Hulu vs. Hulu Plus: Which is Best for You?

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Hulu is a worthy competitor to the two most popular streaming companies: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. But when choosing between Hulu vs. Hulu Plus, which do you choose?

What’s so great (and not so great) about Hulu, and how can you know whether Hulu or Hulu Plus is best for you?

I’ll share a bit about the pros and cons of both Hulu package offerings, and talk about some questions you can ask yourself to determine which one might be best for your TV viewing needs.

What is Hulu?

hulu home page

Among the many streaming options like Netflix, there exists the popular Hulu and Hulu Plus (also call Hulu + with Live TV).

Although the Hulu company was originally started in 2006, it wouldn’t be called “Hulu” until late 2007/early 2008, depending on your source.

Today, Hulu is fully owned by The Walt Disney Company. According to their website, Hulu grew to over 41 million subscribers in 2021 – an increase of over 28 million subscribers from the 2016 numbers.

People are definitely using Hulu as a source of streaming TV and movies, and using it in large numbers.

So, what makes Hulu so popular, and if you’re considering Hulu which program option is best for you?

Hulu’s popularity begins with basic Hulu, so we’ll start there.

Hulu Basic

The Basic Hulu is Hulu’s most popular plan to date. At just $6.99 a month (or $69.99 per year) you can stream Hulu TV shows and movies to a variety of devices.

Some of these compatible devices include your TV, your tablet, your PC, your smartphone and more.

You will have to view “limited” commercials with the Hulu basic package, although the site doesn’t specify what it means by “limited”.

You also have the option to choose Hulu Basic with No Commercials for $12.99 per month. However, “no commercials” doesn’t really mean “no commercials”.

According to the website, due to “streaming rights” there are a few shows that will have commercials before and after the episode airs, even with the “no commercials” option.

Shows that currently air commercials before and after even with the “no commercials” package only include Grey’s Anatomy, but that list can change at any time.

More details about that can be found on Hulu’s website.

The basic plan will give you unlimited access to Hulu’s streaming library, including exclusive series, Hulu originals, kids shows, hit movies and more.

A Wide Variety Of Shows And Movies

As I browsed the Hulu library I found a good number and variety of shows and movies that could encompass a wide range of tastes for many individuals and family members.

Some of the shows and movies include:

  • Hulu originals such as Summer of Soul, Changing the Game, and False Positive
  • Classic movies such as Iron Man, Dirty Dancing, and Shreks
  • Popular TV shows such as One Tree Hill, Hell’s Kitchen, and The Good Doctor

There were thousands of selections to choose from and that makes basic Hulu a good choice for many viewing households.

And the $6.99 per month price tag is affordable for most households as well.

You won’t find as big of a selection of movies and TV shows on Hulu as you will on Netflix, FYI.

But there is, in my opinion, a nice variety of shows and movies in every genre–even with Hulu’s Basic plan.

So, why would you want more? What would be the benefit of having Hulu Plus vs Hulu?

Well, that all depends on how set you are on seeing your favorite shows when you want to see them. Let’s talk a little bit more about Hulu’s premium package.

Hulu Plus (Hulu+ with Live TV)

If you’re interested in knowing the difference between Hulu vs Hulu Plus, you can find a serious reveal in its new name; Hulu Plus with Live TV.

With Hulu Plus with Live TV you’ll get the added streaming benefit of being able to view 50+ top cable and prime time channels live.

You can avoid having to wait until their shows’ episodes are available through traditional streaming, which can sometimes be several months.

Sports fans may especially find interest in Hulu with Live TV as it includes several different sports channels in its live stream package, including:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN News
  • The Olympic Channel

And more. Some of the other channels included with Hulu with Live TV? Check out the list below.

  • National Geographic
  • The Disney Channel
  • The History Channel
  • HGTV
  • The Travel Channel
  • Fox News
  • Fox Business
  • CBS
  • ABC
  • Fox
  • CNN
  • The Food Network

And others. There’s over 75 total channels available with Hulu with Live TV.

The great thing about being able to live stream on-demand with your favorite channels is that you won’t have to wait to see the big game or the big event happening on your favorite mainstream TV channel.

You’ll be able to stream in real time and catch events as they’re happening, and at only $64.99 a month.

Note that Hulu Plus With Live TV does include ads, however you can have Hulu (No Ads) Plus With Live TV for $70.99 per month.

As you can see, Hulu with Live TV is much more affordable than many cable packages, which are often running $100 or more per month these days.

Hulu With Live TV Compatible Devices

Hulu with Live TV is available on a number of different devices, including Roku, Fire TV Stick, Xbox One, Apple TV, Playstation 4, and other Apple devices such as iPods, iPads and iPhones.

And Hulu is also compatible with Android phones and tablets, Windows PCs, Windows phones, Kindle Fire and more.

Add-Ons

For those attached to their favorite premium movie channels such as HBO, Hulu with Live TV – although it doesn’t come with those channels – does allow you to purchase movie channels as add-ons every month.

