HOOOOOLOOOOOO…. what a weird name for a streaming service.
But I remember the Super Bowl ad featuring Alec Baldwin showing Hulu as this vast government conspiracy.
It was really hokey but I remembered it. I guess that's the point!
And for a while, I used to watch a lot of shows on Hulu. It was easy, I could keep my watchlists, and it was also free.
But then they took away the free and I'd largely forgotten about the service. Today, I'm a Netflix and Amazon Prime watcher until I saw an add for Castle Rock. Castle Rock is one of Hulu's Originals and is based on the characters from some of Stephen King's stories. It's a fascinating idea and a collaboration between King and J.J. Abrams, one of my favorite directors and producers, so I took another look at what Hulu was doing.
The story is a fascinating concept… but only available on Hulu.
And Hulu is a lot different now.
What is Hulu?
Launched in 2008, Hulu is a streaming video service that is a joint venture with Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast (by way of NBCUniversal), and AT&T (by way of WarnerMedia). AT&T owns 10% while each of the other partners owns 30% each.
It started as a free service but Hulu Plus was added in mid-2010 as a paid subscription. With Hulu Plus, you still had commercials and advertising but got access to more content, including access to the content from the current season of a show plus the show's entire library.
Much like Netflix and Amazon, Hulu has its own library of content that is available only on Hulu.
Hulu vs. Hulu Plus
When Hulu first launched, you could watch streaming shows for free. There are a few commercials but it was free so you expected there to be ads.
Eventually, they introduced Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus was free Hulu but you now had access to a much larger library and “limited” commercials.
Today, Hulu (free) as a standalone service plan no longer exists. You cannot watch anything for free on Hulu.
In fact, they no longer refer to Hulu and Hulu Plus – it's all Plus. For the sake of this article, we'll still refer to Hulu Plus as a name because that's what most people are familiar with. You can no longer watch anything on Hulu without getting a subscription.
How Much is Hulu?
Hulu Plus has two main plans and then “add-on” features for full customization.
The Base Plan is $5.99 a month, making it cheaper than Netflix ($12.99/mo for the Standard HD plan) and Amazon Prime ($119/year), and comes with a free trial. The $5.99 per month plan has limited commercials. Turning off Ads is an Add-on that makes it $11.99 a month.
They're a special bundle where you can get Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month. Ad-free version is $18.99 a month. No trial is available for this.
Then there's the Hulu + Live TV, which is $54.99 per month and there's a 7-day trial.
If you want to watch anything on Hulu, you'll have to buy the subscription.
They also offer add-on premium packages and you can add these to any plan:
- HBO: +$14.99
- Cinemax: +$9.99
- Showtime: +$10.99
- Starz: +$8.99
Here are technology features you can add onto your package:
- Enhanced Cloud DVR: +$9.99
- Unlimited screens: +$9.99
- Enhanced Cloud DVR & Unlimited Screens: +$14.98
- Español Add-On: +$4.99
- Entertainment Add-On: $+7.99
Hulu Disney Plus Bundle
The most interesting package was one that was added most recently because it includes Disney+. They've decided to package Disney+ and ESPN+ into Hulu and charge a flat $12.99 a month. If you're wondering why this package includes ESPN, it is a Disney owned network.
Disney+ on its own is only $6.99 a month (7-day trial), so this gives you Hulu and ESPN+ for just an additional $6 a month… which is the price of the Base Plan. This means you get ESPN+ for free.
You'll want to go into your Disney Plus account and click on your profile icon in the upper right. Then tap Account and look under the Subscription section. There, you will see the option to switch to the Disney bundle.
If you used a different email, you'll need to change your Disney Plus email. It's also under Account, go there and look for Change email.
Hulu has an extensive list of original programming, much like Netflix and Amazon, as well as continuations of shows that were otherwise canceled like The Mindy Project (the first three were on Fox and the last three were on Hulu).
The Handmaid's Tale is the most decorated of its original shows, having one a slew of awards including (as of 2019):
- 2018 Peabody Award
- 2018 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama
- 2017, 2018 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series to Elisabeth Moss
- 2017 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series to Ann Dowd
- 2017 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series
- and a whole lot more…
The awards are quite extensive for that show and they aren't the only ones.
Other programs include Casual, Difficult People, Future Man, Freakish, Harlots, Chance, East Los High, Runaways, and The Path – just to name a few.
Hulu more than holds its own in the original programming department!
Hulu with Live TV
There's also a (relatively) new service, called Hulu with Live TV, in beta. Hulu with Live TV is essentially live television plus the entire Hulu streaming library. The monthly cost of Hulu with Live TV is a whopping $39.99 per month for two screens and 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage.
It has 50+ channels – ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, A&E, BTN, Boomerang, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS Sports Network, cheddar, CNBC, CNN, the CW, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, E!, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line, Food Network, Fox Business, Fox News, FS1, FS2, Freeform, FX, FXM, fyi, Golf, HGTV, History Channel, HLN, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, MSNBC, National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, NBCSN, Olympic Channel (btw, ever wonder how much Olympic athletes make?), Oxygen, Pop, SEC Network, Smithsonian Channel, SyFy, TBS, TCM, Telemundo, TNT, Travel Channel, TruTV, Universal, USA, Viceland, and more.
You can also add on HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime for an additional fee:
- HBO is $14.99/mo
- Cinemax is $9.99/mo
- Showtime is $8.99/mo
The Live TV offering is very much similar to SlingTV and other competitors. The price point is about the same too, with SlingTV's Orange (lowest) package clocking in at $25/month, and SlingTV doesn't have a library of syndicated and original content.
Hulu with Live TV works on practically every device you can think of – your computer, Apple devices (iPhone, iPad), Android devices, Roku, FireTV devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, XBox, Samsung TVs, LG TVs, and even the Nintendo Switch.