Anybody use Philo?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Darrell Patton, Apr 27, 2019.

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  1. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

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    Without a DVR option I could not use the service. I don't like the 30 day limit on Philo for DVR recordings. But at least its unlimited so that kind of makes up for it. But I would not be able to use the services that have a low limit, like 50 hours

    Sent from my Galaxy S10
     
  2. spiderpumpkin

    spiderpumpkin Say no to Hydra!

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    I use Philo as a TVEverywhere source on Channels DVR. Works great.

    Getchannels.com
     
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  3. hahathatsfunny

    hahathatsfunny Member

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    Philo has added Epix and Starz! as add-ons, in what seems to be a soft launch.

    I currently re-subscribed to Philo end of last month, and as a customer, didn't get any email notice (as an upsell) of the introduction of the premium add-ons.

    Currently, the two premium services are being sold at discounted prices. The channel count is lower though than that of Sling or competitors. 3 out of 4 Epix channels, and only 3 Starz!/Encore channels.

    Questions I have in my mind
    -Will it add the range of Starz channels one sees on Sling or Hulu once the discounted pricing ends
    -Will it add the fourth Epix channel (Epix Drive-In) once the discounted pricing ends
    - Is Showtime is being considered. While its likely Showtime is treated independently, I wonder if ViacomCBS is trying to get Pop and/or CBS on to Philo.
    -I suppose same goes for Smithsonian Channel that is a semi-premium cable network, half owned by Viacom.

    If it is limited on channel capacity, I think Philo should have just added Epix but gone with adding all four channels from Epix. Mainly because Starz is more aggressive with its own direct streaming sale, and also Hulu has Starz. Many Philo subscribers might already have a Hulu subscription (without Live TV).

    I also think Smithsonian Channel and a few other traditional cable networks like HD Net Movies, Outdoor Channel and INSP would make sense in an Extra package. Better use of bandwidth or resources than resource dedication to Starz which can be added or found easily elsewhere.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  4. hahathatsfunny

    hahathatsfunny Member

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    Found a thread from another forum:


    Philo regarding the few linear channels from Epix and Starz:
    The additional channels are generally simply repackaging the On Demand library content into genre-based linear feeds. You get access to the complete On Demand library through Philo, so there actually isn't a content difference between Philo and other services that offer these channels. We are looking at other (hopefully more innovative) ways we can surface and discover content in the deeper library.

    I'm not sure if that comment was directly from Philo, but sounds like it. I don't have Facebook account to post, but Philo has a Facebook page that is viewable without signing in. Checking it just now and no mention of the addition of Starz and Epix. But, a Philo rep typically comments when someone asks a question, which is typically a channel request and Philo replies with a canned response.

    I got an email directly just yesterday from Starz, with an offer of six months of Starz service for $25 through its app. I think if Philo is going to value On Demand over linear, it's proposition is basically the customer paying a little premium for one fewer app to use. Not sure if it makes sense.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  5. DouglasPHill

    DouglasPHill Cynical old guy

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    Philo is the service I chose for streaming. Looked at many others, and tried a couple. One wouldn't let me pause nor skip. A couple were real expensive. I'll add Sling orange for sports in the fall.
     
  6. hahathatsfunny

    hahathatsfunny Member

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    Philo just added INSP and getTV. I got an email today just as a receipt and noticed they counted 60 channels and wondering what the 2 new channels are, from 58.

    INSP runs a lot of classic westerns, and getTV has classic sitcoms. These were two channels I saw on other carriers and thought would be good additions and they added them! At some point, I even requested these channels to them.

    I'm curious now if a new agreement with ViacomCBS will happen with CBS affiliates, Pop and Smithsonian Channel, Showtime as a premium. However, that kind of deal CBS and Smithsonian especially, would likely result in a price increase from the $20/month price point, unless it could be tiered in some way.

    I also think HDNet Movies and Sony Movie Channel might be considered for a higher tier. It already has AXS TV which is a sister channel to HD Net Movies, and GSN/getTV are sister to SONY Movie Channel. The Outdoor Channel is another channel likely in consideration, as it's on higher tiers or extra packs on Sling and fubo TV.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  7. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    I'll repost here what I posted on another site recently about Philo and its future with ViacomCBS. (ViacomCBS, Discovery, AMC, and A+E Networks jointly own Philo.)

    If I'm ViacomCBS, I'd rather you subscribe to CBS All Access (which will become a larger re-branded service with lots of stuff from Viacom brands/channels in 2021) instead of Philo. Does it make sense for ViacomCBS to own and back two competing low-cost OTT services when one of them, Philo, doesn't include CBS (or Pop!, Smithsonian Channel, CBS Sports Network, or CBSN)? Or offer Showtime as an add-on? And also, they only partly own Philo (and share whatever meager profits it pulls in) while they completely own All Access.

    I have to think that Philo's subscriber numbers may take a hit now that it has so much overlap with YouTube TV. Lots of folks used to subscribe to both YTTV and Philo for a combined price of $70. But now that YouTube TV has added the Viacom channels and increased its price by $15, I don't see anyone much keeping both it and Philo just to get those few additional channels Philo offers (mainly the Hallmark and A+E groups). Meanwhile, Philo is getting a bit of competition on the super-cheap skinny bundle end from Frndly TV, which starts at $7/mo and includes the three Hallmark channels plus a few more family-friendly channels like INSP and Game Show Network.

