Is Hulu's New Streaming Service Worth Your $$$?

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Hulu launched its buzzy TV-streaming service yesterday, just in time to drum up even more interest for its critically acclaimed — and scarily relevant — The Handmaid's Tale.
Offering both live TV and its own library of on-demand shows and movies, Hulu Live is a unique hybrid that gives its rivals Amazon and Netflix, and streaming services like Sling TV and YouTube TV, major runs for their money.
But as much as we like options, having so many TV-streaming choices can be overwhelming.
So we've decided to compare Hulu Live to its stiff competition, as well as to an average basic-cable package. Of course, one built-in advantage of streaming is that you don't need to invest in a bunch of hardware — and you can watch on the go. It can also be much more economical than cable depending on which package you choose. And, so much depends on what you like to watch in the first place.
Read on for a brief analysis of all the big players.
Hulu Live
What you pay: $39.99/month
What you get: More than 50 live channels; the exact number depends on where you live. You have access to favorites like The Handmaid's Tale, This Is Us, and Seinfeld.
What you don't get: Comedy Central, HBO, MTV, VH1
DirecTV Now
What you pay: $35 to $70/month
What you get: 60 to 120+ channels, including Bravo, Comedy Central, E!, and TLC (we don't know about you, but Say Yes to the Dress ranks pretty high on our list)
What you don't get: CBS, CW, Showtime
Sling TV
What you pay: Starts at $20; you can add extra channels (Sling bills itself as à la carte TV).
What you get: At least 30 channels, including HGTV, Comedy Central, Food Network, and TBS (it's all about Samantha Bee). You can add HBO and/or Showtime for extra fees.
What you don't get: CBS
PlayStation Vue
What you pay: $39.99 to $74.99/month
What you get: 45 to 95 channels. Basic package includes Bravo, E!, HGTV, TBS, TLC. "Ultra" package unlocks HBO and Showtime.
What you don't get: Comedy Central, MTV, VH1
What you pay: $35/month
What you get: 40 channels, including ABC, CBS, E!, and Bravo
What you don't get: CNN, Comedy Central, HBO, HGTV, MTV, TBS
Note: YouTube TV is currently only available in Chicago, L.A., New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area, but plans to expand to other areas soon.
What you pay: $14.99/month
What you get: Access to HBO's award-winning series (Big Little Lies, Girls, Veep), as well as a large selection of movies, comedy specials, and more
What you don't get: Other TV channels (unless you buy HBO as part of a package, of course).
What you pay: $7.99 to $11.99, depending on the number of screens you could watch simultaneously
What you get: A huge database of movies and TV, including original series like 13 Reasons Why, Girlboss, and Orange Is the New Black
What you don't get: Live TV
Amazon Prime
What you pay: $10/month (or $99/year)
What you get: Access to Amazon Prime's original shows like Transparent, as well as a large library of movies and HBO shows
What you don't get: Live TV, although there are rumors that Amazon is working on a live streaming service of its own.
Regular Ol' Cable
What you pay: Costs vary depending on your package and location, but according to the Leichtman Research Group, the average cable bill was $103.10 last year. However, the average offered price per month is about half that (though companies often offer attractive-sounding promotional packages with hidden extras): Comcast has a $49.99/month package that includes HBO; Time Warner/Spectrum starts at $29.99/month; and you can get a Verizon Fios Bundle starting at $55.
What you get & don't get: Varies widely based on your package.
Conclusion: Compared to other streaming services and cable, we'd say Hulu Live is worth it if you're willing to forgo Comedy Central and HBO (and if you choose to get HBO Now as well, you're looking at $55/a month total in TV costs). We'd especially recommend it if you're a fan of Hulu originals like The Handmaid's Tale, The Mindy Project, and Difficult People. Sob, yes, we're going to miss Mindy Lahiri, too.

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