Hulu offers something for everyone. It remains a great, cheap catch-up TV portal. With the Live TV offering it’s a legit way to replace your binding cable and satellite subscription altogether. The line-up of Hulu Originals is improving, and the bundles with Disney Plus are good value. However, the ad-supported content is so tedious. Be careful what you wish for Netflix users.
- Wide array of content and subscription options
- Disney Plus bundle is good value
- Ever-improving originals
- Live TV is a legit alternative to satellite and cable
- Offline downloads
- Not available outside USA
- ‘With Ads’ is just too many ads
- No Dolby Atmos and limited 4K HDR content
4K HDR4K HDR available on most Hulu Originals, with limited supported devices
Offline downloadsMobile apps provide good support for playback when not connected
Original contentGrowing array of originals include The Handmaid’s Tale, Pam & Tommy, Only Murders In The Building and The Dropout
Live TVHulu Live TV is a great way to ditch your legacy cable and satellite provider with no-commitment monthly plans.
The OG! Hulu broke the stranglehold of TV-by-appointment. DVR, downloads, and piracy helped, but Hulu sparked the revolution. Suddenly, you could legally watch the best of last night’s telly (and entire series) on your laptop.
It arrived launched in 2007 not to kill TV, but to save it. Streaming was in its infancy, Netflix had just started to offer it alongside discs, but this felt just as significant for viewers who loved what regular old TV was serving up. It was free too! Supported by ads, until subscriptions become mandatory from 2010.
An initial NBC and News Corp (Fox) joint venture, Disney joined in 2009 (ABC, ESPN, The Disney Channel). Flashforward to 2022 and it’s fully owned by Disney and has expanded significantly. Ad-supported and ad-free models are more robust and fleshed out. There’s acclaimed Hulu Originals like The Handmaid’s Tale and Only Murders In The Building, exclusive access to classic comedies, and a full Live TV service that rivals YouTube TV and Sling TV. You can even bundle it up with Disney Plus and ESPN+ and save a few dollars.
Many Hulu originals are available in 4K HDR, offline downloads are available on mobile apps for ad-free subscribers. The apps are available on most platforms and, for old times’ sake, on the web.
Can Hulu stand out in the era of Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, and the multitude of streaming services that have flourished in its wake? Let’s find out.
- USARRP: $6.99
Pricing and availability
Hulu is only available in the United States. Before we get into assessing its content offerings, Hulu has multiple offerings. Let’s look at what’s what.
Hulu (With Ads), Hulu (No Ads): The basic Hulu proposition remains on-demand TV from US networks, with Hulu Originals included. With Ads is $6.99. No Ads is $12.99.
The Disney Bundle: You can bundle Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus: these three services and save a few dollars in the process. Hulu With Ads/No Ads options are available at $13.99/$19.99. Hulu Originals included.
Hulu Live TV: A replacement for your current TV subscription with the major live channels. You also get Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus and Hulu Originals included. For a bundle with Hulu (With Ads) it’s $69.99 and Hulu (No Ads) is $75.99.
- Wide support on mobile, consoles and smart TV
- There’s a Switch app too!
Hulu is available in most of the major app stores but is still absent from some of the second tier smart TV platforms. However, if you have a set-top box or streaming stick from pretty much anyone else, you can access Hulu. There’s also AirPlay and Chromecast support within the mobile app to send content to supported television.
The official list of supported devices is as follows: iOS/iPadOS and Android phones and tablets, Android TV (select models), Apple TV (4th generation or later), Chromecast, Echo Show, Fire Tablets, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, iPhones and iPads, LG TV (select models), Nintendo Switch, Mac and PC browsers/apps, PlayStation 3/4/5, Roku (select models), Samsung TV (select models), VIZIO SmartCast TVs, Xbox 360/One/Series S/X, Xfinity Flex Streaming TV Box, Xfinity X1 TV Boxes, Contour 2 and Contour Stream Player.
- Dedicated row for live content
- Collated rows to suit your habits
- No dedicated 4K HDR content portal
There’s nothing too remarkable about the Hulu interface. Content is logically arranged in categories, with a menu at the top of the display. It separates TV, Movies, Sports, News, My Stuff and various Hubs from the content providers. The Home page itself is headlined by one rotating piece of content Hulu is promoting. Pretty standard stuff these days.
Below that is the ‘Live Now’ row with content identified by a green lightning bolt, which is mainly ESPN+ programming for subscribers. Having the ESPN+ content within the main Hulu app is a bonus that means you don’t have to switch apps. Hulu subscribers also get the ABC News channel live.
Collated rows include recommended TV and movies ‘For You’ and a row for ‘Keep Watching’. However, the latter should be at the top, enabling viewers to pick-up their shows easily. You’ll also see some ‘Because You Watched…’ recommendations and some Hulu picks.
Hulu also pulls out ‘Full Series’ of dramas and comedies if you want to blitz something from the start, while there’s also hubs like Hulu Originals, Reality TV (there’s seriously a lot of this on Hulu), True Crime, Teen Dramas, etc.
As with HBO Max, there’s not really an easy way to discover the 4K HDR content. Maybe because there isn’t that much of it? However, it would be nice to see Hulu showcase it in some way.
Like Netflix, Hulu users have the option to add a show to ‘My Stuff’, and like or dislike to inform recommendations. Hulu also offers a Watch Party feature within the show or movie’s title page, but we’ll get to that in the Features section.
Content pages also offer access to ‘You May Also Like’ recommendations, ‘Extras’ and ‘Details’. You’ll also see, where available, 4K, HDR, and Dolby 5.1 sound support referenced within title pages.
Hulu’s playback interface is largely consistent across mobile apps, the web and the TV apps with the ability to cycle back and forth ten seconds, start over, play next, play picture-in-picture, adjust audio and titles and scrub along the playback bar. There are various means of viewing the series details, episode description, add content to My Stuff, or share the episode (on mobile).
- 4K HDR for most original shows
- Awkward Watch Party feature
- Offline downloads available on mobile
As most broadcast and cable networks don’t shoot in 4K yet, 4K content is limited to the stuff Hulu makes. Pam & Tommy, The Dropout, The Handmaid’s Tale, Castle Rock, etc. You can get Hulu 4K on a limited number of devices, including:
- Apple TV (5th generation or later)
- Google Chromecast Ultra
- Fire TV, Fire Cube and Fire TV Stick (4K models)
- LG TVs (2017 UHD models or later)
- Vizio SmartCast TVs
- Xbox One S/X, Xbox Series X
Hulu added HDR support for some of its original 4K content in the summer of 2021. What support there is (HDR10, Go to Source