We’ve all played our part in the great Streaming Wars of the 2010s. Now, as the 2020s go on, a new battle has begun: the battle of streaming television providers. As an ever-increasing number of people leave their cable and satellite television contracts behind, many find themselves missing the convenience of live TV. This is where streaming television providers come into play. Two of the best? DirecTV Stream vs Hulu + Live TV.
How do these compare in terms of channel selection and pricing? And which is the best overall? Let’s compare and contrast.
DirecTV Stream vs Hulu + Live TV: Side-by-Side Comparison
|DirecTV Stream||Hulu + Live TV|
|Launch Date||November 30th, 2016||October 29th, 2007|
|Number of Channels||75-150+||85 and counting|
|Price Per Month||$74.99 – $154.99||$69.99 – $82.99|
|Notable Absences||The NFL Network, NFL RedZone; 4K UHD streaming||AMC, Cooking Channel, BBC America, IFC, Hallmark|
|Top Streaming Quality||720p – 1080p (live TV)|
1080p (on-demand content)
|720p – 1080p (live TV)|
1080p – 4K UHD (Hulu; on-demand content)
|DVR Space||Unlimited; Stored for nine months||Unlimited space; Stored for nine months|
|Add-Ons||Premium cable add-on subscriptions; À la carte channels; Additional channel packages||Premium cable add-on subscriptions; Additional channel packages; Unlimited Screens add-on|
|Exclusive Features||Several different tiered plans for every budget; Regional sports networks||Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ subscriptions (with or without ads) included in the subscription|
DirecTV Stream vs Hulu + Live TV: What’s the Difference?
Now that we’ve laid out all these main specs side by side, it’s worth taking a closer look at the key differences between DirecTV Stream vs Hulu + Live TV. From the sheer number of channels available to the price per service per month and the overall ease of use for each service, these are the main distinctions between DirecTV Stream vs Hulu + Live TV.
Number of Channels
If you’re looking for the streaming television service with the most channels to choose from, DirecTV Stream has Hulu + Live TV beat — and it’s not even close, either. While the lowest DirecTV Stream tier only has 75+ channels (slightly less than Hulu + Live TV’s selection), every other DirecTV Stream far exceeds what its closest competitors have to offer.
In fact, DirecTV Stream’s highest tier, Premier, nearly doubles Hulu + Live TV’s library of channels. These channels also include a number of regional sports offerings, which is something not many other streaming television services can offer.
Hulu + Live TV is not completely down and out for the count when it comes to channel selection, however. Though there are far fewer channels than DirecTV Stream, Hulu + Live TV still has plenty more channels than competitors Sling TV or Philo.
This counts for something, doesn’t it? After all, if you can’t be the very best in the number of channels, you can at least take pride in the fact that you’re well above the third, fourth, and fifth-place competitors. In other words: if DirecTV Stream has the most channels of all streaming television providers, then Hulu + Live TV has the second most.
Price Per Month
For some, price is more important than channel offerings. After all, the whole reason people are leaving their cable and satellite providers in droves is because of the astronomical price of the service. This is a major strike against DirecTV Stream.
When your cheapest tier is nearly double that of your closest competitors, such as Sling TV or Philo, you know you might have a problem on your hands. DirecTV Stream has plans that stretch all the way up to $154.99 a month, which is practically as much (if not more) than a basic cable plan.
Hulu + Live TV, by comparison, is slightly more affordable. Their most expensive plan costs $82.99 a month and gets you more than 85 channels plus ad-free content from Hulu and Disney+ (with an ad-supported subscription to ESPN+, as well).
There might be fewer channels, but there’s a much greater bang for your buck at this price compared to DirecTV Stream. Their cheapest tier — $69.99 a month — is even better by comparison, offering live television in addition to ad-supported Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ subscriptions.
Ease of Use
Thirdly, there’s the ease of use to consider. Not only are cable and satellite television frequently buggy, but they also come with a whole slew of inconveniences such as big remotes and rented TV-top boxes.
Unfortunately for them, DirecTV Stream requires both of these things. Not only do subscribers need to use the exclusive DirecTV Stream remote, but they also need to rent a streaming box for their entertainment system setup in order to use the service.
It’s a one-two punch against DirecTV Stream, seriously setting the service back in spite of its positive aspects. Hulu + Live TV, on the other hand, is so simple and easy to use. You simply log into your Hulu account and begin streaming.
It’s the same site and the same app as your basic Hulu subscription, eliminating the need to use any sort of special hardware or software in order to enjoy your Hulu + Live TV service.
What’s more, Hulu + Live TV’s interface is slick, clean, and easy to navigate with very few glitches or bugs. The same can definitely not be said for DirecTV Stream — another major setback.
The History of DirecTV Stream
If you’ve never heard of DirecTV Stream, it’s likely because the service has now changed its name three times since its debut in 2016. Originally known as DirecTV Now between the years 2016 and 2019 before briefly changing its name to AT&T TV Now between the years 2019 and 2021, DirecTV Stream officially came into its own in February of 2021.
