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Philo vs Hulu Live TV: What’s the Difference & Which is Best?

Philo and Hulu Live TV are both good options for streaming live TV, but there are enough differences to make choosing between them easier.

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Philo and Hulu Live TV both provide access to live TV channels without the need for any lengthy contracts or commitments. However, the two live TV streaming services are different in a number of areas, including the channel selection, DVR, simultaneous streams, and the experience overall. Understanding these differences can help make it easier to decide whether Philo or Hulu Live TV is best for an individual or household.

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Philo first launched its live TV streaming service back in 2017. Back then, it was a service focused on offering affordable access to live TV. While the overall Philo experience, including the channels and plans, has changed over the years, the service’s emphasis on price hasn’t. As a result, it still remains an affordable live TV service and especially compared to the competition.

Hulu likely needs little introduction as many will already be familiar with the on-demand subscription service and what it offers. However, in 2017, Hulu entered the live TV market. Again, the years since have resulted in a number of changes to the service, and particularly in relation to the selection of channels and the price, but it still remains a good and popular option for those looking to stream live TV over the internet.

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Philo is cheaper, but Hulu offers more

To be clear, there is no comparison when it comes to price. Philo is, by far, the cheaper option. If an individual or household is simply looking for the most affordable service, Philo is it. Of course, price is directly related to other areas, so consumers may want to make sure the value on offer also meets their needs.

A Philo live TV subscription costs just $25 per month. In contrast, the very cheapest Hulu Live TV plan starts at $64.99 per month, making it more than twice as expensive as Philo. Hulu Live TV does offer other plans, but unless bundling with add-ons, the channel lineup remains the same. If focusing on live TV and nothing else, the cheapest Hulu Live TV plan is actually only $63.99 per month. Once again, if price matters the most, Philo is the cheaper option.

Where things change to some degree is in the level of customization. Philo offers very few options to adjust the plan, with the choice mostly limited to a small selection of premium networks that can be added to a subscription. In comparison, Hulu Live TV comes with far greater customization options. This is not only in terms of premium networks, but also add-ons like “Entertainment” and “Sports” that add multiple channels to a package. Of course, any of these tweaks do cost an additional amount each month and the cost can add up quickly. Still, if choice is important, Hulu offers more to choose from.

This is all without taking into consideration the fact that Hulu Live TV is actually Hulu plus Live TV. This matters as all Hulu Live TV subscribers also get access to a basic Hulu subscription at no additional cost. If an individual or household is already paying for basic Hulu, then that’s an instant saving which can be deducted from the cost of the live TV subscription, and especially if planning to remain subscribed to basic Hulu while also paying for a live TV service as well.

Philo and Hulu Live TV channels compared

As mentioned, if access to live TV at the lowest possible price is what matters, then Philo is the obvious choice. However, if the actual selection of channels matter, then Hulu may prove to be the better service in spite of the higher monthly cost.

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Technically, and in spite of the major difference in price, both services offer a similar number of channels. For example, Philo provides access to more than 60 channels while a Hulu Live TV subscription comes with more than 75 channels. Which channel selection is better overall, will vary greatly and depend on the needs of the individual subscriber or household.

ChannelPhiloHulu
A&E
ABC
ABC News Live
ACC Network
AccuWeather
Adult Swim
AMC
American Heroes Channel
Animal Planet
AspireTV
AXS TV
BBC America
BBC World News
BET
BET Her
Big Ten Network
Bloomberg
Boomerang
Bravo
Cartoon Network
CBS
CBS News Live
CBS Sports
Cheddar
Cleo TV
CMT
CNBC
CNN
CNN International
Comedy Central
Cooking Channel
Cozy TV
Crackle
Crime + Investigation
The CW
Dabl
Destination America
Discovery
Discovery Family
Discovery Life
Disney
Disney JR
Disney XD
DIY Network
E!
ESPN
ESPN 2
ESPN News
ESPN U
ESPN College Extra
Food Network
Fox
Fox Business
Fox News
Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports 2
Freeform
FX
FXM
FXX
FYI
GAC Family
Game Show Network
getTV
Golf Network
Gusto TV
Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Drama
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
HGTV
History
HLN
ID
IFC
INSP
Law & Crime
Lifetime
Logo
Localish
LMN
Military History
MSNBC
MotorTrend
MTV
MTV Classic
MTV Live
MTV2
NASA
Nat Geo
Nat Geo Wild
NBC
NBCSN
News Nation
NFL Network
Nickelodeon
Nick Jr.
Nicktoons
Olympic Channel
OWN
Oxygen
Paramount
PeopleTV
PlayersTV
POP
QVC
Revry
Revolt
Science Channel
SEC
Smithsonian Channel
Start TV
Sundance TV
Syfy
Tastemade
TBS
TCM
TeenNick
Telemundo
TLC
TNT
Travel Channel
Tru TV
TV Land
TV One
Universal Kids
UPtv
USA
VH1
Vice
WE tv

