Streaming services sure do have their advantages, but there’s no denying the fact that most of us tend to want what we can’t have. This applies to our viewing habits, as well. When we watch TV, we wish we could control what plays next.
When we watch streaming services, we wish we could just let it play without having to choose what to play next. Thankfully, streaming television services give the best of both worlds. But which one is best? Hulu + Live TV vs Sling are two of the best options available today. Let’s compare and contrast to see which of the two is ultimately the best.
Hulu + Live TV vs Sling: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Hulu + Live TV
|October 29th, 2007
|February 9th, 2015
|Number of Channels
|More than 85
|More than 45
|Price Per Month
|$69.99 (for Hulu with ads)
$82.99 (for Hulu without ads)
|$40 (Sling Orange; Sling Blue)
$55 (Sling Orange + Blue)
|AMC, Cooking Channel, BBC America, IFC, Hallmark
|ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, CNBC, The CW
|Top Streaming Quality
|720p – 1080p (live TV)
1080p – 4K UHD (Hulu; on-demand content)
|720p (live TV)
1080p (on-demand content)
|Unlimited space; Stored for nine months
|50 hours; upgradable to 200 hours for $5/month
|Premium cable add-on subscriptions; Additional channel packages; Unlimited Screens add-on
|Premium cable add-on subscriptions; Additional channel packages; à la carte channels
|Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ subscriptions (with or without ads) included in the subscription
|Discovery+ subscription add-on at Sling-exclusive price
Hulu + Live TV vs Sling: What’s the Difference?
Now that we’ve laid out these basic specs, we should take the time to dive deeper into some of the key differences that exist between Hulu + Live TV vs Sling. From the number of channels offered to the total cost per month for each service to the amount of DVR space you can expect from the two, these are the main distinguishing factors between Hulu + Live TV vs Sling.
Number of Channels
Firstly, there’s the sheer number of channels to choose from between Hulu + Live TV vs Sling. This is probably the most important factor to consider when choosing a streaming television service (apart from price, which we’ll get to next).
Based on the sheer number of channels alone, Hulu + Live TV comes out ahead. They have more than 85 different channels to browse, with even more available as add-ons. If you’re simply looking for a wide selection of channels to surf, then there’s no doubt that Hulu + Live TV is the best bet.
With that being said, Sling’s channel selection packs somewhat of a greater punch. Sure, there are far fewer to choose from, but Sling’s channel selection feels more special as a result. It’s the age-old quality vs quantity debate.
Hulu + Live TV might have a higher quantity, but Sling seems to pride itself on the higher quality of channels. You can see this in Sling’s various packages. Sling Blue, Sling Orange, Sling Blue + Orange… the choice is in the hands of the subscriber, allowing their fewer channels to seem more personal as a result.
Price Per Month
Hulu + Live TV might have a higher number of channels, but they also have a higher price per month. The service costs a whopping $70 a month, and that’s just for Hulu + Live TV with the ad-supported Hulu plan.
To get rid of ads on Hulu (while naturally being stuck with them for the Live TV side of the service), you’ll have to shell out $83 a month. That’s not including the price of add-ons and such, which very well could drive your price into the triple digits. At that point, you’re practically paying the same price as cable.
Sling, on the other hand, has a significantly lower base price. Both Sling Blue and Sling Orange cost $40 a month, with the combined plan costing $55 a month. That’s so much lower than even the cheapest Hulu + Live TV plan.
This gives you the ability to throw in several add-ons to boost your channel numbers while still keeping the price lower than that of Hulu + Live TV. In the end, this puts Sling at a much greater advantage than Hulu + Live TV. One may have more channels, but for some, the far lower price matters much more.
One of the biggest advantages of streaming over live TV is the ability to watch shows and movies any time, any place, on your own schedule. It’s a pillar of streaming services that you just can’t get with live television.
Unless, of course, you have a DVR. Both Hulu + Live TV and Sling have one, but very different ones at that. Hulu + Live TV gives subscribers unlimited DVR space to record their favorite shows and movies as they air. However, that unlimited DVR storage has one minor stipulation: You can only store recordings for up to nine months.
Sling’s DVR service, on the other hand, differs in a couple of areas. On the surface, you’ll notice that there’s much less space available to subscribers. The base price will give you 50 hours of storage, while you can pay an additional $5 a month for 200 hours.
Not even 200 hours can touch the unlimited space available on Hulu + Live TV. With that being said, Sling will only delete recordings when it needs more space for your new recordings. Even then, it only deletes the oldest recordings. If you never need space, they’ll never delete one of your recordings. Hulu + Live TV still will, though.
The History of Hulu + Live TV
When comparing and contrasting Hulu + Live TV vs Sling, it’s clear that the two are pretty evenly matched (as far as specs are concerned, at least). However, Hulu + Live TV has a much different history than Sling by comparison.