    I suppose it's possible that ViacomCBS sticks with Philo and insists on it including CBS locals across the country as well as the few CBS cable nets like Pop. But that would definitely drive up the cost of Philo beyond $20 and probably lead to even more subscriber declines.

    So maybe ViacomCBS will just decide that Philo isn't a particularly attractive ownership proposition or distribution path for them any more and they just sell out their share of the venture to the other three owners, in which case all of the Viacom channels would disappear, allowing Philo to lower their price and/or add in some new niche channels from small players (e.g. HDNet Movies, RFD-TV, PixL, etc.).

    And then there's the question of how dedicated Discovery may be to Philo once they *finally* get around to launching their own direct-to-consumer service that will feature content from their various brands/channels...
     
  8. trip1eX

    trip1eX imo, afaik, feels like to me, *exceptions, ~aprox

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    IT's funny but I half joked 6 months ago that Philo was a great add-on package for YTTV because it filled it allthe major gaps YTTV had. And here YTTV raises their price by almost as much as what Philo costs and yet only added the Viacom channels.
     
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  9. trip1eX

    trip1eX imo, afaik, feels like to me, *exceptions, ~aprox

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    Yeah interesting to see what they do. Maybe they let the other guys buy them out of PHilo. A lot depends on whatever contract they have with the Philo entity.
     
  10. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    I read a number of different folks in various forums say that they subbed to both YTTV and Philo for a total of $70 (or $66 if they were grandfathered in on the original, smaller $16 Philo package). And while you had to mess with two different apps/UIs, together they did give you just about every popular and semi-popular cable channel you might want. Philo covered those channels from Viacom, A+E and Hallmark that were missing from YTTV's $50 package. (And back when it was only $40, YTTV was missing the Discovery networks too, which Philo has, making it an even better complement. For only $56 between the two, it was a great channel line-up.)

    So yeah, not a lot of point in paying $20 for Philo now when so many of its channels are already included in YTTV at $65.

    I guess the next step for YTTV will be to add the last of its missing channel groups, A+E (A&E, History, Lifetime) and Hallmark. With an increase to $75? Although the recent statement from YTTV made it sound like they're trying to restructure the service into something more flexible, which would likely mean one or more core tiers with optional add-on channel packs. The total price can only go up if you get all the channels but maybe it'll be easier to avoid some of them and pay less if you like. In other words, just like traditional cable TV.
     
  11. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    I think Philo was more of an experiment than anything, a way to gather user data, gauge consumer interest, etc. The only subscriber count I ever heard for it was an estimated 50k back at the start of 2018. I'd be surprised if they've ever grown to 500k subs. It's not really advertised much. Very few folks outside of those who frequent cord-cutter websites even know it exists.

    My guess is that its two biggest backers, ViacomCBS and Discovery, decide at some point that Philo has served its purpose for them and is no longer a net positive for them strategically. Probably after ViacomCBS expands and rebrands CBS All Access and Discovery rolls out their own OTT service. Look for both of those to launch in 2021. I kinda think both of those new offerings will feature not only on-demand content from those groups but also live streams of their linear channels.
     
  12. hahathatsfunny

    hahathatsfunny Member

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    I thought it would might be possible that Viacom sold off it's interest of Philo, similar to how NBC sold off it's interest in Hulu. I'd hope in that event that a chunk of channels are dropped, there is a price decrease to about $15/month.

    At the same time, I'm not convinced a rebrand of CBS All Access to include Viacom cable content (note: not linear channels) really conflicts with what Philo is about. Philo has channels like Logo that air content like Laverne & Shirley reruns. That is content distributed by CBS Television Distribution but not on CBS All Access. ViacomCBS keeps something different on its CBS All Access On Demand vs. its linear channels.

    In the event Viacom wants out, Discovery, A&E and AMC have an investment or ownership although it is not fully clear how much each has, but maybe Sony assumes role as a new 4th owner? Sony's two channels (getTV and GSN) are covered already, and maybe Sony Movie Channel would be added, and this would be a lighter way than running psVue. Or maybe Nexstar that owns WGN America would buy Viacom's share and get its channel added. Or Hallmark's owners buy a piece. Or maybe FOX, but I'd rather not see Viacom channels deleted and Fox News Channel become a fixture on Philo.

    Regarding FrndlyTV, it is vastly inferior to Philo. It's cloud DVR and UI experience is pitiful - even worse than LocalBTV. (I have the PhillyBTV trial). No episode information of recorded programs on FrndlyTV. If Philo were to cease, I'd re-consider FrndlyTV again if it is a better service by then.

