: YouTube TV
YouTube TV has the most robust channel lineup, including local PBS stations. If you tend to record and watch your shows with a DVR, then YouTube TV's cloud DVR with unlimited storage and a nine-month memory might tip the scales for you. It's also a good choice for larger families since it allows three simultaneous streams at a time without an upgrade.
Sign up for YouTube TV here.
In a Nutshell: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV includes two huge draws for some families: Disney+ and ESPN+. If you're already paying for either of those services, it might be worth it to cut the cable cord and switch to Hulu + Live TV. While the channel lineup is not as robust as YouTube TV, it does have a much larger library of on-demand and original content. Add-on fees to avoid ads can add up fast, but if you're a channel surfer who doesn't use the DVR much, this may be a good option.
Sign up for Hulu + Live TV here.