Hulu first launched in October of 2007, while Hulu + Live TV didn’t come about until the fall of 2017 — a whole decade later. At the start, Hulu was backed by NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox (among a couple of other sizable holding companies). In time, Hulu also secured financial backing from the Walt Disney Company.
This Disney backing gave Hulu something no other streamer could boast: far more financial security and a far more substantial number of assets to their name. Streamers like Netflix needed to do a lot of leg work to make up for a lack of ad revenue.
Hulu, on the other hand, relied on ad revenue from the start. (Netflix has only just recently embraced the potential revenue to be had from ads.) This foresight put them leagues ahead of the competition, giving users the ability to stream the latest television from the top networks on television completely free of charge, save for a few ad breaks.
Hulu began to more closely resemble its rival paid streamers with the launch of Hulu Plus in 2010. It was an ad-free version of the same basic Hulu, plus access to past seasons of hit shows as well as a selection of films. For the first time, this put them in direct competition with Netflix.
Then, in 2017, Hulu shook its foundation again with the launch of Hulu + Live TV. Now, not only were they competing with their fellow streaming services but also streaming television services such as Sling. Now, with Hulu + Live TV, you could stream content on Hulu and watch live TV networks as they air.
How Sling Competes
When Sling first began, it went by a very different name: DishWorld. First launched in 2012 by parent company Dish Network, DishWorld offered access to around 50 different international television networks.
It saw moderate success, giving Dish Network the idea to take DishWorld and make it something even better than before. They soon partnered with such television titans as A&E Networks, Scripps Networks, and the Walt Disney Company, among others, to create Sling TV. Dish Network officially launched its new streaming television service in February 2015.
If the timeline between the trial run and the official launch seems particularly lengthy, it’s because it is. It’s by design, though. Dish Network knew they could have gone straight to market by simply signing quick deals with top television networks.
However, they also knew this service would have ended up being at least $70 or $80 a month. Instead, they spent those years between 2012 and 2015 prioritizing three things: small bundles, low costs, and superior flexibility compared to cable proper. In the end, they were able to offer Sling’s library of live channels for just $20 a month.
Naturally, this price has increased over the past eight years. As a matter of fact, it has effectively doubled since that initial unveiling at CES in January 2015. Nevertheless, Sling TV still remains far cheaper than YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and other streaming television services on the market.
Dish Network is well aware that its service has fewer channels than its competitors, but it insists that this decision is intentional. Nobody wants to pay for channels they don’t need, Dish argues. After all, isn’t that why people are leaving traditional cable to begin with?
Hulu + Live TV vs Sling: Pros and Cons
|Pros of Hulu + Live TV
|Cons of Hulu + Live TV
|Price includes subscriptions to Disney+ and ESPN+
|Only possible to stream from two screens at once without the Unlimited Screens add-on
|Live streaming television in 1080p with Hulu and on-demand content in 4K UHD
|Costs far more money than Sling TV
|Access to both live TV content and all Hulu content
|Easy to exceed $100 a month with add-ons
|Plenty of add-on features to choose from
|DVR will delete all recordings after nine months in storage
|Pros of Sling
|Cons of Sling
|Sling TV is super cheap, even with the top-tier plan
|Limits DVR storage space to 50 hours (or 200 hours for an additional $5/month)
|A massive number of add-ons to choose from
|Far fewer channels compared to the competition
|Puts most new episodes on demand immediately after they air
|Stream is delayed up to 70 seconds later than proper cable television
|Has a nice mix of curated channels across news, sports, and cable
|Very few local channels without antenna integration
5 Must-Know Facts About Streaming Television
- To get a true idea of just how much television, film, news, and video content Americans stream, it’s estimated that people consumed nearly 15 million years of video in 2021 alone.
- Some credit Netflix with kicking off the streaming boom, but the truth is that YouTube is the true pioneer. Not only are they the most popular streaming services with more than 2 billion active users, but they were also the first to truly break into the streaming industry way back in 2005.
- While Sling is one of the most affordable streaming television services, Philo has them beat. They offer their streaming television service for just $25 a month.
- Cable costs so much because it requires hardware, cable boxes, and other additional expenses in order to deliver high-quality television to your home. By comparison, streaming television services can cut these costs by operating entirely over the internet.
- On average, Americans typically stream over 170 billion minutes of video content each week.
Hulu + Live TV vs Sling: Which Is Better?
In the end, it’s worth defending both Hulu + Live TV and Sling for their own special reasons. Each service has its own set of benefits, and neither one is necessarily bad by any means. However, there has to be a winner.
When all is said and done, that winner deserves to be Hulu + Live TV. While it’s true that it’s more expensive, it’s for a good reason. More channels, more DVR space, higher streaming quality, and a Disney+ and ESPN+ subscription thrown in on top of it all (not to mention the Hulu subscription promised in the name). Sling is good, but Hulu + Live TV is better.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Song_about_summer/Shutterstock.com.