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Hulu and cable both offer programming options but in significantly different ways. Hulu offers live stream television programming that can be viewed on many different devices from almost any location as long as there is an internet connection. Cable services also offer live programming over a cable connection but don't require an internet connection. Cable services require contracts or service agreements for two to three years, depending on which company you choose. In most cases, cable platforms also require the use of a modem or cable box.


Hulu and cable services offer live local, news, and sports channels as well as a wide variety of programs that are “on-demand”. Each service offers premium channel packages that can be added to their primary packages for an extra monthly charge. Hulu + Live TV is comparably priced to the most basic cable packages but the number of channels differs tremendously. Both Hulu + Live TV and cable services offer the same network news and sports channels as many cable services.


Hulu offers a basic package and a live streaming package plus on-demand channels. Hulu also offers exclusive programming options and original programming. There are no contracts, no cable boxes or equipment to lease, and no professional installation. You can start and stop your service as desired without having to pay a penalty. Hulu only requires an internet connection and can be watched on many types of devices. As long as you have a solid internet connection, you can watch Hulu's programming, both live and on-demand, from almost any location.

Cable services are often limited to specific geographic areas. For example, Xfinity is available in 39 states, while Mediacom's service is limited to 19. The majority of cable services require professional installation, a cable box that supports their software, and a contract that ranges in length from one to three years. Cable programming packages often start at the same price (or close to it) as Hulu + Live TV's advanced package. Cable services, in most cases, offer bundles that include options for phone and internet service as well as cable.

Monthly Costs & Contracts

Hulu's most basic offering costs $5.99 a month and only offers on-demand programming. If you want Hulu + Live TV, the cost increases to $44.99 a month. You can add premium sports and movie channels for an additional monthly fee for each package that is added. There are no contracts or service agreements of any kind.

Cable services range in price depending on the company chosen. Xfinity's monthly price ranges from $50 to $105 a month with 260+ available channels. With Cox, you get 140+ channels for $25 to $70 per month. Spectrum charges $45 to $105 per month for 200+ channels. Optimum offers 420+ channels for a cost that ranges from $65 to $105 per month. Most cable services charge an installation/activation fee that may be waived if you meet specific criteria. Most cable companies also require that you lease their equipment on a monthly basis as part of your contract.

Equipment Required

Hulu does not require any type of equipment and can be viewed on a wide variety of devices, ranging from cell phones to smart TVs.

Most cable services require a junction box that the signal must pass through in order for it to be viewed. They also provide a remote and modem if the internet is included in the package. Lease fees are included in the month to month costs of most cable services.

DVR & Storage

Both Hulu + TV and cable services offer DVR cloud storage. Hulu limits their storage capacity to 50 hours while cable services limit the number of hours according to which package is chosen.

Original Series

Hulu offers multiple series that are original to its service. These include the Handmaid's Tale, Looking for Alaska, and Veronica Mars are just a few of the original offerings Hulu has in its lineup.

Most cable services don't offer original programming due to the vast number of channels that have unique content.

Live TV

Both Hulu + Live TV and cable services offer the majority of programs that are most popular among television viewers. This includes traditional networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. They also offer popular sports, news, and premium movie channels as well as the local channels for the areas they serve.

Summary: Hulu vs Cable

Hulu is a great choice if you want the best options for programming without being locked into a contract. It's also the best choice if you want to be able to stop and start your service at your convenience.

Cable services are a good choice if you don't mind the long-term contract and higher prices. It's also a good choice if you want to bundle services like internet, phone, and cable.

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