Hulu + Live TV vs Sling TV: Which Live Streaming Service Should You Choose?

I want to start by giving you some background on the rise of live TV streaming services. Over the past five years, internet-based platforms like Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV have offered cable TV-like packages without requiring expensive hardware or contracts.

These services combine the on-demand libraries we love from streamers like Netflix with live access to popular TV channels. According to research firm Conviva, viewing of live streaming content grew 60% year-over-year in 2021.

As high speed internet expands across the U.S., streaming live channels over IP networks is emerging as a flexible and cost-effective alternative to cable and satellite for many viewers.

Now let‘s explore two of the most popular and capable options—Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV. I‘ll break down their features, channel offerings, pricing and overall value to help you determine the right service for your household.

At a Glance: How Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV Compare

First, let‘s examine how these two streaming providers stack up across some key statistics:

Hulu + Live TVSling TV
Base Price Per Month$69.99 with ads
$82.99 no ads
$40 Sling Orange or Blue
$55 Combined
Number of ChannelsOver 85+ channelsUnder 50 channels
Cloud DVR StorageUnlimited;
Recordings deleted after 9 months
50 hour DVR standard
(Can pay $5 for 200 hours)
Maximum Video Quality Up to 1080pUp to 720p
Simultaneous Streams 2 streams
(can add unlimited)
Between 1 and 4 streams

Hulu + Live generally delivers more content and features, while Sling offers cheaper starting prices. Next, we‘ll explore channels, streaming quality, DVR storage and more to better understand these differences.

Comparing Channel Lineups: What‘s Included?

One of the first things to evaluate is which channels are offered on these services. Do they have your must-have channels, or will you need to tack on pricey add-ons?

According to analytics firm Antenna, the most viewed channels on live streaming services include:

  • ESPN
  • Fox News
  • CNN
  • MSNBC
  • HGTV
  • Discovery Channel
  • TBS
  • TNT

Here is how Hulu + Live TV and Sling break down in terms of major news, entertainment and lifestyle channel availability:

Popular ChannelsHulu Live TVSling TV
ESPN✅ Yes❌ Only as add-on
Local sports networksMany includedVaries
CNN✅ Yes✅ Yes
Fox News✅ Yes✅ Yes
MSNBC✅ Yes✅ Yes
HGTV✅ Yes❌ No
Discovery Channel✅ Yes❌ No
TBS✅ Yes✅ Yes
TNT✅ Yes✅ Yes

For flagship cable news and entertainment, Hulu and Sling are pretty evenly matched. But Hulu offers more top lifestyle channels from Discovery, HGTV and more without requiring add-ons.

With Sling Orange and Blue packages, popular channels like ESPN get split up, forcing you into pricier bundles to get everything. Hulu delivers more top cable channels in its base package.

Sling lets you buy more niche channels a la carte though based on your interests. Hulu add-ons come in bulk packages instead. So if you want full customization, Sling has an edge.

On-Demand Shows and Movies

In addition to live TV, on-demand programming makes a nice bonus. Hulu + Live TV includes the full Hulu streaming library with thousands of shows, Hulu originals and movies. So you get two services for your monthly fee.

Sling lacks a comparable built-in library apart from some on-demand shows from your live TV channels. For $5 more per month, Sling‘s DVR Plus lets you record shows to watch later. But otherwise, Sling focuses exclusively on live TV.

Streaming Quality and Simultaneous Streams

When watching all this content, you want a smooth streaming experience whether on your living room big screen or on a mobile device.

Let‘s see how Hulu and Sling compare on video quality and number of simultaneous streams allowed:

Hulu + Live TVSling TV
Video QualityUp to 1080pUp to 720p
Simultaneous Streams2 streams
(can add unlimited)
Between 1 and 4 streams

Hulu allows up to 2 devices streaming at once, making it a good fit for couples or small families. Paying more lets you add unlimited streams.

Sling Orange only offers a single stream, while Sling Blue allows up to 3 simultaneous streams. With Sling Orange + Blue you get 4 streams.

So Hulu has more flexibility in expanding streams. Sling makes you pick 1, 3 or 4 streams when you first sign up.

Cloud DVR: Storage Limits and Expiration Policies

A benefit live streaming TV offers over cable is the ability to record and play back shows later.

Hulu and Sling both offer cloud DVR features, but they differ significantly in storage limits and retention policies:

Hulu + Live TV Sling TV
Storage LimitUnlimited50 hours standard
(200 hours for $5 extra)
Recordings Expire?After 9 monthsOnly removed as needed
for new recordings

Hulu provides way more included storage for recordings. But they do expire saved shows after 9 months.

Sling deletes older recordings as space is needed. So while storage limits exist, your recordings essentially never expire.

For most viewers, Hulu‘s unlimited space is far more usable despite the 9 month limit. Only extreme TV hoarders need to weigh the restrictions.

Monthly Pricing and Add-Ons

Lastly, here is what to expect to pay monthly:

ServiceStarting Price
Hulu + Live TV$69.99/month with ads
Sling TV Orange$40/month
Sling TV Blue$40/month
Sling Orange + Blue$55/month

Sling TV offers much lower prices, especially if you just want the basics. Hulu + Live costs almost double before any premium add-ons.

However, the Hulu + Live TV fee includes full access to thousands of shows/movies on the Hulu streaming platform. So you get two bundled services.

Some add-ons to consider include:

Hulu

  • Unlimited streams: $9.99/month
  • Enhanced DVR (200 hours): $9.99
  • HBO Max: $14.99/month
  • Showtime: $10.99/month

Sling

  • Cloud DVR Plus (200 hours): $5/month
  • Total TV Deal: $27.50/month

Over time bundling many extras can add up quickly. Factor both base prices AND potential add-ons into your personal budget.

Pros and Cons: At a Glance

Hulu

Pros

  • Tons of top live channels
  • Full Hulu on-demand library
  • Unlimited DVR hours

Cons

  • Much more expensive
  • Recordings still expire
  • Need to upgrade for more streams

Sling

Pros

  • Very affordable prices
  • Flexible a la carte add-ons
  • No DVR storage limits

Cons

  • Far fewer base channels
  • Video quality maxes at 720p
  • 1 or 3 simultaneous streams only

Which Service Should You Choose?

So when everything is considered, is Hulu or Sling the better live TV streaming choice?

If you want the maximum content and best features, I recommend Hulu + Live TV. You get robust live TV and full access to Hulu‘s on-demand library. Unlimited DVR storage and 1080p streaming also bring excellent value.

If instead you want cheaper prices and are comfortable with fewer channels, Sling TV is the budget pick. You‘ll have to compromise more on video quality and DVR. But starting prices are super low.

In closing, here is a quick rundown of ideal viewer types for each service:

Good for Hulu + Live TV:

  • Sports fans wanting regional sports networks
  • TV & movie buffs who also watch Hulu regularly
  • People accustomed to unlimited DVR storage
  • Households needing to juggle 3+ screens

Good for Sling TV:

  • Viewers wanting cheaper monthly bills
  • Those who only require 10-15 essential channels
  • People fine with tradeoffs around video quality
  • Individuals who can manage 1-3 streams maximum

I hope this full breakdown of Hulu + Live TV vs Sling TV gave you the information needed to determine which streaming TV provider makes the most sense for your household! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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