The list above represents all of the channels that’s included with the base subscription. For those focused more on the channel selection than the price, that might matter. For example, if Hallmark channels are needed, then Philo is going to be the better option overall. Then again, as Philo doesn’t carry any locals, Hulu is a better option for those in need of local channels. Likewise, with ESPN, Fox Sports and NFL Network included in a subscription, Hulu Live TV is also likely to be a better option for households wanting to stream live sports over the internet.

While Philo does have some channels that are not included with Hulu, Hulu does come with the ability to add more channels at a higher price each month, potentially filling in any missing gaps. In contrast, any channels included with a Hulu Live TV subscription that are missing from Philo can’t be filled, even if the consumer is willing to pay more. Other than the limited number of premium networks, the Philo channels listed above are all Philo offers.

How the experiences compare

While neither service offers a particularly bad experience, this is likely to be highly subjective. Not to mention, the experience can vary between platforms and devices. Technically, Philo is more consistent in this respect, with a super clean, easy to use, and reliable experience on different devices. That’s not to say there’s anything majorly wrong with Hulu on certain devices, but the experience does vary slightly more between apps than it does with Philo.

Another area of the experience that differs is in the cloud DVR department. Arguably, this is another win for Philo as the service provides subscribers with an unlimited cloud DVR. As a result, subscribers are able to record as many movies and shows as they want without having to worry about running out of recording space. When it comes to Hulu, the same luxury is not there. A standard subscription only comes with 50 hours of space to record with. There is the option to pay more each month for an enhanced cloud DVR, but even that limits the subscriber to 200 hours.

Another important experience factor to take into consideration is the number of simultaneous streams. All services allow subscribers to stream on more than one device at the same time, but the exact number varies between services. This is also true with Philo and Hulu Live TV. Philo allows subscribers to stream on up to three devices at the same time, while the standard Hulu Live TV subscription limits the number of devices to two. Once again, Hulu allows subscribers to upgrade to “unlimited screens” but that comes at an additional cost each month on top of the base subscription price.

As Hulu Live TV also includes access to basic Hulu, this impacts on the experience as well. After all, this is a subscription within a subscription, so the amount of on-demand content that’s available to watch through Hulu Live TV is significantly higher than with Philo. Of course, with basic Hulu costing as little as $6.99 per month, Philo subscribers could also subscribe to Hulu’s on-demand subscription and still pay significantly less than they would with Hulu Live TV. Although, they would then need to bounce between apps unlike with Hulu, which integrates both the basic and live TV services within the same app resulting in a smoother and easier to use experience.

Philo vs Hulu Live TV summary

Philo is not only the cheaper service overall, but it also tends to be a more inclusive option as well. At $25 per month, Philo provides access to more than 60 channels, on demand content, more recording space than Hulu Live TV and the ability to stream on more devices at the same time without having to pay extra. All of which is hard to argue with and enough to make Philo the better service overall.

However, and this is a major however, Philo is significantly limited in the channels department. Even though the service only comes with a slightly fewer number of channels, the selection is drastically different. Not to mention, Hulu Live TV also comes with a greater ability to customize the channel lineup further. If the channels is what matters the most, and it will to many households, then Hulu Live TV might be the better option, even though it costs significantly more each month and comes with more limitations.

To sum up, Philo and Hulu Live TV are very different services and aimed at different consumers. Philo looks to offer as much value as possible and at an affordable price to begin with. In contrast, Hulu Live TV takes more of a premium approach to its service and that impacts on the price. If price matters go with Philo, but subscribe to Hulu Live TV if price is less important than the channels.

By John Finn

John started Streaming Clarity to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingclarity.com or on Twitter

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