In this guide we are going to perform an in-depth analysis of Philo TV. In recent years, we have seen the rise of various online live TV streaming services like Hulu Live TV, Fubo TV and Sling TV, each with its own price tags, advantages and disadvantages.
However, Philo has one big advantage over the competition…PRICE! Philo comes with the cheapest price tag ($20/month) for live TV streaming when compared to the other online services mention, but like anything there are some trade-offs.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of Philo TV, let’s begin with a bit of history.
What Is Philo TV?
Philo TV, or formerly Tivli, is a U.S.-based internet television company founded in 2009. So, while Philo may seem like a new streaming service, it has actually been around for more than a decade. It first launched at Harvard University as an on-campus TV streaming service for U.S. universities and colleges. Now, however, it has expanded to be a full-fledged TV streaming service for everyone.
In a nutshell, Philo is a cable TV and satellite TV alternative for cord-cutters, that allows you to watch various TV channels like Discovery, AMC, and A&E, among others. The key highlight of Philo among the other competitors and also when compared to cable TV services is affordability.
Philo offers an affordable $20/month and a generous 7-day free trial without a credit card. The main downside is that there are no expensive sports channels (ESPN, etc.) in the package.
Combining Philo TV with a cheap internet or wireless plan might be the most cost-effective option for cord-cutters in 2020.
Philo TV Pricing
Not only is Philo TV affordable, but it’s also quite unique in only offering one plan. So, you won’t get any confusion here: you either want Philo or not, unlike other services that often offer numerous combinations of plans and addons. Of course, this also means it’s a very rigid service without any flexibility.
Here is a breakdown of Philo’s package offering:
- Price: $20 per month
- Channels: 58 channels
- Premium Channels: 0 channels
- Simultaneous Streams: 3 streams permitted at the same time
- Free Trial: get a 7 day free trial without a credit card.
As we’ve mentioned, another unique selling point for Philo is its no credit card, free 7-day trial. All you need to sign-up is your phone number. Philo will text you a link so you can start streaming right away. As usual, one the 7-day period is over, Philo will ask you whether you want to continue beyond the trial period.
After the trial, Philo costs $20/month for access to 58 channels. Again, there are absolutely no add-ons, bundles, or additional plans available offered by Philo.
Note: Philo used to offer an even cheaper, $16/month plan but was discontinued in May 2019. However, those who signed up for this plan before May 6, 2019, can continue with the cheaper plan. So, if someone you know tells you that their Philo plan is $16/month, this is why.
Most of the leading online streaming services like Hulu Live TV, Fubo TV and Sling TV offer starting plans between $40-$50 per month. We’ve done full reviews on all these services. If you’re interested you can check them at here:
- Hulu Live TV Channels, Packages, Pricing and Review
- Fubo TV Channels, Packages, Pricing and Review
- Sling TV Channels, Packages, Pricing and Review
What makes Philo TV attractive is it’s cost is around half these other services. So what’s the trade-off? The major trade-off is channel selection. In the next section we go over the Philo TV channel options.
Philo TV Channels
Philo TV channels encompass the basic channels that are usually available on most cable and satellite TV networks. These channels include popular ones like Comedy Central, TLC, Lifetime, AMC, HGTV, MTV, and Food Network.
In total, Philo offers 58 channels in its plan, which is almost double the number of channels offered by Sling TV—currently Philo’s closest competitors—, which also costs $20/month for only 30 channels.
|Philo TV Channels|
|● A&E||● FYI||● Nickelodeon||● American Heroes Channel|
|● AMC||● GSN||● Nick Jr.||● aspireTV|
|● Animal Planet||● Hallmark Channel||● OWN||● BET Her|
|● AXS TV||● Hallmark Drama||● Paramount Network||● Cooking Channel|
|● BBC America||● Hallmark Movies & Mysteries||● People TV||● Destination America|
|● BBC World News||● HGTV||● Science||● Discovery Family|
|● BET||● History Channel||● Sundance Channel||● Law & Crime Channel|
|● Cheddar||● IFC||● Tastemade||● Logo|
|● Cheddar News||● Investigation Discovery (ID)||● TeenNick||● MTV Live|
|● CleoTV||● Lifetime||● TLC||● Nick Toon|
|● CMT||● Lifetime Movies||● Travel Channel||● REVOLT|
|● Comedy Central||● Motor Trend||● TV Land||● UPtv|
|● Discovery Channel||● MTV||● VH1|
|● DIY||● MTV2||● Viceland|
|● Food Network||● MTV Classic||● We TV|
However, it’s important to note that Sling TV offers some popular (and premium sports) channels that aren’t available on Philo, like ESPN and TNT among others. Sling also offers additional packages and bundles so you can add more sports, movies, or kid-friendly channels.
Also, a huge downside for some people is the fact that Philo does not stream any local channels. If you want local channels like ABC or CBS, then Hulu Live TV, Fubo TV or Sling TV, might be the better choice depending on your region.
Philo TV channels lineup is definitely the main consideration factor here. If the channels you like are included in Philo’s offering, then Philo can be your cord-cutting option.
