Live TV streaming services can offer a great alternative to traditional cable and help you cut the cord. Besides offering a lot of on-demand content, you can also catch up with sports games, your afternoon soap opera, or talk shows. Things can get pretty confusing when you are trying to figure out which live TV service to go with, though. Two of the more popular options are Hulu with Live TV versus Sling TV. We will go over all the details in this article to help you figure out if one of these live TV services is right for you.
A streaming TV service isn’t worth a dime if you can’t watch what you want. Thankfully, both Hulu with Live TV (also known as Hulu + Live TV) and Sling TV will let you view many of your favorite channels, but they each work a little differently.
Hulu with Live TV
Although this pricing plan will change in December 2022, currently, Hulu with Live TV only has one primary subscription option, which contains almost everything in its catalog. Most customers can expect to find the four major networks — ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC — represented via their local affiliates (though this varies by region), as well as a number of major cable channels such as FX, USA, and TNT, 24-hour news networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and sports channels such as ESPN and Fox Sports 1. The actual channel lineup varies by location, so if there’s one channel that’s make-or-break for you,for your region before signing up.
Hulu doesn’t have everything, however. You won’t find AMC Networks, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime Movie Network, or BBC America. You can subscribe to premium networks like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz through Hulu for an additional fee. There are also add-on packages: The Entertainment add-on includes Destination America and the Cooking Channel, the Sports add-on includes NFL Redzone and the Outdoor channel, and the Español add-on includes several Spanish-language channels. Fees for the add-ons start at $5 and range up to $10 monthly.
As a bonus, you’ll also receive access to the standard Hulu service with your subscription. This gives you access to many excellent movies and TV programs, including episodes from broadcast networks that aired just a day or two earlier, as well as Hulu’s critically acclaimed original series like The Handmaid’s Tale and Only Murders in the Building.
Sling TV, on the other hand, offers an à la carte model that lets you choose which channels you get. For the most part, you’ll only be paying for programs that you actually watch, which is a good thing. On the other hand, it makes signing up for Sling TV more complicated and forces you to do a little math when calculating costs.
Sling TV subscriptions start with two base packages: Orange and Blue. There’s some overlap between the two — both Orange and Blue packages come with AMC, CNN, Food Network, and Cartoon Network, for example. Orange also contains Disney-owned properties, which means it’s more sports-focused, thanks to the three ESPN networks.
By contrast, Blue has more entertainment options, including FX, USA, and Bravo. As of this writing, Blue is also the only place where you can find MSNBC, NBC, and Fox, assuming that they’re available in your area. You can also subscribe to Orange and Blue together at a discount.
The rest of Sling TV’s channels come via optional add-ons that run from $6 to $21 and tend to be grouped based on themes like Kids, Comedy, News, and so on. This is where things get tricky. Which add-on package to get can depend on which base subscription you have. For example, if you subscribe to Sling Orange, the Sports Extra pack includes ESPNews, SEC Network, and ACC Network. If you subscribe to Sling Blue, Sports Extra won’t have any of those, but it will have NFL RedZone, Big10 Network, and the Olympic Channel.
You can also add some individual channels, like the wellness-oriented Grokker, for a few extra bucks, as well as premium channels like Showtime and Cinemax. Note that Sling TV doesn’t currently support HBO subscriptions thanks to a feud between its parent company, Dish Network, and AT&T, nor does it give you any way to watch ABC or CBS.
Thanks to Sling’s à la carte model, it’s hard to make direct price comparisons between Sling and Hulu, but these are the basics.costs $70 a month for 90-plus channels, plus everything offered on regular Hulu. It’s pricey, but it’s a lot of entertainment.
Sling’s basic packages, Orange and Blue, cost $35 per month each or $50 together but will undergo a price change on December 3, 2022, when they’ll jump to $40 each for Orange and Blue and $55 for the combined pack. Extra Sling channels and packages will set you back somewhere between $3 and $11 each, depending on the specific add-on package.
Hulu’s offers aren’t quite as exciting, but you canto get a monthly discount on the package. It’s only worth it if you regularly use at least two of these services, but every little bit counts.
Extra features like Hulu’s Unlimited Screens add-on (more on that below) or Sling’s cloud-based DVR will also raise your subscription price, as will premium channels like Starz, Showtime, and (only for Hulu) HBO. Subscriptions to those channels tend to cost the same as everywhere else unless there’s a limited offer, so expect to pay $15 for HBO, $10 for Cinemax, and $11 for Showtime, etc.
Both Amazon Fire TV or Fire tablet, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast with Google TV, a gaming console, or a home PC, chances are you should be set. If your hardware is older, however, it may not be supported, so it’s worth checking both Hulu and Sling’s device compatibility lists before you give either any of your money.and Sling TV work on all of the standard streaming devices, so if you have a Roku,
If you prefer to use a smart TV to stream media, you’ll be glad to know you can use just about any popular smart TV platform. LG, Vizio, and Samsung TVs support both, as do TCL Roku TVs, Sony Android TVs, Hisense Android TVs, and Hisense Roku TVs.
As far as gaming consoles go, both services will run just fine on the Xbox One, while Hulu with Live TV also works on the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 and 5. There are tons of streaming options out there, and you can’t always assume every app is available for your device, so take a glance at the compatibility lists online before settling on a service. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Modern cable companies offer all kinds of extra features, and both Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV do, too.
As part of your Hulu with Live TV subscription, you’ll get access to a cloud-based DVR service, which will let you record unlimited hours of your shows and watch them later (that’s in addition to Hulu’s standard on-demand programming, which is chock-full of recent series and movies). After nine months, the recordings will automatically be deleted.
Sling TV now includes 50 hours of Cloud DVR for free with every subscription, but $5 will get you an extra 200 hours worth of storage space. Currently, the recordings never expire.
Number of screens
With a standard Hulu with Live TV subscription, you can stream shows to two different screens at once. To add more screens, you’ll have to subscribe to the $10 Unlimited Screens add-on, which lets you stream to as many machines as you want while you’re at home and three mobile devices while on the go.
With Sling, the number of simultaneous streams you get depends on which base package you select. Orange subscribers get just one, while Blue subscribers get three. This can be frustrating, especially if you pay for both, which leaves you with some channels that can’t be streamed simultaneously. There is no upgrade option at this time.
Hulu with Live TV’s interface looks a lot like its on-demand offering. You can search for shows, add your favorites to a list, filter by genre, and see your most recently viewed channels. You can see what is coming on next with Live Guide.
Sling TV has schedules for each channel and shows you what is coming up next. With Sling, you can search by theme, time, or specific shows.
If you’re looking for a service that will give you all you can get, it’s hard to argue against Hulu with Live TV. Not only is Hulu’s one-and-done subscription plan easier to figure out, but it gives you more channels, including all four major broadcast networks, upfront. This package also gives you access to Hulu’s regular content, which is available for on-demand streaming.
If you don’t need all of the channels Hulu + offers, you can save some money by using Sling TV. Pair Sling with an HDTV antenna (which should help you get those missing broadcast networks) and Netflix, which you probably subscribe to anyway, and you’ll end up with a pretty formidable — and cost-effective — entertainment collection.
Ultimately, both Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV are reliable live TV services. When you’re ready to cut the cord for good, either package could satisfy your streaming needs.