In the midst of the Streaming Wars, a new battle has emerged on the front lines. The battle of streaming television providers. One major qualm that many cable cord-cutters have quickly noticed is that most streaming services lack one thing: the ability to watch live channels.
It’s so convenient and easy to throw a channel on and just sit back and enjoy. While streamers such as Discovery+ try to recreate this feeling, it’s just not the same. Luckily, streaming television exists to bring real live TV channels to the streaming space. How do two top contenders — Philo vs Hulu + Live TV — compare?
Philo vs Hulu + Live TV: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Hulu + Live TV
|November 14th, 2017
|October 29th, 2007
|Number of Channels
|Price Per Month
|ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC, ESPN
|AMC, BBC America, Cooking Channel, CW, Hallmark, IFC
|Top Streaming Quality
4K UHD (on-demand)
|Epix, Reelz, and Starz subscriptions
|Showtime, HBO Max, Cinemax, and Starz subscriptions; Entertainment, Sports, Español channel packages; Unlimited Screens add-on
|DVR keeps recordings active for one year
|Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ subscriptions included with live TV package
Philo vs Hulu + Live TV: What’s the Difference?
Now that we’ve laid out these basic specs side by side, it’s well worth diving deeper into the key differences that set apart Philo vs Hulu + Live TV. From the number and selection of channels to the total cost, users will pay every month for the kinds of exclusive special features you can expect from both services. These are the most essential distinguishing factors between Philo vs Hulu + Live TV.
Is there anything more important to a choice in streaming television providers than the kind of channel selection available? Probably not (unless you count the subscription price, which we’ll touch on next). Philo falls behind Hulu + Live TV in this respect, but not by much.
They offer more than 60 channels, including a number you won’t find on Hulu + Live TV. AMC, BBC America, BET, Comedy Central, Cooking Channel, Hallmark, IFC, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network… the list of Philo-exclusive channels goes on, each one lacking from Hulu + Live TV’s offerings.
Hulu + Live TV, on the other hand, definitely has an advantage based on the number of channels alone. Their total exceeds 85, with more channels being added all the time. What’s more, Hulu + Live TV also offers ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, and numerous other must-have exclusives that put them at an advantage over Philo.
Hulu + Live TV also offers far more add-ons than Philo does, only driving their total channel count even higher in the process. From numerous premium packages to a number of additional channel packages, Hulu + Live TV is undoubtedly the winner in this respect.
Price Per Month
Secondly, there’s the total price per month to take into account. The whole reason you cut the cable in the first place is to save yourself some much-needed cash. As such, the last thing you want is to be shelling out nearly as much for a streaming television service.
Thankfully, Philo is about as affordable as a streaming television service can be. Priced at just $25 a month, you could afford to add on a few premium cable options and still end up paying less than your cable bill. (Not to mention paying less than you would for Hulu + Live TV.)
As you know by now, Hulu + Live TV is significantly more expensive than Philo. As a matter of fact, Philo’s base price is nearly three times cheaper than Hulu + Live TV’s.
It’ll cost you $69.99 a month, and though that includes Disney+ and ESPN+ subscriptions, as well as access to Hulu’s complete library and live TV channels, it’s hard to deny just how noticeable this higher price point really is. Once you start throwing in additional channel packages and premium offerings, you quickly enter into the $100+ range.
Exclusive Special Features
While special features aren’t reason enough to sign up for one streaming television service over another, they certainly prove to be important enough to convince you that you’re making the right decision. As such, let’s compare the exclusive special features of Philo vs Hulu + Live TV.
Philo, for one, offers subscribers unlimited DVR storage. What’s more, unlimited storage will save recordings for up to one year. Rival services such as Sling or Hulu + Live TV simply can’t offer this kind of length.
Comparatively, Hulu + Live TV also offers unlimited DVR storage, but it only saves your recordings for up to nine months. Thankfully for them, they more than make up for this disadvantage by offering a truly tremendous amount of other exclusive special features.
For one, your subscription comes with those aforementioned Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ subscriptions at no additional charge. What’s more, Hulu + Live TV includes live sports and news that Philo (and many other streaming television services, for that matter) just can’t offer. It’s another win for Hulu + Live TV.
The History of Philo
The great streaming television debate between Philo vs Hulu + Live TV came about quite naturally. As more and more people cut their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming services, it was only a matter of time before streaming services began to integrate live television into their platforms.
Philo was one of the earliest examples of this. First founded by Harvard University students Nicholas Krasney and Tuan Ho, Philo started out on a remarkably small scale. Krasney and Ho merely intended to provide streaming television to their fellow Harvard University students. It soon grew much larger than that.
