Hulu + Live TV has something for everyone to watch, including one of the best on-demand libraries we reviewed. It’s hard to use on the go, though, and its interface was a bit confusing in our tests. You get great original content, but you can find lower prices and a more conventional viewing experience elsewhere.
Home to greats like The Office, Parks & Rec, Real Housewives, and Law & Order, Peacock has some great content at a price we loved. But our hands-on testing revealed that its channel lineup was disappointing and couldn’t fully replace a more expensive live TV streaming service like Fubo or YouTube TV.
Hulu + Live TV shines when it comes to content. (1) You get access to most of your local channels and dozens of live options from popular cable networks. You also get access to the full on-demand libraries of Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+. It’s a truly massive offering.
Hulu + Live TV gives you access to about half of the local channels you would get from a digital antenna or traditional TV provider, but those channels are the most popular of the standard local options. You get ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and The CW in most markets, for instance, but not PBS, Antenna TV, Estrella TV, or Univision. There are probably better live TV options for most Spanish speakers, but Hulu + Live TV isn’t bad if you just want your local news, sports, and primetime favorites in English. Hulu + Live TV is a nationwide service, but there are some geographic differences in the lineup. Find channels available in your area.
Hulu + Live TV is so-so when it comes to sports. There’s no NBA TV or MLB coverage, but you do get ESPN, TNT, Fox Sports 1, and the Golf Channel, plus local channels (which often show big national games). There’s no way to get NFL SUNDAY TICKET (now available only from YouTube TV), and you’ll miss out on all the regional sports networks you could get with DIRECTV STREAM or many traditional cable TV providers.
Family and education: 3/5
If you have kiddos in the house, Hulu + Live TV should have plenty of shows and channels to keep them entertained. You get three Disney channels, two Nickelodeon channels, and Universal Kids channel. However, there’s no PBS. There are also some notable educational channels missing from the lineup, including Family Entertainment TV (FETV) and Heroes & Icons.
News and politics: 3/5
You get all your news heavy hitters with Hulu + Live TV, including local news, national news from both the left and right, and financial news. You won’t find Newsmax or any C-SPAN options, though, and you’ll have to pony up for the Español Add-on for news, weather, and sports in Spanish at a cost of about $5 per month.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 4/5
You get about half of America’s Top 100 channels to watch live with Hulu + Live TV, but the provider earns extra points for having a stellar on-demand library on top of its live TV offering. That said, you’ll miss out on goodies like Ion and INSP, and you’ll have to get the Entertainment add-on ($8 per month) for Discovery Channels, MTV Classic, Crime+Investigation, and BET Her. You can also get HBO MAX, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, and STARZ, but additional pricing of between $9 to $15 each applies every month.
Peacock TV is different from other streaming services because it focuses on only NBC content. NBC has a little something for everyone though, so we were able to rate all five content categories. But instead of basing our ratings on the channels Peacock offers, we focused on the shows themselves.
If you’ve had cable TV or another live TV streaming service like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, or fubo, you might see Peacock’s channel lineup and snort out loud. And you’d be totally within your rights. Most of Peacock’s “live” TV channels just play reruns of specific shows all day and night. You can’t control which episode you watch or when you start one, nor are you getting brand new content. It’s kind of the worst of both the live TV and on-demand worlds.
Our advice? Get Peacock TV for the sports, day-old NBC shows, and movies—not for the channels.
If you spring for the $10 per month subscription, you’ll get your local NBC channel. Otherwise, you won’t. If you live in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, South Florida, Boston, or Los Angeles, you’re in luck. You’ll get a local NBC news channel. If you live elsewhere, you won’t get any content local to you.
Peacock Premium and Peacock Premium Plus have some great sports content too. You’ll get a bit of everything, from soccer to golf to cycling to NASCAR to Sunday Night Football—all live or on-demand, depending on when you log in to watch. You also get the Olympics, of course, but these won’t be live. So if you like to stay up til three in the morning to watch your favorite curling team sweep their hearts out, consider this your permission to sleep in and catch all the bonspiels (that’s curling-speak for games) during normal waking hours. Oh, and if classic WWF matches are your jam (wait, is that just us?), Peacock has a channel that plays them 24/7/365.
Family and education: 3.5/5
Peacock has some great family-friendly movies and finding them is super easy. Create a kids profile, and it’ll be packed with Dreamworks movies like Turbo, Shrek, and Shark Tale alongside shows like Blippi, Strawberry Shortcake, and Trolls: The Beat Goes On. Plus, you can dress to the nines in your living room and join the Gentleminions movement without besmirching your polite theater-goer reputation.
News and politics: 2.5/5
Peacock has some strong news content in addition to its six local news channels. You’ll get a 24/7 Dateline channel, Today All Day, Sky News, and LX News. If you’re looking to get a sample of headlines and stories, it’s great. But all news programs are created by NBC, so you may not get the variety of perspectives you’re looking for. We like to see Peacock as a supplemental way to get news coverage, we prefer to get our news elsewhere.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 5/5
NBC has some award-winning shows, both new and old. From The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks & Rec to Blacklist, all the Saturday Night Live, and Real Housewives, there’s some great content to watch on Peacock. If you work your way through all the episodes of these shows before you’re done binge-watching (though we’d be surprised if you did), you can pick from classics like Dennis the Menace, reruns of Jimmy Fallon, and more.
