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Hulu 2021: Everything to know about Hulu's plans, pricing, channels, and more

Is Hulu right for you? Here's what you need to know before you sign up.

Erin Gobler

If you're looking to cut cable, Hulu's on-demand streaming service might be right for you. Hulu offers plans to fit a wide range of TV needs, whether you're looking to stream movies and shows on-demand or to get a suite of channels to watch live. And Hulu's flexible pricing makes it one of the most budget-friendly streaming services out there..

Hulu also might be the most comprehensive streaming service. Not only does the company provide a massive on-demand library of fan-favorite movies and TV shows, but Hulu also offers live TV services that can fully replace your cable provider, whether you're a sports fan, a news junkie, or you just want to watch this week's episode of your favorite show. And for both the standard streaming service and the live TV package, customers can choose to pay a little extra for an ad-free experience.

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On top of the streaming and live TV options, Hulu also offers customers many add-on options, including enhanced cloud DVR, the ability to stream on unlimited devices, and access to specialty channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime.

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How does Hulu work?

Hulu is an over-the-top (OTT), on-demand streaming service that gives users the ability to watch thousands of TV episodes and movies without subscribing to a traditional cable service. Hulu offers four plans. The basic ad-supported Hulu plan and the Hulu (No Ads) plan both give you access to the service's on-demand titles. The company also offers two live TV options: the Hulu Plus Live TV plan and the Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV plan, both of which provide access to more than 65 local and cable channels in addition to the on-demand streaming library.

How much does Hulu cost?

Hulu's four standard plan options — basic ad-supported Hulu, Hulu (No Ads), Hulu Plus Live TV, and (No Ads) Plus Live TV — range from just $6 per month to $61 per month. On Dec. 18, 2020, these prices will increase to $65 for Hulu + Live TV and $71 for Hulu (No ads) + Live TV. There are also a handful of add-ons available to purchase, which we'll cover more below. Some of these add-ons can be added to any Hulu plan, while others are only available for the live Hulu TV packages.

What plans does Hulu offer?

Hulu offers plenty of customization options for its packages, meaning viewers are likely to find a plan that fits both their needs and their budget. Hulu's basic ad-supported plan costs just $6 per month — one of the most streaming plans on the market. And for $6 more, customers can get the $12 Hulu (No Ads) plan, which allows them to watch most on-demand shows and movies without commercials.

For those who want something to fully replace their cable plan, Hulu also has a live TV streaming option. For $55, the Hulu Plus Live TV plan gives customers access to more than 65 news, sports, and entertainment channels to stream live, in addition to the on-demand library. And as with the on-demand-only packages, viewers can opt to pay a little extra for an ad-free experience: the Hulu (No Ads) Plus Live TV plan costs $61 per month and allows viewers to watch most on-demand movies and TV shows without commercials. However, viewers will still see the commercials that air on live TV channels during regular programming. The Hulu live TV plans both come with a 50-hour cloud DVR.

Both Hulu's live TV and on-demand streaming plans allow for viewers to use up to two screens at a time, and both come with a free trial. The free trial periods for the ad-supported Hulu plan and the Hulu (No Ads) plan are both 30 days, while the free trial periods for Hulu Plus Live TV plan and Hulu (No Ads) Plus Live TV plan are seven days.

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What top channels does Hulu Plus Live TV have?

Hulu Plus Live TV comes equipped with many of the top channels you'd find with a traditional cable package. Hulu's ad-supported and ad-free live TV plans both come with:

  • Top news channels such as MSNBC, HLM, Fox News, CNBC, CNN, and ESPN News

  • Top sports channels such as ESPN, CBS, FS1, FS2, TNT, TBN, and NBCSN

  • Kids channels such as Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Universal Kids

  • Other top channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC, The CW, A&E, Bravo, Discovery Channel, E!, Food Network, HGTV, History Channel, National Geographic, TLC, Freeform, and more

If you want some extra sports and entertainment programming, the company also offers a Disney Bundle, which includes the basic on-demand-only Hulu plan, Disney+, and ESPN+ and costs $13 per month. If purchased individually, the three services would cost a total of $19 each month. Or, users can opt for a $62-per-month Hulu Plus Live TV version of the Disney Bundle, which features everything listed above, plus access to Hulu's live TV features. Hulu users can also choose to add on premium channels such as HBO Max, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz, which we'll cover more below.

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What add-ons for premium channels and extras does Hulu Plus Live TV have?

With all of Hulu's plans, you can add on premium channels, such as HBO Max, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz, to make your viewing experience even richer. 

There are even more upgrade options specific to Hulu's live TV plans. With both ad-supported and no-ads live TV packages, customers can opt for unlimited screens for an extra $10 per month, meaning they would no longer be subject to Hulu's two-screen simultaneous streaming limit. Customers also can opt to add enhanced cloud DVR for $10 per month, or to add both unlimited screens and enhanced cloud DVR for $15 per month. Hulu also offers a $8 entertainment add-on that includes channels like Discovery Family, Science, Cooking Channel, and Crime + Investigation, and a $5 Español add-on that includes CNN en Español, NBC Universo, ESPN Deportes, and Fox Deportes, among others channels.

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What about local networks on Hulu?

In addition to all of the nationwide channels you'll get with Hulu Plus Live TV, you also get access to your local news and sports channels in many cities. To find out exactly which local channels you'll have access to, you can enter your zip code on Hulu's website. The ability to live-stream local channels is one of the big selling points for Hulu for those customers who want to fully replace their current cable plan.

Another way to access your local channels is by opting for an antenna service such as the Tablo DVR or HDHomeRun.

Is Hulu right for you?

Hulu is an excellent choice for anyone looking to cut cable. One of the biggest advantages the service has over other streaming services is its flexibility when it comes to budget and programming. You can increase or decrease your monthly cost by choosing whether to have ads stream on the on-demand shows and movies you watch. And if you're looking for something that more closely resembles your cable package, Hulu offers two live TV plans, giving you access to more than 65 channels, and even more if you opt to purchase add-ons. If flexibility and a robust streaming replacement for your cable package are what you're looking for, then Hulu Plus Live TV is probably right for you.