- I tried the Hulu Plus Live TV streaming service to see whether it could replace my regular cable TV subscription and TiVo box.
- There were some compromises with Hulu Plus Live TV that my wife and I were willing to live with for paying significantly less than cable TV.
- But skipping ads on Hulu Plus Live TV is barely an option, and it was the death blow that made us return to cable TV.
Every month, I’m horrified by the $US100 bill I pay for my cable subscription.
Because of that, I’m on a quest to try out all the TV streaming services I can to see whether at least one has the channels I want as well as some basic features I’ve become used to with regular cable and the TiVo Roamio cable box my wife and I use.
Almost exactly one year ago, I tried Sling TV, which was significantly cheaper than our cable subscription but didn’t quite have everything we wanted. (I’ll probably try Sling TV again at some point, as live-TV streaming services are getting channel and feature updates all the time. It’s likely that Sling TV could have everything we want one year later.)
Most recently, I tried Hulu Plus Live TV, which costs $US40 a month. I really liked it! Not only was it cheaper, but it also let us watch live TV and recorded shows and movies outside the living room, whether in our bedroom or on our mobile devices during a trip.
But there was one thing my wife and I couldn’t deal with.
Check out what we loved about Hulu Plus Live TV, and what we didn’t:
Hulu Plus Live TV had most of the channels my wife and I like to watch, but it didn’t have quite enough for random movie or show discovery.
This is the first thing anyone should look at before shopping around for live-TV streaming services: Does it have the channels you want?
In my case, Hulu Plus Live TV had about 90% of the channels I wanted, which is a pretty good start. Ninety per cent might seem like a high number, but missing channels you used to have on regular cable do become noticeably, well, missing. When it comes to TV, my wife and I have a pretty low tolerance for channel compromises and sacrifices.
One of the things we missed about cable TV during my Hulu Plus Live TV trial was the vast selection of channels we normally don’t watch but might occasionally. There was less random discovery of TV shows and movies while on Hulu Plus Live TV, but it was tolerable.
Hulu Plus Live TV’s modern interface is mostly well designed, with only a few complaints that weren’t deal breakers.
I’m a fan of Hulu Plus Live TV’s interface. It’s clean, it’s modern, and it’s fairly intuitive.
With that said, Hulu Plus Live TV doesn’t act like a regular cable TV box or like the TiVo Roamio we use at home. Every time I opened the Hulu Plus Live TV app, it would show me a list of “favourite” channels I selected during setup, which may be fine for some people.
For me, I’d rather get the entire channel lineup right off the bat so I can scroll through and pick something to watch. But I needed to press several buttons several times to finally get to the channel guide. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but the extra steps to get what I was looking for were noticeable.
The Hulu Plus Live TV DVR was great at first.
I was mostly impressed with Hulu Plus Live TV’s DVR. I especially liked how it recorded an entire show or movie when I pressed the record button, even if the show or movie was halfway over. I also liked how I could start live shows and movies from the beginning, even if they’re almost over.
And I loved how Hulu Plus Live TV offered all the previous episodes in a current series on demand, as well as the recommendations it made for similar shows. It also had a great recommendation system for movies: It would show me movies that aired on a channel all the way back in 2014.
I should note, however, that it may not have all the movies in a movie series. With “Fast and the Furious 6,” for example, Hulu Plus Live TV didn’t seem to have any of the previous or subsequent titles in that franchise. So it’s not comprehensive, but its recommendation system is still pretty good.
Otherwise, scrubbing through a video’s timeline was nearly on par with our TiVo. Hulu Plus Live TV shows large preview windows of where we were in the video’s timeline, but it’s not quite as smooth, and it doesn’t let us do the one thing we like to do with regular cable and our TiVo box …
The ad skipping couldn’t compare to my TiVo, and it was Hulu Plus Live TV’s death knell for my wife and me.
We had much less control over ad skipping with Hulu Plus Live TV than we do with regular cable TV and our TiVo box. Depending on the show or movie, we couldn’t fast-forward through ads and were met with a message saying fast-forwarding through ads wasn’t permitted for that particular show or movie, even if the show was recorded in the Hulu Plus Live TV DVR.
This was the deathblow for Hulu Plus Live TV, at least for us. The lack of control over ads outweighed Hulu Plus Live TV’s lower price and ability to stream TV on multiple devices.
With TV streaming services, it seems that networks and channels have more control to ensure that you do, indeed, suffer through atrocious ads. You can mute the sound, but ads will inevitably interrupt whatever you’re watching, even with recorded shows and movies in the Hulu Plus Live TV DVR.
I’d recommend that anyone, whether they have cable or not, try out Hulu Plus Live TV.
Perhaps you’re not as picky or sensitive as I am when it comes to ad skipping. But I have to say that TiVo has spoiled us on that front.
Hulu Plus Live TV has a seven-day free trial if you want to try it out, and while it wasn’t for me or my wife, it could be the answer to high cable bills for you.
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