Hulu + Live TV has a lot to offer, including a huge library of on-demand content from the Classic Hulu service plus dozens of channels featuring news, entertainment, sports, and more. You can’t get PBS or Univision, but it feels like a true replacement for cable TV.
Hulu + Live TV is the one of the most expensive live TV streaming services we reviewed at the starting tier, but just by a few dollars. The high cost starts to make sense when you realize it’s a bundle price. In addition to live TV, you get access to Hulu’s on-demand library ($7.99 per month with ads), Disney+ ($7.99 per month), and ESPN+ ($9.99 per month). That means you get Hulu originals, tons of live sports and events, and thousands of shows and movies.
Peacock is a great deal, and it’s one of the cheapest TV streaming apps. Peacock gives you access to arguably some of the greatest shows on TV, solid news coverage, and a great sports lineup—especially international sports.
It’s a ton of value, but we recommend considering it an addition to a more complete live streaming option like Sling or Hulu + Live TV—especially since Peacock doesn’t give you access to NBC/Universal’s live stations, like CNBC, MSNBC, or, well, NBC. That means you can’t watch live episodes of The Voice with your friends. Instead, you can get them on Peacock the next day—after your co-workers passive-aggressively feed you spoilers. Womp-womp.
Peacock TV has three versions. The free version is kind of like a teaser for the paid versions. You get to watch a few new shows and a bunch of channels packed with syndicated reruns, all while drooling over all the shows you’d get if you coughed up the cash for the paid version. The next step up, Peacock Premium, is a great buy at $5 per month. You get all the content Peacock has to offer, and the commercials were surprisingly low-key.
Finally, the premium tier is Peacock Premium Plus. It’s twice the price and, in our opinion, rarely worth the cost. You get the same content with fewer commercials and the ability to download shows to watch offline (but no ability to DVR live content). It’s pretty meh.
Hulu + Live TV has most of the features you’d expect from a live streaming TV service, including unlimited DVR for nine months and the ability to stop and rewind live TV. We loved all the on-demand options but have one major complaint: the ads.
Ability to watch: Good
Hulu + Live TV feels like it was designed for on-demand streaming rather than live TV watching. You can watch in 1080p on traditional TVs, mobile devices, browsers, or streaming sticks. In our tests, it worked well on some browsers, but we had minor issues with either casting or resizing with the Amazon Firestick, iOS phone, and both Safari and Chrome browsers.
It is possible to get to the channel guide for a standard surfing experience, but it took us a few minutes to find it in the mobile app. Finding channels to surf took even longer on the streaming devices and smart TVs we tested. Once we got set up on a particular device and got used to the interface, though, the experience felt pretty standard.
The biggest downside is that you get a ton of annoying, repetitive ads, especially when watching on demand. To get those removed, you would have to pay for an upgrade of about $7 per month. Even then, you would still see ads during live programming and on some on-demand shows. Ick.
Ability to record: Great
We like that Hulu + Live TV’s DVR is unlimited and saves recordings for up to nine months. You can record ongoing shows or future shows through the channel guide, or record entire programs. You can watch offline, which is cool, and you can set recordings or download certain episodes for offline viewing from any device with the app. However, you can’t DVR anything from premium channels or the on-demand library, and you can’t skip certain promotions even if you pay for the highest possible package.
In our tests, the exact same ad aired several times per episode, as if it were designed to be annoying. It gets worse. We tried to get around ads on live TV by recording the show and waiting a few minutes to start watching, then fast forwarding through the commercials. It works on YouTube TV and most cable TV services we reviewed, but with Hulu we still got blasted with ads every 20 minutes. The only way to skip them was to wait for the show to be over and watch the DVR version. If you pay extra, you can skip the ads on DVR content, but you’ll still see promotions for recommended content.
Ability to find: Great
We’ve heard multiple users complain that the Hulu interface is confusing, but once you get used to it, it’s fairly easy to find whatever you’re trying to watch. The search tools are easy to find and work well, and you have a choice of views for finding your favorites.
If your show is added to “My Stuff” and recorded, it’s easy to track. But if you record a show and forget to add it to “My Stuff,” it’s impossible to find. You don’t get notified when it’s ready, either.
That said, we really like the Hulu recommendation engine at any service level, and we like that you can easily get to the next episode on a show you’re watching (even if you’ve watched the whole series before).
In our tests, the on-demand experience was a lot better than the live TV experience. You can browse by format (TV, Movies, Sports) or search for a specific show or channel. We also liked the Hubs, which are curated collections based around a theme.
Ability to share: Fine
Hulu has cracked down on password sharing among multiple households, and it shows. It’s easy to create profiles for up to six users, but you get only two simultaneous streams with the standard package. You can pay more for unlimited screens, but you may not be able to watch away from home.
