Ready to get rid of cable? Well, you might be considering the differences between YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV. After all, they’re both among the best cable TV alternatives. But which one is right for you?
Top options for those who cut the cord, YouTube TV and Hulu’s live TV offerings are well-regarded for offering all of the major broadcast networks (while competitor Sling TV is missing CBS and ABC). Although Hulu packs a strong value proposition with its bundled services, YouTube TV may entice with a higher channel count, lower price and other sports-first perks.
So, we decided to do what we do best: put these services in a head-to-head competition. And while yours truly is already familiar with both, I started testing both again to make sure this YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV comparison reflects the most-recent versions of both services (testing was done on both the Apple TV 4K (2022) and the Fire TV Stick 4K).
Without further ado, let’s break down all the fine print, the Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV channels, special features and more!
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Specs
|YouTube TV||Hulu with Live TV|
|Starting Price (per month)
|Channels (in entry-level package)||More than 100 plus YouTube Originals||More than 85, including Disney Plus with ads and ESPN Plus|
||Smart TVs (Android TV, Hisense, LG, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Vizio), Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast with Google TV, Apple TV, Xbox One and Series X|S, PS4 and PS5, Android, iPhones and iPads||Smart TVs (Android TV, LG, Samsung, Vizio), Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast with Google TV, Apple TV, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Android, iPhones and iPads|
||3 (Unlimited option available in $84.99 per month package)||2|
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Channels
For the most part, the YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV channel assortments are similar.
YouTube boasts more channels (claiming over 100), while Hulu declares it has more than 85 “top channels”. And while the two share a lot of networks in common, each is missing something.
For those popular networks, Hulu + Live TV beats YouTube by offering History and Lifetime, which YouTube TV doesn’t have. Both services are missing Ion (a family-friendly broadcast network), Me TV (a classic TV network) and INSP (a westerns network).
That said, other discrepancies are found when closely examining the lists. YouTube is also missing A&E and the ACC ESPN sports network (which Hulu has).
Meanwhile, Hulu’s most-glaring omission is the AMC network (aka no Better Call Saul or The Walking Dead), and it’s also missing BBC America, BBC World News and Sundance.
Here’s a breakdown of how many of the top 25 most popular TV networks (opens in new tab) are on YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV’s entry-level packages.
|Channel||YouTube TV||Hulu with Live TV|
|5. Fox News Channel||Yes||Yes|
|10. Hallmark Channel||Yes||Yes|
|17. Discovery Channel||Yes||Yes|
|18. Food Network||Yes||Yes|
|20. USA Network||Yes||Yes|
|22. Me TV||No||No|
|25. The CW||Yes||Yes|
One little feature I love about Hulu, though, is that it offers east and west coast feeds of certain channels, so folks out west can watch along with their friends out east. This is available for TBS, TNT, Animal Planet and Discovery.
Winner: Hulu + Live TV, but by a hair based on the top 25. Your mileage, of course, may vary
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Price
This one’s cut and dry. You can get into live TV for cheaper with YouTube TV, which starts at $64.99 per month. Hulu + Live TV starts at $69.99 per month, $5 more. Hulu will claim it’s got a better value proposition, though, which we’ll get to below.
Winner: YouTube TV, by $5
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Value
While the overall channel total and entry-level price lean toward YouTube TV, those who want more than just live TV (and love some of the best streaming services) get more with Hulu + Live TV.
Of course, that begins with the shows and movies on Hulu (starting at $7.99 per month on its own) with ad-supported content. Hulu + Live TV also includes Disney Plus (also $7.99 to start) and ESPN Plus ($9.99 per month). Those three add-ons, commonly referred to as The Disney Bundle are currently a $12.99 value. You may not want all of those services, but we bet at least one appeals to most.
That said, YouTube TV does give you one more simultaneous stream, with three streams at once, to Hulu + Live TV’s two.
Winner: Hulu + Live TV for the bundlers
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Picture quality
YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV stream live TV at varying rates, but mostly in the 720p to 1080p range, matching what most cable channels offer. YouTube TV makes it easy to see the picture quality rates available in an on-screen menu, Hulu does not offer such affordances.
