Hulu started beta testing a live TV service that offers access to more than 50 channels, allows you to record up to 50 hours of video to its Cloud DVR storage, and includes the limited commercials plan of its existing TV and movie service. The service, dubbed "Hulu with Live TV," costs $40 per month.
It makes sense for Hulu to introduce a live TV service. Right now the company exists in a middle ground between Netflix, which is cheaper but takes longer to release shows, and the costlier-but-quicker TV offerings from cable and satellite providers. Expanding to include sporting events, breaking news, and other content best watched right when it airs will make Hulu seem more like it's competing with traditional TV companies than with Netflix.
Hulu with Live TV could also help the service fend off competition from YouTube, which recently introduced the appropriately named YouTube TV, a service that offers much of the same content for $35 per month. Both companies are playing to their strengths--Hulu's service offers next-day access to current TV shows for a low price, whereas YouTube hosts countless videos that cost nothing to watch--while also branching out to live TV.
Right now it seems like Hulu's plan to beat YouTube TV is to support as many platforms as possible. It's currently available on Android, iOS, Xbox One, and Chromecast. Hulu said it plans to add support for Roku devices, Samsung products, Amazon Fire, the Hulu website, and desktop computers in the future.
YouTube TV, on the other hand, is squarely focused on Android, iOS, Chromecast, and the web. (Neither mentions the PlayStation 4.)
YouTube TV seems more compelling in almost every other regard. It offers unlimited DVR storage instead of being limited to 50 hours, six accounts instead of two, and a $35 per month plan instead of $40 per month. Hulu offers more channels--it has more than 50 compared to YouTube TV's 39--but both services have the basics covered. YouTube TV also includes YouTube Red, which is ad-free, whereas Hulu's bundled service offers limited commercials.
Hulu with Live TV is still a beta, though, and existing Hulu subscribers might want to upgrade just so they can keep up with live broadcasts. If that's the case, you can sign up for a one-week free trial on the Hulu with Live TV (opens in new tab) website. If YouTube TV seems more up your alley, you can sign up on that service's website or just give it a whirl with a one-month free trial. Oh, and while you're at it, you can test YouTube's new design as well.