THE BASICS: A standard Hulu subscription is $5.99 a month and gets you the full on-demand catalog.
NO COMMERCIALS: For $11.99 a month you'll get the on-demand catalog and almost zero adverts.
HULU WITH LIVE TV: For $54.99 a month you'll get more than five dozen channels, plus the on-demand catalog.
Get a free trial at Hulu.com.
When you think of Hulu, you think of a couple things. One is The Handmaid's Tale, of course. And another is all those random series — both old and new — that you want to watch without dealing with DVR. And that's fine. That's more than fine, actually, because there's a ton of great stuff to watch on Hulu, whether it's a current series, or something that's long since gone off the air.
And that's just the start of things, because Hulu also now has Live TV. The channels vary depending on where you live, of course, so you'll need to check with Hulu to see what's available where you are. And it also has the marketing might of Disney and Disney+ behind it, which means more people than ever are signing up for Hulu.
And then there's also the fact that Hulu is now controlled by Disney, and caught up in the whole Disney+ bundle thing , which is pretty sweet. And that deal has had a large hand in making Hulu With Live TV the largest live TV streaming service in the United States with more than 3 million paying subscribers to Hulu with Live TV.
We'll get an update on that number, most likely, when Hulu's parent company, Disney, gives its earnings report for the third quarter of 2020 on Aug. 4.
There's a lot going on with Hulu these days. Here's what you need to know.
How to sign up for Hulu and Hulu Live
If you're trying to decide between Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, there are few things you need to think about.
First, you need to decide which direction you're going. Do you only want Hulu and its back catalog of shows and movies? Or do you just want Hulu Live, with its dozens of live channels, just like you'd find on cable or satellite? Or do you want both? Because you very much can have both, if you'd like. You're worth it.
In any case, here's how to sign up for Hulu proper. There are a few steps here before you get to the Live stuff:
How to sign up for Hulu or Hulu with Live TV
- In your favorite web browser, visit Hulu.com/live-tv .
- Choose whether you want Hulu without ads, or Hulu with ads, or Hulu with Live TV.
- Enter email address, choose a strong password, and feed Hulu your name and birthdate and gender.
- Click Continue, then enter your payment information. You can use a credit or debit card, or choose "Express Options" for PayPal or AMEX Express Checkout.
- Now choose any premium add-ons like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax or STARZ. (If you've chosen Hulu with Live TV, you also can choose from the live add-on options.)
And that's that. You can now start watching anything and everything on Hulu.
Hulu plans and pricing
Here's the breakdown of the plans Hulu has available. All prices are monthly:
- Hulu with commercials ($5.99): This is the least expensive of all the Hulu plans. It's got access to the full Hulu library, with all the movies and series you've come to know and love. And it's got commercials throughout the shows.
- Hulu with no commercials ($11.99): For four extra dollars a month (that's an additional $48 a year) you get all those movies and shows and series — and without commercials.
- Hulu Live with commercials ($54.99): Now we're getting into the good stuff. This is the basic live TV service, and it's where cord-cutters are going to want to start.
- Hulu Live with no commercials ($60.99): The full smash will cost you more.
A few caveats here: First, a few shows will always show with commercials, no matter what. They are Grey's Anatomy , Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and How To Get Away With Murder.
Second is that these are base prices, and there are add-ons available.
The Hulu/ESPN+/Disney+ bundle
Hulu is one part of the trifecta that is Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+. You can get subscriptions to all three for just $12.99 a month. The easiest way to do that is to sign up anew for the bundle.
If you already have a Hulu or ESPN+ account, though, you can still take advantage of the bundle. Just use the same email address for each of the three accounts. You'll still pay the $12.99 a month for the Disney+ bundle, but receive credits on your ESPN+ and Hulu accounts each month.
On their own, those three services would cost you about $18 a month, so the savings here is obvious.
You're still able to apply additional add-ons to Hulu, so if you want an expanded DVR or no commercials, you can do that.
The best of three worlds
Disney+ is a massive behemoth. But it's also just one part of the Disney strategy. Team it up with Hulu and ESPN+ for less than the cost of all three separately and you've got a serious streaming experience.
The live channels you get with Hulu Live
These are the channels that are currently available on Hulu with Live TV. Note: Channels with an asterisk * are available on Hulu live as a premium add-on.
- ABC News Live
- ACC Network
- Animal Planet
- Big 10 Network
- Cartoon Network
- CBS Sports Network
- Cheddar Business
- CNBC World*
- CNN en Espanol*
- CNN International
- Cooking Channel*
- Destination America*
- Discovery en Espanol*
- Discovery Family*
- Discovery Life*
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- DIY Network*
- ESPN 2
- ESPN Bases Loaded
- ESPN College Extra
- ESPN Deportes*
- ESPN Goal Line
- Food Network
- Fox Business
- Fox News
- Golf Channel
- History en Espanol*
- Investigation Discovery
- Lifetime Movies*
- NASA TV
- Nat Geo
- Nat Geo Wild
- Olympic Channel
- Regional Sports
- SEC Network
- Smithsonian Channel
- Travel Channel
- Universal Kids
Premium add-ons for Hulu
Whether you're signing up for Hulu or Hulu with Live TV, you've got options — four, to be precise — from which you'll want to choose. (Or, ya know, just click "Skip" to be done with the whole thing.)
Those options for premium add-ons included:
- HBO for $14.99 a month
- Showtime for $10.99 a month
- Cinemax for $9.99 a month
- STARZ for $8.99 a month
That's the full smash for all of those premium networks. You'll be able to watch whatever's on "live" at that moment, as well as what they have available on demand.
Hulu with Live TV add-on options
In addition to those four premium networks above (that's HBO, Showtime, STARZ and Cinemax), Hulu with Live TV has a few other available options.
The add-on options for Hulu with Live TV are:
- Enhanced Cloud DVR for $4.99 a month
- Unlimited Screens for $4.99 a month
- Entertainment add-on for $7.99 a month
- Spanish-language add-on for $4.99 a month
First up is Enhanced Cloud DVR which gets you a total of 200 hours of cloud-based recordings. (That is, they're stored on Hulu's servers and not locally in your home.) There aren't any limits on simultaneous recordings, and you'll be able to stream your recordings on any of your supported devices.
The Unlimited Screens add on gives you the ability watch on as many devices as you want while you're on your home network. (Which, presumably, is actually in your home.) You'll be able to watch on as many as three devices when you're away from your home network.
The Entertainment add-on is an upsell that gives you 10 additional channels on top of what you already get with Hulu with Live TV. They are:
- CNBC World
- Cooking Channel
- Destination America
- Discovery Family
- Discovery Life
- Lifetime Movies
The Spanish-language add-on gives you six channels — you guessed it — in Spanish. They are:
- CNN en Espanol
- Discovery en Espanol
- Discovery Familia
- ESPN Deportes
- History en Espanol
Hulu and offline downloads
Hulu in October 2019 finally made offline downloads available — meaning you can watch movies or shows or entire seasons, without needing to constantly be connected to the internet. There are some caveats, though.
First is that it's initially only available on iOS devices. (Android is coming later, they say.) That means iPhones and iPads. Second is that you'll need the $11.99-a-month plan that gets rid of most advertising.
Once you download something to watch offline, you'll have 30 days to watch it before you have to "renew" it. And once you start watching something, you'll have 48 hours to finish it before you need to "renew" it. And you're limited to 25 downloads over up to five devices.
But other than that — go nuts.
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