Hulu Plus – Is It Worth the Extra Cost?

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.

Table of Contents
  1. What is Hulu?
  2. Hulu vs. Hulu Plus
  3. How Much is Hulu?
  4. Hulu Disney Plus Bundle
  5. Hulu Originals
  6. Hulu with Live TV

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 two (No Ads) versions of those plans:

  • Hulu – $5.99 per month (or $59.99 per year)
  • Hulu (No Ads) – $11.99 per month
  • Hulu + Live TV – $64.99 per month
  • Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV- $70.99 per month

The Base Plan is $5.99 a month, making it cheaper than Netflix ($13.99/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 is also a special bundle where you can get Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month (going to $13.99/month after 3/26/21). 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 ($13.99/month after 3/26/21). 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. Effectively, you get ESPN+ for free.

Are you trying to add Disney Plus to your existing Hulu account?

 

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 Originals

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.

Check local channel availability as it may not match the national lineup

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.

Get a free month of Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus

$7.99 / month
9

Overall

9.0/10

Strengths

  • Vast library of Hulu Originals, other programming
  • Cheaper than Netflix & Amazon Prime
  • Live TV Option is comparably priced
  • One month free trial

Weaknesses

  • No free option available

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Deb Smyth says

    Hi Jim,

    If I understand correctly, live programming contains ads that can not be avoided by using Cloud DVR storage and fast forwarding through them with Hulu’s basic ad-free service + live TV. Yet there is an upgrade they call Enhanced Cloud storage that implies (not clear) the ads on those recorded live shows can be fast forwarded. I’ve been unable to get clarification on that from the many sites visited today. If you can answer that question I’d be most grateful.

    • Joe Cabrera says

      What happened to my AMC? Changed my roku to a firestick and the AMC now says you need a subscription. I believed AMC was included in the hulu plus programming.

      • Jim Wang says

        Are you trying to watch it Live? I think it’s not available live but you can get it after the fact.

  2. Maureen says

    I’m a Yankee fan, Hulu is great an I get Yes service for Yankee games. But when
    Local channel like WPIX shows Yankees I’m not getting it. Because it’s one channel Hulu doesn’t carry. What can I do?

        • Jim Wang says

          For $5.99, you can stream it on one device at a time but you don’t need a separate Hulu account for each TV.

          • Glenn says

            Jim,
            Thanks for your article. One question on the “unlimited screens for $9.99”. Does this mean all of our phones, TVs, computers in one household account for this price.

            Best regards,
            Glenn

  3. Gail Martin says

    Good Evening!
    I am thinking about signing up for live tv Hulu. We have 4 TVs. How does that work?

    Thanks so much

    • Jim Wang says

      It depends on where you are, you have to check the lineup for your zip code but in the Washington D.C. area we do not get the tennis channel.

    • Dot says

      We had Hulu for 30 days and they tell us we can’t have the live TV option now because out internet comes from a wireless network and is considered a hotspot. It works fine and we really like the service. What a bummer. Not sure what we will be left with.

  4. Patricia Shaffer says

    I can have several screens on my service I have now ….. but my son who doesn‘t reside with me is using one of my screens 。…….. I was told that with Hulu + Live unlimited screens …… they can‘t use the Live feature on any screen used outside the house…… but that would make my laptop not work, my phone, or my tablet if that is true …… Is this true ?

    • Frank says

      You can only watch Hulu Live on a TV in your house. Your tablet, phone, etc. will work anywhere. Just got off the phone with Hulu and they explained that to me.

  5. Tammy says

    So if I use this in my home and where I babysit I couldn’t log in and watch tv there if my husband was watching it at home?

  6. Anne Shelton says

    I am thinking of going to Hulu, but I have a few questions on how it all works. I have 4 TV’s – 2 smart TV’s, 1 with Roku and 1 Fire Stick. If I sign up for Hulu will I be able to get it on all the TV’s and how does that work.
    Thanks
    Anne

    • Dayna says

      You download the Hulu app off of your Fire tv app. We also downloaded Netflix the same way. You can even use Alexia to find a show and it will look in all places (Prime, Netflix and Hulu)

  7. Carrie says

    Just a comment: I have hulu premium with no upgrades and find it to be quite “glitchy”. For one thing, after a commercial, the action in the shows does not match the sound… sound gets out of sync. So I have to rewind to a point right before the commercial started. I contacted tech support but the only solution was to unplug the tv for several seconds. Um- I did that and I guess I’m supposed to do it every time? Also, a few times, the sound is muted after a commercial? Very strange and takes some trouble shooting. There are also other tiny annoying glitches. So why would I want to upgrade? Not even sure I want to keep the service after trying for a few months…

      • Kevin says

        Since audio and video are out of synch and received from the same (single) internet connection, the “check your internet” question makes little sense.

        Check what exactly? Might as well ask if they have an oscilloscope sitting around to check for frequency drift too.

        I was going to add Hulu until I read this… while the problem may be an ISP issue, that just means that no streaming service is going to be reliable on that ISP (example: SuddenLink). Bad customer service script = fail

  8. Alan says

    So how do I change my $5.99 account to add Disney to it? Do I get any “Freebies” with the addition? Or should I just cancel all & start over in a few days????

  9. Nancy says

    With Hulu Plus, the additional package includes Lifetime Movies. Is that the Lifetime Movie Network or the app. Is it live?

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