The cord-cutting trend has led viewers to switch to a plethora of top streaming services. Viewers prefer paying $5-10 for each individual network than $70-80 for a single Cable TV, Satellite or streaming network. Some of the platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu + Live TV are truly an alternative to Cable TV. Services such as Philo, on the other hand, can be treated as an add-on as opposed to an alternative.
Philo – a lifestyle and entertainment online streaming service offer 43 channels consisting of live and on-demand content. Though they don’t create originals like Hulu, Prime Video or Netflix, they provide a decent media watching experience.
Philo can’t be compared to Sling TV or YouTube TV either as it doesn’t have premium features such as offline playback or an Android app. However, it does have a library capable of fulfilling your entertainment and lifestyle content needs.
Philo was an over-the-top (OTT) cable television launched by Nicholas Krasney and Tuan Ho in 2009. The name Philo has been inspired by Philo T. Farnsworth – the man who invented television in 1930. In its initial days, Philo mainly functioned as a local platform for university students until it finally got launched as a streaming service in November 2017.
Two Harvard graduates combined together to give birth to Philo. Since its launch, it has gained backing from major networks such as Viacom, Discovery, and AMC. Their presence and support can be seen in the form of diverse content on the network. Their streaming bundles can be found on Philo for an affordable price tag. The no sports proposition attracted these major conglomerates and they decided to bundle their entertainment and lifestyle channel on Philo.
Similar to most streaming services, Philo has a dark overall design with blue, dark gray and white elements. We’ve seen the use of blue and red colors in the majority of the streaming website. At the top, there are four items in the header: Home, Live, Guide and Saved. These are accompanied by a search bar and user section which can be accessed from the right-hand side. You can also see a gift icon which is nothing but a referral program.
Philo’s homepage is appealing, to say the least. It has noteworthy shows in its hero section followed by sliders that allow you to side scroll different shows. You can even browse through the categories by scrolling below. The content on the homepage is well segregated – you can find shows under headings such as Saved or Trending Series. The progress button on each video is a great way to keep up with the shows you’re watching. This tiny feature helps you to start where you left off.
I expressed my distaste toward Fubo TV because of its poor search tool. However, that’s not the case with Philo. You can search names of Episodes, Shows, Movies and even Channels. By typing in a simple query, you’ll get a list of content from all around the world. Thus, I can say that it’s not irrelevant.
The user section is bifurcated into two parts – Settings and Accounts. You can use the Settings page to edit your personal information and connect your device. However, the account section doesn’t have anything significant.
You can use the Guide Section to browse all channels from the past, present and future. Though there’s room for improvement in this section, it still does a decent job. The channel lineup in the guide is set up in an alphabetical order horizontally across the top of the screen. If you want to see all the columns, you need to scroll a bit. Another aspect that doesn’t please me is the lack of a date on the schedule which makes it difficult to keep track of the premieres.
Philo isn’t a world-beater when it comes to content. However, for the price you’re paying, I don’t think access to 43 channels is bad. Some of the channels which are available on Philo include Animal Planet, AMC, Comedy Central, BBC America, Food Network, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and HGTV.
There are additional channels such as Big News, PeopleTV, Cheddar, Tastemade and Hallmark. If you want to upgrade, you can pay an additional $4 and get access to 12 more channels. What I love the most about Philo’s content is there are no restrictions based upon your location.
Philo’s content library primarily consists of lifestyle and entertainment channels. There’s no sports content in its lineup – a bucket very popular with fuboTV lovers. Thus, if you’re a sports lover, you should know that you won’t have access to any of the sports channels which include FOX Sports, ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC, NBA TV and NFL Network.
Similar is the case with news content. You just get access to BBC and BBC America. All major news networks such as CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and PBS are missing.
Philo’s video interface is clean and crisp. Similar to Hotstar, when you launch a live stream, you have the option to either start from the beginning or click on a live broadcast for a real-time stream. If you want to watch a specific part, you can only choose a point between and that’s after you reach the point via normal playback. Start Over and Live Button on either side of the screen are handy options.
Login in seamless
Most of the streaming services allow you to log in via your email, Facebook account or your phone number. However, Philo just uses your phone number. Even when you want to log-in post the registration, you can only use your phone number. You get a six-digit OTP which you can use to get access to the website. Though this is a simplistic and hassle-free way to login to your account it certainly has security loopholes.
Compatibility is not an issue
Philo is compatible with a wide range of platforms. From PCs to Mac, you can stream via numerous browsers such as Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and even Microsoft Edge. There’s a dedicated app on iOS which you can use for in-app streaming. Philo doesn’t yet have an Android app; however, you can still use Chrome to stream. Philo supports devices such as Roku Players, Apple TV, and mobile phones.
App is attractive
Though Philo’s app is only available on iOS thus far, it does have an attractive interface. Similar to the website, it has a dark background complemented with white and blue elements. There’s no discrepancies or lag when browsing through the sections. Navigation is very fluid and moving around the website is not much of a task.
Not the best login security
The majority of the streaming networks require you to sign in with a username and password. In addition, they also implement two-factor authentication for added security. Thus, even after you sign-in, you need to ask for a Google Voice number or a text message consisting of the login code or a token.
Not an Ad-Free Experience
Since Philo offers Live TV content, it does come with an ad. Though most of these ads are skippable, you will need to watch it for a certain period. For instance, I added the action movie, “Fury”, whose actual run-time is 2 hours 14 minutes. However, when I checked the playback bar, the runtime was extended to 3 hours and 3 minutes. So, by the time I finished watching the movie, I had to skip nearly 50 mins of ads placed in between.
Plans & Pricing
Philo’s basic plan starts at $16/per month which offers up to 40 channels. If you add $4 and opt for a $20 plan, you can get up to 55 channels.
Suggestions I have for Philo
Philo can surely improve its guide section and make it look cleaner by adding the back and forth button. It can list channels and schedules moving to the side with time across the top which will make the elements more compact and appealing.
Being a sports lover, I can say that Philo isn’t the most obvious choice for me. However, my sister loves the entertainment and lifestyle channels on Philo, especially the cooking ones. Would I subscribe to Philo if it was just for me? No. Would I recommend you do it? Yes, only if someone in your family loves lifestyle and entertainment content. I’d like to conclude by saying that Philo is not a comprehensive cord-cutting option but an effective add-on.