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There was a time when cable television was all the fad, with subscribers in the United States reaching more than 68 million at its peak in 2000. However, cable TV has slowly declined since then. In fact, many believe that it is already on its way out, thanks to live TV streaming and media services like Netflix.
Sling TV and Hulu are two of the other biggest names in live TV streaming services. And while they seem to be exactly alike in terms of their “over-the-top” nature, they are actually different. So, which of these two services is the better choice? Let’s check them out and compare.
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 Hulu
- 2 Plans
- 3 Features
- 4 Channels and Add-ons
- 5 Sling TV
- 6 Plans and Add-ons
- 7 Features
- 8 Hulu vs. Sling
- 9 Alternatives to Hulu and Sling
- 10 Hulu vs. Sling TV: Who Wins?
Hulu is an American company that offers subscribers premium streaming services. Its streaming library contains thousands of shows, movies, exclusive originals, and live content, including sports programs and news. You can subscribe to any of Hulu’s three subscription plans as long as you have a supported device to stream from and a solid internet connection.
There are several plans that you can sign up for.
You can sign up for a basic ad-supported Hulu plan, which gives you access to its streaming library of over 85,000 episodes of old and current shows, including The Golden Girls, Seinfeld, This Is Us, Rick and Morty, Castle Rock, The Good Doctor, and the Emmy(R) award-winning Hulu original, The Handmaid’s Tale. With this plan, you get to stream shows to only one screen at a time.
Subscription fee under this plan is $5.99 per month, with the initial first month free of charge.
Hulu (No Ads)
The Hulu (No Ads) plan allows you to binge-watch your way through all the shows that are available in the basic plan, but without ads interrupting the experience. You can stream shows to only one screen at once.
Under this plan, you get the first month for free and then pay 11.99 per month.
Hulu + LIVE TV
The Hulu + LIVE TV plan gives you unlimited access to the Hulu streaming library available in its ad-supported plan, plus live and on-demand TV from more than 60 top channels, including news, sports, primetime shows, and more. You will also get to watch on-demand content that is directly offered by Hulu’s network partners. You can check Hulu’s listings for the actual channel line-up available in your region.
What’s more, this plan can stream shows to two different screens at the same time, and for an additional $15, you can stream to as many screens on different devices as you want while you are at home and to three mobile devices when you are outside.
With this plan, you get the first week free, before having to pay $44.99 per month. The fee rises to $51 if you want to upgrade to ad-free viewing on Hulu’s on-demand platform.
What are the features you should know?
Hulu allows you to create individual profiles on any device that supports the latest version of the Hulu app. These profiles allow everyone in your home to have a personalized streaming experience, helping you keep track of your favorite shows and programs separately from the other users.
When you create a profile, you will have the option of setting it up as a kids profile, which restricts the use of the app to safe and children-friendly shows and content. You can create up to six profiles with your Hulu app.
After setting up your profile, you can start adding content to My Stuff. My Stuff allows you to keep track of your favorite shows, movies, and other content. Through My Stuff, Hulu will organize what you have already watched and remember what you still need to finish watching. Hulu will also alert you through badges when there are new episodes of the shows you are following.
My Stuff will save your favorites in their corresponding sections: TV Shows, Movies, Expiring, and Networks. And if you are subscribed to the Hulu + LIVE TV plan, you have additional sections: Sports, Teams, and Manage DVR.
Cloud DVR on Hulu
Hulu + LIVE TV plan subscribers will get to enjoy the Cloud DVR feature, which allows you to record up to 50 hours of content. You can record a newscast, a sports event, or a new episode that you don’t want to miss. The 50 hours available storage can be upgraded to Enhanced Cloud DVR, which will allow 200 total hours of stored videos.
Enabling Autoplay allows you to binge-watch episodes of your current favorite show without having to press any buttons.
Currently, the Guide is available only while you are browsing live TV on Hulu.com. It gives you a glimpse of what’s up next or what’s airing live.
Channels and Add-ons
Hulu + LIVE TV subscribers can expect to find more than 60 channels, including the four major networks — CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC — as well as several cable channels and sports and news networks like USA, CNN, TNT, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN, Animal Planet, National Geographic, Disney Channel, and History Channel, among many others.
