Cord cutting has been the trend in home media for the last couple of years. It all started essentially when Netflix changed its business model from mailing out DVDs to offering TV and movies online.
At first many laughed at the idea that video streaming would ever replace traditional TV, but that’s where we are at today. Last year alone, 50% of American people between 22 to 45 didn’t watch any traditional TV at all. Over the last 10 years 35 million households have sworn off traditional TV and ‘cut the cord’, meaning they changed from paying for a Cable bill to watching streaming content instead.
But with new competitors entering the market all the time, it’s worth taking a look at the big companies, that most of us think of when we talk streaming. The first big boy of video streaming, we want to take a closer look at is Hulu.
So the question is: Is Hulu still worth it in 2019?
In short: Generally yes, but it depends on what media you mostly consume. What sets Hulu apart is the fact that it offers, both an on-demand library with thousands of shows and movies, as well as an option for streaming Live TV. Hulu is the only service that has contracts with most big broadcast networks (like NBC, ABC and Fox) as well as cable (such as FX) but also produces its own quality content and offers add-on packages for Live TV, HBO and Sports.
What is Hulu?
Hulu is a subscription streaming service that sits somewhere between Netflix and Live TV. Depending on what you need and how much money you want to spend, you can get different packages. At the very basic level Hulu offers a library of thousands of TV show episodes, ranging from classics like The X-Files and Seinfeld, to new episodes of current broadcasts such as This Is Us and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
They also offer a smaller but still interesting repertoire of movies (ranging from new movies like The Quiet Place, to critical darling Arrival and classics like The Green Mile ) and Anime (like Naruto and Fairy Tail). All of that is ready for you to stream at any time.
If you want, you can add Live TV to that. This will add quite a bit to your monthly bill (pricing is down below) but basically replace your cable. Hulu has one of the best streaming Live TV offerings on the market right now. They have a reliable, well built framework, good channel selection and you can add tons of packages like HBO or kid’s specific networks.
What plans does Hulu have?
- Hulu with commercials ($5.99): This is the most basic plan that will give you access to all shows (exclusive and non-exclusive) as well as there movies- and Anime library. At that price that’s still a bargain, however you won’t be able to watch any Live TV and have to live with – sometimes pretty annoying – commercials.
- Hulu with no commercials ($11.99): Basically the same package, but no more commericals. If you can live with doubling the price point this will definitely be worth it and make the experience way less cumbersome.
- Hulu Live with commercials ($44.99): This is where the big price hike starts. You’ll still have access to all the content already on Hulu but also get all the Live TV goodness, as well as cloud DVR functionality, that allows you to record Live TV and watch it later.
- Hulu Live with no commercials ($50.99): Again, if you want to get rid of commericals, you are going to have to pay an extra $6 a month.
What does Hulu have that others don’t have?
When Hulu started out, it already offered something Netflix didn’t have: New episodes of TV shows, very close to the original broadcast. Since then the landscape has changed and so has Hulu. Classic cable providers like AT&T have started offering Live TV streaming and cloud DVR, which basically allows you to watch all your favorite shows directly when they air or afterwards. But instead of letting the other companies eat Hulu’s lunch they started Hulu with Live TV.
Hulu right now sits very comfortably between Netflix or Amazon Prime, as well as Streaming Live TV. If you don’t want or need Live TV and a DVR you can safe a lot of money and just watch Hulu’s very robust library of broadcast and cable TV shows as well as some movies.
Streaming content Library
Unlike Netflix and Amazon Prime Hulu mainly focuses on offering the biggest library of streaming ready TV shows on the market. They have contracts with all big networks except for CBS and smaller cable networks like FX. So, a Hulu subscription will give you access to tons of content.
- Classic TV: Hulu has some of the biggest TV classics ready to binge through, such as The X-Files, Seinfeld, Family Matters etc.
- New episodes of current broadcasts: You will also be able to watch the newest episodes of currently running TV shows, only shortly after their original Live broadcast. This includes shows like This Is Us, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Modern Family.
- Movies: Although not quite up there with other Streaming services, Hulu does offer movies, ranging from big new releases like The Quiet Place, to classics like The Green Mile.
- Anime: Hulu has a very robust library of big-name Anime such as Naruto and Fairy Tail, as well as smaller titles and even some exclusives. Right now they have about 400 Anime titles available.
Hulu offers a very worthwhile cable replacement service, that offers Live TV streaming through the internet and cloud-based DVR recording.
