Philo: Thanks to streaming services like Sling TV and YouTube TV and their over-the-top channel bundles, it’s possible to cut the cord and still get live television channels wherever you want.
Philo, formerly known as Tivli and backed by the likes of Mark Cuban, is just like those services, but with a huge perk: lower cost.
As with anything, however, you get what you pay for—and paying less means missing some notable channels in the works. To that end, Philo cuts traditional network channels and sports and their expensive package fees, but the end result is a slim, entertainment-centric channel bundle that costs less than $20 a month to start. And this is with DVR support.
Does this make Philo great, or will the bundle be too thin to satisfy most users? Here’s a look at what you’ll find on Philo, how you can watch it, and what to expect from the service.
How much does a fellowship cost?
Philo’s basic plan gives you 37 streaming channels and costs just $16 per month. That’s less than Sling TV’s $20/month Sling Orange package, which gives you 31 channels (albeit with a different lineup).
Looking for more? You can tune in to a total of 47 channels on Philo for $20 per month. You will find the complete list of channels in the next section.
Channels are streamed just as they would on a cable or satellite plan, and there are commercials along the way. If you watch something on demand, it will also be interrupted by ad breaks. For example, I watched the movie Ghost Rider from the beginning through AMC, and after every 15-or-so minute of the movie, there was a four-minute segment of commercials.
What channels are on Philo?
As mentioned, Philo’s channel packages lack broadcast networks (like NBC and CBS) and exclude sports channels—so you’ll have to watch ESPN, Fox Sports, or any And cheese will not be found in the mix. News channels are also not given much attention, although there are a couple in the base package.
Philo focuses heavily on entertainment channels, including popular options like Comedy Central, MTV, Food Network, Nickelodeon, HGTV, and AMC. The Extended $20 bundle adds a handful of extra channels, some of which are quite a niche in appeal.
Here are the 37 channels available in the $16 bundle:
A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, AXS TV, BBC America, BBC World News, BET, Cheddar, CMT, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, DIY Network, Food Network, FYI, Game Show Network, HGTV, History, IFC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., OWN, Paramount Network, Science Channel, Sundance TV, TeenNick, TLC, Travel Channel, TV Land, Velocity, VH1, Viceland, WE tv
The $20/month package, meanwhile, adds these channels to the list above for 46 channels:
American Heroes Channel, BET Her, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Logo, MTV Live, Nicktoons
Philo offers a free seven-day trial through its website. You can try it for two days by just entering a phone number, and extending the rest of the free trial by adding a payment method to your account.
How do I access Philo?
Personal channel preferences aside, this is where Philo’s current shortcomings may turn some away from the still-growing service.
Currently, Philo is available via the web and via an iPhone app (opens in a new tab), plus you’ll find it on Roku set-top boxes, sticks, and TVs.
See some differences there? Currently, Philo isn’t available natively on Android (you can watch through Chrome), nor is it on Apple TV, Android TV, or Amazon FireBooks. You won’t find it on non-Roku smart TVs or any game consoles either. Interestingly, despite the Fellow app for iPhone, there is no native iPad app either.
They’ll fill some of those holes soon: an Android app is slated to launch soon, along with Apple TV and Amazon Fire apps this summer. Apparently, it’s just a sign of a small company expanding bit by bit, but access to a slim set-top box and the lack of an Android or native iPad app might make some people second-guess the service at this point.
What are the main features of Felo?
Philo’s biggest hook is the ability to watch a few dozen streaming channels for $20 per month or less, making it one of the cheapest of today’s live bundle services. The selection isn’t as extensive as you’ll find on some other services, and it doesn’t have the same add-on options as Sling TV — but it’s cheap and focused. And you can always access network channels with an inexpensive HD antenna.
Unlike some competing services, the base bundle includes DVR support, which lets you save any show for up to 30 days to watch later from any device.
In addition, to live channels and saved shows, there’s also plenty of on-demand content — including recent episodes of shows and movies that recently aired on bundled channels.
Philo lets you watch three streams simultaneously on multiple devices, and it’s a standard feature on both bundles. Even a paid service like Hulu requires an additional fee to watch on multiple devices at the same time.
Philo also recently introduced TV Everywhere support, meaning you can log into each channel’s dedicated apps using your Philo information and access additional on-demand shows and other content. . You’ll find a complete, up-to-date list of supported channels here (opens in a new tab) and which platform apps you can use.
Why choose it over Sling TV or YouTube TV?
If you’re good with channel lineups, Philo looks like a deal: it’s a solid selection of live TV channels for $20 per month or less, with on-demand content, cloud DVR support, and Complete with three simultaneous streams.
Philo isn’t for sports fans, serious news fans, or anyone looking for streaming broadcast channels, and it lacks the premium extras seen with some services’ add-on packages. But if you’re willing to keep tabs on a few cable/satellite channels for a very low monthly cost — and get what you want from the channel lineup — then the Philo may meet your needs.
That said, the lack of device support is a major drawback at the moment, as you can’t watch on an Apple TV, Android TV, or Amazon Fire TV device, plus a native Android app is still M.I.A. And the iOS app is only suitable for iPhones. However, these drawbacks should be ironed out over time, and there’s no doubt that the content offered at the base price of the Philo is quite attractive.