Hulu’s classic on-demand streaming plan has a library of more than 2,500 titles and allows you to watch picture-in-picture shows while you browse. It’s also one of the few streaming services to stream some shows less than 24-hours after they air live.
The list of Hulu original series and movies is growing, and there’s plenty of choice. Still, Hulu’s on-demand plan for $6.99/mo has competition, so in this review, we compare what other streaming services offer in a similar price range. We also explore Hulu’s user interface for on-demand users and see what it’s like to use.
If you want to get rid of advertisements, Hulu offers an ad-free version of its on-demand plan for $12.99/mo. (If you want live TV, local channels and streaming sports — you’ll want to looking to the Hulu + Live TV package.)
And for students, Hulu offers a 65% discount. This makes Hulu with ads only $1.99 per month.
Table Of Contents
Pros and Cons Of Hulu
|✔ Ad-free streaming available||❌ The ad-free add-on makes it more expensive than Netflix (also ad-free with more than 5x as many titles)|
|✔ Ultra HD 4K streaming available||❌ Unlimited screen add-on only available with Live TV plan|
|✔ Many Hulu Originals titles with more in production|
|✔ Picture-in-picture streaming while browsing|
|✔ Premium channel bundles available with on-demand plan|
Hulu On-Demand Overview
Hulu’s classic on-demand plan is available for $6.99/mo with commercials, or as an ad-free plan for $12.99/mo. There are over 2,500 titles that include TV shows, movies, and documentaries.
As an established streaming service, Hulu has original titles like The Handmaid’s Tale, and other recent popular titles like Little Fires Everywhere. Hulu also uploads most episodes in less than 24-hours after they air on live TV. Not many content libraries do this.
One unique feature of Hulu is that you can buy premium movie network bundles without paying for the Live TV plan — this includes HBO Max, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, and ESPN+. You can also watch content from Hulu’s streaming library picture-in-picture, meaning you can browse and watch at the same time.
The plan also offers plenty of kids’ content and cartoons on-demand.
Hulu’s main competitors by price and value include Netflix, Peacock, and Amazon Prime Video. We compared the basic plans for each service, though you can access a free trial with all of them and see for yourself.
Is Hulu Ad-Free Worth It For $6 Extra?
Streaming services may have ads, and nobody pays to see them. Hulu’s on-demand library is available ad-free for an additional $6 per month, though some titles may still have ads, depending on Hulu’s contractual rights with the content provider.
At this moment, Hulu states that Grey’s Anatomy is the only show excluded from the no-ad feature in the on-demand library. You can visit Hulu’s website for up-to-date information.
Whether it’s worth paying extra for ad-free streaming depends on what other service we compare it to. Netflix offers ad-free on-demand streaming from $8.99, though this basic plan can only be viewed on one device at a time.
Hulu’s ad-free plan also allows you to download and watch content, something you can’t do with the basic $6.99/mo no-ad plan.
With Hulu, you can buy premium movie network add-ons, but these may still include promotional content, so ad-free isn’t completely ad-free. However, you get access to dozens of exclusive Hulu Originals titles without ads for $12.99. If you want to see these shows and movies, the $6 extra may be worth it for you.
Here’s a comparison of what you can and can’t do with Hulu plans:
+ Live TV
+ Live TV
|Ad-Free Streaming Library||❌||✔||❌||✔|
|Download On-Demand Content||❌||✔||❌||✔|
|85+ Live TV Channels||❌||❌||✔||✔|
|50 Hours Of Cloud DVR||❌||❌||✔||✔|
Which Add-Ons Are Available On-Demand?
There are a total of five available add-ons with the Hulu on-demand plan. This doesn’t include the ad-free option, since that’s considered a separate on-demand plan.
You can get:
- HBO Max for $14.99
- Cinemax for $9.99
- Starz for $8.99
- Showtime for $9.99
- ESPN+ for $6.99 (also available with the Hulu Disney+ and ESPN+ bundle and is included with Hulu Live).
What’s cool about these add-ons is that you get access to live TV channels’ content libraries without having to pay for live TV. Plus, you can pick and choose without making a huge financial commitment to dozens of other channels you never watch.
Disney+ is not available as a single add-on, we cover this in the bundles’ review below.
