What is Hulu? Pricing, plans, channels, and how to get it

The Disney Plus, Hulu and Max icons on Apple TV.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Hulu is a popular streaming service known for its extensive library of TV shows, movies, and original content. Navigating the service can be challenging for beginners, but if you have questions about pricing, subscriptions, or using the site and app, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything about Hulu and Hulu With Live TV: content, features, technical requirements, cost, and more. So, grab your Snuggie and popcorn, because once you subscribe, you won’t be able to resist a good binge-watching session.

What is Hulu?

Hulu homepage on a TV with Only Murders in the Building cast.

Hulu is an on-demand video service available in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Japan that allows users to stream popular TV shows. Early in 2021, the service expanded internationally through its parent company, The Walt Disney Company, which launched an offshoot service, Star, through its Disney+ platform to customers in Canada, Western Europe, Australia, the U.K., and parts of Asia-Pacific. Hulu focuses primarily on streaming newer TV shows from many popular network broadcasters, original content, blockbuster and independent films, and documentaries.

The platform differs from other well-known streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in that it gives people early access to popular series from multiple traditional networks. You typically only have to wait a week — and in some cases, just a day — to watch episodes of popular broadcast TV series after they’ve aired. Unlike cable, there are no hidden fees, equipment rentals, or installation appointments associated with a Hulu subscription. You can watch Hulu at home or on the go via many of your favorite streaming devices.

In 2019, Hulu added the ability to download and watch content offline, something that users of other streaming services have been able to do for years. Viewers can download up to 25 titles across five different devices and have up to 30 days to watch their downloaded content in their streaming library. Once a title is started, you have 48 hours to finish it or the download will expire and you’ll have to download it again. The feature is limited to Hulu’s ad-free plans (more on these plans below).

As mentioned, Hulu also has a growing lineup of exclusive original content such as the award-winning drama series The Handmaid’s Tale, hip-hop docuseries Wu-Tang: An American Saga, and more.

What is Hulu With Live TV?

The live guide on Hulu With Live TV.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Hulu + Live TV allows subscribers to watch live TV (with ads) and on-demand TV programming from more than 90 live TV channels, including local news and live sports, along with everything you’ll get from Hulu’s on-demand tier mentioned above.

Hulu With Live TV’s channel lineup includes popular entertainment channels like Bravo, MTV, TBS, TNT, and Comedy Central; educational channels like Discovery and History; sports channels like ESPN and FS1; news channels like CNN and Fox News; and family-friendly channels like Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon. Additionally, there’s the no-ad premium Hulu With Live TV, which is the same but with, you guessed it, no ads. You can also pay extra for premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz.

Hulu With Live TV is comparable to other services like Sling TV or YouTube TV that allow access to live programming without a cable or satellite subscription. Like those other services, Hulu With Live TV is not without its kinks. The streaming quality for live programs often is not as good as cable and may suffer from slower internet speeds or during high-traffic periods, though this can be true for almost any live TV streaming service.

Which devices can I use?

As listed on Hulu’s website, Hulu and Hulu With Live TV are available on a wide range of popular streaming devices, including both Android and iOS devices, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablets, Google’s Chromecast devices, Android TV, Google TV, Mac and PC browsers, select LG and Samsung smart TV platforms, gaming consoles, and more. For gamers, Hulu With Live TV is available on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

How much does Hulu cost?

The traditional Hulu streaming service provides the Basic subscriber ad-supported tier for $8 per month ($80 per year) and an ad-free Premium version for $18 per month (which we think is well worth the money). You can also add content from Disney+ and ESPN+ for additional fees.

Like other services, Hulu’s offers are always changing. The current options include:

  • Hulu: The traditional ad-supported Hulu plan is $8 per month or $80 per year. It gives you access to the service’s ad-supported streaming library.

  • Hulu (No Ads): For $18 per month, you can watch most shows and movies without any ad breaks. Hulu (No Ads) excludes a few shows that have ads before and after the video.

  • Students: If eligible, those in school can get Hulu (With Ads) for $2/month.

  • Hulu (With Ads) + Live TV, Disney+ (With Ads), and ESPN+ (With Ads): For $77/month, you get all of these services. You’ll have on-demand ad-supported content and live streams.

  • Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV, Disney+ (No Ads), and ESPN+ (With Ads): For $90/month, you can stream almost all videos from Hulu’s streaming library without ads. It also includes content from Disney+ (No Ads) and ESPN+ (With Ads).

  • Live TV Only: For $77/month, you get live content access only. It does not include the Hulu streaming library or access to Disney+ or ESPN+.


The HBO Max app on a TV screen while purple lights illuminate the wall behind.
Thibault Penin/Unsplash

There’s more than enough to get lost with on Hulu, but you can add even more through premium channels available as add-ons. If your motivation for cutting the cord rests in financials, be warned: Things can get pretty pricey going this route. Hulu subscribers have the option of adding monthly subscriptions like Max ($16), Cinemax ($10), Starz ($10), or Paramount+ with Showtime ($12) on top of their existing Hulu subscription.

As for Hulu With Live TV, the service has unlimited online cloud storage. A standard Hulu account has a limit of two screens to watch the service simultaneously, but this can be upgraded to unlimited screens at home or three on the go for another $10.

For those without cable, any of these subscriptions could be a worthwhile addition. They offer access to countless hours of content, including unique series found nowhere else. While subscriptions can be a bit pricey, putting up with ads and fewer available screens can make both services pretty affordable. But don’t forget to factor in the cost of your internet connection.

New to Disney+

Hulu on Disney Plus

With Disney owning Disney+ and Hulu, it makes sense that the Mouse House now enables access to Hulu content via the Disney+ app. However, it doesn’t currently host the entire Hulu library but rather a selection.

Disney Bundle subscribers and Disney+ subscribers with a linked standalone Hulu subscription can access some Hulu content directly on the Disney+ app.

For the whole Hulu experience, including the complete library, Live TV, and add-ons, you’ll still need the Hulu app.

The need for speed?

You can stream Hulu and Hulu With Live TV at a few different quality levels that adjust automatically according to the speed of your internet. Hulu advises that you have at least a download speed of 6Mbps for Hulu in HD and 8Mbps for Hulu With Live TV. You’ll need extra bandwidth if you want to stream to more than one device successfully or if you want to take advantage of Hulu’s limited 4K content.

Here are the internet connection speeds necessary for Hulu:

  • Standard definition: 1.5Mbps

  • 720p HD: 3Mbps

  • 1080p HD: 6Mbps

  • Hulu With Live TV: 8Mbps

  • Ultra HD 4K: 16Mbps

How do you get it?

You don’t need to sign any contracts or long-term commitments, such as you would with traditional TV, to use Hulu. You can even take advantage of Hulu’s seven-day free trial and then cancel the service without any payment at all — though you still need to enter your credit card information when you register. If you should ever need to cancel your subscription, it’s an easy process online or with customer service, and Hulu will save your account information if you ever decide to sign up again.