For between $8.99 per month and $14.99 per month extra, you can also have access to HBO, Cinemax, Starz, and Showtime with your Hulu package.

There’s a lot to like about Hulu. So, with all of the different benefits of the two packages, how can you know which one is for you?

Let’s talk about some questions you can ask yourself as you decide.

What’s Best for Me: Hulu vs Hulu Plus?

The answer to that question depends on a number of different things. Let’s start with viewing habits.

What Are My Viewing Habits?

The first question you’ll want to ask yourself concerns your viewing habits. Are you a big TV watcher or not so much?

Do you have those prime time shows or sporting events you just have to see, or could you take them or leave them?

If you absolutely cannot miss the newest episodes of This is Us or American Idol, you may want to go with the Hulu with Live TV option.

Conversely, is TV is something you only watch when there’s nothing else to do and you don’t know the difference between The Goldbergs and The Bachelor?

If so, you’ll likely be fine with regular Hulu as an added option for TV viewing choices when there’s nothing else going on.

Your viewing habits are going to be a big determining factor in whether or not Hulu with Live TV over Hulu basic is a good use of your money.

If you love your TV shows – and love seeing new episodes when they air and not several days or weeks later, you’ll definitely want to choose Hulu with Live TV over regular Hulu.

What is My Budget?

The hulu plans comparison chart with plan and price information

Budget also makes a difference in whether or not you’ll want to choose Hulu or Hulu Plus.

While even the Live with TV package isn’t astronomically expensive at $64.99 per month plus taxes, the cost does add up over the course of a year or more.

With the regular Hulu plan you’ll be paying $6.99 plus taxes each month or $69.99 for the year (if you don’t choose the more expensive “no commercials” plan and pay annually).

However, with the Hulu with Live TV package you’ll pay nearly $800 plus taxes for the year.

Your Financial Goals Matter

If you have serious and important financial goals such as getting out of debt or catching up on retirement savings, $800 a year is not a small amount of cash.

This is especially true when you add it together with other smallish cost-cutting measures.

As you decide which Hulu package is for you, it might be a good idea to take your budget and financial goals into account.

Ask yourself which package brings more value to your life when you think of it in partnership with your financial goals as well.

If you’re sitting pretty financially and have little or no money goals or worries, $44.99 per month probably won’t break your bank account.

Also, if you do have targeted financial goals you’re working on but want to get the Hulu Plus package as a primary source of entertainment for the year, it may bring enough value to your family to warrant the cost.

After all, a year’s worth of Hulu Plus is definitely cheaper than a weekly trip to the movie theater.

As you determine your budget, it’s helpful to take all of these considerations into account when deciding on a Hulu package.

Am I Considering Hulu as a Replacement for Cable or Satellite?

Are you considering Hulu as a replacement for your current cable or satellite plan?

If so, the money savings could make your choice an easy one – even if you do choose the Hulu with Live TV package.

It’s not uncommon to pay $100 per month or more even for basic cable and satellite packages. In fact, I know many people who pay $200 a month or more for cable.

Hulu with Live TV is a lot cheaper than that, yet offers many of the same benefits. Though it only comes with a bit over 50 channels, it does carry a lot of the more popular cable channels as we discussed earlier.

And honestly, how many of the 150 channels that your cable package comes with do you really watch anyway, right?

Hulu with Live TV does offer a valid option for replacing your current cable or satellite package if it costs the same or less than you pay now.

And if it has many of the channels you currently watch on cable anyway.

Compare The Lineups

But you’ll have to check out the available lineups on both and compare to be sure you’re not losing any of the channels you absolutely love to watch on cable.

And you’ll want to be sure to do this before deciding whether or not to make the switch.

Conversely, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth living without any channels you’ll lose in order to save some cash.

The bottom line is that switching to Hulu or Hulu with Live TV is a viable option for those currently subscribed to a cable or satellite package.

It’s also a great option for those who are simply looking for more TV and movie viewing options at an affordable price.

Summary

Streaming packages may not be for everyone, but they could be a good choice for those looking for cost-effective options for more TV viewing choices.

Personally, my family and I have used streaming services for over ten years now.

When we moved from our home in suburbia to a hobby farm, we decided to ditch the cable package and try a streaming package.

And we couldn’t be happier. There are always plenty of TV show and movie options for our entire family.

In addition, streaming gives us a more expansive TV viewing selection on those days in the cold Midwest when hanging out outside isn’t an option.

The added bonus is that we’re savings hundreds of dollars per year over our old cable TV package, and using our money savings to create a better financial picture for ourselves.

If you’re looking at a Hulu package, whether or not you choose Hulu or Hulu with Live TV will vary based on your budget and your viewing preferences.

But with either plan, I think you’ll find Hulu a worthy alternative to cable and satellite TV packages. There’s plenty to offer, and often at a fraction of the price.

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