Owned by the Walt Disney Company, Hulu is a popular streaming service that offers a bundle option with sister Disney properties ESPN+ and Disney+. The app has a lot to offer sports fans, especially for streaming college football and basketball, NFL, and UFC Fight Nights.
Table of Contents
Hulu sports pros
- UFC Fight Nights included in price
- Full NFL coverage through the Super Bowl
- Markets that have an NBC Sports regional sports network can watch in-market NBA, NHL, and MLB games
- College sports and out-of-market NHL fans
- Watching content on a plane or while traveling
- ESPN+ and Disney+ bundle comes with the Hulu + Live TV subscription
- Local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliates nationwide
- Unlimited DVR
Hulu sports cons
- Clunky setup process
- Disney+ requires a separate account
- Basic DVR package keeps ads in recordings
- Missing MLB Network, NBA TV, and NHL Network
- Sports fans may want to skip Hulu and only subscribe to ESPN+
Our Experience Using Hulu + Live TV
The sign-up and setup process
Disney, as the parent company of Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+, is cobbling together a number of different streaming platforms. Although Hulu has done an admirable job integrating ESPN+ content into the Hulu app, Disney + requires a separate login. New users are required to add two new accounts to unlock the features of each platform.
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by passwords and apps, the Hulu bundle is not the service for you, it’s too messy.
Once you sign in and setup your account, it will be necessary to “activate” Disney+ and ESPN+, which felt cumbersome.
On the bright side, Hulu’s setup process does attempt to personalize the experience to tailor the content library to the subscriber’s interests, which helps to make the first touch points more manageable.
Unfortunately, the interface and selection process feels far less intuitive than does fuboTV’s onboarding process. I would describe Hulu’s personalization feature as adequate, but a bit clumsy, especially the onboarding interface.
Streaming Hulu on a web browser
We watched Hulu content on mobile, a web browser, and on a Samsung Smart TV. The picture quality on the web browser was noticeably worse than competitors DirecTV and fuboTV.
Finding the DVR library on a web browser is less than intuitive and requires users to select the “My stuff” tab and then take a step further by selecting a nondescript black box icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen, “Recordings.” This will get you to the DVR library to access any shows, games, or movies you’ve decided to record.
The experience is much easier on mobile, where Hulu built a conspicuous “Manage DVR” tab.
Hulu mobile app
In this price category, Hulu’s mobile experience is a middle ground between the excellent Fubo TV app, which is our favorite to use, and the rudimentary mobile interface DirecTV users are stuck with.
Hulu has designed an elegant interface that is visually appealing, but slightly harder to use than some competitors. For example, when the “TV” section is selected by the user, the default setting is to show “Recent” content, which in my case was only South Park. This will be confusing for some users as it takes the affirmative step of selecting “Channels” or “Favorites” or “Sports” from a small menu icon to get deeper into the content.
The challenge for all streaming providers with their mobile apps is to make it easy for users to access their large content libraries. In the streaming industry, creating a thoughtful user experience, and “flat architecture” where the most obscure titles in the library are easily reachable with the fewest number of clicks, is one of the best ways to honor the considerable subscription fees customers pay to these providers. It doesn’t matter how many channels a streaming platform has if most of the content is hard to find.
The Fubo TV mobile app boasts a “Guide” feature at the bottom of the screen that is brilliant for letting subscribers deep into the options for live TV. You can easily search Fubo by schedule or network. Hulu has created a strong mobile experience, but a few more thoughtful touches would go a long way. Having said that, most users will be fine with Hulu mobile and enjoy using it.
The two tiered navigation offered by Hulu still easily allows users to get into the type of content they want to see (TV, Sports, Movies) at the top of the navigation and use the bottom screen navigation to personalize the experience (Home, My Stuff, Live, Search).
What sports channels can I watch live on Hulu?
Although I have been critical of the Hulu bundle sign up process because of how it requires users to adopt 3 new platforms at once, there is value with Hulu live TV from a sports perspective.
The ESPN Plus addition isn’t much of a money saver with the Disney Plus / Hulu bundle because ESPN Plus is $9.99 per month under normal circumstances, and you’ll have to pay extra for UFC PPV anyway.
