Hulu used to be simple — just a site with all the latest clips and episodes from your favorite shows. Watch some ads, watch some free TV. Easy, right? Not so much anymore. Hulu is no longer free, and on top of that, offers different pricing plans and add-ons.
So what plan should you choose? That depends on your situation. You'll have to consider how many people will use the account, if you can tolerate ads, if you're looking for premium channels like HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, or Starz. It can be overwhelming. Lucky for you, this article will walk you through each option. By the time you finish reading, you'll be ready to pick a plan and get watching on your preferred iOS or Android device.
Option 1: Hulu
First, we have the base plan, something Hulu used to call the "Limited Commercials" plan. Choosing this plan means sitting through commercial breaks on every show. According to Hulu, expect to see about nine minutes of ads per hour (2/3 the 16 minutes of ads on network TV). That may or may not sound like a lot to you, but it could feel like a lot.
Hulu's ads are also ridiculously repetitive at times. You may see the same few ads recycled over that nine minutes per hour. By the end of one episode, you just might be pulling your hair out. But this is also an issue with other ad-supported streaming services, so you can't really blame Hulu.
Why subjugate yourself to this torturous experience? Price. The regular Hulu base plan with ads is $5.99 a month, Hulu's cheapest offering. Plus, it comes with a one-month free trial.
With Hulu, you get access to full seasons of exclusive series, classic shows from years past, Hulu Originals (like Handmaid's Tale), access to Hulu's full movie library, and more.
Option 2: Hulu (No Ads)
Hulu's second main option — and one you may see advertised more than the base plan — is its No Ads plan. At $11.99 a month, your wallet may be a tad lighter than you'd like, but you'll be free of repetitive and annoying advertisements, for the most part.
Hulu admits that due to streaming rights, certain shows will still display ads, even if you pay extra for the No Ads experience. Because that makes sense, right? When I hear "No Ads" or "No Commercials," I expect some of what I watch to contain ads still. That's how English works, no?
Sarcasm aside, the No Ads plan should be the limited commercials subscription, while the current Hulu base plan should be called "Boat-Load of Ads." I'm just trying to keep it real here, Hulu.
For those curious, the current line-up of shows that will still stream with commercials are Grey's Anatomy, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and How To Get Away with Murder. If you don't watch any of those shows, feel free to ignore the above rant.
Like the base plan, Hulu (No Ads) also comes with a one-month free trial. Similarly, you get access to full seasons of exclusive series, classic shows from years past, Hulu Originals (like Handmaid's Tale), access to Hulu's full movie library, and more.
Option 3: Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV is Hulu's answer to, well, live TV. For $44.99 a month, you receive Hulu's entire streaming library with ads. You get everything that's in Option 1 above with the addition of an extensive list of live cable TV channels that range from CBS, NBC, ABC, and affiliates like CNBC, Freeform, and MSNBC, to channels like AMC, FX, TNT, and USA. The subscription comes with sports channels as well and gives 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage.
If you're looking for a more straightforward cable setup, this plan may be right for you. It's $33 more a month than Hulu's No Ads plan and $39 more than Hulu's base plan, so if you were going to pair Hulu with your current cable provider anyway, there might be some savings here. If you aren't interested in many of the channels offered, however, or don't mind waiting a day to watch your favorite shows, you might not need Live TV on top of a Hulu base or No Ads streaming subscription.
A new subscription comes with a seven-day free trial, and I feel it's necessary to be repetitive and remind you that there are commercials on both Hulu's regular streaming options and Live TV channels.
Option 4: Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV
A plan without commercials is also available for Hulu + Live TV for only four dollars more a month. So that's $50.99 per month. The same restrictions from Hulu's standard commercial-free streaming subscription (Option 2) apply here. However, note that all live channels are still filled with ads like a regular cable subscription, just like with the Option 3 above. There is no way to get rid of ads on Live TV. A free seven-day trial is available.
Option 5: Live TV Only
If you don't care about watching old content beyond what's in your DVR storage, then you probably don't want any of the four options above. Live TV Only is the plan for you. All of the same features of Live TV in Option 3 and 4 apply here, only you don't get Hulu's standard base plan or its No Ads version. Like the name states, this is strictly Live TV with Cloud DVR storage.
However, with the omission of the regular Hulu streaming options, you will not get any access to full seasons of exclusive series, classic shows from years past, Hulu Originals (so no Handmaid's Tale), access to Hulu's full movie library, and more.
The plan is $43.99 per month and does not come with a trial.
Option 6: Spotify Premium for Students + Hulu & Showtime
If you're a college student and don't mind advertisements, don't waste your money on Option 1 above. Instead, sign up for Spotify Premium for Students, which comes with the standard Hulu plan and Showtime for just $4.99 a month. Even better, first-time users get an introductory price of $0.99 a month for the first three months. However, this needs to be your first time signing up for Spotify Premium to qualify for the cheap rate.
While your Hulu plan will come with ads this way, it's likely Spotify Premium and Showtime are more than enough to make up for it. If you want to watch live television programs, you can sign up for Option 5 above to get Live TV Only for $43.99 per month. Total, that would be $48.98 each month for Hulu, Live TV Only, Showtime, and Spotify. Conditions apply.
Add-Ons Available for Any Hulu Subscriptions
Hulu offers add-ons to any of the above subscriptions except the student plan. If you subscribe to Options 1 through 4 above, you can choose from premium channels like HBO ($14.99/month), Cinemax ($9.99/month), Showtime ($10.99/month), and Starz ($8.99/month). If you've wanted to check out the shows with any of these outlets, it's not a bad deal.
If you subscribe to Options 3 through 5, for $9.99 per month each, Hulu offers Enhanced Cloud DVR, which expands storage limits to 200 hours, as well as an Unlimited Screens option, which allows an unlimited amount of devices to be streaming while at home but only three "on-the-go." Again with the misleading language, Hulu. You can get both features for $14.98 per month combined. There's also an Entertainment Add-on for $7.99 each month that gives you more channels.
So, that's Hulu in a nutshell. Whether you're looking for a way to replace your current cable plan, or you just want to watch that interesting Hulu Original everyone's talking about, there's a plan for you.
Which plan works best for you? Let us know in the comments below!
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