Hulu with Live TV has a very solid 60+ channels in store for you. That’s not quite as much as other Streaming Live TV services offer you, but still pretty good. However, you will not have access to some big channels like AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, MLB Network, MTV, NFL Network, NBA TV and Nickelodeon.
The standard package allows you to record up to 50 hours through their Cloud DVR service. However, unfortunately Hulu asks you for an additional $6 if you want to be able to fast-forward through ads on. It has also to be said, Hulu ads are some of the most annoying and long ads.
Besides that Hulu also offers some compelling exclusive content, you can’t get anywhere else. They mostly focus on shows and mini-series and have already acquired a lot of big names, as well as critically acclaimed shows, such as:
- The Handmaid’s Tale: That’s the big one. The Handmaid’s Tale really broke out in a big way in the last couple of years. It’s a very dark but amazing show, about an uprising in a post-apocalyptic society, that is super relevant in today’s world. The Handmaid’s Tale stars Elisbeth Moss (Mad Men), Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovsky (Chuck) and Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls).
- Into the Dark: This horror-anthology story is produced by cult studio Blumhouse. Blumhouse has become famous for producing critically acclaimed and beloved horror movies like Get Out, Us, Paranormal Activity and Sinister. Into The Dark is their first television production. There will be 12 episodes, with a new ones arriving every month. Each episode will be directed by a horror-mastermind like Patrick Lussier, Nacho Vigalondo, Sophia Takal, Daniel Stamm, James Roday, Patrick Casey and Josh Miller.
- Veronica Mars Season 4: This new season of the 2000s cult favorite will be the second time the show has been resurrected. The show got a follow-up movie, that was crowd-funded through Kickstarter in 2014. Now, another 5 years later, the show comes back again, this time on Hulu. Most of the original cast will be back, including of course Kristen Bell. Of course fan darlings Logan (Jason Dohring), Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) and Percy (Wallace Fennel) will be back as well. The revival will be about a secretive bad guy, trying to ruin Neptune’s reputation as a spring break destination.
- Castle Rock: Like everyone in Hollywood, Hulu loves Stephen King. After adapting 11.22.63 for the small-screen, Hulu now produces Castle Rock. The show stars King-alumns like Sissy Spacek, and Bill Skarsgard and follows the story of Henry, an attorney summoned home after a young man is found imprisoned beneath Shawshank prison (yes, THE Shawshank prison). The show has been highly praised by critics and will be back for a second season.
- The Act: This show stars oscar winner Patricia Arquette and Joey King in a tragic true crime story. The young woman Gypsy Rose lived in a small town in Missouri when police found her mother murdered in their home. The story starts out as a troubling mystery that soon uncovers a complicated mother-daugther relationship. With one of them having psychological issues, that soon spiral out of control.
- Runaways: Created by the team behind The O.C. and Gossip Girl, this superhero show is a fun and funny teen romp. Its adapted from a Marvel comic by the same name and focuses on 6 teens with super powers, who have to unite against their criminal parents. The show mixes teen drama with action elemens and mystery … and a dinosaur!
- Harlots: Harlots is a british period drama about prostitutes in England during the 19th century. It’s based on the non-fiction book The Covent Garden Ladies. Samantha Morton plays a brothel owner, looking to move up in the world while fighting clergymen, policemen and criminals.
- Casual: This is a pretty dark and biting 30-minute romcom show, starring Michaela Watkins as a middle-aged woman who just got divorced. Now in her 40s, she needs to figure out dating in the 21st century. She lives with her sex-crazed brother, Alex (Tommy Dewey) who invented and now misuses a popular dating app.
- The Mindy Project: This show, created and starring Mindy Kaling (The Office) started out on broadcast network. After it got cancelled Hulu took over the show and produced a few more seasons. In the show, Kaling plays the gynecologist Mindy, who is desperately looking for the one. The show is a pretty light, funny romcom and not as dark as other Hulu series like Casual. You can watch the whole show on Hulu.
Best Alternatives to Hulu
Finding a direct alternative to Hulu is pretty difficult, because the service does so much. It really comes down to what you like about Hulu and depending on that we can recommend the right service.
However it has to be said, that right now there is no other service that has everything Hulu does. The mix of offering broadcast- and cable shows for streaming, as well as their own quality shows and Live TV streaming is pretty unique.
