Hulu Live TV and other television content providers who deliver their content like Hulu Live are apparently unable or unwilling to serve the growing number of rural and mobile wireless internet users.
Many reviews tell the tale of consumers who have registered for a free trial for a live programming package from Hulu (or one of Hulu’s competitors), only to find that the service either would not work at all or would quit working at some future point, even though their bill is paid. These streaming providers have told disappointed customers that they do not support hotspots. However, this issue is even being experienced by some users of WiFi on their fixed home networks. It’s not a really a problem with the technology, but a problem with the way some providers view and subsequently manage their wireless users.
Problems with Hulu Live
While Hulu Live doesn’t work at all for many wireless users, others find that Hulu Live will work at first and then suddenly stop. So, what is behind Hulu’s streaming issues over wireless networks? It is caused by a Hulu home location error. The simple explanation is that Hulu is using geolocation technology to limit its users to a single zip code. When you set up your Hulu Live account, you are required to set a home network location, and you may not be allowed to do this on a wireless connection, as Hulu does not consider fixed wireless locations as fixed.
One issue is that the cell tower that facilitates your signal goes to a hub somewhere that is assigning IP addresses to help route data to the places it needs to go. Since this may be occurring across several different zip codes, it can look to Hulu like you are changing locations. Without getting too technical here, each time you make a new connection it can look like you are changing zip codes to Hulu.
Unlike most other providers, who are happy to sell their service to a user to use wherever they are, like Netflix does, Hulu Live wants to sell their service to one address like the cable company does. (Note: This issue is only with Hulu Live TV, as it delivers regular TV channels, while regular Hulu streaming will work fine no matter where you are.) Some providers will allow up to four zip code changes per year, others will immediately see a location error and block service.
The problem is that cellular-based technology doesn’t lend itself to this archaic way of customer management. While programmers like Netfilx are happy to have you as a customer wherever you are, Hulu and some others are not. But the trend toward wireless internet is in the users favor.
In 2019, CNBC reported that around 3.9 billion people access the internet only by mobile devices, and 5G will soon attract more users, even replacing a wired internet connection in some homes. Chances are that Hulu Live and other program providers will have to come around if they want to stay competitive. But, in the meantime, if you are like me, you’ll be looking for alternatives — and they are out there.
Alternatives to Hulu Live
Luckily, there are ways to get local programming and a wide variety of other content besides for Hulu Live TV. An easy way to watch local programming is to install an HD antenna. It is common to find 20-30 or more channels available by antennae.
You should consider using a streaming device like Roku or Amazon Fire as a base upon which you can build your own collection of streamed television options . It’s hard to say which is the best live TV streaming service, but Roku does offer a larger selection of free third-party programming. Each offers TV programs, movies, live sports, and will also give you an interface to access local programming with your HD antenna. There are many other options besides these 2, but, being the most popular, these are the ones we’ll focus on in this article.
It is so easy to add over-the-top premium content services and a variety of other free or inexpensive TV content providers to Fire and Roku. The number of TV program options are too numerous to list for you here, but we will cover a few standouts.
- Sling TV: Sling TV is an “over-the-top” tv content provider. You can choose from different packages, or combine and get 53 base channels (currently $35/month). There are then several specialty channels you can add ala-carte. Sling is readily available on both Roku and Fire.
- YouTube TV: YouTube offers over 70 live tv channels for about $49.99 per month. YouTube carries all the major broadcast networks with local programming. There are no contracts and you receive unlimited DVR storage space with your subscription. You can also add premium channels like Showtime, Starz and more. While YouTube TV does also want you to stay at your home network, they’re a lot less aggressive about it than Hulu.
- FuboTV: This channel is currently $59.99-74.99/mo. and offers 108-176 channels respectively. There are entertainment, sports, and news channels, but no local programming. Overall, though, it has a good selection of live TV programming. The programming is live format with 30 hours of DVR provided.
- Pluto Tv: Pluto is a free live and on demand format with over 100 channels. With an HD antenna they also offer access to some local network broadcasting and lots of classic television programming. There are sports, news, and weather channels as well. The service does have ads, but there are far less than traditional broadcast television.
- AT&T Watch TV: AT&T offers this free to unlimited AT&T Unlimited phone subscribers or $15 per month as a stand-alone application. You must download the app or have a compatible service like Amazon Fire, Apple TV or others. It features 35 live tv channels and 15,000 on-demand titles. You can also add premium channels at an additional charge.
- AT&T Now: This service is either $65 for 45+ channels with HBO or $80 for 60+ channels with HBO and Cinemax. It can be streamed live or watched on-demand. There are premium entertainment and sports channels you can add, and it is available through numerous platforms.
- Philo: For $20/month, Philo offers 58 live channels that can be streamed live or saved for up to 30 days and watched on demand. It works over Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Android, and IOS.
- Crackle: This free streaming service from Sony Pictures Entertainment features original content, movies and television programming. Crackle has ads, but it’s free. The original content is well done and the movie content rotates often enough to keep it fresh. It is accessible on Fire and Roku, and it’s also available over your internet browser.
Streaming Services like Hulu
If live TV is not what you are looking for, or you have local programming already, you may want to go with one of the on-demand streaming services similar to Hulu. They all show some of the same content but also offer many different titles. Even Hulu offers an alternative service with ads that will work over wireless networks. The Hulu-with-ads service runs $5.99/mo.
You will need to decide what the best streaming service for you and your family is based upon your individual tastes. Or, since changing services is so easy, you can do like some others do, and rotate the service from time to time to get a completely different set of offerings. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, Disney+, CBS All Access, and more are all available on Amazon Fire and Roku, and many are even available through your internet browser.
The bottom line is that you, like most people, want to be able to watch movies and TV that is entertaining and offers a wide variety of content offerings. Whether you are looking for a free service, the cheapest streaming service, or a selection of premium services, there is a smorgasbord of choices. I have found that if one service doesn’t meet my needs there are plenty of other choices. When it comes to finding the streaming service with the most channels you like, the answer is easy – Build your own!