If you‘re thinking of cutting the cord, two of the top contenders for streaming live TV over the internet are Philo and Hulu + Live TV. Both provide live, on-demand and DVR access to popular cable channels without an expensive cable subscription. But should you choose Philo or Hulu + Live TV?
I‘ll compare the key differences between these streaming TV services to help you decide which one best fits your viewing preferences and budget. Read on for a detailed breakdown of Philo vs Hulu + Live TV.
Philo and Hulu + Live TV have some core features in common, like offering live streams of cable channels, cloud DVR storage, and on-demand libraries. But they also have some distinct differences that are important to weigh when choosing a streaming TV provider.
Channel Lineups: Philo Offers AMC and Viacom, Hulu Has More Overall
One of the most important factors when selecting a live TV streaming service is the channel selection.
Philo offers over 60 popular cable channels, including AMC, Discovery, BBC America, CMT, and channels from Viacom like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Comparatively, Hulu + Live TV provides over 85 channels in its base package. In addition to networks like TBS, FX and ESPN, you also get the major broadcast networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in select markets.
However, Hulu + Live TV doesn‘t have AMC or the suite of Viacom channels found on Philo.
So while Hulu + Live TV has a larger volume of channels, Philo has some high-profile ones that are noticeably missing from Hulu. It depends on which channels are a priority for your household.
According to a 2020 Nielsen report, the channels with the highest viewership include CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN, HGTV, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, TBS and the Hallmark channel. Both Philo and Hulu + Live TV offer most of those top cable networks, with the exception of Philo excluding the major broadcasters.
Price: Philo More Affordable, Hulu Costs Over 2.5x More
Pricing is another major point of differentiation between these services. A Philo subscription costs a flat rate of $25 per month. Hulu + Live TV is priced at $69.99 per month as of 2023.
That means Hulu‘s service costs over 2.5x more than Philo for the base package. Of course, you do get significantly more channels and features with Hulu for that higher price.
But Philo suits those looking for the best value and keeping costs down each month. There are no add-on channel packs to increase the price with Philo. The service even allows up to 3 simultaneous streams with the base $25 package.
However, Hulu allows 2 simultaneous streams at once with the standard package. To get unlimited streams on Hulu + Live TV, you would need to pay for the Unlimited Screens add-on priced at an extra $9.99 per month.
So while Hulu ultimately provides a bigger bundle, Philo has the advantage for affordability especially when you factor in the add-ons to increase streams and channels on Hulu.
Video Quality: Hulu Streams 1080p, Philo Currently 720p
Video quality is another area where Hulu + Live TV edges out Philo. Hulu provides full high-definition 1080p streaming for its live channels. Meanwhile, Philo maxes out at 720p HD for its live streams as of early 2023.
However, Philo‘s on-demand library can be streamed in up to 1080p quality. So the limitations are only on the live TV side for Philo.
Hulu also lets subscribers access its on-demand programming in 4K Ultra HD where available, for an enhanced viewing experience. Philo has not yet added any 4K streaming.
So while Philo‘s 720p feeds are certainly quite adequate, Hulu has the advantage for video resolution currently. Having 1080p live channels and 4K on-demand provides a clearer, sharper picture.
Cloud DVR: Philo Saves Recordings 1 Year, Hulu Only 9 Months
Both Philo and Hulu + Live TV provide cloud DVR services allowing you to record and replay live TV. Each offers unlimited storage space for recordings.
However, a key difference is how long those DVR recordings are saved. With Philo, any shows or movies you record will stay in your library for 1 year before being deleted. Hulu + Live TV, on the other hand, saves DVR recordings for only 9 months.
So Philo‘s unlimited DVR retains programs 50% longer than Hulu‘s, which can be important if you want to save shows or games to rewatch farther down the road.
On-Demand Content: Hulu Has Much More, Philo Building Its Library
In addition to live channels and DVR, on-demand programming is an expected part of any streaming TV service today.
This is an area where Hulu + Live TV clearly exceeds Philo. A Hulu subscription provides full access to Hulu‘s entire streaming library of thousands of shows, movies and originals. The Hulu on-demand catalog is a major benefit included.
Philo‘s on-demand selection is more limited, but growing. As of February 2023, the service offers over 50,000 titles to stream on-demand, and continues building that library over time.
So Hulu is far ahead for now in the volume of on-demand programming available to subscribers beyond just live channels.
Bundles: Hulu Includes Disney+ and ESPN+, Philo Doesn‘t Offer Bundle Deals
One of the perks of subscribing to Hulu + Live TV is that Disney+ and ESPN+ are included in the base package at no extra cost. This adds a ton of value with access to Disney shows & movies, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and live sports.
By comparison, Philo does not currently offer any bundling deals for streaming services. It remains focused solely on providing live and on-demand TV channels as a budget-friendly alternative to cable.
For Disney fans or sports enthusiasts, the Disney/ESPN bundle makes Hulu + Live TV a more appealing overall package despite its higher pricing. But Philo keeps things simple as an affordable live TV replacement.
Simultaneous Streams: Philo Allows 3, Hulu Only 2 Without Add-on
Depending on your household and how many people want to watch at once, the number of simultaneous streams allowed on an account can be important.
Philo has the upper hand here, enabling up to 3 concurrent streams included with all subscription tiers. This allows 3 people to be watching Philo at the same time on different devices in the same home.
