In this day and age, TV viewers have a plethora of options. Cable TV providers are no longer the only shop in town – in fact, far from it! There’s now several great providers competing for your business, which is great news for you! But it can also be confusing. Today, we’ll compare two popular cable alternatives, DIRECTV NOW and Hulu with Live TV. Read our full Hulu Live TV vs DIRECTV NOW comparison below.
Two Viable Cable Alternatives
First and foremost, let’s explore what these two services share in common:
- Both are viable alternatives to cable TV
- Both are quite affordable (starting from $40/mo)
- Both are non-contract, meaning you can cancel at any time
- Both work over the internet, on tons of devices (streaming players, smartphones, tablets, computers and more)
- Both offer at least 50+ channels to watch live, as well as some on-demand content
- Both are great ways to watch live sports, news, and your favorite TV shows – without cable!
Lastly, both offer free trials. You can try Hulu with Live TV free for 7 days and cancel any time. Or, you can test out DIRECTV NOW free for 7 days. You could even try both if you want, and do your own Hulu Live vs DIRECTV NOW comparison!
Hulu Live TV vs DIRECTV NOW: Overview
We’ll do a detailed DIRECTV NOW vs Hulu Live TV comparison below, but if you’re just looking for a brief overview, here it is:
Hulu with Live TV offers well-rounded channel selection (50+ channels), excellent coverage of local channels, and a massive on-demand library to enjoy any time. It costs $40 per month, and offers a free 7-day trial for new customers.
DIRECTV NOW offers a huge number of channels, with up to 120+ available in total. It has good coverage of local channels, and offers the most cable-like experience overall. It costs $40-$75 per month, depending on the package. There’s a free 7-day trial.
Still unsure? Find lots more details below in our full Hulu Live vs DIRECTV NOW review.
DIRECTV NOW vs Hulu Live Pricing
Want to guess what the most common reason for cancelling cable TV is? Unsurprisingly, it’s the high cost of cable. If you’ve quit cable in order to save money, you’re probably looking for a cost-effective way to still keep access to your favorite shows and sports. Both of these services offer a great solution – details below.
Hulu Live TV Pricing: Hulu offers only 1 package, which costs $40/mo. This gives you 50+ channels for live streaming, plus access to the huge Hulu on-demand library. There are also some add-ons to explore, like premium channels.
DIRECTV NOW Pricing: DIRECTV NOW offers 4 different packages, ranging in price from $40/mo to $75/mo. The cheapest package offers 65+ channels, while the biggest offers an impressive 125+. There are also premium channels and other add-ons available.
In terms of base packages, the two services offer similar value. DIRECTV NOW has more channels, sure, but Hulu Live has way more on-demand content. It’s a trade-off you’ll have to consider for your own situation.
Hulu Live TV vs DIRECTV NOW Channels
Hulu Live TV offers 50+ channels for $40 per month. Highlights include ESPN, TNT, FOX News, AMC, and many more. Hulu also offers the best coverage of local channels of ANY of the online streaming services. That means networks like NBC, FOX, CBS and ABC, as well as regional sports networks, are covered in most areas. All these channels are available for live streaming – and tons of content is also available on-demand, in the Hulu library.
DIRECTV NOW offers 65+ channels for $40 per month. Highlights include CNN, FOX News, ESPN, HGTV, and many more. If you are willing to pay more, there are also some larger packages available – up to 125+ channels in total, for $75/mo. DIRECTV NOW also covers local channels, but not in as many markets as Hulu. Select content is available on demand, but there’s not as big of a selection as compared to Hulu.
In terms of shear channels available, DIRECTV NOW comes out ahead. If you’re looking for the biggest selection possible, you’ll likely want to go with DIRECTV NOW. If you’re happy with a smaller, well-balanced selection, and a huge on-demand selection, Hulu with Live TV is a great choice.
For a closer look at the Hulu vs DIRECTV NOW channels, let’s explore individual categories of channel selection.
If being able to watch sports online is important to you, you’ll be happy to know that both of these services offer great solutions for sports fans.
Hulu‘s lineup includes tons of useful channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN College Extra, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line, FS1, FS2, GOLF channel, Big 10 Network, NBCSN, CBS Sports Network, SEC Network, Olympic Channel, and more. NBC, FOX, CBS and regional sports networks are also covered in most areas. Currently, Hulu has the best coverage of local sports out of any of the online streaming platforms.
DIRECTV NOW’s lineup includes many of those same channels – although some are only in the bigger packages. For instance, to get FS2 and Golf Channel, you need the $65/mo Go Big package. With that said, DIRECTV NOW also offers some great sports networks that Hulu doesn’t have, including NFL Network, NHL Network, Tennis Channel, and more. When it comes to local sports, DIRECTV NOW has good coverage of NBC/FOX/etc, although it doesn’t cover as many markets as Hulu.