Now, it seems, the DirecTV Stream name is here to stay. Despite its many name changes, however, the service has remained more or less the same over these past seven years.
Unlike other streaming television services, DirecTV Stream is only offered via contract. It’s typically added on as a bundle to an existing television plan, including the need for a TV box rented to DirecTV Stream subscribers — much like a satellite or cable television plan would require.
In its current form, DirecTV Stream offers four different subscription tiers: “Entertainment,” which is the cheapest tier at $74.99 a month. “Choice,” the next available tier, at $99.99 a month. “Ultimate”, the next highest tier, at $109.99. And, lastly, “Premier” — the top tier — at $154.99 a month.
It needs to be said: all of these different packages and the need for rented hardware recall the very worst of cable and satellite television. DirecTV Stream advertises itself as a Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, or Philo competitor, offering live television streamed over the internet.
However, the real truth is that it’s actually much closer — both in spirit and in function — to your typical cable or satellite television provider. However, its ability to offer regional sports channels and its much higher channel count still manage to make DirecTV Stream a cable alternative worth considering alongside Hulu + Live TV.
How Hulu + Live TV Competes
You’ve already seen that the DirecTV Stream vs Hulu + Live TV debate boils down to just a few key differences. Furthermore, you’ve seen how DirecTV Stream came to be. However, there’s one aspect of this showdown that hasn’t been touched on yet: how the history of Hulu + Live TV compares.
It’s quite apparent that DirecTV Stream and Hulu + Live TV are on a level playing field. With that being said, Hulu + Live TV’s origin story couldn’t be more different. Hulu in its original form arrived in the fall of 2007. Hulu + Live TV, on the other hand, first debuted in October 2017. In those ten years, Hulu went from a glorified VOD service to a top-tier streamer.
In the early years, Hulu was supported by the likes of NBCUniversal, the Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, and a slew of holding companies with their own various interests in the rising VOD platform.
Of all these financial supporters, Disney is the one company that was able to help Hulu secure what few rival streamers could: financial security and reliable assets. Because they didn’t have ad revenue, Hulu’s closest competitors needed to come up with a boatload of original content to bring subscribers in.
By comparison, Hulu didn’t have to worry because of the sheer amount of money to be made from their ad breaks. It wasn’t until the announcement of Hulu Plus that the streamer could truly begin to compete with its competitors’ original offerings.
Launched in 2010, Hulu Plus was an ad-free version of the same basic Hulu. However, it also included past seasons of popular shows, popular films, and even Hulu original productions. Then came Hulu + Live TV in 2017: a television streaming service that combined everything great about Hulu Plus with the ability to watch live TV as well.
DirecTV Stream vs Hulu + Live TV: Pros and Cons
|Pros of DirecTV||Cons of DirecTV|
|The most channels available from a streaming television provider||Practically as expensive as a cable or satellite television plan|
|Offers four different tiers for every kind of budget or television watcher||Requires subscribers to rent a streaming box|
|More regional sports channels than any other competing streaming television provider||Frequently plagued with glitches and bugs|
|Up to 20 simultaneous streams||No 4K UHD content, live or on-demand|
|Pros of Hulu + Live TV||Cons of Hulu + Live TV|
|Subscription price includes Disney+ and ESPN+ accounts||Unable to stream on more than two devices without an add-on price|
|Television streams as high as 1080p; Hulu and on-demand streaming content in 4K UHD||Fewer channels than most DirecTV Stream tiers|
|Access to both live TV content and all Hulu content||Not as many regional sports channels as DirecTV Stream|
|A variety of add-on channels and services to customize your subscription||DVR automatically deletes any recordings older than nine months|
5 Must-Know Facts About Streaming Television
- It’s estimated that over 85% of households in America have one or more streaming service subscriptions.
- An average of five million people per year are cutting the cord and leaving their cable and satellite plans behind in favor of streaming.
- DirecTV Stream has gone by three different names in its relatively short existence: DirecTV Now, AT&T TV Now, and (at least for now) DirecTV Stream.
- Hulu + Live TV offers access to all four of the major television networks: NBC, ABC, FOX, and CBS.
- While DirecTV Stream advertises unlimited cloud DVR storage space, there is a cap on the number of TV episodes you can record. DirecTV Stream cuts users off at 30.
DirecTV Stream vs Hulu + Live TV: Which One Is Better?
When it comes down to it, there’s a lot to love about DirecTV Stream. There are multiple subscription tiers to choose from, as many as 150 or more channels to browse through, and a number of regional sports channels for sports fanatics. Alas, there’s just as much to complain about.
High prices, contracts, streaming boxes, bulky remotes… at the end of the day, Hulu + Live TV deserves to be the winner between the two. Sure, there are fewer channels, but there are also lower prices and a superior user experience with a Hulu + Live TV subscription. It’s a no-brainer.