Hulu also offers network and premium add-ons for an additional fee. Subscribers of any of the three plans can choose to have add-ons including Cinemax, HBO, and SHOWTIME, which allows you to stream award-winning TV shows, championship boxing, and exclusive movies. You can also choose to add STARZ to watch buzzworthy original series and hit theatrical movies. There are a few more add-ons, including Entertainment and Español, that are only exclusive to Hulu + LIVE TV subscribers.
The downside is that you won’t find many Viacom-owned channels like MTV and Comedy Central, or AMC Networks, on Hulu.
Dish Network’s Sling Television is an American over-the-top internet TV streaming service. It offers an à la carte model that allows you to pick the channels you want. This means that, for the most part, you will only have to pay for the programs that you actually watch. Sling specializes in live TV, showing programs as they are being broadcast. It does allow you to watch older shows on demand or rewind a show, but these capabilities are limited.
Plans and Add-ons
There are two Sling subscription plans to choose from: Orange and Blue. Both of these plans have the same monthly fee: $25. Orange offers 28 channels while Blue offers more than 40. Blue does not include all the channels under the Orange plan, although there are overlaps. For instance, both Orange and Blue packages come with CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, and TNT.
Orange also contains Disney-owned properties and is more sports-focused with three ESPN networks under its menu. Meanwhile, Blue gives you more entertainment offerings, including Comedy Central, AMC, FX. Blue also has NBC and Fox, provided that they are accessible in your area.
The good thing is that you can subscribe to both Orange and Blue at the same time for a discounted fee of $40 per month.
The rest of the channels are offered through add-on options and they tend to be bundled together according to themes like news, sports, comedy, lifestyle, and kids. Sling’s add-on packages range from $5 to $15 per month. Deciding on which add-on package to get can be tricky as it may depend on the base subscription plan you signed up for. The “Sports Extra” pack, for instance, offers a different set of sports channels for Sling Orange from the set of channels offered for Sling Blue.
You can also opt to add channels individually, like Cinemax, Stars, or Showtime, for a few dollars more. Sling TV, however, does not currently support HBO subscriptions as a result of a feud between Dish Network and AT&T. It also does not give you any way to watch CBS or ABC. Also not available are a handful of popular channels like Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, Discovery channels, and TLC.
What are the features that you can expect from this service?
You can get 50 hours’ worth of storage space for $5, allowing you to record certain shows. And if you are using a Roku device, you get 100 hours. Unlike traditional DVRs, Sling TV’s cloud DVR will not work on all channels. It does not allow every program to be recorded because there are some that don’t allow fast-forwarding.
Orange subscribers can stream to only one screen, while Blue subscribers can stream to three screens at once. A combined Sling Orange + Blue subscription allows four simultaneous streams, but only one screen at once for Orange-exclusive channels.
This Sling feature is handy for sports fans as it makes it easy for them to find upcoming matches and games.
Hulu vs. Sling
So how does Sling compare to Hulu?
Pricing and channel offerings
Both Sling TV and Hulu + LIVE TV will let you watch the news, sports, and other programs on its live television platform. However, at the basic level, Hulu + LIVE TV costs more at $45 per month, although it does offer more channels up front, not to mention access to a wide array of past and current TV series and movies, plus originals.
Meanwhile, Sling TV works great for those who are more budget-conscious, with its basic plans only costing $25 and its combined plan costing $40 – which is still less than Hulu’s live TV plan. You can just pick the plan that carries the channels and programs that you actually watch. But things can get a little complicated if you want many channels that are not included in any of the Sling TV plans. You could end up paying a lot of extra fees just to get all the channels that are otherwise readily available in Hulu + LIVE TV.
Those who are not into live television would also love Hulu’s cheap $6 base plan, which gives access to a wide array of exclusive series, past seasons, hit movies, kids programs, and Hulu originals, among many others.
In terms of device compatibility, Hulu + LIVE TV and Sling TV are both available on almost the same standard streaming devices, including Apple TV, Android devices, iOS devices, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TVs and Fire TV sticks, LG Smart TVs, Samsung TV, Macs, PCs, Xbox 360, Rokus, and Xbox One. Hulu, however, is also available on the portable Nintendo Switch console and on Echo Show. Meanwhile, Sling TV has Channel Master on its list.
