YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Which cable TV alternative wins?

A graphic of a TV with its screen split by logos of YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV
(Image credit: Google and Hulu)

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV. When deciding to cut the cord and go with one of the best cable TV alternatives, these two names probably come up. While they're not the cheapest — that honor goes to Sling TV —  both live TV offerings have a lot going for them. 

But they each have some unique selling points. While both offer all of the major broadcast networks, they each have one major thing the other doesn't.

For YouTube TV, that thing is the premier sports-watching experience. Thanks to features like catching up through key plays and watching up to four games at once with multiview, it's the best way to cut the cord and watch sports for an affordable price and a great way to watch every game of March Madness. And it gives you a discount on NFL Sunday Ticket come the fall.

But Hulu + Live TV has something that YouTube TV doesn't — streaming services. When you sign up for Hulu + Live TV, you also get Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus (all with ads) included in your subscription.

So, we decided to do what we do best: put these services in a head-to-head competition. We did hands-on testing with the Apple TV 4K (2022) and the Fire TV Stick 4K) and pulled in the most recent available information from both cord-cutting offerings.

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 YouTube TVHulu with Live TV
Starting Price (per month) $72.99$76.99
Channels (in entry-level package)100+95+ channels, Disney Plus (w/ ads), ESPN Plus (w/ ads), Hulu (w/ ads)
Device SupportChrome, Firefox, Safari., iOS 12 or later, iPad OS 12 or later, Android L or later, Android TV, Google TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Xbox One or later, Smart TVs [select models] (Hisense, LG, Roku, Fire TV, Samsung, Vizio), PS4, PS5, TiVo Stream 4K, Xfinity Flex devicesWeb browsers, iOS, iPad OS, Android, Android TV, Google TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio and more), Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5 and more
Simultaneous Streams3 (Unlimited for an additional fee)2 (Unlimited for an additional fee)

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Channels

For the most part, the YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV channel assortments are similar. 

YouTube boasts more channels (claiming over 100), while Hulu declares it has more than 95 "top channels". And while the two share a lot of networks in common, each is missing something. 

The channel grid on YouTube TV

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

For those popular networks, Hulu + Live TV beats YouTube by offering History and Lifetime, which YouTube TV doesn't have. Both services are missing Me TV (a classic TV network) and INSP (a westerns network).

That said, other discrepancies are found when closely examining the lists. YouTube is also missing A&E and the ACC ESPN sports network (which Hulu has).

The channel grid on Hulu + Live TV

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

Meanwhile, Hulu's most glaring omissions are Univision and the AMC network (aka no Better Call Saul or The Walking Dead), and it's also missing Ion, BBC America, BBC World News and Sundance.

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ChannelYouTube TVHulu with Live TV
1. NBCYesYes
2. CBSYesYes
3. ABCYesYes
4. FoxYesYes
5. Fox News ChannelYesYes
6. ESPNYesYes
7. UnivisionYesNo
8. MSNBCYesYes
9. HGTVYesYes
10. Hallmark ChannelYesYes
11. IonYesNo
12. TLCYesYes
13. TNTYesYes
14. TelemundoYesYes
15. TBSYesYes
16. HistoryNoYes
17. Discovery ChannelYesYes
18. Food NetworkYesYes
19. USA NetworkYesYes
20. CNNYesYes
21. BravoYesYes
22. LifetimeNoYes
23. The CWYesYes

One little feature we love about Hulu, though, is that it offers East and West Coast feeds of certain channels, so folks out west can watch along with their friends out east. This is available for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, TBS, TNT, Animal Planet and Discovery.

Winner: Hulu + Live TV, but only because of their East and West Coast feeds.

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Price

Youtube TV app on Apple TV home screen

(Image credit: Future)

This one is easy. YouTube TV costs $72.99 per month, though you can often find promotions that give you an initial discount. Meanwhile, Hulu + Live TV is $76.99 per month and promotions are much rarer.

That said, Hulu does offer a great value for its higher price, which we'll get to below.

Winner: YouTube TV, by $4

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Value

While the overall channel total and entry-level price lean toward YouTube TV, those who want more than just live TV (and love some of the best streaming services) get more with Hulu + Live TV. 

