YouTube TV vs. Hulu Plus Live TV: The Top Streaming Services Compared YouTube TV vs. Hulu Plus Live TV: The Top Streaming Services Compared
We’re all watching more TV, and now’s as good a time as any to consider a live TV streaming service. At CNET we’ve tested six... YouTube TV vs. Hulu Plus Live TV: The Top Streaming Services Compared

We’re all watching more TV, and now’s as good a time as any to consider a live TV streaming service. At CNET we’ve tested six of the major services, and our two favorites for premium cord-cutters — who don’t mind paying for the most channels and features — are YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV

These two cost more than streaming services like Netflix, but they’re still cheaper than cable. A premium subscription lets you cut the cable TV cord while keeping features like an advanced DVR with program guide and extensive on-demand content. Both of these live services offer a large selection of live channels, such as CNN, ESPN and TNT, as well as local stations ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and more. You can access them via media streamers such as RokuAmazon Fire TV or Apple TV, your game console or your smart TV itself.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Both services have their pluses and minuses but ultimately each offers a great live TV streaming experience. In general, it’s a choice between having the biggest streaming bundle for the least amount of money, or being able to watch the greatest number of top channels. Hulu has an excellent selection of channels and not only adds a gigantic catalog of on-demand shows and movies but also includes the Disney Bundle — Disney Plus and ESPN Plus — for the $70 price, and as a result is our current Editors’ Choice. Meanwhile, after an $8 price hike, YouTube TV still offers the most of the top 100 of any service, though it’s now close after Hulu added both PBS and Magnolia.

Want a little bit more information? Here’s how they stack up.


Hulu; screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Hulu’s greatest assets are the integration of a full complement of live TV channels with a massive catalog of on-demand content, and all for the one price. Hulu’s channel count is solid, including some must-have programming. Its $70 price includes the ad-supported versions of Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, and there are even higher-priced choices for people who don’t want to watch ads. If you want the most bang for buck, Hulu Plus Live Tv is where the smart money is.

YouTube TV logo on a phone

Sarah Tew/CNET

With an excellent channel selection, easy-to-use interface and excellent cloud DVR, YouTube TV is an excellent cable TV replacement. It offers a $20 4K upgrade, but the downside is there isn’t much to watch at present. If you don’t mind paying a bit more than the Sling TVs of the world, YouTube TV offers a great live TV streaming experience.

YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV compared

YouTube TV Hulu Plus Live TV
Base price $73 per month $70 per month
Free trial Yes No
Number of popular channels (out of 100) 77 73
Local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels Yes Yes
Local PBS channels Yes Yes
Simultaneous streams per account 3 ($20 for unlimited and 4K) 2 ($10 option for unlimited)
Family member/user profiles Yes Yes
Cloud DVR storage  Unlimited Unlimited
Fast-forward through or skip commercials with cloud DVR Yes Yes

Read more: Best Free TV Streaming Services: Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Sling TV and More


Watch this: Live TV streaming services for cord cutters: How to choose the best one for you

Channels: YouTube wins but Hulu is catching up

The biggest difference comes down to channels. Comparing the total channel counts from our big list of the top 100 channels on every service, YouTube TV comes out on top with 77 from that list, closely followed by Hulu with 75. That total doesn’t include every channel the services carry, just the ones in the top 100 as determined by the editors at CNET, but it still provides a good indication.

The two share most major national channels including Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox News, NFL, TBS, USA Network and more, but there are a few differences. 

Here’s a condensed version of that list showing the 14 of those 100 channels carried by one and not the other.

Major channel differences

Channel YouTube TV Hulu Plus Live TV
A&E No Yes
AMC Yes No
BBC America Yes No
BBC World News Yes No
Boomerang No Yes
History No Yes
IFC Yes No
Lifetime No Yes
Magnolia No Yes
Sundance TV Yes No
Tastemade Yes No
Vice No Yes
WE tv Yes No

Both services offer all four of the major local channels — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — in most areas of the country, and both also carry local affiliates from The CW and MyTV. Both Hulu Plus Live TV and YouTube TV now carry PBS local stations.

Neither service offers many regional sports networks after both YouTube TV and Hulu dropped them in 2020. Beyond RSNs, however, YouTube TV has an advantage in national sports networks, with NBA TV available as part of its base package. Though YouTube TV used to have MLB Network as well, it dropped the channel earlier this year. YouTube users can pay another $11 to get the “Sports Plus” add-on that also includes Fox College Sports, GolTV, NFL RedZone and Fox Soccer Plus. In addition, users also have exclusive access to the NFL Sunday Ticket for an added $349. Meanwhile, Hulu users can sign up for a $10 package which includes NFL RedZone, Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, MAVTV Motorsports Network, TVG and TVG2.

Premium channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime are also available for extra fees, and Hulu has two optional channel packages. One is an add-on for $8 per month with 17 channels including MTV Classic, CNBC World, the Cooking Channel and Science, and the other is a Spanish-language package with seven channels for $5. YouTube TV doesn’t have any other additional channel packages, although you can add individual channels like Shudder and CuriosityStream for additional fees.

Read more: Best OTA DVR for Cord-Cutters: Amazon Fire TV Recast, TiVo, AirTV and Tablo

Usability: YouTube TV has simpler menus


The YouTube TV interface on Roku.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The menus and interfaces on both are quite different from one another and from regular cable, and we like YouTube TV’s menus better overall. 

YouTube TV: In general the YouTube TV interface is easier to use, and not just to people used to using regular
. If you’re using the desktop or app versions, Google’s streamer offers a streamlined structure — even if it’s not as pretty as Hulu. 

