Hulu ads vs. no ad plan: Should I pay more for nix ads?

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Sarah Tew / CNET

For TV fans and cable cutter Hulu is a must, especially in the age of coronavirus when we're all trapped at home starving for entertainment. The popular television and movie streaming service It has a host of family-friendly shows from networks like ABC, Fox and NBC that you can watch shortly after it airs, as well as a growing catalog of critically acclaimed original series. For Hulu fans, the most important decision may be to choose the basic plan with commercials for $ 6 a month, or upgrade to the Hulu plan (No Ads) for $ 12 a month.

I tried both versions of Hulu, ads and no ads (it should be noted that you can also subscribe to a Hulu Plus Live TV plan with or without ads, or add some premium channels to any plan). This is how Hulu's two basic plan options differ.

Read more: Hulu review: best streaming value if you don't mind some ads

Hulu (with ads): best for casual viewers

Hulu's most popular ad plan is a great choice for three groups of people: those who are used to watching live TV with commercials, those who primarily use the service to watch short comedies, and those who want to save some money.

I saw some shows about the Hulu option with ads. In my experience, watching a 22-minute episode of Bob & # 39; s Burgers, there were no ads. In a 23-minute episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, there was a 15-second ad. But as I was watching an hour-long Saturday Night Live episode, I saw a 15-second ad at the beginning, followed by eight more ad breaks throughout the period: six lasted 90 seconds, one lasted 60 seconds, and one lasted 45 seconds. Obviously, this was more damaging, but similar to how I would have been watching it on live television.

There seemed to be fewer ads during Hulu Originals: Before an episode of The Handmaid & # 39; s Tale, I saw a 30-second ad. The same was true for an episode of Utopia Falls. In an episode of High Fidelity, I saw a 30-second ad in the middle.

If you're used to watching live TV with commercials, this isn't a big deal, especially if you're mainly watching shorter comedies on Hulu or Hulu Originals. There's also the low price: $ 6 a month to access the entire Hulu catalog is a very good deal compared to other streaming services. Netflix basic plan Starts at $ 9 a month, just like Amazon Prime Video (if you're not already a Prime member). If you can handle the ads, $ 6 a month is a solid case for this Hulu plan.

Hulu (No Ads): Best For Serious Binge Observers

If most of your TV is seen ad-free on Netflix, or via fast-forward ads on your DVR, and you really hate watching commercials, the upgrade to Hulu (No Ads) is probably worth $ 12 a month. As the name implies, the experience is ad-free, so you won't see any commercials, making it a more Netflix-like experience.

The ad-free plan is also a solid option if you use Hulu frequently, particularly to watch hour-long shows. In this way, your binge experience is uninterrupted.

However, there is a caveat: some programs will still have ads, even on the ad-free plan, due to licensing issues. Hulu says the list is subject to change, but right now it includes ABC shows Gray & # 39; s Anatomy, Marvel & # 39; s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and How to escape murder. It is also worth mentioning that Hulu with Live TV's ad-free option It also shows ads with some titles on demand.

Despite that, a great advantage of Hulu's ad-free plan is that it is the only way to download programs for offline viewing. Unlike Netflix, you can't download shows to watch them unless you have the plan updated.

The $ 12 a month price for Hulu (ad-free) puts it at the top end of the price range when it comes to its streaming service competitors. But if Hulu is going to be a big part of your streaming service's turnover, the extra $ 6 to remove annoying commercials is worth it.


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