More frustratingly, neither YouTube TV nor Hulu + Live TV include 4K live streams with their entry-level, $70 or less, plans. Yes, some of Hulu’s on-demand content is in 4K. Yes, YouTube TV offers some 4K feeds … for another $19.99 per month. Which has us cackling. Only FuboTV includes 4K streams by default.
Winner: Nobody. We all deserve better.
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Sports
Both YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV let you ‘follow’ your favorite teams and record all games available, but neither is strong about regional sports networks. Sadly, for channels such as YES, NESN and the Bally Sports channels, you’ll want a FuboTV or DirecTV Stream.
YouTube TV hits home runs with its sports options, though. Not only will it be the new home of NFL Sunday Ticket (which will also be sold ala carte), it also offers the NFL Network, MLB Network and NBA TV. Of those, Hulu only offers NFL Network.
YouTube TV is also better for sports fans who want more data-driven content, as you can check scores and stats in its menus. Hulu has nothing like that. And when it comes to catching up on all the big moments, YouTube TV’s Key Plays is a truly killer feature.
YouTube TV’s $10.99 Sports Plus add-on package includes 14 channels, including NFL RedZone, beIN Sports, Billiard TV, Fox Soccer Plus, Fight Network, FanDuel TV, and Stadium. Hulu’s $9.99 Sports Add-on is a buck cheaper, but only has 6 channels: NFL RedZone, MAVTV for motorsports, FanDuel TV, FanDuel Racing, Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel.
Winner: YouTube TV practically pitches a shut-out on this one.
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: DVR
We hate to hand out ties (we’re not Men’s Wearhouse), but YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV both have the same cloud-based DVR specs. Each gives you an unlimited amount of recordings which expire after nine months.
This is the best option you can get in live TV streaming services, which DirecTV Stream matches. Sling TV limits you to 50 hours by default, and FuboTV’s intro-level Pro package includes 1,000 hours of recordings.
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: User experience
All of the above, though, isn’t entirely important if you don’t actually like using the service. Both of these services are good, but while I loved using YouTube TV, I did not have that experience using Hulu + Live TV. Both apps, though, automatically load a channel, something I wish they would not (it’s often a show I’m not intending to watch), as Sling doesn’t do that (and I’m used to Sling).
YouTube TV’s a little better in this regard, because it begins with a home screen of recommendations, while Hulu’s Live tab makes you click the down button on your remote to open its TV guide. In practice, both are similarly stable, though I did see Hulu + Live TV buffer once (YouTube TV did not).
Also, Hulu + Live TV is buried inside the Hulu app, under the Live tab. You’ll get used to that, but it gets confusing at times. For example, when I scroll through the home screen trying to find a recently-watched episode of WWE Monday Night Raw that I haven’t finished, clicking on its tile in Continue Watching loaded Hulu’s ad-supported, on demand version, which is shorter than the full recording — and has commercials you cannot fast-forward through. I’ve never encountered such an issue on YouTube TV.
Also, fast-forwarding and rewinding is simply more seamless on YouTube TV.
Winner: YouTube TV, which had a head-start with the YouTube app perfecting the streaming experience
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Verdict
As you’ve seen throughout this YouTube TV vs Hulu + Live TV face-off, these are similar services. Your decision may be made by the channel selection alone. But, were all things equal — and if you don’t really care about Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus — YouTube TV edges out Hulu.
|Category||YouTube TV||Hulu + Live TV|
|Channels (25 points)||20||22|
|Price (25 points)||25||23|
|Value (15 points)||12||15|
|Sports (15 points)||13||8|
|User experience (10 points)||9||6|
|Picture Quality (5 points)||3||3|
|DVR (5 points)||5||5|
|Total (100 points)||87||82|
That five-point win is attributed to a better app, superior sports features and a lower introductory price. Some, we know, won’t care about sports, and we bet they will love Hulu + Live TV.
But for our money, we give the win to YouTube TV.