The Hulu app on an Apple TV home screen

(Image credit: Future)

Of course, that begins with the shows and movies on Hulu (starting at $7.99 per month on its own) with ad-supported content. Hulu + Live TV also includes Disney Plus (also $7.99 to start) and ESPN Plus ($10.99 per month). Those three add-ons, commonly referred to as The Disney Bundle are currently a $14.99 value. You may not want all of those services, but we bet at least one appeals to most.

That said, YouTube TV does give you one more simultaneous stream, with three streams at once, to Hulu + Live TV's two. It also gives you a discount on NFL Sunday Ticket for football fans who want to watch every game.

Winner: Hulu + Live TV for the bundlers

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Picture quality

YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV stream live TV at varying rates, but mostly in the 720p to 1080p range, matching what most cable channels offer. YouTube TV makes it easy to see the picture quality rates available in an on-screen menu, but Hulu does not offer such information. 

More frustratingly, neither YouTube TV nor Hulu + Live TV includes 4K live streams with their entry-level, $73 or less, plans. Yes, some of Hulu's on-demand content is in 4K. Yes, YouTube TV offers some 4K feeds ... for another $9.99 per month. Only Fubo includes 4K streams by default.

On a personal testing note. we've noticed on mobile devices that Hulu + Live TV feeds can sometimes look lower-res than YouTube TV feeds.

Winner: Nobody. We all deserve better.

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Sports

Both YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV let you 'follow' your favorite teams and record all games available, but neither is strong about regional sports networks. Sadly, for channels such as YES, NESN and the Bally Sports channels, you'll want a FuboTV or DirecTV Stream

YouTube TV hits home runs with its sports options, though. You get NFL Network and NBA TV, and you can get NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone at discounted prices. You can also get other sports add-ons like NBA League Pass, but those aren't exclusive to YouTube TV. 

Unfortunately, Hulu only offers NFL Network —  no NBA TV. Neither service carries MLB Network.

Stats are overlaid on screen during a football game on YouTube TV

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

But just as importantly, YouTube TV is a better viewing experience for sports fans. You get more data-driven content, with scores and stats in its menus. Hulu has nothing like that. And when it comes to catching up on all the big moments, YouTube TV's Key Plays is a truly killer feature. Multiview is also something that Hulu cannot match, and it allows you to watch up to four games at once for select sports.

YouTube TV's $10.99 Sports Plus add-on package includes 14 channels, including NFL RedZone, beIN Sports, Billiard TV, Fox Soccer Plus, Fight Network, FanDuel TV, and Stadium. Hulu's $9.99 Sports Add-on is a buck cheaper but only has 6 channels: NFL RedZone, MAVTV for motorsports, FanDuel TV, FanDuel Racing, Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel.

Winner: YouTube TV, which practically pitches a shut-out on this one.

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: DVR

The DVR screen on YouTube TV

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

We hate to hand out ties (we're not Men's Wearhouse), but YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV both have the same cloud-based DVR specs. Each gives you an unlimited amount of recordings which expire after nine months.

The DVR menu on Hulu + Live TV

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

This is the best option you can get in live TV streaming services, which DirecTV Stream matches. Sling TV limits you to 50 hours by default, and FuboTV's intro-level Pro package includes 1,000 hours of recordings.

Winner: Tie

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: User experience

I've hit a weird bug with Hulu + Live TV recently: sometimes while watching live TV on a laptop, it won't let me rewind through an ad break. I'm waiting to see this happen more consistently to believe it's a flaw and not a glitch.

The home screen on YouTube TV

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

All of the above, though, isn't entirely important if you don't actually like using the service. Both of these services are good, but while I loved using YouTube TV, I did not have that experience using Hulu + Live TV. Both apps, though, automatically load a channel, something I wish they would not (it's often a show I'm not intending to watch), as Sling doesn't do that (and I'm used to Sling).

YouTube TV's a little better in this regard, because it begins with a home screen of recommendations, while Hulu's Live tab makes you click the down button on your remote to open its TV guide. In practice, both are similarly stable, though I did see Hulu + Live TV buffer once (YouTube TV did not).

Chandler (Matthew Perry) is on the phone in Friends, playing on Hulu + Live TV

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey / Tom's Guide)

Also, Hulu + Live TV is buried inside the Hulu app, under the Live tab. Sometimes, this isn't a problem, but other times it feels like I'm forced to click through a bunch of Hulu content to get to the live TV I want,

You may get used to that, but it gets confusing at times. For example, when I scroll through the home screen trying to find a recently-watched episode of WWE Monday Night Raw that I haven't finished, clicking on its tile in Continue Watching loads Hulu's ad-supported, on-demand version, which is shorter than the full recording — and has commercials you cannot fast-forward through. I've never encountered such an issue on YouTube TV.

