Why Hulu with Live TV isn't the answer to all my cord cutter needs

Hulu recently launched its live streaming TV service, Hulu with Live TV. It costs $39.99 per month, but you can sign up for a free seven-day trial. I've been exclusively watching pay channel shows and movies for the past week, and while I love having access to new and currently airing cable channel content, I've canceled my subscription to Live TV because, as a cord cutter, it's just not what I'm looking for.

Why I canceled Hulu with Live TV

Hulu

To be clear, I'm not exactly a cord cutter because that implies I previously had cable, but have cut that proverbial cord. I've never had cable in my adult life. I've just lived off of whatever programming broadcast TV has to offer, plus a couple of on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. So, for me, paying a monthly premium to stream live cable channels is the same as subscribing to cable. It's just a smaller package and relatively less expensive.

The idea of subscribing to a monthly service to watch shows that air in real-time, even though it costs less, is not what I'm looking for when it comes to my entertainment needs. I prefer the ability to search for and select specific shows or movies to watch when I want to.

Here's what happened to me in the past seven days: I would select a channel, like the Food Network, and just veg out for hours, watching a lot of shows I had no interest in, but was so zombified at watching that I didn't make the effort to change.

I also found myself feeling overwhelmed at all the available content. There are too many shows across too many channels to watch. Sure, I could DVR things and watch them whenever I wanted, but that DVR list filled up pretty fast. How do people with 200 channels handle it? I've got things to do, people to see. I don't have time to watch 20 different shows from 40 different networks.

Hulu with Live TV just felt like too much. It's like ordering a super-deluxe burrito because it has all the extra stuff in it, even though you know you'll never finish it. Sure, you can save the rest for later, but eventually all that extra stuff just mixes together and doesn't taste as good anymore.

What content I'm looking for as a cord cutter

Netflix

Since the day I moved out on my own and realized how expensive a cable subscription was, I've wished for the ability to handpick channels and only pay for what I'll actually watch. To the credit of software companies like Hulu and Netflix, and hardware makers of set-top boxes and "stick" style content streamers like Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV, this is more of a reality than it ever has been before. But it's still not enough.

I can subscribe to a handful of specialized content programs, like HBO Now, Showtime, CBS All Access, Starz, and the like. That means, I get to pick what I want to pay for, though it's out of a very small pool.

If more cable channels offered a subscription-based on-demand app, I'd have more to choose from and be able to broaden my entertainment options. A little bit of live tv streaming wouldn't hurt, either.

Obviously, this would quickly add up. If you're spending $15 on HBO Now, $11 on Showtime, $9 on Starz, plus $8 (minimum) for Hulu and $8 (minimum) for Netflix, that'll cost you more than $50 right out of the gate.

But, that's what makes à la carte channel subscriptions so appealing. You can choose whether you want to spend a little or a lot. Of course, I'd be a lot happier if the prices were more like $5 per month across the board so I could pick more and spend less.

Who is Hulu with Live TV for?

Hulu with live tv

Hulu with Live TV

Like Sling TV, Direct TV Now, and PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV is "cable lite." You pay a little less (or a lot less, depending on your cable bill) per month, but you also get less content. But, who watches 200 channels anyway?

If you've been thinking about leaving cable behind, Hulu with Live TV is definitely a big step in the true cord-cutting direction. As far as streaming live tv goes, it compares with the other big guys in the same category. But, Hulu's on-demand content is pretty epic. So, you're basically getting two types of streaming services for one price and within one app.

Hulu with Live TV is also for people that have been cord cutters for a long time (or their entire adult life) but are longing for the ability to veg out for hours at a time while TV just plays and plays. I have to admit, I was sucked into it pretty fast. It can be a lot of fun just letting your channels dictate what you're going to watch instead of searching for 15 minutes to find something. Since it's within the Hulu framework, the transition is pretty comfortable. All the things you'd been watching on Hulu before are still there, and now you've got new things you can add to it.

It's not for me, but it might be for you

In the end, I decided that I prefer the way I look for and watch movies and TV shows right now. I'm not yet willing to jump into the deep waters of a live TV streaming service, even if it is integrated into one of my favorite entertainment apps.

Everyone's experience is different, though. You might love live TV streaming content from Hulu. If you're disappointed in your current TV and movie watching lifestyle, whether it's through a cable subscription, or true cord cutting, maybe it's time to give something new a try. Hulu with Live TV has a free seven-day trial so you can test the waters and see if it's right for you.

