With cable bills continuing to balloon and streaming services popping out seemingly everywhere, there has never been a part time to ditch the cords and embrace the future of the television watching experience. If you want to watch news, sports, or are a fan of specific channels, however, you can’t simply get a Netflix or HBO Max subscription and call it a day.
One of the top choices in cable alternatives has been Philo TV, an internet television company that has been around since 2009 and began at Howard University. The service has become tremendously popular since then, even being able to call Shark Tank regular Mark Cuban as an investor, along with ultra-popular HBO as well.
Named after the inventor of the television, Philo Farnsworth, Philo TV provides a very unique internet television service, with its price-friendly model and unique selection of channels. The service has been a hit with people who don’t care much about sports or local networks but are still looking to keep many of the most popular stations included in most packages.
Why has Philo become so popular, though? And why do people keep scrambling to switch over from cable to it? The answer is multi-faceted, but a lot of it comes down to the tremendous pricing options that the company offers.
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While competitors like Sling TV and AT&T break up their services into several unique packages, Philo TV offers one single service; starting at $20 a month. This deal is jaw-dropping when the average cable pill is somewhere north of $60 monthly!
Philo has carved out a niche among reality television fans for having all of the best channels that often can get buried in extra fees to watch on other services. Philo also has a great selection of cartoons and kid’s channels if you are a parent.
What do you get?
Philo’s package currently comes with 63 channels, including top channels like:
- Food Network
- Travel Channel
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American Heroes Channel
BBC World News
Crime + Investigation
Game Show Network
Great American Country
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Oprah Winfrey Network
Philo TV specializes in providing television channels that some other streaming services may overlook or hide behind paywalls, like DIY Network or TLC. If you are in the mood to watch some premium channels, Philo has recently added some as well, but it will run your bill up higher than the $20 per month base.
Prior to 2020, Philo TV only offered basic television options, but as of June of that year, they have expanded to include the following to their roster as well:
- Starz for $9 a month
- EPIX for $6 a month
That means that currently there is still no way to watch HBO, Showtime, or Cinemax to your package, but it is promising that they are expanding into the premium television market. Both the Starz and EPIX packages are affordable add-ons that give a ton of content too.
What about Sports and Local channels?
Philo TV’s model has been based around providing an affordable cable-alternative option for customers for more than a decade, but in order to be able to provide such a low-cost model, channels had to be cut. Unfortunately for sports fans, this came in the form of eliminating all local and national sports channels from the service, meaning no ESPN, Fox Sports, or NBC Sports Network. TNT and TBS, who both show college and NBA basketball also got caught in the crossfire, and so you will also miss out on those two popular stations as well.
Furthermore, with Philo TV you will not have access to any local news channels either, so no NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS. This is usually the dealbreaker for many who look into Philo TV as a service, but if those services are not important enough to consider an extra $40 a month then I think you are going to like some of the features that Philo TV provides.
Why is Philo’s DVR worth bragging about?
Great DVR features with Philo:
- Unlimited recording
- 72 Hour rewind
- Skip all the ads you want
A very important feature for any television service is the DVR, and Philo TV has a pretty great one. Signing up with Philo gives you access to a cloud DVR that allows you unlimited (yes you heard that right) recording. This means that you will have no limit to the amount of television shows that you would like to record, an incredibly rare feature in the streaming landscape.
There is one catch, however. Your recordings will be deleted after 30 days, meaning that you will not be able to hoard every episode of your favorite show until the end of time. This is pretty standard among DVR offers, and most likely has to do with cloud storage but it’s still kind of a bummer.
The biggest reason why Philo’s DVR is worth bragging about, though, is the fact that you will be able to skip through any and all ads on anything that you record, something that can’t be found to this extent on any other service. This is a great time-saver if you want to binge a show but don’t want to deal with watching ads every few minutes.
Finally, Philo offers something they are calling the “72 hour rewind”, which basically means that if it aired within the last three days and you missed watching it AND missed recording it, you can still access it and not only watch it, but also pause, rewind, fast forward, etc. That’s pretty cool, honestly and not something I was expecting Philo to offer!
Philo TV Deals and Trial Offers
Although Philo isn’t offering any sign-up deals at the moment, they do offer a 7-day trial to give it a spin yourself. If you are on the fence with Philo, I highly recommend you take them up on their offer to make sure that not only you enjoy their selection of channels, but also their interface and guide, which are very similar to most basic cable options.
A great thing about Philo’s trial offer is that to gain access to their content for the first two days you only have to enter your phone number, which is great for those of us who groan everytime we have to enter our credit card number and try to remember to cancel after the trial ends. This way you can try out Philo for two days without worrying about entering in any information, and then can enter your card number after if you are still interested.
Philo Compared to other Streaming Services
Philo is a pretty unique streaming service in that it cuts out all local networks and sports channels to keep costs much lower than the competition. As a result, the service can be considered either a great or not so great option in comparison to other services.