Within the first few weeks of launch — which simply saw Krasney and Ho using aluminum foil, a TV antenna, and a makeshift server to wirelessly stream the signal via a laptop — more than a quarter of Harvard’s student body had signed up for the service.
Rather quickly, Krasney and Ho realized that their streaming television service was destined for something far greater and far larger than just Harvard’s campus. With the help of the Harvard Innovation Lab, their newly named service Philo spread to Stanford, Yale, Texas A&M, and Brown University.
With the help of more than $6 million in venture capital from the likes of Mark Cuban, HBO, Endeavor Holdings, and other Series A investors, Philo was able to grow beyond college campuses entirely. A few years (and another $10 million from Series B investors) later, Philo was ready to launch as a full-fledged streaming television service in the fall of 2017.
Initially offered at a seriously affordable price of just $20 a month, the service later increased to $25 in 2021. That’s still remarkably cheap, not only for a de-facto cable provider but also for a streaming television service.
How Hulu + Live TV Competes
When pitting Philo vs Hulu + Live TV against each other, there’s no doubt the latter has a sizable advantage over the former. It’s not just that Hulu has been around since October 2007, a good decade before Philo went nationwide.
Furthermore, it’s not just that Hulu has the backing of such television titans as NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox. Hulu also has the financial support of The Walt Disney Company, granting them access to far more funding and far greater resources than any other competitor in the streaming television space.
With that being said, Hulu has not maintained the same basic function throughout that time. Far from it, in fact. At the streamer’s start in 2007, Hulu was a place to watch recent episodes of basic cable television programming. (A glorified on-demand service, essentially.)
It was free to use and supported by ads. By 2010, they launched an official paid streaming service called Hulu Plus. This allowed them to compete directly with Netflix. Hulu + Live TV came about in 2017, marking yet another shift for the streaming service.
Hulu + Live TV is undoubtedly a great streaming television service. However, Hulu’s frequent shifting from one function to another over the course of its 15-year history suggests something that can’t be said about Philo: trend-hopping.
Hulu is willing to fully embrace the latest and greatest in streaming, even if it means abandoning what initially drew people to the service. For instance, Hulu’s initial purpose — free, on-demand episodes of recently aired television — is no longer a pillar of the company. Hulu + Live TV is a great offering, but we can’t know for certain Hulu won’t abandon it later.
Philo vs Hulu + Live TV: Pros and Cons
|Pros of Philo
|Cons of Philo
|Most affordable streaming television service
|No live sports channels
|Keeps DVR recordings for one year
|No local channels
|Allows for three simultaneous streams
|A limited number of channel add-ons
|Plenty of channels not found on Hulu + Live TV
|Future price increases are likely
|Pros of Hulu + Live TV
|Cons of Hulu + Live TV
|Includes Disney+ and ESPN+ subscription
|Only allows for two simultaneous streams
|1080p live streaming and 4K UHD on-demand content
|More expensive than other streaming television services
|Subscription includes access to Hulu library
|The more add-ons, the higher the price climbs
|Lots of possible add-ons to choose from
|DVR only keeps recordings for nine months
5 Must-Know Facts About Streaming Television
- Though Hulu has changed hands many times throughout its 15-year history — going from News Corporation to NBCUniversal to Providence Equity Partners — the service is now primarily owned by the Walt Disney Company.
- Philo initially went by the name Tivli. It later changed its name to Philo, named after Philo T. Farnsworth: one of the most important minds behind the early years of television engineering.
- It’s estimated that as much as 85% of U.S. households subscribe to at least one streaming service. By comparison, it’s estimated that major cable providers have lost as many as six million subscribers a year since 2019.
- Experts estimate that streaming comprises a whopping 25% of all minutes spent watching television.
- Streaming apps are estimated to reach a cumulative gross of $115 billion by 2026. By comparison, cable television providers grossed around $94 billion in 2021.
Philo vs Hulu + Live TV: Which Is Better?
And so, when all has been said and done, which streaming television provider takes the cake? From their channel selection to their streaming quality to their exclusive add-ons and special features, it’s overwhelmingly Hulu + Live TV.
The biggest downside is the high price point. As such, if Philo is more affordable or has a greater channel selection for your personal taste, then by all means go with them. Objectively speaking, Hulu + Live TV is the best-streaming television provider of the two. Subjectively, however, your preference could be different. The choice is ultimately yours.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Iryna Dincer/Shutterstock.com.