See at Hulu (opens in new tab)

Your thoughts?

Have you tried Hulu with Live TV yet? Will you keep the subscription or stick with what you've got? Lets discuss!

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).

6 Comments
  • I like Hulu Live. Being retired, I enjoy watching TV. I agree it does not cost as much as cable. We only have comcast in my area, and it can get quite expensive. If you have their internet service, it is hard to separate the two charges. Over the years they have really gone up in price. Even with Apple TV, you still had to have a cable account to access many stations. If Hulu Live is successful, I can see others following. Cable cutting is now a true viable action. The only weird thing, Hulu's billing system is strange at first. After the trial, they will charge $3.49 for four days to keep you on live, then charge the $39.99 monthly, or until you cancell, or go back to basic Hulu. Kind of goofy billing. Other that that, fits my needs, because it it there when I want quality television viewing at a very fair price. Let's see if Hulu can keep it fair. Cable was once, but kept sneaking up pricing due to no competition. Heck, these live services may make cable go down in price, or better yet, out of business. I believe they cheated long enough. Like you article by the way.
  • I've tried all of the streaming services with live TV. My preferred method of watching is to find shows I like and DVR them to watch later or watch some live TV like sports. I am finding the user interface on Hulu difficult to use to find the live TV portion of the app. You often need to navigate through multiple menus to get to the information you are looking for. You need to add individual episodes to your DVR and manage your DVR which feels like a part time job. My favorite so far is Playstation Vue because I can find what I want quickly and with one click all episodes of a show are available in the cloud DVR. Maybe Hulu will evolve it's interface, but based on what I've seen it's not user friendly
  • I am an AppleTV/DirecTVNow watcher with Tablo for OTA content. My interpretation or "need" is for "Live Streaming" include sports, events (ie concerts), weather and news (local/global). The rest can be considered "on demand". Seems like the younger crowd only cares about gaming and movies so "live" content matters less. The definition of cord cutting is watching streamed content over an IP network. So subscribing to a channel or app is not a corded action. Just commented on the authors comment of:
    "So, for me, paying a monthly premium to stream live cable channels is the same as subscribing to cable." <- no its not.
  • I've been looking at cutting the TV part of my cable package for a while. I was waiting for Hulu Live TV to come out so I could try them all. So far, PlayStation Vue and Hulu Live are the best (can't try YouTube TV yet), but they're all lacking something. Since I already subscribe to Hulu (commercial free), I was really hoping it would be great. The new interface, while it looks nice, is slow and a bit unintuitive. For me, the dealbreaker is the lack of AMC networks (AMC, BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV) and Discovery networks (Discovery, Animal Planet, etc). I'll probably go with PlayStation Vue and check back on Hulu Live if they add some more channels. Fortunately, it's easy to subscribe/unsubscribe with streaming services.
  • I think they did a good job, but it doesn't fit my tv work flow. Honestly, after trying all of them, I still like PS Vue the best. Large selection of channels, great pricing structure, and the channel guide is among the best I've seen on any cable/satellite/streaming service. These services are not the future and where we want to be, but they are a necessary transition step to get where we want to be. Its going to take years, maybe a decade or more for the industry to fully adapt.
  • A few unanswered questions about HwLTV in this article. Maybe there is another iMore article that explains it, but I couldn't find it in their new app. Also, no introduction email from Hulu even though I've had Hulu Plus since it was first introduced.
    Does it include sports?
    Are there commercials while watching live tv?
    What is the capacity of the DVR?
    Can I watch "recorded" shows on any device, or only the one I set to record?
    Can I watch live TV on any devices without restriction?
    Do I now get access to the included networks' apps like a cable company login? Their new AppleTV app is atrocious. Entire most-recent seasons missing from most of my favorite shows. No way to turn off auto play, then instead of playing the next episode of the show I was watching it auto plays some random show that I don't want to watch, which then gets added to my "keep watching" list with no way to remove it. There is no "new episode badge on the shows' icon under "favorites" (the shows I actually want to watch). Still no way to just watch unwatched episodes one after the other, like a chronological weekly lineup of the shows I watch. Navigating the menu to play something takes 5+ actions where it used to only take 1 or 5, and the menu is sluggish with input lag so I end up over shooting the complicated targets. If this garbage doesn't get fixed, I'm canceling Hulu entirely.