Hulu with Live TV is not the channel bundle you might’ve grown up with. The $40-per-month streaming service clearly wants to be something other than cable.

Aside from being cheaper than the average pay TV package, Hulu’s new bundle aims to blur the lines between live TV, on-demand shows, and DVR. It pushes personalized recommendations on what to watch, and it shunts the notion of channel-flipping out of the spotlight. Recordings, on-demand episodes, and Hulu’s existing TV and movie library intermingle in ways that obscure the source of what you’re watching, as if to suggest that only the content matters.

Hulu’s attempt to distance itself from the legacy TV experience is refreshing, and it can lead to discovering some great television. But it can also be disorienting, due to an expansive, sometimes confusing menu system. Hulu also accurately describes the current service as a beta, and it’s marred by limited device support and occasional glitches. We’re not going to render a review score until Hulu lifts the beta tag; in the meantime, cord-cutters signing up for the service in its current state should be aware they’re paying for an unfinished product.

Hulu with Live TV: What you get

Hulu’s bundle is one-size-fits-all, with more than 60 channels for $40 per month. That puts it in the ballpark of other streaming bundles’ primary offerings, though Hulu throws in access to its existing on-demand service—an $8 per month value—to sweeten the deal. The ad-free version of that existing service costs an extra $4 per month, and you can still tack on Showtime’s on-demand catalog for another $9 per month.

Channel highlights include ESPN, Disney channels, regional sports from Fox and Comcast, all three cable news networks, and on-demand video from all four major broadcast networks. In certain markets, you can get live feeds from local broadcast stations as well. (A full channel list appears at the bottom of this review, and Hulu’s sign-up page lets you enter a zip code for a list of local stations.)

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Hulu includes roughly 60 channels for $40 per month—no more, no less.

Like other streaming bundles, Hulu omits some networks to keep prices down. AMC Network channels, Discovery channels, and Viacom channels such as Comedy Central and MTV are all absent from Hulu with Live TV, as are league-based sports channels such as NBA TV, MLB Network, NFL Network, and NFL Redzone.

The service does include 50 hours of DVR at no extra charge, but with some opaque rules and restrictions. Some live channels let you rewind to the start of a program even if you haven’t set up a recording, and then allow you to skip commercials. Others allow automatic rewinding, but not ad-skipping. Recordings are supported on all channels, but some won’t let you skip ads unless you pay an extra $15 per month for expanded DVR, which also increases storage to 200 hours.

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Hulu’s cloud DVR lets you record individual episodes or entire series.

Subscribers can add up to six user profiles and are allowed up to two streams at a time, either inside or outside the home. That’s the same as DirecTV Now, and better than Sling TV Orange, but less than PlayStation Vue, Sling TV Blue, and YouTube TV. It also leads into another upsell: For $15 more (or $20 total combined with expanded DVR service), you can stream on unlimited devices at home and three devices on the road.



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