Reviewing Philo’s Streaming Service: Great UI & Inexpensive
Philo’s streaming service is focused on the niche of affordable entertainment, education, and lifestyle programming.
_Updated: 3/7/2019. This story has been updated to reflect recent changes to service offerings. _
Philo’s streaming service is focused on the niche of affordable entertainment, education, and lifestyle programming. Philo streams multichannel live TV over the Internet like Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV. What makes this live TV streaming solution unique is the price point and channel lineup. Philo is the least expensive option on the market for streaming live TV and has access to channels not found on any other streaming service.
Originally targeted as a college campus solution, the startup streaming service opted to open access to the general public in late 2017. The company is led by Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum, who took the helm in 2014; and backed by networks A&E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps, and Viacom which have invested a combined $25 million into the business.
Pricing and Lineup
Monthly subscription prices undercut even Sling’s low-price offerings. Philo is less than half the price of Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV. The bargain price point results in a limited channel lineup which doesn’t include sports, news, or local broadcast channels. But the connection with Viacom gives viewers access to channels not found on many other services, like Comedy Central, MTV, BET, and VH1.
The basic set of 43 channels on Philo is $16 per month with no other cost or contract. Viewers can choose the premium package of 55 channels for $20 per month. There’s a free seven-day trial, after which you can cancel or restart your subscription anytime, as many times as you wish. Subscriptions are month to month and automatically renew unless you cancel.
You get a few more channels on Philo than on Sling TV’s Orange plan with 30 live channels and about 60 on YouTube TV. Viewers could invest in a simple HD antenna to pick up local channels and the only holes you would find in the programming would be major news and sports like CNN and ESPN.
Watch what you want
Subscribers can watch different shows or channels (or the same show or channel) on three devices at the same time, even when streaming in HD. Viewers can pause live channels, start shows from the beginning when in progress, and watch programs that have aired in the last 72 hours. Philo also has a library of more than 1,000 hours of primetime content available on-demand.
Philo’s budget-conscious service includes TV Everywhere authentication which allows consumers to watch their content on any device, anywhere. Subscribers can use their Philo credentials to access every streaming app on the service’s channel list. It’s a significant value-add to the service that doesn’t cost subscribers anything.
Watch shows at your convenience on the unlimited capacity cloud DVR. You can even fast forward and rewind as long as the licensing agreements allow. Although the DVR is unlimited in capacity, DVR recordings expire from your account after 30 days.
Start with a 7-day Free Trial
To start your free trial, you don’t need a credit card; only a mobile phone number, a broadband internet connection, and a supported device.
Providing your phone number unlocks 48 hours of free trial without inputting billing information or making any further commitment. After 48 hours, you can continue the balance of your free trial by entering billing information. As long as you cancel before the end of your free trial, your card won’t be charged. The company limits the flexible free trials to one per customer.
Philo works with the most common devices, like all current Roku models, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. There’s an app for iOS and Android users can watch via Chrome on their devices. Philo isn’t available on gaming platforms yet, but the company expects to add support for additional devices soon.
Intuitive and Friendly Design
Philo’s interface offers a friendlier, more intuitive design than Hulu’s current user interface. In my opinion, Hulu’s UI targets small-device users, where Philo’s is equally comfortable to navigate on the big and small screens. I liked Philo’s clean, easy-to-use UI a lot more than Sling’s confusing and overwhelming design. The UI team gets a big thumbs up from me.
- Once you’ve logged on Philo offers you five main options: Home, Live, Guide, Saved, and Search. The black background makes options and navigation pop with easy to recognize tiles representing each show.
- Selecting a show takes you to the show profile page which details viewing options like what’s available on 72-hour rewind, live, or on demand.
- Home is your start screen for viewing. It features last-viewed shows, ones you’ve saved to your cloud DVR, top and trending shows, as well as new and upcoming programming.
- Live gives you a thumbnail grid of shows currently playing in alphabetical order of the network name.
- Guide is a traditional rendering of network and show information presented in a table. It allows users to scroll two weeks forward or back to discover programming.
- Saved displays TV shows from your cloud DVR.
- Search by keyword is also available on the right side of the screen.
The company plans to drop new features to make watching TV more social for their viewers with user profiles, visibility of popular shows, and shared watching so you can enjoy video with friends located elsewhere.
With no billing information or credit card required to start the free trial, there’s not a streaming service on the market easier to try than Philo. You’ll enjoy about the same number of channels as the other live TV bundles at a lower cost. You can’t beat $16/month for a skinny bundle service to stream live TV.
Philo is designed for millennials with portability and cost-conscious pricing in mind. The lineup has limited sports coverage, but it’s a perfect fit for the target audience that watches little live TV.
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