Hulu Plus Live TV: If it was all a matter of which interface is more fun, then Hulu would take it. Hulu’s look is brighter, and though it lacks YouTube’s comprehensive search, it’s still relatively easy to drill down into the kind of content you want to watch. 

The difference in the number of simultaneous streams is worth noting, especially for families and other households who watch a lot of TV. YouTube TV lets you stream to three different devices — say, the living room TV, a bedroom TV and a tablet — at the same time, while Hulu lets you stream to two. Pay Hulu a hefty $10 extra per month and it will upgrade your number of streams to unlimited. On the other hand, the only real reason to pay for the $20 4K upgrade on YouTube is to also get unlimited streams.

YouTube TV has rightly earned accolades for its excellent cloud DVR but Hulu closed the gap with an upgrade in 2022. Both now have unlimited storage and let you fast-forward through commercials in recorded content, so while we still consider YouTube TV’s DVR the gold standard, Hulu’s is very good too.

Read more: Best TV Antenna for 2023

On-demand and originals: Hulu with the runaway win


Only Murders in the Building is an Hulu exclusive


YouTube TV includes on-demand TV shows and movies from participating networks and shows, much like your cable service, and also offers YouTube Originals commercial-free. But it pales in comparison to Hulu. 

As we mentioned above, a Hulu Plus Live TV subscription unlocks all of the on-demand TV shows and movies available on the standard Hulu service, including thousands of episodes of network TV shows, as well as originals like The Bear, The Handmaid’s Tale, Only Murders in the Building, Pam & Tommy and the movie Palm Springs. It also includes an ad-supported Disney Plus and ESPN Plus subscription, with their massive on-demand libraries.

Read more: Hulu: The 42 Best TV Shows to Watch Now

Which service is best for you?

Both services represent the peak of what live TV streaming has to offer, and both are better overall than the other two major premium options, FuboTV and DirecTV Stream. Your choice between the two comes down to cost, channel selection, usability and content, and it’s pretty close between the two Hulu enables you to integrate a wide channel selection with its exemplary on-demand library which may be worth it for some. In the end though it’s all about having access to your favorite channels, so choose the service which gives you the channels you want.

Channel comparison

Below you’ll find a chart that’s a smaller version of this massive channel comparison. It contains the top 100 channels from each service. Some notes:

  • Yes = The channel is available on the cheapest pricing tier. That price is listed next to the service’s name.
  • No = The channel isn’t available at all on that service. 
  • $ = The channel is available for an extra fee.
  • Not every channel a service carries is listed, just the “top 100” as determined by CNET’s editors. Minor channels like AXS TV, CNBC World, Discovery Life, GSN, POP and Universal Kids didn’t make the cut.
  • Regional sports networks — channels devoted to showing regular-season games of particular pro baseball, basketball and hockey teams — are not listed. To find out if your local RSN is available you can search YouTube TV by ZIP code here and search Hulu Plus Live TV by ZIP code here.

Read more: Best live TV streaming service for cord-cutters: YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu and more compared

Top 100 Channels

Channel Hulu with Live TV ($70) YouTube TV ($73)
Total channels: 75 77
ABC Yes Yes
CBS Yes Yes
Fox Yes Yes
NBC Yes Yes
PBS Yes Yes
CW Yes Yes
MyNetworkTV Yes Yes
A&E Yes No
ACC Network Yes Yes
Accuweather No No
AMC No Yes
Animal Planet Yes Yes
BBC America No Yes
BBC World News No Yes
BET Yes Yes
Big Ten Network Yes Yes
Bloomberg TV Yes No
Boomerang Yes No
Bravo Yes Yes
Cartoon Network Yes Yes
CBS Sports Network Yes Yes
Cheddar Yes Yes
Cinemax $ $
CMT Yes Yes
CNBC Yes Yes
CNN Yes Yes
Comedy Central Yes Yes
Cooking Channel $ No
Destination America $ No
Discovery Channel Yes Yes
Disney Channel Yes Yes
Disney Junior Yes Yes
Disney XD Yes Yes
E! Yes Yes
ESPN Yes Yes
ESPN 2 Yes Yes
Food Network Yes Yes
Fox Business Yes Yes
Fox News Yes Yes
FS1 Yes Yes
FS2 Yes Yes
Freeform Yes Yes
FX Yes Yes
FX Movies Yes Yes
FXX Yes Yes
FYI Yes No
Golf Channel Yes Yes
Hallmark Yes Yes
HBO/HBO Max $ $
HGTV Yes Yes
History Yes No
HLN Yes Yes
IFC No Yes
Investigation Discovery Yes Yes
Lifetime Yes No
Lifetime Movie Network Yes No
Magnolia Network Yes No
MGM+ (formerly EPIX) No $
MLB Network No No
Motor Trend Yes Yes
MTV Yes Yes
MTV2 $ Yes
National Geographic Yes Yes
Nat Geo Wild Yes Yes
NFL Network Yes Yes
NFL Red Zone $ $
NHL Network No No
Nickelodeon Yes Yes
Nick Jr. Yes Yes
Nicktoons $ Yes
OWN Yes Yes
Oxygen Yes Yes
Paramount Network Yes Yes
Science $ No
SEC Network Yes Yes
Showtime $ $
Smithsonian Yes Yes
Starz $ $
Sundance TV No Yes
Syfy Yes Yes
Tastemade No Yes
TBS Yes Yes
TCM Yes Yes
TeenNick $ Yes
Telemundo Yes Yes
Tennis Channel No No
TLC Yes Yes
TNT Yes Yes
Travel Channel Yes Yes
TruTV Yes Yes
TV Land Yes Yes
USA Network Yes Yes
VH1 Yes Yes
Vice Yes No
WE tv No Yes

Source link