The following add-ons are NOT available with on-demand Hulu plans:
- Unlimited Screens — you can only watch Hulu on two screens at once on-demand
- Enhanced DVR — on-demand plans come with a maximum storage of 50 hours with the ad-free plan
- Entertainment Add-On
- Espanol Add-On
Hulu On-Demand Bundles
If you want to get Hulu on-demand, you can also bundle it with Disney+ and ESPN+ content libraries for $13.99/mo. The ad-free version of this bundle costs $19.99 per month.
This is a good deal considering that the combined price of the Disney+ and ESPN+ add-ons is as much as the whole bundle. Families with cartoon and sports fans who want to avoid large TV bills may find this bundle wallet-friendly.
Disney+ can also be added as a single bundle add-on to Hulu (No Ads) and Hulu + Live TV (Ads or No Ads).
Other bundles include Hulu (with ads) + Spotify Premium for students, and some eligible Sprint mobile plans also get Hulu (with ads) included in their mobile plans.
What Can I Watch On Hulu?
Aside from the mega list of shows and movies, the “Hub” in Hulu has some of this premium content. Hulu also has international movies like the award-winning Parasite in the content library.
People and reviews say that Hulu’s most successful original series was the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. There are plenty of other well-regarded Hulu Original titles available, however.
When we checked out Hulu’s content library, we saw Original crime series like Sasquatch, freaky thrillers like Tentacles, and newly released dramas like Little Fires Everywhere. Hulu Original comedy titles include The Binge, Solar Opposites, and dozens more.
There are 12 family and kid-friendly original shows and 30 documentaries too. The Hulu Originals library can be browsed A to Z.
FX On Hulu
This plan costs $6.99/mo if you buy it separately from FX, but it’s included with Hulu on-demand. Some FX originals shows you can catch include The Bridge, Hysterical, Breeders, Dave, and A Teacher.
There are also several docuseries available on FX on Hulu, along with award-winning comedy-dramas like Donald Glover’s Atlanta.
Anime on Hulu
Hulu has one of the best anime selections of any streaming service. They offer everything from classics to the newest stuff. They’ve got old-school titles like the original Dragon Ball. And new anime like the recent Fruits Basket.
In total, Hulu has well over 200 anime movies and series. And they are constantly adding new ones.
Kids Entertainment On Hulu
Aside from the 12 Hulu Originals kids titles like Trolls, Madagascar, and Animaniacs, kids can watch on-demand movies in a content library for kids, categorized by age: 2 to 4, 5 to 7, 8 to 12, as well as one for babies.
Parental controls are easy to turn on. You need to go to Account > Profiles and create a new profile. When you fill out the profile information, switch on the parental control toggle.
Can I Stream Sports On Hulu?
Since Hulu on-demand is not a live TV service, you can’t watch live sports TV. That said, Hulu is one of the few services that offer ESPN+ as an add-on with the on-demand plan.
When you buy the Disney+ and ESPN+ bundle with Hulu (Ads) for $13.99/mo, you get access to thousands of pre-recorded sporting event streams.
This means that you can watch major league baseball without cable on-demand, as well as NHL and NFL games on occasion.
If you want to know exactly what you’re getting with the ESPN+ bundle, you can sign up for the free 7-day ESPN+ trial and do a test run.
Is Hulu Simple and Practical? Here’s a Test
You might’ve already seen our Hulu + Live TV user experience review. This section is similar, except for the live TV features. The on-demand library is practically the same, minus the ‘Live’ tab and the occasionally featured rows of live TV programs.
What’s important with a streaming service like Hulu on-demand is how you can browse and find interesting stuff to watch, and what the media player is like. So here are a few points we chose to review Hulu’s on-demand streaming experience on:
- Navigation and Browsing: There are several tabs on the home dashboard, one of which stores your saved titles and warns you when your favorite movies or TV shows are about to expire. Otherwise, TV content, movies, and sports (for ESPN+ bundle holders) are in separate tabs. There’s also a ‘Hub’ where you can watch Hulu Originals and FX on Hulu.
- Preview and Title Landing Page: When you hover over a title, there is no trailer or preview. Netflix users will find this weird. When you click on a show’s title, you can find the trailer under the ‘Details’ sub-tab, if there is one. You will also see the options to select an episode, start a watch party, add it to your favorites, record it, or like or dislike it. This is the same for movies, apart from the episode guide.
- Continue Where You Left Off: The Home tab shows you any TV shows or movies you didn’t finish under a slider called “Keep Watching.”
