How to stream Hulu: Hulu plans, cost, and how to get started

How does Hulu really stack up to Netflix and Amazon Prime? Let's break it down.

Aug 10, 2020, 8:40 am*

Services

John-Michael Bond 

John-Michael Bond

  • Hulu is a streaming service housing a giant digital library of movies and shows.
  • While Hulu is best known for its movie and show library, it’s increasingly becoming known for its original series like The Great, Little Fires Everywhere, and The Handmaid’s Tale.
  • Hulu is $5.99 a month for the limited ads option or $11.99 a year if you want a Hulu experience without ads.
  • Hulu’s introduced a $59.99 annual subscription rate for the limited ads option, making Hulu less than $5 a month.
  • It’s also available as a bundle with Disney Plus and ESPN Plus that’s one of the best deals in streaming. (It costs just $12.99 a month, or $18.99 with the ads-free option on Hulu.)
  • Hulu also has an accompanying streaming service, Hulu Live TV, which raises the price to $54.99 or $60.99 but gives subscribers access to live news, entertainment, and sports channels.
  • Hulu is available on a wide range of platforms, including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, several gaming systems, and a number of smart TVs.
  • New Hulu subscribers get their first month free.

No matter what kind of streaming experience you’re looking for, Hulu has something for you. From cheap ad-supported streaming plans with thousands of movies and TV shows, to a full-featured streaming-TV service called Hulu Live TV that puts traditional cable to shame, you may be surprised by everything Hulu brings to the table.

Frankly, it can be a little overwhelming for new users who are weighing their options. By introducing the Hulu Live TV brand, Hulu’s created potential confusion for some consumers about the difference between the two services.

Getting Hulu at the $5.99 or $11.99 monthly (or $59.99 annual) price point doesn’t get you local channels or live programming. That only comes with Hulu Live TV, starting at a still-competitive-with-its-rivals $54.99. But you’ll find that even a $5.99 monthly or $59.99 annual Hulu subscription, which you can deploy regardless of what cable or streaming package you use for live TV, brings a massive library of shows and movies directly to you, ranging from classic titles to just-released hits.

Here’s everything you need to know about Hulu, from how much it costs to how to watch your favorite shows without ads.

 


 

WATCH: 13 Best Movies on Hulu


How much is Hulu?

With Hulu, you have three options: An option for about $6 a month that has limited ads playing, about $5 a month for the annual version of a Hulu subscription, or an ad-free option that’s just an additional $6 a month.

Hulu with ads$5.99/mo. or
$59.99/yr.
Hulu with no ads$11.99


 

 

Hulu Plans

Hulu with Limited Commercials

Hulu with Limited Commercials costs $5.99 and gives you access to Hulu’s library of movies, TV shows, originals, and documentaries. This includes a truly staggering amount of content, but it comes with one major downside: Ads. For the most part, ads are only going to pop up when you’re watching TV content, so if you’re a movie buff, it’s going to hurt you less. Big hit shows tend to have the most ads, so prepare yourself for a couple of commercial breaks if you’re watching something popular.

Hulu’s also introduced an annual version of this plan. If you can pay $59.99 a year all at once, you’ll save about $12 a year on this Hulu plan option.

Hulu with No Commercials

Hulu with No Commercials is $11.99 a month and is exactly what it sounds like. You can watch everything on Hulu, including major network shows, without a single ad messing with your experience. That’s a heavy price for many people, but if you’re a super fan of network TV, it may be a small cost to pay for the convenience of binge-watching one of your favorite shows like you do on Netflix.

Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN+

There’s one more option you might consider if you’re considering a Hulu plan, and that’s bundling it with Disney+ and ESPN+. Disney+, of course, gives you access to the immense Disney library of movies and shows (which includes Pixar and Star Wars titles), while ESPN+ is a pipeline to a staggering amount of live sports. $12.99 a month gets you the whole package, while $18.99 a month delivers Hulu without ads as part of the trio.

Disney Plus Bundle
Monthly $12.99

 


 

What is Hulu with Live TV?