In our testing, we ran into a little trouble trying to watch in different locations. We never got the service to work on a Safari browser, even when location tracking was enabled. If we were signed in on an Apple TV at home, we got locked out in the office. We get that Hulu doesn’t want users sharing passwords, but the experience was pretty frustrating.
If you are just sharing with family, it’s easy to designate profiles for kids so they have access to only kids shows. That’s the only parental control option available, but we like that it’s set at the account level instead of the device level.
Peacock makes watching and finding content a wonderful experience. You can’t DVR anything, but with so much on-demand content, we didn’t feel much need to anyway.
Ability to watch: Great
Peacock delivers a solid watching experience in both its app and browser versions. Something Peacock TV does really well is let you jump between devices in the middle of watching a show. It easily picked up where we left off when we switched from a computer to the phone app to TV and back again, whether we were watching live or on-demand content. For some streaming services, (we’re looking at you, Sling TV) switching devices mid-stream can get glitchy fast. So well done, Peacock!
In other ways, Peacock wasn’t as easy as some of the other live TV streaming services we tested, especially on our phones. We were bummed that we couldn’t multitask: there was no mini video we could watch while firing off an email or answering a text.
Ability to record: Fine
No matter which Peacock plan you get, you’ll never be able to record live shows. There’s no DVR capability, but we’re not sure you’d need it. Most of the content we wanted to record was available on-demand anyway (except for live sporting events). And if you spring for Peacock Premium Plus (the highest-cost plan), you can download on-demand shows to watch offline later. We’d probably skip the upgrade, though. We liked the idea for long flights or keeping the kiddos entertained at the car wash, but we didn’t find a ton more uses for this pared-back feature.
Ability to find: Great
Peacock makes it pretty easy to find the shows you want. Its interface is intuitive and it easily tracks where you left off, even when switching between devices. Parental controls are also super easy and effective. Just create a kids profile for quick access to only children's shows. You can also set up a PIN to keep the little ones restricted to these kid-friendly profiles. As a bonus, parents’ profiles won’t be bogged down with Curious George or Blippi episodes. (Although we’d probably keep a kids profile around just for all the Dreamworks movies.)
There are a few ways Peacock could improve its usability though. For starters, the app made us browse shows and channels in portrait mode, then flipped us to landscape mode to watch, which was annoying. Additionally, there’s no “back” button on the app, so if you get a few clicks into browsing for on-demand shows, you have to hit the Home button and start all over if you want to back out. (If you’re using a browser, you can hit its back button.)
There’s a “back” button on the live TV side of things, but, oddly, it doesn’t take you back a step. Instead, it brings up the channel guide on the bottom half of the screen while your show keeps playing. We liked being able to browse while catching up on the news, but it was confusing at first.
The only real gripe we had about using Peacock TV on a browser was that a lot of the descriptive text (like the channel guide and show descriptions) disappeared faster than we could read it, which meant we had to keep moving the mouse to get it back. It was a minor annoyance, but we’d love to see this fixed in the future. We’re not all speed readers, Liz Lemon.
Ability to share: Great
You can make up to six profiles on Peacock, which is a decent amount, and making new profiles is super easy. Beyond the basics, Peacock has some fun extras that delighted us. We loved picking profile avatars using headshots of our favorite NBC characters (hello Ron Swanson!).
We also confirmed that you can stream only three devices at once on Peacock. When you try to add the fourth, you’re alerted (by the adorable Puss in Boots from Shrek giving you those big, precious eyes in apology). You don’t have to worry about kicking anyone else off their show—but you can’t choose to either. You’ll have to kick them off the old-fashioned way, with a text, phone call, or shout down the hall.
There’s no free trial for the live TV package with Hulu, but we like that the service is easy to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel. You can do it all online, and your access to content will continue through the end of the time period you’ve already paid for.
It’s not a deal breaker, but we also wish the different packages were easier to understand. You can choose from the following: just the Hulu streaming library with ads for the lowest price; just the library with no ads for another price; live TV plus the streaming stuff for a third price (that’s the plan we use for our calculations); or live TV plus streaming without ads for yet another price. It feels a little silly, and add-on prices that are relatively hidden are also a bummer.
It’s nice that you can cancel or change your plan easily, though, and we like that there are no contracts or hidden fees to worry about. It’s a refreshing change from what you’ll find with most classic TV providers.
Peacock’s website is easy to navigate and it’s super easy to see right on the home page exactly how much a subscription will cost you. It also has a well-organized help page, though you’ll have to scroll to the website’s footer to find your way there. You can ask the chat bot for help, but to get more personalized service, you have to sign into your account.
Unfortunately, getting a live person to help isn’t as easy. There’s no phone number displayed, and the “Get in Touch” button just takes you to more self-help articles. To speak with an actual person via chat, you have to click into a help article, then click “No” to answer the question “Was this article helpful," and answer a feedback survey. Ugh.
That said, we had little genuine reason to seek out customer service because everything worked well, checkout was simple and transparent, and it was easy to cancel.