Hulu’s live television package, for example, goes for over $60 a month for it’s base package, but their tagline is literally “Hulu has Live Sports” and so it’s fair to say they are going for a radically different audience than what Philo fans are looking for. Other competitors such as Youtube TV and now Apple TV offer original shows or movies as well as local channels for a more upper-end streaming option. The closest competitor in terms of cost and value has to be Sling, though. Let’s see how they match up.
Sling TV has become a popular name in affordable television, and is essentially Philo’s biggest rival. While Philo offers only a single package, Sling offers three packages that all are tied together.
First there’s Sling Orange, which offers more than 30 channels as well as ESPN. Next is Sling Blue, which offers around 45 stations and all major news stations as well. The most expensive option is a combination of the other two packages. Sling Blue and Sling Orange are both more than $15 monthly and offer significantly less channels in both packages. The justification for the price would be that both offer either a sports package or news package, depending on your preference.
The decision on which option is better ultimately comes down to what you’re looking for in an internet television service. Sling offers more in terms of sports and news, as well as having more options for add-ons if you are willing to spend extra money. However, I would give Philo the edge simply because you are getting a more affordable option and more television channels.
Can I watch Philo TV on Other Devices?
Philo is a great choice for people who want to watch their favorite TV stations on other devices, such as phones, laptops, and tablets. Philo’s flexibility allows for you to watch your favorite network as well as their wealth of on-demand content from the comfort of any room in your house, or on the go.
Can I stream on Multiple Devices?
Philo allows for up to 3 devices to be streaming at the same time, which means you are free to give your login to friends if you would like without getting booted out of the service.
Philo also allows for you to make up to 10 accounts per account, each of which is personalized and records your own watch history, favorites, and even search history. They even give you your own login credentials, which is a nice added touch. This is extremely useful if, like so many of us, you want easy access to your personalized watch list or want to know exactly where you left off in an episode of your favorite show.
Am I locked into a Contract? Can I cancel my Philo TV subscription?
If you sign up for Philo TV you don’t need to enter into a contract, which is great news. They freely allow for you to cancel at any time, as well as re-subscribe too. I think I speak for everyone when I say that contracts and how binding they can be is scary, and so being able to unsubscribe whenever you want adds that extra flexibility and eliminates the fear of making a long-term decision.
Will I still be able to Watch Philo outside of the US?
Philo is a United States company based in San Francisco, California and so if you want access to the service you will either need to be located in the United States or own a VPN of some kind. If you go the route of the latter, simply change your location to anywhere in the US and you should be good. This option works well for anyone traveling abroad that still wants to have access to some American television.
What devices are compatible with Philo?
You can watch Philo on Roku, Android phone/tablet, Apple phone/tablet, Apple TV, Amazon TV, Google Chromecast, and Android TV.
Unfortunately, Philo is not currently compatible with PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, or Samsung Smart TVs, Vizio Smart TVs, and the LG Smart TV.
Are Philo Channels live?
Yes, Philo is a live television service that offers up to the second broadcasts, meaning you will never be behind on your favorite shows. Philo does offer a huge selection of on-demand shows and movies as well, so if nothing you like is live you can go explore their library.
Will Philo work on a Smart TV?
While Philo isn’t directly compatible with Samsung, Vizio, or LG Smart TV’s, you can still have Philo serve as your live television option. All you have to do is plug a Firestick into the Smart TV and run the service through there.
Will the Super Bowl be on Philo?
The Super Bowl primarily is shown on CBS, which is not available on Philo TV so unfortunately not.
Can Philo Cast?
Yes it can, since you are able to run Philo through your phone or tablet casting is relatively simple to do.
Can Philo be Shared?
Easily! Philo not only allows for you to share your account across 10 personalized accounts, but you can have up to 3 people using Philo at the same time.
Are Philo channels HD?
Philo offers live content that can be streamed at 720p, so the answer is yes. The service also allows for you to watch on-demand shows in 1080p.
While many streaming services can stretch themselves too thin trying to please everyone, Philo knows exactly who they are, an affordable streaming service for those of us not looking for sports or local networks. If you are a person who fits into that category then you will not only get most of the basic networks, but also a stellar cloud DVR feature that frankly blows away most of the competition. People that enjoy reality television, cartoons, or movies will love what Philo is able to give them for a super cheap $20 a month.
Unfortunately for those looking for a replacement of cable that wince at hearing about losing the news or sports will most likely want to steer clear of this service, since Philo is not shy about cutting those types of stations loose. It is especially sad that TNT got caught up in that arrangement, since some of TNT’s original shows have been some of the best in television the last few years, including “Snowpiercer”, “Southland”, “The Closer”, and more. While not a huge loss it still hurts to lose a major channel and could sway some.
Overall Philo is a great streaming service, especially for those of us that already get our fill of exclusive content on HBO Max or Netflix. I recommend anyone with a tight budget look at Philo’s television service, especially with a free trial.