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Why I Started Paying for Hulu—And Don’t Regret It One Bit

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Image credit: Hulu

I like to think of myself as financially responsible. Others call me “penny-pincher,” “cheapskate,” “hoarder.” The point is, I don’t spend money on things unless they bring me more value than they’re worth. Beyond rent, utilities, groceries, and insurance, I don’t spend much month to month.

But I do pay for Hulu.

And before you accuse me of anything: No, this isn’t a sponsored post. Hulu isn’t paying me jack to write this, although they definitely should.

Years ago, I vowed to never give Hulu a cent because the service was so bad. But after seeing how it has improved, I’ve changed my mind—and I actually think it’s unfair how much people still crap on Hulu. So, partly to explain my rationale and partly to right this injustice, here’s why I think Hulu is better than people let on and why it’s worth it.

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What Sets Hulu Apart?

In addition to Hulu, I also subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Aside from my VPN subscription, these are the only non-essential subscription services I pay for. And I truly believe that Hulu offers a lot that neither Netflix nor Amazon Prime can.

First off, Hulu is jointly-owned by The Walt Disney Company (via 21st Century Fox), Comcast (via NBCUniversal), and AT&T (via WarnerMedia). These are media publishing giants, which grants Hulu access to all kinds of licensed TV shows and movies that other streaming platforms simply can’t afford (sadly, even Netflix can’t afford license fees in the long-term).

This means only Hulu offers up-to-date full backlogs of geeky TV shows like:

  • Bob’s Burgers
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Community
  • Dollhouse
  • Fear the Walking Dead
  • Firefly
  • Lost
  • Scrubs
  • Smallville
  • Speechless

Hulu also has an extensive library of geeky movies you can’t stream elsewhere, including titles like:

  • Batman Begins
  • Battlestar Galactica: The Plan
  • Colossal
  • Experimenter
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Office Space

Plus numerous other geeky movies you can stream elsewhere, but why bother if you’re already playing for Hulu?

  • Annihilation
  • Arrival
  • Coherence
  • Iron Man 2
  • Odd Thomas

Hulu also has a bunch of original TV shows, but I’m not going to bother with them. I’ve tried watching a bunch of them and they all kind of suck. The only ones that kept my interest were The Handmaid’s Tale and The Looming Tower, but even they had significant flaws. But if you personally find Hulu’s shows enjoyable—such as The Man in the High Castle or the Black Mirror-lookalike Electric Dreams—you’d be getting even more bang for your buck.

Hulu also has Live TV for $45/month. I’ve been eyeing this for several months, but haven’t been able to pull the trigger because I just don’t have the time to lounge around watching live TV. However, it’s definitely a unique point that sets it apart from most other streaming platforms. Over 60 channels are in the package, including:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • CNN
  • ESPN
  • FOX
  • FX
  • FXX
  • HGTV
  • NBC
  • Syfy
  • USA

And it comes with a built-in recording feature (like DVR) that stores up to 50 hours of footage, so you can record a live sports game and watch it later at your convenience. Again, I haven’t tried Hulu Live TV myself so I’m not recommending this part of the platform, but for someone who wants to cut out cable but can’t give up sports or live news, it’s an enticing option.

The Basic Hulu Plan Kind of Sucks

The first major complaint users have against Hulu is that they got rid of their free streaming plan back in 2016.

The second major complaint is that Hulu’s basic plan, which costs $6/month, injects ads when you’re watching TV shows. These ads show at the start, and then again during the show’s natural ad breaks. Ads do not show in the middle of movies or kid’s shows.

I used to watch Hulu with ads. And personally? I don’t think the ads themselves are that bad—but they’re so repetitive that they eventually made me want to gouge my eyes out. If each ad only showed once per episode, I think it’d be bearable. But no. The same sets of ads play break after break after break after break after break. “Grating” just doesn’t describe it.

So no, I absolutely do not recommend the basic Hulu plan. It might be half the price of the “real” Hulu plan, but the small savings is not worth the trade-off in sanity. If you’re truly strapped and can’t afford the “real” plan, there are other ad-supported streaming services out there that don’t make you pay for access. Never get the basic Hulu plan.

Which basically leaves you with the “real” Hulu plan, also called Hulu (No Ads), which costs $12/month.

I feel this price is justified. Netflix charges $13/month for their Standard plan, which is really only worth it if you’re watching a lot of Netflix Originals or niche shows that aren’t available elsewhere. Amazon Prime is $10/month, but I find Amazon’s video streaming library lackluster. If you ignore the insulting basic plan, Hulu offers darn good value compared to the competition.

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What Do You Think of Hulu?

If you got this far, it probably sounds like I’m some kind of Hulu shill. I promise you I’m not! It’s just refreshing to have so many interesting shows and movies available to watch after being disappointed by Netflix’s and Amazon Prime’s libraries for the hundredth time. (I’m still subscribed to all three, just so you know.)

Thinking of trying Hulu for yourself? The first 30 days are completely free, so there’s no risk to trying it out. That said, if you sign up for a Hulu plan using this link, we’ll get a small commission and we’d appreciate it.

If you have no intention of ever using Hulu, I’d like to hear your thoughts on why. Let me know in the comments below!

Joel Lee
Joel is Editor in Chief at WhatNerd. He contributes the occasional article and manages the overall vision of the site. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science and is based in Pennsylvania.
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