With Hulu‘s base package, only 2 simultaneous streams are included. To match Philo‘s 3 streams, you would need to pay at least $9.99 more per month for the Unlimited Screens add-on.
For larger families especially, Philo provides better streaming flexibility for the base subscription price.
Availability: Philo and Hulu Both Accessible on Popular Streaming Devices
In today‘s streaming era, you want the ability to access a live TV service across multiple devices. Fortunately, both Philo and Hulu have wide device support.
Philo can be streamed across iOS and Android mobile devices, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast. Philo viewing is supported through web browsers on Windows and Apple computers as well.
Similarly, Hulu + Live TV is accessible across phones, tablets, computers, Chromecast/Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and more.
No matter which streaming gadgets you own, from phones to TVs to game consoles, both Philo and Hulu have you covered. Availability across popular devices is not a differentiator.
Now that we‘ve compared the key features and differences of Philo vs Hulu + Live TV, it‘s interesting to look at how each service evolved from their beginnings into major players in streaming TV.
First, a deeper look at where Philo came from…
Philo founder Tuan Ho first had the idea for an online live TV service as a Harvard undergrad in 2009. At the time, he was unhappy with the limited streaming options available to replace cable.
After noticing empty TV airwaves around campus, Tuan and his classmate Nicholas Krasney set up an improvised streaming system in their dorm room. They used an antenna to capture over-the-air TV signals, connected it to a makeshift server, and streamed it over the university‘s network.
This early version of online streaming TV quickly gained traction with Harvard students. Within weeks of launching in Fall 2009, their service had over 25% of the Harvard undergrad population signed up as users.
Realizing they had stumbled upon a promising concept, Tuan and Nicholas sought to expand beyond Harvard. They officially launched Tivli (an early name for the service) targeting other college campuses starting in 2011.
Over the next several years, Tivli lived on as a niche streaming TV provider for universities. But Tuan and Nicholas envisioned something bigger. After renaming their company Philo in 2016, the service finally took the leap to a full national launch in November 2017.
Positioning itself as a low-cost streaming TV bundle without sports channels, Philo hit the market at just $16 per month. The price later went up to $20, and then $25 in 2021. But it remains one of the most affordable live TV streaming options available.
Backed by over $25 million in funding from investors like HBO, Philo continues expanding its channel lineup and features. It has grown into a reputable streaming TV provider and viable alternative to pricier services like Hulu + Live TV. Not bad for an idea born in a college dorm room!
Unlike Philo‘s origin story as a bootstrapped startup, Hulu + Live TV comes from major media industry players. Here is a look back at how Hulu has changed over time since its 2007 debut…
Hulu got its start in 2007 as a joint venture between media giants 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and Providence Equity Partners. The founding trio each owned roughly a third of the company.
When Hulu first hit the scene in 2007, it was primarily an ad-supported streaming service offering recent episodes of shows from its parent networks. The content came from Fox, NBC, ABC, Comedy Central and other broadcasters.
In 2010, Hulu launched a subscription option called Hulu Plus to expand beyond ad-supported next-day TV episodes. The $7.99 per month service added more content partners like Viacom, and enabled viewing on more device types like mobile phones.
Over the next few years, Hulu gradually evolved into a multifaceted streaming service. It expanded into original programming, on-demand movies, and exclusives like all episodes of Seinfeld in 2015.
The next major development was the launch of Hulu with Live TV in May 2017. This new service added live streams and a cloud DVR to Hulu for $39.99 per month.
After 21st Century Fox was acquired by Disney in 2019, Disney took over Fox‘s controlling stake in Hulu. Disney then bought out the remaining ownership from Comcast/NBCUniversal to assume full ownership and control of Hulu in 2022.
Today, Hulu + Live TV stands as one of the top live TV streaming services vying to replace traditional cable. Its evolution from humble beginnings mirrors the massive shift happening broadly from linear television viewing to on-demand internet streaming.
So when all is weighed up, how do Philo and Hulu + Live TV compare head to head? Which streaming TV service comes out on top?
The truth is, there is no one size fits all answer. The right choice depends on your specific needs and preferences as a viewer.
Here‘s a quick rundown of key advantages on both sides:
- Cheapest starting price at $25/month
- Includes AMC, Comedy Central, Viacom channels
- Keeps DVR recordings for 1 year
- Allows 3 simultaneous streams
Hulu + Live TV Pros
- 85+ channels with local networks
- Full bundles of Disney+ and ESPN+ included
- 1080p video with 4K on demand
- Huge catalog of Hulu on-demand content
- More add-ons available
Philo shines for those wanting to strictly minimize costs. The channel lineup covers most of the essentials, focused on entertainment and lifestyle programming. At $25 per month, it‘s hard to beat for budget-focused cord cutters.
On the other side, Hulu + Live TV is ideal for viewers who prioritize access to the widest variety of content – both live channels and on-demand libraries. You pay more, but get Disney/ESPN bundles, 4K streaming, unlimited add-ons and an unrivaled overall catalog of TV shows and movies.
Ultimately, choosing Philo vs Hulu Live TV requires deciding which features and channels are must-haves for you, and how much you‘re willing to pay per month. Take some time to consider your needs as a viewer. Weigh up the pros and cons, and how they align with your priorities.
While one service isn‘t the hands-down winner, you now have the information you need to determine which of these streaming TV providers is the smarter choice for your household. Happy streaming!