What is Philo?
Where every other streaming service is zigging with tons of live sports offerings, Philo is decisively zagging. Haters of sports rejoice—there is a streaming service that was built with you in mind.
With other streaming services like PlayStation Vue or DIRECTV NOW, you’re really paying for the ability to watch live sports. Philo completely goes the other direction and provides live TV for the channel surfer with no interest in the NBA, NFL, or MLB. But if you love drama, reality TV, and documentaries, Philo can be a perfect fit.
There are only two different Philo channel packages, and there isn’t a ton of difference between the two.
- 40 channel package: Just like it sounds, it comes with 40 channels for $16 a month. Includes AMC, Food Network, Nickelodeon, and more.
- 49 channel package: You guessed it. Comes with 49 channels, including everything on the previous package plus channels like Cooking Channel, Discovery Family, and Nicktoons.
Philo channel options
|40-channel package||49-channel package|
|Free Trial||Free Trial|
Deciding between the two packages is really just a question of how many channels you’d like and how much you want to pay.
The 46-channel package comes with nine extra channels, but none of them feel like essentials, unless you’re a fan of Beach Bites with Katie Lee on the Cooking Channel or My Little Pony on Discovery Family. It’s not like you’re missing out on HGTV or anything (thank goodness).
Overall, Philo gets major props for being such a cheap TV service, but there’s no doubt that lifestyle fans are the ones who will get excited about the channel list. DIYers and Lifetime movie binge-watchers rejoice! For the rest, though? Giving up sports channels and local channels is no small ask for the modern TV viewer.
Here’s a complete Philo channel list for you to mull over.
|40-channel package||49-channel package|
|Free Trial||Free Trial|
|A&E||LIVE / VOD|
|AMC||LIVE / VOD|
|American Heroes Channel||LIVE / VOD|
|Animal Planet||LIVE / VOD|
|AXS TV||LIVE / VOD|
|BBC America||LIVE / VOD|
|BBC World News||LIVE / VOD|
|BET||LIVE / VOD|
|BET Her||LIVE / VOD|
|Cheddar||LIVE / VOD|
|CMT||LIVE / VOD|
|Comedy Central||LIVE / VOD|
|Cooking Channel||LIVE / VOD|
|Destination America||LIVE / VOD|
|Discovery||LIVE / VOD|
|Discovery Family||LIVE / VOD|
|Discovery Life||LIVE / VOD|
|DIY Network||LIVE / VOD|
|Food Network||LIVE / VOD|
|FYI||LIVE / VOD|
|GSN||LIVE / VOD|
|HGTV||LIVE / VOD|
|History||LIVE / VOD|
|IFC||LIVE / VOD|
|Investigation Discovery||LIVE / VOD|
|Lifetime||LIVE / VOD|
|Lifetime Movie Network||LIVE / VOD|
|Logo||LIVE / VOD|
|MTV||LIVE / VOD|
|MTV2||LIVE / VOD|
|MTV Live||LIVE / VOD|
|Nickelodeon||LIVE / VOD|
|Nick Jr||LIVE / VOD|
|NickToons||LIVE / VOD|
|TeenNick||LIVE / VOD|
|OWN||LIVE / VOD|
|Paramount Network||LIVE / VOD|
|Science Channel||LIVE / VOD|
|SundanceTV||LIVE / VOD|
|TLC||LIVE / VOD|
|Travel Channel||LIVE / VOD|
|TV Land||LIVE / VOD|
|Velocity||LIVE / VOD|
|VH1||LIVE / VOD|
|Viceland||LIVE / VOD|
|WE TV||LIVE / VOD|
|Free Trial||Free Trial|
If your favorite shows happen to be America’s Next Top Model on VH1, Jersey Shore on MTV, or Fixer Upper on HGTV or something similar, then you’ll love Philo’s channel list.
If those kinds of shows aren’t your bag, you’ve still got documentary-based channels like History, Science Channel, and Travel Channel. We were also psyched to see AMC in the Philo channel list, making it the cheapest way to watch The Walking Dead online.
With all those options under its belt, Philo is a pretty impressive streaming service, especially since it’s such a cheap one. Like all other streaming services, the quality of the channel list depends on what you like to watch. But you get plenty of bang for your buck with Philo if you like what you see.
An antenna with your Philo subscription will set you free
You can tell yourself that you can live without your local networks, but you know deep down it isn’t true. What are you going to do when big events like the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, and, of course, Bachelor in Paradise start up again? Philo isn’t even trying to get into the local networks game like other streaming services (another reason the price is so reasonable), which is why you pretty much need an antenna to complement your subscription.
