What Is Philo? Your Guide to This Cheap Live TV Streaming Service

Staff Writer
Updated

While most live TV streaming services look to attract eyes by offering live news and sports, a new challenger is going against the grain. Philo TV, which launched in the U.S. last November, instead looks to attract subscribers with its package of "entertainment" focused channels, and by charging less than any competitor. Here's what you need to know about this upstart service.

What is Philo?

Philo is a live TV streaming service made for those who want to cut the cord, but aren't worried about watching the major broadcast networks, live sports or the major 24/7 news networks.

How much does Philo cost?

Philo's biggest feature, arguably, is its low starting price of $16 per month, which undercuts Sling TV's $20 Orange package, the cheapest rate offered by the major streaming services. That extra $4 for Sling may be worth it for sports fans and news addicts, though, as Sling TV comes with CNN, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3.

MORE: Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV vs. Sling vs. Vue vs. DirecTV Now: Face-Off!

The rest of the field cost a lot more, with Hulu With Live TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue all starting at $40 per month for 45 to 50 channels, while DirecTV Now packs in more than 60 channels for $35 per month.

Philo offers a $20 per month package, that adds nine additional channels to the 37 you get in the standard $16 per month set. A 7-day free trial allows you to sample Philo before you pay.

What channels does Philo offer? What is it missing?

Philo packs 37 channels that include the critically-adored programming at AMC, the British content of BBC America and the humor of Comedy Central. It also packs Food Network, Nick, HGTV, History, Lifetime, TLC, Travel Channel, Viceland and Sundance TV. Even though Philo isn't focused on live content, it still provides some live news, with BBC World News and Cheddar.

Philo also promotes older programming — some might call it "retro" — which is why you'll see The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air appearing on the service's home screen. Don't go thinking you can binge every show, though, as that program, and others, are only available to watch as they stream live on one of Philo's included channels.

Philo's assortment of channels is missing some of the major entertainment channels, including FX, Bravo and USA. All are in Sling's $25 per month Blue package, DirecTV Now's $35 per month package, and the $40 per month packages from Hulu With Live TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue.

Philo doesn't offer any of the following broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, The CW, while all of its competitors offer some, if not all of them. (Availability can vary depending on which city you live in.)

How can you watch Philo?

If you want Philo on your TV, I hope you have a Roku. Currently, Philo isn't available on a ton of other devices, as it's only support by web browsers, iOS devices (App Store link) and Android devices (Google Play link). The service is slated to come to Apple TV and Fire TV this summer.

What special features does Philo provide?

Philo includes a Cloud DVR with an unlimited amount of storage, though recordings expire after 30 days. YouTube TV is the only service with a better cloud DVR, as recordings made there last 9 months. Hulu with Live TV limits you to 50 hours of DVR storage, with the option to upgrade to 200 GB for an extra $15 per month. Sling TV's DVR costs $5 extra per month and limits you to 50 hours. PlayStation Vue deletes DVR recordings after 28 days.

You'll also find on-demand content at Philo. That includes prominent programming, such as The Walking Dead (the last eight episodes are up as of the time we published this article) and Planet Earth (four episodes are available now). The on-demand library also includes more-niche content, such as New Japan Pro Wrestling (six episodes of which are available now) and Desus & Mero (16 episodes of which can be streamed now).