On-Campus Internet TV Service Philo Expands, Now Live At Over 40 Universities In The U.S.

Philo, the NEA and HBO-backed startup that’s bringing traditional cable television, including both live TV and DVR functionality, to consumers’ mobile devices, has been working to expand its footprint in the university market. Since raising an additional $10 million in venture funding earlier this year, the company is now announcing it has gone live at 15 more universities around the U.S., bringing its total roster of universities to now 40.

The newly added campuses that have signed up for Philo include Clemson University, University of Houston, University of North Carolina Asheville, University of South Florida, University of Texas El Paso, University of Utah, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Washington State University, to name a few.

These are in addition to Philo’s prior customer base, which includes Harvard University, Brown University, University of Alabama, Lubbock Christian University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Washington, among others.

Philo’s service arrives at a time when a number of younger users are opting to forgo pay TV subscriptions (the so-called “cord nevers”), in favor of using online streaming services like Netflix or Amazon, or simply spending their time doing other activities (like using apps.)


To combat this threat, the traditional cable and satellite providers have been developing their own streaming TV products. For example, Dish offers live TV via Sling TV; Comcast is rolling out Stream; and Verizon [disclosure: TechCrunch parent] is launching a mobile TV service called go90.

But Philo offers these same providers another way to reach an audience – especially that demographic that seems less interested in cable TV than the older generation. The company partners with existing distributors who already have deals in place with the universities. It then comes in and places its own hardware on campuses, connected to the school’s video ingest, or it places it at the local cable company’s head-end.

Meanwhile, students access Philo’s “TV Everywhere”-like service via their smartphones and tablets, where they’re able to watch live television, use a network DVR, and browse a collection of on-demand content. The company has also been developing social features which let students share links to favorite shows with each other.

The company is currently being led by CEO Andrew McCollum, an early Facebook employee who initially angel invested in Philo, then began to advise the startup before moving into the CEO role last year. McCollum says he was intrigued by the idea of building a modern-day TV service for the next generation of viewers.

Along with the expansion, Philo says it’s also working to redesign its Roku app which will include a visual overhaul plus enhanced search and DVR functionality. This follows recent updates to its iOS and Android apps which added features like universal search, a home page for DVR recordings, a list of shows trending nearby and a list of popular shows, a new channel guide offering both a grid and guide view, and an improved DVR interface.

Philo is currently backed by New Enterprise Associates (NEA); CBC New Media Group of Raleigh, NC; Rho Ventures; XFUND; and its CEO, in addition to being on of the first companies to receive investment from HBO.