    Another small streaming service not mentioned is Vidgo. It's lineup has Fox and ABC/ESPN but it has no DVR. I never tried it out but watched a few YouTube reviews and passed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
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  13. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    I've been conversing with a Philo fan (a Philo-phile?) on another forum recently and wondering about what the future might hold for the service. Now that Viacom is ViacomCBS, I'll be a little surprised if they continue on as a co-owner and participant without forcing in their channels from the CBS side, potentially including those major-market CBS and CW affiliates that they own and operate. But surely that would increase the price if they did. I think it's just as likely that ViacomCBS decides next year that Philo is a distraction and minor competitor to their expanded All Access service and they back out of it. I think that's especially likely if they end up including live streams of their linear cable channels in the expanded app (as they already do with local CBS stations, as well as the original Showtime channel in the Showtime app). We'll see.

    Same could happen with Discovery once they finally get around to launching their OTT service. If you read the stories from earlier this year about Discovery CEO's comments, it sounds like he wants to involve MVPDs (e.g. Comcast, Charter, etc.) in the distribution of their forthcoming app/service.

    Discovery wants to go OTT without alienating pay TV distributors

    My hunch is that they'll essentially take all of the content in their various cable-authenticated "TV everywhere" apps/sites -- Discovery Go, HGTV Watch, Food Network Go, TLC Go, etc. -- and combine them into one new app, possibly just named "Discovery". And they'll add some additional fresh content that's exclusive to the app and not aired on any of their linear cable channels.

    There will be two ways to access this new Discovery app. If your MVPD has struck an agreement to do so, and if your cable bundle from them includes at least some of the Discovery-owned linear channels, then you can use your cable TV login to access this new app at no additional cost. In effect, it will just replace all of the old individual "Go" apps for you, plus give you some bonus exclusive content. The other way you can get this app is to buy a standalone subscription to it, either directly from Discovery.com or via the app stores operated by Apple, Google, Roku and Amazon.

    As for whether or not this future unified "Discovery" app would include live streams of their various linear channels, well, their current TV everywhere apps/websites do. And Discovery's CEO has been talking for a few years about offering just their own channels as a super-skinny, cheap OTT bundle priced around $5-8/mo. So my guess is that their future OTT service will include the live channels, although the main draw will be the large on-demand library. No cloud DVR for the live channels, though. You'll just watch titles from the on-demand library with a limited amount of forced ads. Maybe they could sell that for $5/mo, with an $8/mo option to remove the ads.

    Discovery's streaming service could package 17 channels for $5 a month

    If that scenario panned out, and Discovery continued to participate in/own Philo, then a Philo subscription would automatically come with a subscription to this new Discovery app too.
     
  14. convergent

    convergent Active Member

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    Its funny... when I first heard about the price increase I was thinking, well I'll drop Philo. In reality what I did was drop YTTV, kept Philo, and added antenna for locals. Channels DVR makes this a great experience.

    Interesting conversation about the owners of Philo and what the future may hold. Rather than disband it, I would think they might look at it being a way to bring people in and convert, but who knows what these companies will do. All of them clearly have a "doesn't play well with others" and "all or nothing" mindset most of the time. They may be smart enough to know that they fill a market point that no one else is really in... Sling kind of. I would expect that the price goes up at some point. I don't think Frndly TV competes with them at all because their package is so minimal. I hope they don't kill it because Sling has abysmal TVE support and Philo's is excellent.
     
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  15. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, having one UI -- the Channels app -- that brings together your linear channels from various sources is very nice and I think it's the future as we increasingly get our content from different sources as opposed to one single cable channel package. Google initiated the concept with their Live Channels app but (as Google often does) they let it languish. Amazon really moved the ball forward with the Live section of the Fire TV's UI that pulls together live OTA channels as well as streaming cable channels from a bunch of sources. Looks like Google may do the same thing with their upcoming revamp of Android TV.

    Yeah, I agree that Philo definitely fills a niche right now (especially if you can figure out a way to elegantly combine it with local OTA TV as you've done). But the long-held opinion of Discovery's CEO is that it's not skinny and cheap enough. He wants to distribute his content in a mini-bundle that costs $10 or less. The only way I see that happening is when Discovery launches their own app/service that will just contain their own channels and on-demand content.

    If Philo were a big, successful service with lots of subs, then Discovery or ViacomCBS might think twice about pulling out of it. But it's pretty tiny and not well known. I think it's more an experiment than anything, helping the owners gather data and direct-to-consumer experience to prepare for future contingencies.

    Once Discovery and ViacomCBS have their own services launched, which they'll pour a lot more marketing resources into, I question whether they'll want Philo to essentially act as a competitor. Unless maybe they structure a deal with Philo so that a subscription to it automatically buys you a subscription to the new Discovery and ViacomCBS apps too. But that might mean the price for Philo bumps up a bit and I'm not sure the other owners, A+E and AMC, would want to allow that. Might be preferable for everyone if the channels owned by Discovery and ViacomCBS (which make up over half the Philo line-up) exited and the price for all the remaining channels dropped from $20/mo to $8/mo.
     
  16. Darrell Patton

    Darrell Patton Active Member

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    With the latest price increase, YouTube TV is becoming what they set out to compete against.
    Instead of keeping YTTV and dropping Philo, the thinking is becoming drop YTTV and keep Philo as Convergent did.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020

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