Hulu Live: Can You Watch With a Mobile Hotspot?

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Q. I am thinking of getting rid of all my cable services from TV to the Internet. My question is could I get the live Hulu streaming if I used my hotspot on my phone? That way I could get rid of both my TV and Internet bills on my cable service. — Elisa, Topeka, Kansas. 

Elisa, I frequently receive e-mails from readers asking if they can stream video by using a Hotspot on their phone or tablet. The idea is appealing because it could allow you to jettison your cable or telco Internet bill which can run as much as $100 a month while the Hotspot sometimes comes free with your mobile Internet plan.

Before I answer your specific question about Hulu Live, allow me to offer some background for our readers who are not familiar with using a Hotspot to stream video on your TV.

Many mobile phones and tablets can run on 3G, 4G, 5G, LTE or other Internet plans — and, yes, you can create a Hotspot from your mobile device to create a wireless home Internet network in your home. For instance, your spouse and kids could access your Hotspot to surf the Net on their computer or other devices. (Consult the settings of your mobile to learn how to create a Hotspot.)

Most Hotspots have data limits, and if you go over the data limit — which I guarantee you will if you start binging on Netflix — you will pay a fortune in overage charges.

But the Hotspot with an unlimited data plan could be a great alternative to buying an expensive Internet service from a cable or telco company.

But before you go and set one up, here are a few cautions:

1. Yes, you can stream Netflix, or some other favorite streaming services, without fear of overages. But some unlimited plans come with a feature that will reduce the resolution of the picture once you start using a large amount of data. If you care about picture quality, this could be a real annoyance.

2. Some Hotspots on mobile devices are not compatible with Smart TVs or even Smart TV devices. The set or set-top may detect the Hotspot connection, but you may not be able to actually connect to it to stream.

So before buying a long-term Hotspot plan, make sure your connected TV will be able to pick up the signal.

3. Hotspots sometimes will not produce a strong signal to your other devices in the home, which again could reduce the quality of your streaming picture.

So the Hotspot with an unlimited plan can remove the worry of excessive monthly Internet charges, but there’s no guarantee it will work to your satisfaction, or at all. Again, before buying a long-term plan, give the Hotspot a spin in your home for a few days.

Now that we’ve established that it can work with some streaming services such as Netflix, will the Hotspot work with Hulu Live, the live streaming service that costs $54.99 a month? Could you use a Hotspot to stream Hulu Live on your television?

The answer: No.

“Please note that mobile hotspots and shared Wi-Fi networks (like a dorm, office building, etc.) do not meet this criteria, and therefore can’t be used as your Home network (for Hulu Live),” Hulu says at its web site.

The company, however, does say it might work with Hulu’s subscription Video on Demand plans which start at $5.99 a month.

Elisa, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann
@swanniontv

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