Also, fast-forwarding and rewinding are simply more seamless on YouTube TV.

Winner: YouTube TV, which had a head-start with the YouTube app perfecting the streaming experience

YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV: Verdict

As you've seen throughout this YouTube TV vs. Hulu + Live TV face-off, these are similar services. Your decision may be made by the channel selection alone. But, if all things are equal — and if you don't really care about Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus — YouTube TV beats out Hulu.

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CategoryYouTube TVHulu + Live TV
Channels (25 points)2122
Price (25 points)2524
Value (15 points)1014
Sports (15 points)138
User experience (10 points)95
Picture Quality (5 points)33
DVR (5 points)55
Total (100 points)8483

Which is better: Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV?

YouTube TV is the best if you care about sports and Hulu + Live TV is the best for those looking for bang for their buck. With the two cable alternatives prices at nearly the same dollar amount, this decision is more of a toss-up than ever. 

But for our money, we give the win to YouTube TV. Barely.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • boswd
    You over looked little features that I think make YTTV stand out, such as the resume watching of your most recent shows and that it'll pick right up where you left off on what you were watching last regardless of the time of day in the background . Also I wonder how the DVR's match up in terms of features , that one thing that makes YTTV's DVR so amazing is it self manages. I never have to go clean things up etc, you add a show and forget it. I do not how hulu's operates but it would have been nice to see a breakdown.
  • brooklyn888
    After reading the comparison, I'm definitely switching to YouTube from Hulu. With Hulu, your account is tied to your location and if you have a second home, Hulu only allows you switch locations five times, and then forces you to buy another subscription.
  • KimberTLE
    I've been a YTTV user for several years. If you've only just begun using YTTV, here's a few tidbits you can look forward to...

    One or more episodes in your DVR that you've watched weeks (or months) ago will suddenly be marked "unwatched." As a special bonus, you can't mark them "watched" on your smart TV - you'll have to 1) start the program and fast forward to the end (and I've seen this method fail), or 2) open YTTV in your computer web browser where you can scroll through the episodes and mark them "watched."

    If you're watching a program from your DVR and something pops-up that forces you to stop watching, chances are the program will be considered "watched" and disappear from your DVR. You'll have to find it in the "Most Watched" of "Shows" section to rejoin.

    YTTV just recently decided to add a recap of ►EVERY◄ NFL game each week. You didn't ask for it. Some programmer somewhere decided you'd love this new feature. Since there's no way to mark them "watched" on your smart TV, you'll need to use your computer to browse your DVR, and mark each-and-every recap "watched." No - there's no option to mark the entire DVR folder "watched." ENJOY!

    On the plus side YTTV allows you to change the order of channels in your live guide. You can also hide those channels you wouldn't be caught dead watching in your current lifetime. I don't know if Hulu does this.

    Pro Tip: While browsing your Live Guide you can LEFT arrow (◄-) on your controller to highlight the network logo on the left edge (e.g. ABC) and select it to open a listing of On Demand shows available for the network.

    I set "Yellowstone" to be recorded. Not one episode has shown up in my DVR. I can open the On Demand for CBS and watch episodes, but they just don't get added to my DVR. As programmers say, it's not a bug, it's a feature.

    We've liked (not loved) YTTV since 2018. On November 23 were switching to Hulu+Disney+Live TV. There are programs on Hulu and Disney+ we watch, and switching reduces our costs by about $10 and more importantly, we'll get the History Channel (Oak Island, Pawn Stars, etc). Being old, retired, and cheap it makes sense. Hey, it's like getting an (almost) free foot long sub every month! Overall, we'd not hesitate to recommend YTTV, it's been a good value.
  • jiminos
    I started with HULU way back before any streaming service offered local stations and it was free. Then it went ad free for a fee. Then it added live local tv for a larger fee. That is when I fired the cable company. Then came YTTV and friends had told me how great it was and I switched and was impressed. Over a couple of years I switched between them as they both started having original programming. I have stayed with YTTV for a few years now and this article confirms it is the best choice although I do see some HULU original shows I'd like to see but I'll wait until they're on NF or Prime in the near future. I really enjoyed watching the recent NFL and NCAA seasons via highlights. Life is too short to watch a sixty minute game take three hours.