hayu UK Review: The Ultimate US Reality TV Fix

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With so many streaming TV services popping up these days, it feels like there’s a subscription for every niche. Well, hayu is a prime example of that: do you like American reality TV programmes? Do you swear by the Kardashians, the Vanderpumps and lots and lots of young men and women in revealing clothing? Well – hayu is the perfect streaming service for you.

With an impressive selection of US “guilty pleasure” type programmes, some mere hours after their US broadcast, hayu works hard to justify its monthly subscription cost.

In this review, I’ll take a look at the content, the interface, the price – and whether it all comes down to an enticing offer.

hayu homepage

Quick Look – hayu

Who is it for: People who love US reality TV of a certain type (and some true crime), and are willing to pay for another monthly subscription.

Cost: £4.99/month

Pros

  • A decent catalogue of 250+ programmes
  • New episodes are often added just hours after their US broadcast
  • HD-quality streaming, with subtitles for most shows
  • Available on most streaming devices
  • Generous 30-days trial

Cons

  • You won’t find most of the “top tier” reality TV shows
  • Can’t set separate user profiles
  • Video quality looks mediocre on some of the older shows

Summary

If you love the type of programmes hayu excels in, you’re probably already aware of that – and you will certainly get your fix here, for a decent price. However, Those looking for more high-end reality TV shows (like Survivor, The Bachelor, American Idol and the like) won’t find them here.


What Is hayu?

“hayu” is a reality TV and true-crime streaming subscription service that launched in several countries back in 2016, and is owned by NBCUniversal.

In addition to the UK, hayu is also available in Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Canada and several other countries.

hayu isn’t available as a traditional cable “channel” – instead, it’s a video on-demand service, much like Netflix or Disney+, and you need a broadband connection and a streaming device (or your phone/tablet) to be able to watch it.

hayu specialises in a very specific type of American reality TV – some might call it the “guilty pleasure” type, others might have less affectionate definitions – but say what you will about these types of programmes, they’re definitely addictive (I may have binge-watched 7 episodes of Million Dollar Listing in two days, but I’m not admitting anything).

Million Dollar Listing new york hayu

How Can I Watch hayu In The UK?

There are two ways to subscribe to hayu: either directly via the hayu website (where you can also get a 30-days free trial), or as part of Amazon Prime Channels. (But then you also need to be an Amazon Prime Video member – so that’s only relevant for some.)

The free trial is quite generous at 30 days, but keep in mind, you need to fill in your payment details – and the subscription will be renewed automatically once the trial is over, unless you cancel beforehand.

If you join directly, the price after the trial is £4.99/month. You can then install the hayu app on your phone (Android and iOS), or stream it to your telly, as it supports most of the streaming devices sold in the UK:

Using hayu: The Interface

If you’re at all familiar with any other of the popular streaming services, you will instantly feel at home once you install the hayu app, with grids of programmes, divided into categories .

You get a few popular recommendations at the top, and then the expected “Continue Watching” tab, where you can jump right in to a series you already started.

hayu new additions

Choosing something new to watch involves either going to one of the categories, or browsing through hayu’s recommendations. Alas, there are no “personal” recommendations, so it doesn’t look at what you’ve been watching to recommend more stuff based on your favourites. (But you can manually mark programmes you want to “see more of”).

Once you find a programme you like, you can add it to the “My Shows” list for future reference.

Sadly, there’s also no support for separate profiles (like on Netflix, for example) – so you can’t have different family members have different watchlists, or to go through shows at a different pace.

Plus, you can only stream hayu on ONE device at a time (you can certainly ADD it on other devices, but not watch it on two of them simultaneously). That’s pretty limited for a streaming service in this day and age.

Streaming quality is HD on most programmes, though some of the older content doesn’t look too good – possibly because it’s, well, older. And while there are no buffering pauses (providing your broadband connection is good), the programmes often start at a lower quality, and take – sometimes up to a minute – to turn into HD.

The hayu interface does have a few annoying quirks here and there – for example, on some versions, there’s no visual indication of which episodes you already watched, so if you lose your place in a season, things can get confusing. Plus, the subtitles often cover important text and names on the screen.

The hayu smartphone app (there are versions for both Android and iOS) worked OK during my testing – it lets you stream programmes directly, as well as download them for offline viewing.

hayu android app

However, while the iOS app has a respectable 4-stars rating, the Android app (which is the one I used) only has 3.5 stars on the Google Play store, with a lot of complaints about technical issues – so that’s something to be mindful of.

What Can I Watch On hayu?

As I mentioned, most of the programmes on hayu are not exactly at the top-tier of reality TV, so you won’t find the popular prime-time reality competition shows (with a few exceptions) .

However, if you like this type of cheap (and cheerful) content, with rich kids who hate each other, or rich kids who sell apartments of rich grownups, or rich kids who cook, or… you get the point – then hayu is like a reality playground.

They’ve also added a “True Crime” category – which isn’t exactly reality TV, but it’s become a trendy category in recent years, so I guess they found that the audience for true crime shows overlaps with reality TV fans…

Other categories include “Love and Dating”, “Kardashians”, “Cooking and Food”, “Famous Faces”, “Home & Design”, and more.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians
Keeping Up With The Kardashians

Most of hayu’s programmes have all of their past seasons available, with new episodes being made available on the same day they air in the US, which is impressive (there are very few streaming services or even regular TV channels in the UK that do this).

Some of the more popular programmes that you can find on hayu are:

  • Keeping Up with the Kardashians
  • Vanderpump Rules
  • Million Dollar Listing
  • Top Chef
  • Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry
  • The Real Housewives of…
  • Dance Moms
  • Watch What Happens Live (Andy Cohen’s talk-show)
  • Snapped

So yes, some of these programmes might sound… questionable – but let me tell you, once you start watching they become addictive pretty quickly. There’s a reason this genre is so popular…

Bottom Line: Is hayu Worth It?

If you’re a fan of this type of content, you’re not going to quickly run out of stuff to watch, and with them adding episodes constantly (there are over 7,000 episodes right now), there’s definite ongoing value.

Of course, as with any other on-demand streaming service, there’s the added value of being able to start and stop your subscription at any time.

While the interface is a bit dated, and the subscription’s streaming limitations are annoying – hayu does exactly what it sets out to do – giving its niche audience the reality fix it craves.

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