So, really if all of those things are interesting to you, you probably should stick to Hulu. If, however, you only want video streaming of specific TV shows or are looking to replace your cable box with an online streaming service, we do have some suggestions for you:
Best Alternative to Hulu: Streaming
The obvious one. Netflix is the number one streaming platform for a reason. They have a lot of content, that you can’t get anywhere else. While Netflix doesn’t directly give you what you might want to have from Hulu, you won’t get much more bang for your buck than with Netflix.
However, as we have said before, Netflix really distinguishes itself these days with its exclusive shows, that aren’t anywhere else. They do have some broadcast and cable shows, especially from TV stations such as The CW, AMC and FX, but when it comes to a lot of other big name Television you probably won’t be satisfied with Netflix alone.
That’s why we have another suggestion for you, that you might not have considered so far, but is worth a closer look:
CBS All Access
We are going to guess that you already have a Netflix account, so we are not going to tell you about that. But if TV content is what you are after you should give CBS All Access a try.
The relatively new streaming service doesn’t have the depth of Netflix or Hulu, but at $6 it’s a pretty good deal. You will get tons of popular TV content from CBS, such as The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Undercover Boss. And they also offer some of the best exclusive shows, including the incredible The Good Fight, the new Star Trek: Discovery and Jordan Peel-produced The Twilight Zone.
And CBS Live TV Streaming is included as well. Quite a bit of bang for your buck, there.
Alternative for Streaming Live TV
There are tons of services that offer Live TV Streaming. So many, in fact, that we already wrote a comprehensive guide that helps you to figure out, which one to get. But if you want something that’s, similarly to Hulu, in the more affordable price range, we suggest Sling TV.
Sling TV was one of the first services in the Live TV streaming game and is still a great choice. You can choose out of two different packages – Sling Orange, and Sling Blue. Orange offers around 30 channels at $20/month and Sling Blue comes with 45 channels for $25/month.
As with Hulu you can add packages for Pay TV and other content. You also have to pay extra for DVR storage. But for a pretty reasonable $5 extra, they add a whopping 100 hours of storage.
If money isn’t your first concern, may we suggestion giving Playstation Vue a closer look? Starting at $45 a month it’s more pricey than Sling TV, but in line with Hulu. However it does have its perks. Their amazing DVR feature will allow you to save unlimited (yes, you heard me right) episodes of up to 500 shows.
PS Vue has a modern looking interface with a good search function and tons of functionality. Streaming generally works pretty flawlessly, with quality adjusting according to internet speed. Another nice feature is the ability to manually toggle your stream quality, which many competitors don’t have.
You get the choice of currently 4 different pricing models, called Access, Core, Elite, and Ultra. Basically, you start out with about 50 channels and get up to about 100, with the Elite plan including Pay-TV channels HBO and Showtime.
You can also get extra packages, such as a Sports Pack. What’s special for Playstation owners, if you are a PS Plus member you will actually get discounts on some of the channels and extra packages.
The Future of Hulu
The Streaming business is ever-changing. And this is obviously true for Hulu as well. With new competitors and other challenges there is a lot of reasons why Hulu has a lot to deal with in 2019 and even after that.
Hulu as part of Disney
2019 has already been a big year for Hulu. In Mai pop culture giant Disney took over control of Hulu in a huge $5.8 billion deal with Comcast.
What does that mean for Hulu? So far it’s hard to say, but according to Disney they want to invest in more original programming. It seem Disney sees Hulu as a great platform for edgier, more ambitious content, that doesn’t quite go along with the Disney brand.
New Shows on Hulu
But there is some Disney content that will also come to Hulu, specifically 4 animated Marvel shows, geared towards a more adult audience. Add to that two new live-action shows, namely the well-known property Ghost Rider and the seemingly original show Helstrom. It seems also possible that the cancelled Netflix Marvel shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and might come back.
But even besides that, Hulu already announced tons of new high-profile shows that will land on the platform some time in the next two years:
- Dollface: A new comedy show, starring Kat Dennings, of Two Broke Girls and Thor fame, as a woman who gets dumped by her boyfriend and has to rekindle the female friendships she had left behind.
- Little Fires Everywhere: A Mini-Series, starring Reese Witherspoon, about a family plagued by secrets.
- High Fidelity: A new adaptation of the famous book by Nick Hornby.
- Foxy Brown: A TV adapation of the famous 70s blaxploitation movie,s tarring Meagan Good
- Tender is the Night: An adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel
- Adaptations of the comics Sweet Tooth and Postal