Hulu is one of the leading names in premium streaming platforms and, besides being one of the first names in the market, continues to challenge the crown for being the best. It offers live and on-demand TV and movies, and grants instant access to the latest episodes of major shows. Hulu offers libraries and custom-built lists of recommended viewings and favorites, and supports two iterations of the same product: One with commercials for cheaper, and another slightly pricier that has them removed completely, letting subscribers enjoy a completely ad-free experience. Tack on numerous original award-winning series and access on mobile devices and you've got a solid choice for a one-stop shop for all your viewing needs.
Full catalog, full access, full wallet
The default Hulu is the most cost-effective option on the market, but paying for premium does enhance the experience.Hulu has a wide variety of over 2,500 films in its library - everything from A Quiet Place to How to Train your Dragon, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Shrek, or Juno. No matter what your mood or who you are there's guaranteed to be something up your alley.
Hulu has a ton of movies to be sure, but most would argue their real focus remains on supporting TV shows. With over 43,000 tv episodes from over 1,650 shows, there's no question you'll be entertained for a good long time. As with their movies, there's a number of genres to pick between with these shows: You can just as easily tune in to Grey's Anatomy or This is Us as you can Bob's Burgers, South Park, or Family Guy. Or maybe Iron Chef America. Wherever your interests lie there's something on Hulu to suit them.
Hulu was one of the first names on the market and remains a solid choice, but the rise of network-specific streaming services does pose a growing threat to the amount of content Hulu can hold. Any shows that services such as Disney+, Amazon Prime, or CBS All Access decide to take for themselves means one fewer title users can find on Hulu. For viewers with less niche interests, however, Hulu is more likely to have a suitable variety of content to please versatile audiences. To compliment this wider demographic Hulu is also easier on the wallet than the competition.
The default Hulu is the most cost-effective option on the market but paying for premium does enhance the experience. Watching Hulu without a premium account will slog down the experience with an infuriating number of commercials. In this way the service does bully you into bumping up your membership cost for the guarantee of peace of mind and uninterrupted entertainment. Whether it's worth the extra cost depends largely on how often you use Hulu.
Where can you run this program?
Hulu and is available on both Android and iOS devices, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablets, Google’s Chromecast devices, Android TV, Mac and PC browsers, and select LG and Samsung smart TVs. It can also be accessed on consoles: Xbox One, Xbox 360, and the Nintendo Switch. Hulu works on PlayStation 3 and PS4 too, but not PlayStation Vue. Lastly the Hulu Classic app plays on select Vizio TVs, Wii U, TiVo, along with certain Blu-ray players from Sony, Samsung, and LG.
Is there a better alternative?
The biggest question is whether Hulu is still the biggest name on the block now that there are so many new contenders. Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+ all feature original content, so that's no longer as much of a novelty. That said, each of those produce different original shows, so whether you'd pick Hulu's originals over those on Disney+ is entirely dependent on what content interests you. Disney-licensed shows like The Mandalorian, Loki, or WandaVision will only be aired on Disney+, for instance. Hulu instead offers its own unique originals, like The Handmaid's Tale, Castle Rock, The Act, Uncanny Annie, or Marvel's Runaways.
In the specific case of Disney+ vs Hulu there's a bundle package that includes both, as well as ESPN+. As we mentioned earlier, Hulu can take as much of your budget as makes sense for your viewing needs. The default package is relatively inexpensive by comparison, but tack on a bundle with Disney+ and take out any commercials and it'll start adding up. If Hulu is where you do all your watching, though, it's well worth the extra cash.
Sling TV is another competitor, and it's running neck and neck with Hulu in terms of price. Hulu has both on-demand and original content that isn't available on Sling, however, so check the catalog for each before making a final decision. If you're just looking for a live TV streaming service, on the other hand, Sling's hard to beat for low-budget. AT&T TV has more channels than Hulu, but its interface is less streamlined and navigating can be clunky. If you'd like for a ton of channels to be at your disposal though, this is a superior pick.
Hulu's biggest competition has always been Netflix. Right off the bat Netflix has full HDR and 4K support for streaming, so you're getting excellent quality per frame, even when you're watching mobile. Even Hulu's original programs cannot be streamed in 4K, which is a big point against it by comparison. Sparring with Netflix, though, Hulu comes on top with its added support for live TV. This pairs on-demand video with live cable and broadcast networks that users can stream from virtually anywhere. Adding on live TV, though, will bump up Hulu's price. Doing so takes the point away from the otherwise lower-cost Hulu.
Hulu is slightly better for binging less recent shows while Netflix is a little more up-to-date with the latest trending movies and TV shows.
Both apps have a time and place, but if you're on a budget and can only choose one it's a matter of which has the content you're more interested in viewing.
Should you download it?
Yes. Getting the default Hulu is a good place to start, even though it's plagued with ads. At least this way you'll be able to see the content you want. Decide later on whether it's worth the upgrade or if there's another streaming service better for you.