With Hulu’s interface, you can search for shows, filter by genre, add your favorites to a list, and see your most recently watched channels. However, there is no real schedule grid. While you can see what is currently airing, you will have to look elsewhere if you are trying to figure out what is coming on next. Meanwhile, Sling TV’s interface does have a schedule. It is also more streamlined than what you will find on most cable boxes.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison between the Hulu plans and the Sling TV plans:
|Hulu||Hulu (No Ads)||Hulu + LIVE TV||Sling Orange||Sling Blue||Sling Orange/Blue|
|DVR||No||No||Yes||$5 extra||$5 extra||$5 extra|
Alternatives to Hulu and Sling
If you want to explore your options, whether it is looking for more channels, more features, more availability, there are alternatives to Hulu and Sling TV that are worth checking out.
This service collects a monthly subscription of $50 and offers more than 45 channels at entry level, including MLB network. You can upgrade your package to $60, and you get NBA TV and the NHL network. DirecTV is more expensive than Hulu + LIVE TV and offers less channels, too, not to mention that it has a shorter list of compatible streaming devices. Just like Hulu + LIVE TV, though, DirecTV allows up to two simultaneous streams. While DirecTV seems to have no edge over Hulu + LIVE, certain sports fans still prefer DirecTV Now over other streaming services.
YouTube has the priciest starting price so far at $50 per month, or $55 when paid via Apple. However, it offers the most number of channels, with more than 70 of them plus YouTube Red Originals. So if you calculate the pricing per channel, it is actually cheaper! Moreover, YouTube TV allows for three simultaneous streams and six login accounts, allowing you to share it with your family. Another plus point for this service is that it also offers Telemundo for its Spanish-speaking audience. And when it comes to sports, YouTube TV and Hulu + LIVE TV are the only services that offer CBS Sports.
Unfortunately, those who love TBS, Comedy Central, and Food Network won’t be able to watch it on YouTube TV.
This service has a starting monthly fee of $45, which comes with more than 45 entry-level channels. It offers DVR feature. And while it has a shorter list of supporting devices than the other services, it can stream on PS3 and PS4, which others can’t.
Additionally, PS Vue allows for five simultaneous streams, although it is limited according to the kind of device. Only one PS3 and one PS4 can stream simultaneously, with three additional devices, including Android, iOS, and web. PS Vue also lets you stream four live programs at the same time.
Where concurrent streaming is concerned, PS Vue leads the pack.
Hulu vs. Sling TV: Who Wins?
Hulu and Sling TV each have their own pros and cons. People find it quite tricky to compare them because their offerings are bundled up differently. However, if you just look at the pricing, Sling TV definitely wins because it has cheaper live TV plans. However, if you want to avail of add-ons on Sling, you will have to be strategic about adding channels and you also need to calculate the costs. Otherwise, you may end up paying more for all your Sling add-ons than if you just get Hulu + LIVE TV in the first place.
If you want to record a certain program, Hulu + LIVE TV has a Cloud DVR feature that allows you to record up to 50 hours of shows. Meanwhile, Sing TV’s Cloud DVR feature with 50 hours’ worth of recordings is only available if you pay $5. Availing of Sling’s DVR feature alone places HULU + LIVE TV and the combined Sling Orange/Blue at the same price point.
While both services work on all standard streaming devices, Sling has a slight edge if you prefer to stream on a smart TV. Hulu’s Live TV option is only available on certain Samsung TVs, whereas Sling supports both Samsung and LG. As for using gaming consoles, both services run on Xbox One. However, only Hulu works on the Nintendo Switch. Hulu’s basic non-Live plan will play on Sony devices, but both Hulu + LIVE TV and Sling TV won’t. Neither of them can stream on Blu-ray players and PlayStation consoles, too.
What’s your favorite service? Tell us about it in the comments!
Alvin has been reviewing different types of technology from QR codes to the latest smartphones and robot vacuums for over a decade. Outside of technology, he writes about a wide variety of topics, including buses, travel, bankruptcy, healthcare, and cannabis. He was once so addicted to online shopping that he was on a first-name basis with delivery guys and courier services — and he shares his passion with all of you!