With Philo, if you are watching live content, you will watch a lot of ads that are not controlled by Philo but by the individual channels. However, if you watch them as an on-demand show, then you don’t have to re-watch any ads.
Philo TV Add-Ons, Packages, and Bundles
Again, unlike most online streaming services and especially live TV streaming services, Philo doesn’t offer any add-ons or bundles to customize your Philo TV channels lineup. So, you are limited to the 58 channels.
This also means you are out of luck if you want to watch shows and movies from HBO or STARS or sports events from ESPN and other premium channels.
In general, Philo may be the right option for you if you mostly watch lifestyle and entertainment channels like Lifetime, HGTV, or TLC. If you want local channels, then getting an OTA antenna in addition to Philo might be an option if you live in an area with good OTA reception.
Philo TV, however, offers a pretty great selection of on-demand movies and other content, as we will discuss below.
Philo TV On-Demand Content
Philo TV claims to offer more than 40,000 titles. Meaning, Philo actually offers significantly more content than other services like.
You can simply check Show Profiles on Philo’s interface and check for VOD tags. Alternatively, you can search for the show you want and click the “Playable” tab you can find near the bottom.
You can also search by networks/channels if you are looking for specific content you’d like to watch from specific channels. Just go to a specific channel, click on any show, and check whether the episodes are available on-demand.
Philo TV Cloud DVR Storage
Another great value offered by Philo TV is the unlimited cloud DVR storage included in the package, which is amazing considering the $20/month price tag. You can simply hit the + button on Philo’s interface to add a show or film to your DVR. You can keep as many as you want but Philo will only store them for 30 days.
There are other services, such as Hulu Live TV which offer unlimited DVR for nine months, but most other services offer limited and paid cloud DVR storage. So, although the 30-day period is not that good, the unlimited storage is still a good thing. This is especially a useful feature if more than one people use your account and want to record the shows.
Without a doubt, the unlimited DVR is Philo’s best feature for us. Not only is it generous, but it’s also very intuitive and easy to save shows.
There are, however, several downsides about this DVR feature besides the 30-day storage time limit. You can’t delete any recordings before the 30-day period and you can’t tell it to only record new episodes of a specific show (it will also record the reruns).
Devices Compatible with Philo TV
If you are interested in subscribing to Philo, another great thing is that the service is compatible with most devices and platforms including Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Apple TV, and obviously it’s also available on iOS and Android and any web browser.
The Philo TV App is available on:
- iOS with mobile app or Safari browser
- Android 7.0 and above using Chrome browser
- Mac using a supported browser
- PC using a supported browser
- All Roku devices
- Apple TV (4th gen or later)
- Android TV (5.0 or higher)
- Amazon Fire TV
- Fire Tablet (OS 5.0 and higher)
You can’t, however, play Philo on your Xbox One or PS4, and other devices, and currently, Philo does not currently support Airplay or HDMI-out. Also, probably the biggest downside is that it doesn’t support Google Chromecast.
Philo TV Simultaneous Streams
After you sign up for a Philo account you can stream on up to three devices at the same time. Considering its price tag, this is a pretty good feature since most affordable TV streaming services only offer 2 or even 1 simultaneous stream before you’d need to pay extras.
Philo TV User Interface
We had a chance to test the Philo TV user interface back when they still offered their $16/month basic plan, and even then the user experience was strong. Since then, it’s improved significantly and today Philo’s user experience is second to none.
The home screen is dominated by trending or recent live programs. If you go a bit down, you’ll find recommended programs based on your watch history. Philo will recommend both its live and on-demand programs.
Select a show or a movie, and as mentioned, you can check whether the content is available on-demand. You can easily save favorite shows and movies by hitting the + button (as discussed above), and Philo will start saving the show to the DVR service.
Philo has a visually stunning guide with a simple to use interface. Everything you would expect from a top-tier streaming provider.
One great value offered by Philo’s interface that we really liked is how you can hold down the OK button when you are browsing for shows, and the interface will show a short description of the title. Albeit small, it is actually quite useful since we can get more information about what’s playing without needing to change the channel.
Overall, Philo TV offers an excellent user experience.
It was easy to find what we were looking for with Philo’s interface, and we really liked how easy it is to save shows to the cloud DVR or check Philo’s on-demand library. It’s nothing flashy, but it works and feels natural.
Philo TV Streaming Quality
Philo Streams Live TV in up to 720p video quality, and on-demand content in up to 1080p. Its audio streams are standard 2.0 stereo quality.
So, streaming quality has never been an issue for Philo. You get a pretty decent HD quality, although it’s likely less than what you’d get from your cable TV provider. However, all online streaming services nowadays stream in 720p, and so Philo actually offers a pretty standard streaming quality among its competitors.
Unfortunately, at least at the moment, Philo doesn’t offer any 4K streaming. Also, keep in mind that your streaming quality will depend on your internet’s download speed.
