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Hulu is one of the streaming world's longest-tenured services. For years, Hulu carved out a niche for itself by offering the latest episodes of TV shows – even as the seasons were still airing on pay TV services. Hulu has also boosted its content selection with original series. And, in 2017, Hulu entered the next stage of its evolution by launching a live TV “skinny bundle” service called Hulu + Live TV. So what does all of this mean? What is Hulu, really?
Hulu is a subscription service, but it's up to you whether you want to subscribe to just on-demand content or live TV. If you opt for live TV, you'll get live access to familiar network channels without having to pay for cable. And no matter which service you choose, you'll get access to Hulu's impressive on-demand library. Let's get to know Hulu!
Hulu offers two different types of subscriptions. The first is a Netflix-like on-demand subscription, which allows you to watch anything in Hulu's large library whenever you'd like. Your options include tons of TV shows and movies. Among them are some of Hulu's popular original series.
Hulu's on-demand service has been with us for quite a while now, and it has long been popular with cord-cutters (including us — just check out our review of on-demand Hulu).
Then there is Hulu's other service: Hulu + Live TV. Hulu + Live TV is a skinny bundle service, which means it offers a streamlined bundle of live network television channels over the internet. Hulu + Live TV has an impressive channel selection. Hulu + Live TV also includes all of the on-demand content from regular old Hulu. Plus, you can add premium channels like HBO for a bit of extra cash.
Hulu + Live TV's channel list includes skinny bundle standards like AMC and ESPN. It also offers all four major networks, including live local streams of those channels in select markets. Here are some of the highlights:
Hulu's live TV lineup strikes a pretty good balance. While certain niche channels are missing — for instance, as of this writing, you can't watch RFD-TV without cable using Hulu + Live TV — the big, popular networks are all there. And while services like DIRECTV Stream may offer more channels with some plans, DIRECTV Stream's packages are priced accordingly (for more on this matchup, check out our piece comparing DIRECTV Stream and Hulu + Live TV). As we wrote in our Hulu + Live TV review, Hulu's simple one-plan setup works well because Hulu has done a good job of shaping its channel list, making it well-rounded without making it bloated. It's one of our favorite ways to watch TV without cable.
Hulu has been around for quite a while, and it has used its time on the market wisely. Hulu has built up an impressive selection of devices that you can use to watch its on-demand and live content.
Hulu offers a few different service options. As we discussed earlier, you can choose between Hulu's subscription video on demand (SVOD) service or Hulu's live TV service. The latter service, called Hulu + Live TV, includes the former.
Hulu also offers select add-on subscriptions. Here's the lowdown on how much Hulu costs.
A basic Hulu SVOD subscription costs $5.99 per month.
You can eliminate ads from your on-demand content for an additional $6 per month.
Hulu's skinny bundle service, Hulu + Live TV, costs $54.99 per month. Hulu's on-demand content is bundled into the live TV service, and you can add that no-commercials add-on to this plan, too (just keep in mind that you'll only be banishing commercials from the on-demand content, not the live TV).
You can unlock unlimited screens (simultaneous streams) or enhanced cloud DVR features for $9.99 per month each, or you can get both for $14.98.
You can also add premium networks to Hulu + Live TV. Adding HBO costs $14.99 per month. Adding Cinemax costs $9.99 per month. Showtime costs $10.99 per month. Starz is is $8.99 per month.
Hulu offers pretty low prices for its service, but you can pay even less by starting things off with a free trial offer. A week is a nice long time to check out Hulu's content without having to pay! More on that in just a moment.
But first, let's talk about sales and special offers. Discount offers for Hulu aren't common, but they do pop up once in a while. We'll keep an eye out for you here on CordCutting.com, so check out our home page or search for “Hulu” in our search bar to see if we're covering any deals right now.
One longstanding Hulu discount deal is the bundling discount: Get Disney's three streaming services (Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+) together, and you can save cash. The bundled price for all three is $12.99.
Want to try Hulu for free? Well, that's good, because we're going to talk about Hulu's free trial offer.
Hulu's free trial is available to new customers. You can sign up for it here. Just make a new account and sign up for Hulu or for Hulu + Live TV. Either way, you'll get a free week of content from your new streaming service. Cancel at any time during the free trial period to end your subscription without paying a dime.
If you're used to cable or satellite, you're going to be very impressed by just how chill Hulu is about contracts. Unlike the legacy pay TV companies (and like its streaming-company peers), Hulu doesn't believe in the whole “long-term contract” thing.
When you sign up for Hulu, your subscription will renew monthly. You can cancel whenever you want, and your subscription will end at the end of whatever month you paid for most recently. This is true whether you're subscribed to regular old Hulu or to the Hulu + Live TV skinny bundle service.
Canceling Hulu isn't tough. Just log into your account on your browser and hover your cursor over your account name in the top-right corner of the page. Click on “Account” on the drop-down menu that appears.
On your account page, you'll see what your next charge will be and when you last paid. In the bottom-right corner of this page, you'll see an option to “Cancel your subscription.” Just click the “CANCEL” button next to that to tell Hulu you want out. After begging you to stay a few times, Hulu will let you eliminate your subscription.
Keep in mind that your subscription will end at the end of your next billing period. You can see when that is by using the information about your last and next payments on your Account page. If you cancel right after you pay for the next month, for instance, you won't get your money back but your subscription will run through the end of that month.
Hulu is one of the best services in the streaming world right now, so it's no surprise that we've spilled plenty of digital ink discussion its merits and its various streaming strategies. From live TV to on-demand content, we cover it all here at Cordcutting.com. Check out our past Hulu coverage by clicking the links in this article or by simply typing “Hulu” into our search bar. And stay tuned to our home page for the latest tips, deals, and more.