Having said that, Hulu + Live TV offers an impressive array of sports channels. In the table below, we have listed the sports channels subscribers get with each Hulu + Live TV package, including the Hulu + Live TV sports add-on.
|Hulu + Live TV||Hulu + Live TV||Hulu + Live TV Sports Add-On|
|ACC Network Extra|
|Big 10 Network|
|CBS Sports Network|
|ESPN College Extra|
|Fox Soccer Plus|
|MAVTV Motorsports Network|
|NBC Sports Bay Area|
|NBC Sports Boston|
|NBC Sports California|
|NBC Sports Chicago|
|NBC Sports Northwest|
|NBC Sports Philadelphia|
|NBC Sports Philadelphia+|
|NBC Sports Washington|
|NBC Sports Washington+|
|Spectrum SportsNet LA|
$69.99 / month
$74.99 / month
$84.99 / month
Watching sports on Hulu + Live TV: What we liked
Hulu subscribers can access local affiliates for ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, which is key for streaming the NFL and major events like the Masters and NBA Finals. Hulu + Live TV gives about as much sports coverage as you could hope for without paying for a comprehensive out-of-market package like NFL Sunday Ticket.
Of course, Hulu + Live TV is a great option for watching sporting events live, but the archive of previously aired games was also useful. One of the features I enjoyed with Hulu + Live TV was the ability watch back old college football games without commercials, and without the need to record to DVR.
For example, as a huge Ohio State football fan, I was able to watch old Michigan games in the week leading up to the Ohio State vs. Michigan game to get a feel for how I thought the rivalry games might go. I watched the entire game film from Michigan’s loss to Michigan State earlier in the season. With all the commercials edited out, the game was easy to digest in about 2 hours. Many of the other games from Michigan’s season were also available. The irony here is that, had I recorded the games to my DVR I would have had to have watched commercials. This is a peculiar inconsistency in the Hulu setup.
Watching NHL games on Hulu and ESPN+
The NHL and ESPN recently announced a 7 year contract, which folds what was once NHL.TV into an out of market streaming package for ESPN+ and Hulu subscribers. This means that 1,000 out of market games are available to ESPN+ subscribers, and by extension, Hulu subscribers (although you don’t need Hulu to gain access to the NHL games).
The games are broadcast as part of Hulu’s integration with ESPN Plus, so users can access the games from their Hulu account, rather than having to switch over to the ESPN app. On a Monday night alone, I was able to get games like Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Winnipeg Jets (AT&T Sports Net Pittsburgh) Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators (Bally Sports South), and the Carolina Hurricanes vs. San Jose Sharks (Bally Sports South).
I set my DVR to record the Red Wings vs. Blues game.
If you’re an NHL fan that lives in a different city than your favorite team, ESPN+ through Hulu, or as a stand alone, is a no-brainer.
UFC on Hulu
The Hulu live TV subscription doesn’t get you free PPV, you will still have to shell out $74.99 per fight to watch the “numbered” UFC events. However, if you can wait for a few days after the PPV event of your choice, both Hulu and ESPN+ add these fights to their content library where they can be accessed at no additional charge.
UFC PPV events can be accessed directly from Hulu or the Hulu app. They are also available directly on ESPN+.
Hulu non-sports channel highlights
While we used Hulu, some of our favorite options, watched through the “live” feature on the app, were South Park on Comedy Central and season 9, episode 9 of Friends on TBS East.
Hulu checks all the boxes for local TV channels, which as we’ve mentioned above, is crucial for sports fans. Hulu’s local TV lineup includes:
In addition to the foundation local channels, Hulu live TV offers the following cable channels, which represent 32/35 of the top cable channels:
- Cartoon Network
- Comedy Central
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Food Network
- Fox News
- Investigation Discovery
- Paramount Network
- Travel Channel
- USA Network
Hulu + Live TV features
Hulu’s list of options for their live TV streaming service are comparable to the competition.
The cloud DVR storage comes out of the box at 50 hours of content, but can be upgraded to 200 hours by adding an additional $9.99 to your monthly bill. By contrast, fuboTV offers an out of the gate 1,000 hours of DVR storage, which, when the upgraded DVR cost is factored in, is considerably cheaper than Hulu to the tune of about $15.00 per month.
Hulu users can add a total of 6 profiles. Each new profile is given access to the personalized setup process to tailor to the content they see to their preferences.
When setting up a new profile through the Hulu dashboard, users have the option of locking certain adult accounts with a PIN. It’s not clear how this helps block access to adult content from within a kid’s profile. DirecTV still wins by far when it comes to parental controls by allowing whole categories and adult ratings to be screened from profiles.
Hulu live TV FAQ
Below, we answer some of your big questions about the Hulu live TV experience.
Can I watch Hulu content offline?
AKA, the travel feature. Yes, Hulu users who subscribe to one of the “no ads” plans can download content and watch it offline on a mobile device, which is ideal for the Subway or a long plane ride.
Which devices support Hulu 4k?
While Hulu does offer some content in 4k, the options are limited to certain programming and devices. The devices that support Hulu 4k are listed below:
- Apple TV (Fifth generation or newer)
- Chromecast Ultra
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
- Certain LG TVs (2017 and 2018 UHD models)
- Xbox One