March 26, 2020

Hulu + Live TV vs. Sling TV – Soda.com

Note: Occasionally a client rewrites a piece, decides not to use it, or changes it so much that it would be a misrepresentation to claim it’s my work. I’m rarely informed of this change, and it’s ok with me. After all, strategies change, and it’s not my decision! In those cases, I keep the work I did here, so that you can see what my work looks like. In this situation, I don’t post work that hasn’t been accepted and paid for. This one was originally for soda.com.

Streaming TV now threatens to dethrone cable TV as the dominate source of entertainment. In fact, more Americans pay for streaming services now than cable. Hulu + Live TV has quickly positioned itself as the most popular of these services, reaching 2.7 million subscribers by the third quarter of 2019. That puts the service ever-so-slightly ahead of the former number one, Sling TV, which had 2.686 million subscribers by that time.

Owned by Disney, Hulu + Live TV is Hulu’s flagship streaming plan, offering live sports, news and entertainment, as well as access to the whole Hulu on-demand library. Sling TV is Dish Network’s attempt at streaming, and offers a wide selection of live TV, including top cable channels, sports and entertainment, plus extras like an international bundle that features major channels from around the world.

Compare Hulu + Live TV vs. Sling TV plans

Service Hulu + Live TVSling TV OrangeSling TV BlueSling TV Orange + Blue
Monthly price$54.99/mo.$20/mo.*$20/mo.*$35/mo.*
Free trial length7 days7 days7 days7 days
Number of channels60+30+40+50+
Original content available?YesNoNoNo
Cloud DVR storage50 hours50 hours**50 hours**50 hours**
Number of simultaneous streams2134
Number of user profiles6111

*Sling TV Orange and Blue both start at $20/mo. and go up to $30/mo. after one month. Orange + Blue starts at $35/mo. and goes up to $45/mo. after one month.

**Sling TV comes with 10 hours of free cloud DVR storage. 50 hours is an additional $5/mo.

Which streaming service is right for you?

Hulu + Live TV is the more expensive option, but it comes with more programming out of the box, and access to a bigger library of on-demand content. In addition, most Hulu + Live TV users will have access to broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.

Sling TV, on the other hand, costs significantly less at the outset, but may or may not include what you’re looking for. Most notably, Sling TV can’t stream local over-the-air stations. Instead, they will provide you with an antenna so you can watch those channels at home (but not anywhere else).

That said, with three different plans to choose from and an a la carte option, Sling TV is easier to customize. Customers looking for the best combination of live TV and on-demand content and can afford the cost may want to look at Hulu + Live TV. People who have a budget to consider should check out Sling TV.

User experience

Both services have smooth desktop and mobile apps and also work on almost any streaming device. Hulu + Live TV works on Amazon Fire Stick, Android phones, tables and TVs, Apple TV, Chromecast, LG TVs, iPhones and iPads, Roku, Samsung TVs, Vizio TVs and even some gaming consoles.

Sling TV is compatible with fewer gaming platforms, but works on all the major streaming devices and TVs mentioned above, with the exception of Vizio TVs.

Sling TV Orange only offers one simultaneous stream, whereas Hulu + Live TV provides two. Sling TV Blue gives you three and if you opt for Sling TV Blue + Orange, you’ll get to watch on four screens at once.

Personalization

Hulu + Live TV beats Sling TV when it comes to personalization, largely because it lets customers create up to six different user profiles. This means your friends or family can get personalized recommendations and record their own shows. Sling TV doesn’t support user profiles, so there’s only one set of recommendations, recordings and favorites to utilize.

Both services offer cloud DVR storage for free, but Hulu + Live TV offers 50 hours versus Sling TV’s 10. You can upgrade Sling TV’s DVR to 50 hours for $5/mo. more, but Hulu + Live TV offers 200 hours at $9.99/mo.

While Sling TV doesn’t provide multiple profiles, it does provide good parental control, as does Hulu + Live TV.

Extras

Sling TV offers several extras packages to customize your service, but what you get depends on what basic package you have. For example with Sling TV Orange, Sports Extra adds ESPNU, ESPNEWS, NBA TV, NHL Network and SEC network for $10/mo. For Sling TV Blue customers, Sports Extra provides Golf Channel, NFL Red Zone, NHL Network, and others, plus, extreme sports and international soccer.

Sling TV also gives you access to premium networks like Epix, Showtime and Starz at prices between $5/mo. to $15/mo. Unfortunately, it does not offer HBO. What you can add depends on your package, so it’s helpful to do some research first.

Hulu + Live TV features a variety of options, including premium channels like HBO, as well as themed packages like the Español add-on, includes Spanish language channels. This service also offers an unlimited screens add-on, which means for $9.99/mo. you’ll be able to stream as many things as you want at home. Away from home, this add-on gives you one additional simultaneous stream (for a total of three).

Hulu will also let you bundle that add-on with with the extended DVR for $14.98/mo, and you can eliminate commercials entirely for $6/mo.

When it comes to originals, Sling TV doesn’t compete at all, because it doesn’t have any. Hulu + Live TV has a full lineup of exclusive original shows, including titles like Castle RockThe Handmaid’s TaleHarlotsShrill and Veronica Mars.

Disadvantages

Hulu + Live TV’s main disadvantage is cost. At $54.99/mo. it’s one of the most expensive live streaming services out there. Still, the service has a ton to offer for the price. But, if you want a fully commercial free experience, you’ll have to shell out another $6.00/mo.

The biggest drawback with Sling TV is the lack of local and broadcast stations. The only way to catch local news and programming with Sling TV is to use an antenna, which means that you can’t use the DVR to record these stations. If there’s a game on ABC you want to record, for example, you won’t be able to.

The takeaway

Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV are in the same category, but they’re different beasts. Hulu + Live TV is the better option for those who want a complete entertainment experience. Even though it’s not the cheapest streaming service, it still costs less than cable TV, and the content selection is vast.

Sling TV is better for cost conscious people. With three different basic packages and the option of adding channels one at a time, you can customize your service with Sling TV and only pay for what you really want to watch.

Both services offer great options for cord cutters, and since neither service has a contract and both have a seven-day free trial, you can try them both and compare for yourself.

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