Go with something like the Mohu Leaf 50 on Amazon that has a decent range and you can easily hide behind an entertainment center. If you combine your antenna and Philo subscription, you get away with both cable channels and local channels for an amazing price.
Unlimited cloud DVR and more features
|Any package||Unlimited||Included with subscription|
For one of the cheapest TV services out there, we were plenty blown away by the capacity of the cloud DVR feature. You get unlimited cloud DVR storage, which is just as infinite as it sounds. You can record countless episodes of Fixer Upper without ever stressing about how much storage space you have left.
The main catch is that your recorded content deletes after 30 days. Other streaming services that offer unlimited cloud DVR, like PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV, also include an expiration date for recorded content, so Philo is par for the course there.
No restrictions on ad-skipping
The whole point of cloud DVR is so you can watch a show at your convenience and skip all those annoying car insurance commercials. Don’t get us wrong—GEICO and Progressive have funny commercials the first time you see them, but the 50th time? Not so much. As opposed to other streaming services like Sling TV or Hulu with Live TV, Philo lets you skip commercials on everything thing you record. Sorry, Flo.
72-hour rewind feature
Philo also comes with a 72-hour rewind feature. As the website explains it, “Philo lets you replay just about everything that’s aired in the last 72 hours.” We’re not sure what “just about everything” excludes, but we were able to watch everything we tried during our testing.
And of course, on top of that, most channels have tons of on-demand content to stream whenever you want. It’s nice knowing your schedule doesn’t need to work around the TV guide.
Philo allows for three simultaneous streams at a time, which is pretty generous. With Sling TV, you have to pay extra $5 to get three simultaneous streams, which isn’t the case with Philo. You can easily share a Philo subscription with a few family members or roommates without much stepping on each other’s toes.
When you log in to your Philo account, you’re greeted with a scrolling banner of what you saved to watch for later. As you can tell, we’re Quentin Tarantino fans.
You can hit the arrows on the left and the right to get updates for what’s airing right now. It’s a nice way pick up where you left off on a show or just see the main TV offerings for the day.
As you scroll down on the home page, you’ll get more options for what’s airing on TV right now. If you don’t know what you want to watch, just scroll down and get an idea of the top showing streaming on Philo.
The second “Live” tab is a more comprehensive selection of what’s playing right now. The interface will run through every channel and tell you what’s on with an inviting thumbnail picture (unless you’re afraid of squids from Planet Earth).
You can either click the play button and start watching now or hit the plus button and save the show for later. Once you hit the play button, the show will start from the beginning. Unfortunately, you can’t fast-forward through commercials for a show that’s still airing. You can fast-forward to real time by hitting the “Live” button to the right of the play button in case you feel like picking up wherever the show left off.
The guide is your standard template of channels and corresponding shows, except the channels are organized horizontally and the times run vertically. It’s just for aesthetics, but we really liked how each show has a little background image. . It makes the guide look more appealing than the average.
It’s easy to scroll either vertically or horizontally to see what’s on and what’s coming up. The interface feels responsive and doesn’t lag (assuming you have a solid internet connection), even when you scroll forwards days in advance.
Philo streaming quality
We’re happy to confirm all of Philo’s channels stream in 1080p HD quality—which is the standard for the top streaming services.
Overall, we were pretty impressed with the streaming quality, especially for a streaming service that’s so inexpensive. Just look how good Christian Bale looks with his beard and cowboy hat! Buffering and glitches were rare, and the HD quality maintained even after hours of watching. You’ll want an internet speed of at least 20 Mbps to keep the quality up.
Hopefully you’re a Roku owner
This is where Philo gets a little dicey. It just doesn’t work with very many devices. If you want to watch it on TV, your only option is really Roku. Sure, you can mirror from your Chromecast or Apple TV, but those connections are never reliable.
If you do most of your TV watching on computer, tablets, or phones, then you can stream Philo there. Unfortunately, the mobile interface isn’t quite as clean. The grid-based guide isn’t available on mobile, and you can’t scan other channels. The lack of device compatibility is one of the biggest things holding Philo back from being part of the premier streaming services.
Philo is a perfect fit for the non-sports TV fan
Philo definitely has a target market in mind, and if you happen to fall into the niche of lifestyle and reality shows, then you can get away with paying a super cheap price for live TV.
Considering it has unlimited cloud DVR, awesome playback features, and a clean interface, Philo is pretty impressive. For our Philo users out there, what are your thoughts on the service? Are the channels enough to fill your TV time? Let us know in the comments below.