- Picture-In-Picture: Once you begin a stream, you can select the ‘Minimize’ option in the media player. This gives you a smaller picture-in-picture stream in the corner of the page so you can browse freely while you watch something on Hulu.
- In-Stream Settings: You can stream in three different screen sizes, two of them being picture-in-picture and full screen. The third is a browser window-sized screen. Subtitles and audio can be changed on the go, while the stream quality can be toggled between the best available quality and a data-saver mode. Autoplay can also be switched on or off by preference.
- Geo-Restrictions: Hulu is only available for US customers. If any titles are unavailable in certain states, that’s due to Hulu’s contractual agreement with the content provider of that specific production.
- Profile Customization: You can add titles to your favorites, though you need to open the preview tab for each one to do this. If you’re browsing TV shows, you can’t hover and click it. This can be annoying if you like to build playlists. If you don’t, it’s not a deal-breaker. Otherwise, Hulu on-demand also offers subtitle style customization and the ability to create separate kid-friendly user profiles.
Hulu On-Demand Experience: A Summary
There are plenty of titles to choose from on Hulu and the dashboard is designed for more than just click-and-watch. The picture-in-picture feature allows you to browse while something is on in the background, and there are numerous add-ons available in just a few clicks. If you don’t mind ads, it’s also a bonus to have a cheaper base plan with the option of an ad-free plan.
Before you jump into a Hulu subscription, you might want to check out our comparison below.
Hulu vs Netflix vs Prime vs Peacock
All of these streaming services offer similar categories of on-demand content: movies, TV shows, originals, documentaries, and kids shows.
The main differences are selection, advertisements, simultaneous streaming on devices, streaming resolutions, and price.
|Price/mo||from $6.99/mo||from $4.99||from $9.99||$8.99 + tax (incl. with Amazon Prime)|
|Free Trial||✔ Try it now||✔ Try it now||✔ Try it now||✔ Try it now|
|Titles||2,500 +||1,000 +||15,000 +||15,000 +|
|Ads||✔ (With No Ads plan)||✔ (With Premium plans)||❌||❌|
|Multi-Screen||2 (Uprade up to unlimited)||3||1 (or 4 with Premium)||2|
|On-Demand Download||✔ (With No Ads plan)||✔ (With Premium plans)||✔||✔|
|Download On Mobile||✔(With No Ads plan)||✔(With Premium plans)||✔||✔|
|Streaming Resolution||Up to 4K||Up to 1080p||1080p (4K with Premium)||Up to 4K|
Netflix offers more than six times as many titles as Hulu for just $3 more, without ads. Amazon has as many, if not more, but not much content in terms of TV shows. Peacock only has 1,000, but it’s free!
Hulu’s 2,500+ on-demand titles come with a two-device stream allowance, and to get that with Netflix you need to pay more. Amazon has a non-upgradable two-screen allowance. Peacock has the highest multi-screen allowance for three devices for free. Despite the lack of choice, it’s a no-brainer to try out Peacock.
Both Hulu and Peacock have ad-free add-ons. If you want a huge selection of streamable on-demand content without ads, your best bet is probably Netflix. If you want to watch some programs in 4K, then Hulu is one to consider with the ad-free plan at $6 extra.
Disney+ as an on-demand service costs $7 per month, while HBO Max costs $15. Hulu subscribers can get HBO as an add-on for the same price, and Disney+ bundled at a discounted rate with ESPN+ as a premium network add-on. That’s a big advantage if you’re considering Hulu and want to watch those networks.
All four on-demand plans are kid-friendly and allow you to download content to your devices. With Hulu, these on-demand downloads also come with an ad-free plan for $12.99 and some shows are online less than 24-hours after they air.
What does the $6.99/mo Hulu plan include?
The basic on-demand Hulu plan includes a mixture of 2,500+ TV shows, movies, and documentaries, exclusive access to Hulu Originals series, multi-device streaming on up to two devices, and six user profiles. With the Hulu No Ads plan for $12.99, you get the same offer, except that you can watch most of the streaming library content ad-free, and you can also download it to your streaming device.
Can you get Hulu in UK?
Hulu is currently only available in the US. Users can only register, log in, and stream content on Hulu when located in the US and browsing with a US-based IP address. For now, Hulu has not made any announcements to extend its services to the United Kingdom.
Is Hulu better than Amazon Prime?