Hulu plans with Live TV are Hulu’s answer to streaming services like Sling, Fubo, AT&T TV Now, Vidgo, and YouTube TV. They features 60+ channels of live TV, including local channels depending on your market, and come with both Hulu options (with ads and no ads) available. In many markets Hulu with Live TV comes with local channels. If you just need Hulu for its show and movie library, you can do a subscription on its own. But if you’re also shopping for a cable alternative or you’re not married to your current streaming service, know that Hulu with Live TV is an option.

Hulu Live TV Logo
Hulu Live TV $54.99
Hulu Live TV
(no ads on
Hulu content)
$60.99

 

 

Hulu add-ons

Though Hulu’s got plenty of movies and shows to keep you entertained, you can add to your choices with four entertainment options priced in line with what these entities would charge you if you went direct to them.

While these add-ons also help round out a Hulu Live TV plan, they’re also good to go as add-ons if you’re only a Hulu subscriber.

HBO$14.99
Cinemax$9.99
Showtime$10.99
Starz$8.99

 


 

Hulu originals

Hulu is building its reputation for original programming, with shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, High Fidelity, Castle Rock, and Harlots forming a foundation, and newer shows like Devs, Solar Opposites, and The Great building upon that foundation.

 


 

Daily Dot Hulu Guides

Hulu Plans
Hulu Devices
What’s New on Hulu
Hulu Originals
Best Movies on Hulu
Best Shows on Hulu

Daily Dot Best Hulu Movies

Anime MoviesDocumentaries
Action MoviesHorror Movies
Classic MoviesLGBTQ Movies
Comedy MoviesSad Movies
Comedy MoviesSexy Movies
Disney MoviesThrillers

Daily Dot Best Hulu Shows

Adult Cartoons Series Horror Series
Anime SeriesOriginal Series
Comedy SeriesKids Cartoons
Sci-Fi Shows

Hulu Guide
Hulu with ads$5.99/mo. or $59.99/yr.
Hulu with no ads$11.99
Hulu Live TV + Hulu with ads$54.99
Hulu Live TV + Hulu no ads$60.99

Hulu streaming devices

RokuApple TVChromecast
Amazon Fire TVSmart TVsiOS
AndroidXbox OneXbox 360
Playstation 3Playstation 4Nintendo Switch

It’s easier than ever to use Hulu. You can stream via Roku, Google Chromecast, select smart TVs, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Kindle Fire, and pretty much any Apple, Windows, or Android device you can throw at it, not to mention Nexus Player. Of course, you can always just watch Hulu from your web browser. As for gaming consoles, Hulu supports Xbox One and Xbox 360, Wii and Wii U, and PlayStation 3 and PlayStation and Nintendo Switches. Hulu’s accessibility is definitely one of its strongest selling points.

 


 

Hulu DVR and multiple screens

Hulu allows a user to access two screens from one account. So, the kids can watch a movie on one screen, while their parents can watch something else on the other. If you do try to log in from an additional device, though, you may get an error message that will let you know that you’ve hit your two-screen max.

If you opt for Hulu with Live TV, though, it changes things.

Hulu with Live TV a offers a $9.99 a month “unlimited screens” add-on that lets an unlimited number of people stream over a wi-fi connection or up to three people to stream at once on mobile.

An Enhanced Cloud DVR option is available on Hulu with Live TV for an extra $9.99 a month, giving you 200 hours of Cloud DVR recording and the ability to fast-forward through commercials on your recordings.

You can combine those two features—Enhanced Cloud DVR and Unlimited Screens—for just $20 a month.

 


 

Hulu vs. The Competition

Hulu vs. Netflix

To quickly recap: Hulu costs $5.99 a month or $11.99 a month for Hulu with No Commercials, an annual cost of $71.88 and $143.88, respectively. The downside is you only get those new episodes for a few weeks before they expire in most cases, meaning you’re not getting the same binge-watching abilities you get from Netflix. However, Hulu also has an incredible back catalog of classic TV shows, including exclusives like Seinfeld and The Golden Girls. So, even if you can’t check out the whole new season of your favorite show, there’s plenty to watch.