Pros and Cons of Philo TV
- Unlimited DVR storage, one of the best features offered by Philo
- Affordability, 58 channels for a very low $20/month price, less than half the price of most popular TV streaming services
- Three simultaneous streams with three different devices
- Great interface, straightforward and easy to use
- No restrictions on ad-skipping or where you can watch the content from
- Doesn’t support Google Chromecast
- Limited channels, no local and sports channels
- You can’t simultaneously browse and watch live channels
- Doesn’t support 60 fps at the moment
Philo TV vs Other Streaming Services
With its $20/month price tag, Philo has two—or three—main competitors in this price range (or the so-called “skinny bundles”): AT&T Watch TV and Sling TV Orange and Sling TV Blue plans.
So, in the end, which one is right for you would depend on answering a few key questions:
- Would you rather have Nickelodeon (Philo) or Disney channels (Sling Orange)
- Do you need FX? (in such cases, Sling Blue is your best pick)
- How important are sports channels? (Sling Orange)
However, channel selection is not the only factor in choosing between different services, but there are also extra features we might consider, as we will discuss below.
Philo TV vs Skinny Bundles: Extra Features
Out of these four “skinny bundles”, Philo TV offers the best extra features, as we can see in the comparison table below:
To summarize, Philo TV offers:
- The only skinny bundle to offer unlimited DVR storage for free
- Streaming on up to three devices at any given time
- The most number of channels
Philo TV + Internet: Comparison
Philo TV coupled with an affordable Internet Plan might be the most cost-effective option for cord-cutters.
Below are some common internet packages and how they compare with Philo. For this comparison, we are going to assume that we’ll subscribe to a $60/month internet plan.
Obviously pricing per month will vary according to the length of contract, additional fees, and other factors. As you can see, however, Philo is the most affordable option among others we have compared above.
So, if you are simply looking to save money and especially when sports and other premium channels are not very important for you, then Philo is definitely a great choice.
Our Verdict: Is Philo TV Worth It?
As discussed above, Philo TV is not the only affordable live TV streaming service around. The closest alternative skinny bundle is the AT&T Watch TV, which includes almost 40 channels for $15 per month. Also, if you are on AT&T’s Unlimited & More wireless internet plan, then Watch TV is free.
AT&T Watch TV offers some premium channels including TNT and CNN, but it offers fewer channels overall compared to Philo, and obviously Philo also offers free unlimited DVR service.
Sling offers Orange and Blue plans that are slightly more expensive (now they are $30/month), but for an extra $10/month you also get some premium channels. However, you need to pay extra per month for the DVR service.
Beyond these options, live TV streaming becomes a lot more expensive. Hulu Live TV, for example, is now $55/month and YouTube TV is $49.99/month.
So, Philo TV, by comparison, offers a long list of 58 channels for only $20/month while also offering unlimited DVR storage for free. If you just want to watch common cable TV channels for an affordable price, then Philo allows us to do that on multiple devices.
Philo TV offers a lot of features considering its price tag, and unless you really need the channels that are not available on Philo (i.e. ESPN), then Philo is definitely worth it.
Things To Be Aware of With Philo TV
Obviously, just like any other TV streaming services or even any products at all, Philo TV is not perfect. Here are some things you need to be aware of that may or may not affect your purchase decision:
- A lot of channels, but not a lot of top channels: some channels like news channels (CNN, Fox News, and so on) and Disney channels are not available on Philo.
- No sports channels: if you are a sports fan, keep in mind that Philo doesn’t offer any sports channel. So, most likely Philo is not the right choice for you (or you’d need to get another service) if you want sports channels like ESPN, Fox Sports, and so on.
- No local networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and any channels owned by the same companies (Disney channels, TNT, TBS, etc. ) are not available in Philo. Again, you might be able to get some of these local channels over the air depending on your location, so getting a good antenna might be a solution for this issue.
Philo TV – Frequently Asked Questions
What internet speed do I need for Philo TV?
Philo recommends a minimum of 3Mbps internet speed (download speed) if you want to stream in SD quality (up to 480p). You’d need at least 7Mbps for HD (720p) and 13Mbps if other devices are connected to the network.
Keep in mind that the more devices connected to Philo, the higher the speed you’ll need for stable streaming.
Which devices are compatible with Philo TV?
Philo is compatible with iOS and Android devices, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TVs version 5.0 or higher. It’s a relatively shorter list than most live TV streaming services available today. You can’t stream Philo on Google Chromecast, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.
Does Philo TV have ads?
Philo does include ads during live TV shows, which is not controlled by Philo but is up to the channels.
Can you fast forward through ads?
Unfortunately, you’ll have to sit through some ads with Philo on live TV. However, if you save shows to Philo’s unlimited cloud DVR (that is free), then you can fast forward through commercials.
Does Philo TV offer premium channels?
No, unfortunately, premium channels are not available on Philo.
Does Philo TV offer on-demand shows?
Yes, Philo offers on-demand content from most of the channels offered. However, you won’t be able to skip ads (unless you save them on DVR).
Does Philo TV offer 4K streaming?
Unfortunately, Philo does not offer 4K content at the moment.
Does Philo offer surround sound?
Philo does not include Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
Will Philo save me money?
If you are currently on a cable or satellite TV subscription, then Philo will almost certainly be cheaper. While there are other TV streaming services that are more affordable than Philo (AT&T Watch TV being the most notable), Philo offers a better overall value.