Both Hulu and Amazon Videos with Amazon Prime offer some content in 4K, and both allow up to two screens to stream at once. Amazon has more than six times as many titles as Hulu on-demand. But Hulu provides current TV shows shortly after they air. Amazon Prime streams ad-free. Hulu costs $6.00 extra per month to go ad-free. See our comparison alongside Netflix and Peacock for more information.
Is Hulu better than Netflix?
Like Amazon, Netflix also beats Hulu in content selection. But again, Hulu offers access to tons of current TV shows within a day of their first airing. Netflix ad-free whereas Hulu ad-free costs more — you’d pay $3 per month more for ad-free streaming than a standard Netflix subscription costs. See the comparison for more.
Can you share a Hulu account?
All Hulu accounts, including the $6.99/mo on-demand account with ads, come with six profiles and two-screen access. This means that six different people can share a Hulu account, and two people can stream from the account simultaneously. The unlimited multi-screen option is only available as an upgrade with Hulu + Live TV.
Can you set parental controls on Hulu?
To add parental controls on Hulu, you need to create a new user profile and set it up as child-friendly. When you head over to the Manage Profiles menu and select the Add Profile option, you just need to give the profile a name and switch on the on/off toggle under the Kids label.
How popular is Hulu?
Hulu has close to 40 million paying subscribers in 2021. The platform had just 300,000 in 2010. The number of active viewers is reported to be close to 100 million, while 4 million users cut the cable by subscribing to live TV via the Hulu + Live TV plan. Given that Hulu’s total number of paying subscribers is more than 10% of the entire US population, it may be thought of as popular.
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10 replies on “
Hulu Review: Ad-Free Streaming & Originals On-Demand, But At What Cost?”
I have to said that Hulu is one of the better media platforms out there. They offer the best and the movies aren’t grainy or choppy. I watch Hulu often on my laptop when the family has all three TV’s tied up playing games or watching sports.
This is going to be worth it’s weight in gold! I just bought Roku and the pleasure of watching Hulu on something other than my lap top, desk top or the USB connection that runs my lap top to the TV, is outstanding!
I am mainly using Hulu to watch a lot of old TV shows that I never got to watch as a kid because it was on past my bedtime (Ironside, for one). But I found shows like “Booth at the End” and “Misfits” (pre Roku), as well as Australian shows and a nice little Canadian show called “The Yard”.
Truthfully, I could subscribe to this and nothing else and be satisfied.
Hey Firebird – how you liking your Roku? Hulu just keeps releasing great shows, loving it.
A friend purchase Hulu Plus and says that even with Plus, they still air commercials. He thought that Hulu Plus eliminated the ads.
Hi Rick – your friend is right. Hulu comes with commercials no matter what. Really what Plus offers is compatibility with numerous streaming devices, and a bit more content. But on the flip side, there are several great shows that you cant access through a desktop streaming devices, and can only access via computer. So you can really argue the value of it both ways. For me Plus – is a plus – because i stream through PS3, and the user interface of the HULU PLUS app on the PS3 is very user friendly and enjoyable to use. Hope this helps!
I have been scouring for online media platforms that offer
the best to its consumers. I have chanced upon your website via google search
and the first thing I read is your post on Hulu premium. The comparative table
you have posted regarding this service is very informative and you have
graciously shared the gadgets that can access this service. Luckily, I have an
iPhone and iPad and being always on the go, I think Hulu will work for me just fine. I will sign up now to see the quality of their service and will be back here again to let
you know how it is going!
Excellent Donna, Yes please check back in with us and let us know how you like it. While your at it check out Crackle (its free and offers HD movies and shows like hulu): https://hotdog.com/what-is-crackle-tv/
I found some issues with Crackle. It sometimes stops the show and recues it. I am not the only person who watches Crackle that has experienced this.
For a busy person like me, Hulu Premium is a gift from
heaven. I am not at home most of a day and would take even weeks at a time yet
I never get to miss my favorite episodes of “The Office”. Steve Carrell is by
far the best comedic actor that ever lived and missing this show that has made
him a household name is a mortal sin for fans of comedy like me. For just $10 a
month, I get to watch back episodes that I have missed when I get to have free
time which is very rare so I make the most out of it. I highly recommend getting
the premium version over the free one since the additional media they offer is
simply the best!
I agree. And with the premium / plus you can load the app on your favorite video streaming device. I use on my PS3 and the experience simply awesome.