By contrast, Netflix offers three options for streaming: One screen at a time in standard definition for $8.99, two screens at a time in HD for $12.99, or four screens at a time in Ultra HD for 15.99. In addition, users can download videos to their phones and tablets for offline viewing. That adds annually up to $107.88, $155.88, or $191.88, respectively, depending on your package and taxes. However, for that cost, you get one of the biggest streaming libraries of classic content around.

Still, it’s mostly classic or old content. Outside of its great original series, movies, documentaries, and docuseries, Netflix has struggled to keep a steady supply of new movies in its catalog in the past few years. You will still find great movies that were just in theaters, but there’s less to choose from than the glory days a few years ago. Still, Netflix is the industry leader for a reason. Its app is easy to use, feature-rich, and its original catalog has won legions of dedicated fans. If you don’t care about keeping up with current TV shows, Netflix is still pretty much all you need. The increased number of screens that can watch at one time means that as the cost rises, you can split the package with others to offset the price.

Hulu vs. Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is another alternative, and at $119 a year in upfront costs, it may seem like the worst deal. However, along with a great streaming service, that $119 also gets you free two-day shipping on all your Amazon purchases. Amazon has greatly improved its app in the last few years for streaming, and it offers one of the largest film libraries of any service. From The Hunger Games to Mission Impossible, there’s plenty of recent multiplex hits to watch. You’ll even find obscure gems like the lost Sasquatch horror film Night of the Demon. The downside is those films are sometimes hard to find due to a frustrating lack of sorting and quality control. If you’re willing to dig there are classic treasures to be found, but not everyone has that sort of time. You can also add on services like HBO Max and Starz. When it comes to TV shows, Amazon has a few strengths, including all of FX’s drama programming and its original series. But there isn’t a great deal of modern catalog. However, again going back to the deep cuts, it’s the only place to legally stream the original Unsolved Mysteries.

That said, Hulu’s deep movie archive, which includes Disney films, is on par with what you can find on Amazon’s Prime streaming service. If you have both services, you will notice a lot of overlap in the movies streaming on each service.

 


 

How to sign up for Hulu Plans

  1. Go to Hulu’s website.
  2. Select the “Start Your Free Trial” banner. 
  3. Now it’s time to select your plan. Hulu offers new subscribers a free trial, but the length of your free period depends on what service you’re trying. The standard Hulu streaming service offers users one full free month to try out the service before being charged. Select the plan that’s right for you, depending on your budget and your tolerance for ads. 
  4. Enter your email, billing address, and select a password. We highly suggest making a unique password for your Hulu account, especially if you plan on having multiple users. Different members of your household can have their own unique Hulu profiles. This allows parents to set content restrictions for their kids, and also lets each person have an individualized viewing list. However, this also creates a security issue when users log in on their own devices. You don’t want a child (or worse, a roommate) having your bank password, so make sure your Hulu logins aren’t also used for something important. It’s just smarter that way. 
  5. Choose your designed payment method. You will not be charged by Hulu until the end of your trial period. 
  6. Start watching your favorite shows.
Hulu with ads$5.99/mo. or
$59.99/yr.
Hulu with no ads$11.99


Streaming Device Guides

Amazon FireApple TVAndroid
ChromecastiOSPlaystation
RokuSmart TVsXBox

Premium Streaming Service Guides

Amazon PrimeCrunchyRollAcorn TV
CBS All AccessCuriosity StreamAMC Premiere
Disney PlusDC UniverseBritBox
HBO MaxShowtimeShudder
HuluStarzRooster Teeth
NetflixCriterion ChannelYouTube Premium
Peacock

Live TV Service Guides

AT&T TV NOW CBS All AccessFubo TV
Hulu with Live TVPhiloPluto TV
Sling TVVidgoYouTube TV

Entertainment Channel Guides

A&EAMCAnimal Planet
BBC AmericaBETBravo
Cartoon NetworkComedy CentralDiscovery Channel
Disney ChannelDisney XDE!
Food NetworkFreeformFX
FXXHallmark ChannelHGTV
History ChannelIFCLifetime
MTVNat GeoNickelodeon
Nick JrParamount NetworkScience Channel
SundanceSYFYTBS
TLCTravel ChannelTruTV
TNTTV LandUSA
VH1WillowThe Weather Channel

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

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*First Published: Aug 10, 2020, 8:21 am