When it comes to nationally broadcast sports, the two services are pretty similar. When it comes to local sports, however, Hulu has an advantage. Hulu currently covers local channels in 600+ markets, compared to DIRECTV NOW’s 350+ markets. That means you have a better chance of getting your local teams with Hulu Live TV.
At this time, Hulu offers the most coverage of locals. Local networks are carried in 600+ markets, while DIRECTV NOW carries them in 350+.
However, keep in mind that this could certainly change, as both of these services are rapidly growing and adding more local affiliates.
When it comes to entertainment channels like HGTV, TNT and others, both of these services bring a lot to the table.
DIRECTV NOW has the advantage of offering a lot more channels in general, compared to Hulu. That said, it’s also more expensive for most packages. But with 125+ channels in total, there aren’t many channels that aren’t covered on this service.
Hulu has a pretty solid lineup of popular entertainment networks, like TNT, Food Network, HGTV and much more. That said, they are missing a few – namely Comedy Central and Discovery Channel, both of which are offered on DIRECTV NOW.
So, in terms of entertainment channels, DIRECTV NOW appears to come out on top. At the same time, Hulu offers significantly more on-demand selection – so maybe it’s a wash, after all.
Hulu Live vs DIRECTV NOW Device Compatibility
Neither of these services come with a device to use like a cable box, so you’ll have to supply your own device. The good news is that almost any device will work, as outlined below. Need a new device to us? See our guide to the best streaming devices.
Both services are compatible with:
- Android devices
- iOS devices
- Apple TV
- Google Chromecast
- Amazon Fire TV
- Select Samsung smart TVs
In addition, Hulu with Live TV also works on:
- Xbox 360
- Xbox One
- Amazon Fire Tablets.
Right now, Hulu works on more devices than DIRECTV NOW. While both cover some of the most popular options, Xbox users will want to chose Hulu Live TV.
Hulu Live TV vs DIRECTV NOW Features
The basic concept of these two services is the same: an affordable way to watch live TV without cable. For the most part, the two streaming services function similarly – but there are some differences in specific features, as outlined below.
Want to watch on-demand coverage, as well as live TV? Hulu is probably the way to go. While both services offer on-demand, Hulu’s library is far larger than DIRECTV NOW’s. And with Hulu you’ll find award-winning Hulu Originals like The Handmaid’s Tale that are available exclusively to Hulu subscribers.
Recording Live TV
The ability to record live TV to watch later is important in this day and age. Luckily, both Hulu Live and DIRECTV NOW offer the feature, via a built-in cloud DVR. There’s no physical device required, as shows are just stored in the cloud. DVR is included for free, with DIRECTV NOW giving you 20 hours of storage, and Hulu offering 50 hours. You can also upgrade the storage amount for an additional fee.
Streaming Simultaneously on Multiple Devices
If you live with other people, chances are you’ll appreciate the opportunity to do your own thing from time to time. Simultaneous streaming allows you to watch sports in the living room while your kids watch cartoons in the bedroom – using the same account. Both services let you stream on 2 devices at once. If you need more than that, DIRECTV NOW offers a 3rd stream for an extra $5/mo, while Hulu offers unlimited extra streams for $15/mo.
Beyond these features, the two services are really quite similar. DIRECTV NOW has a bit more of a cable-like interface, with a familiar channel grid pattern, while Hulu has a newer style interface that’s similar to other streaming platforms.
Which Service Should I Use?
Which wins the battle of Hulu Live TV vs DIRECTV NOW? Tough question!
There’s really no clear winner here. It depends what you’re after and what you’re willing to spend.
From a value standpoint, Hulu may offer the best bang for your buck. We say that largely because of the impressive on-demand library, and solid channel lineup, and the excellent coverage of local sports.
From a selection standpoint, DIRECTV NOW offers a lot more channels overall, with more than twice Hulu’s selection. That said, Hulu has more on-demand content.
Hulu Live TV is our top recommendation for folks who want a great well-rounded service with a good channel lineup, excellent on-demand coverage and industry-leading coverage of local channels. Learn more in our Hulu review, or click here to try Hulu with Live TV free for 7 days
DIRECTV NOW is our top recommendation for anyone who wants the most channels possible, and is willing to pay a bit more for the privilege. Nothing beats DIRECTV NOW’s 125+ channel selection at this point in time. Learn more in our DIRECTV NOW review, or click here to try DIRECTV NOW free for 7 days.
Lastly, keep in mind that both of these services are growing rapidly and becoming better by the day. Hulu’s live coverage recently reached 1 million subscribers and is quickly gaining steam. DIRECTV NOW is an older and more-established platform, with at least 1.8 million subscribers. As these services grow and evolve, we’ll keep this guide updated with the latest!
Try a Free Trial
Here’s a thought: both of these services offer free trials. Why not sign up for both, and do your own Hulu Live TV vs DIRECTV NOW comparison?