Philo is the best value in live TV streaming right now. It offers more than 60 entertainment and lifestyle networks for about a third of the monthly price that YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV charge.
If you watch networks like HGTV, Hallmark, History, A&E, AMC and Discovery — you’ll find them on Philo.
The Ultimate Philo Review From a Real Customer
However, Philo’s channel lineup leaves out many networks that are familiar to cable TV subscribers. I don’t recommend it as a primary live TV streaming service for cable sports or news viewers.
That said, it may work as a secondary service for people who have YouTube TV, Hulu Live or Sling TV.
I’ve tested out Philo multiple times over the past few years to bring you this real customer review. Here’s everything you need to know before you sign up and start streaming!
Table of Contents:
Philo’s one and only streaming TV bundle costs $20 a month. The monthly price remained stable through all of 2020, while YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV both implemented price hikes.
Philo’s last price adjustment was in May 2019 when it eliminated a $16 plan, leaving only the $20 plan.
Given the price hikes from YouTube TV, Hulu Live and others in 2020, I think it’s quite possible that Philo will either raise its monthly price or adjust its channel lineup sometime in 2021 to offset higher programming costs.
Aside from its main bundle, Philo now features Epix and Starz add-ons starting at $6 per month.
Philo offers a 7-day free trial for new customers. To get started, you can go to Philo’s website and enter your phone number or email address, plus a future payment method.
If you test out Philo and don’t like it, log in to your account and cancel online — no phone call necessary.
Entertainment and lifestyle networks make up the majority of Philo’s 60+ channels. They include networks owned by A+E Networks, AMC Networks, Discovery and ViacomCBS.
To keep costs down, live sports, major cable news (CNN, FOX News & MSNBC) and broadcast networks are missing from Philo’s channel list.
You also won’t find every single entertainment and lifestyle network that’s available on cable. For example, Philo doesn’t carry any Disney, WarnerMedia or NBCUniversal networks.
Here’s a look at Philo’s channel lineup:
|American Heroes Channel|
|BBC World News|
|Game Show Network|
|Great American Country
|Hallmark Movies & Mysteries|
|Law & Crime|
|Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)|
So who exactly is Philo for? I think it’s a good fit for two types of consumers:
- Philo is an affordable primary streaming service for people who watch reality and drama TV but can live without live sports, cable news and broadcast TV. (You can pick up ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC with an antenna or stream with Locast.org.)
- Philo may work as a secondary live TV streaming service if it has must-have channels that you don’t get with your primary cable TV alternative.
Cloud DVR (Saved Shows)
Philo’s unlimited DVR lets subscribers save as many shows as they want, but recordings are kept for only 30 days.
The closest thing to Philo’s cloud DVR is the one from YouTube TV. As a YouTube TV subscriber, you also get unlimited DVR but can store recordings for up to nine months.
Philo’s 30-day storage limit is enough if you follow just one or two shows, but it could make binge-watching multiple seasons difficult.
Philo’s cloud DVR includes the ability to skip ads. As long as you save a show or movie to your DVR before it airs, Philo will let you fast forward through the commercials.
You can stream Philo on your phone, computer or to a TV with a supported device.
After adding Google Chromecast support in mid-2020, Philo is now compatible with all of the major streaming media players: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Chromecast.
If you don’t already own a supported device, Roku Express and Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite are your cheapest options at under $30.
Three different streams can be played at the same time with a single Philo subscription. This is huge for families.
That means you could be streaming Philo to your living room TV, your partner could be watching something else on their phone from the kitchen and your child could be streaming on another TV in the basement.
Up to 10 profiles can be created per account so that everyone in the house has their own DVR and viewing history.
Philo’s user experience is similar whether you’re streaming on your phone, computer or to a TV set.
In the YouTube video below, I give you a complete walkthrough of Philo’s navigation. I share some of what I learned during a recent Zoom call with two Philo employees.
If you prefer not to watch the video, scroll past it to read a summary of my thoughts.
Philo’s home screen reminds me a lot of Hulu. At the top of the screen, Philo features trending content. You’ll also find Keep Watching and Saved (DVR) sections to get to your favorites quickly.
Below that, Philo categorizes content based on interests like reality, true crime, home improvement and cooking.
Philo’s live guide is best for people who are looking for that traditional cable TV feel.
Since there are more than 60 channels with Philo, it can take a long time to scroll through what’s on. But Philo has a solution for this problem. It allows you to favorite channels and they’ll appear at the top of the live guide.
Philo’s live guide lets you preview what’s on up to two weeks in advance. That’s great for scheduling recordings.
Top Playable is where you can find the best shows and movies available to stream right now.
If you missed a program that your friends are talking about, look for it here. Philo has a feature called 72-hour Rewind that lets you watch most things that have aired over the past three days.
Although everything in Top Playable is available to watch immediately, this section includes VOD (video on demand) programs with ads that you can’t skip.
Cloud DVR (Saved)
Saved is Philo’s name for cloud DVR. With the click of a button, you can add shows and movies to your DVR with no limits. Just remember that you have only 30 days to watch them.
If you want to skip the ads, add content to your cloud DVR before it airs. You can skip commercials with anything in your DVR.
But if you forget to schedule a recording, you’ll likely be able to watch the show on-demand if it aired recently. However, the VOD version may have unskippable commercials.
Philo’s DVR is there to help you skip ads if you want, but you have to plan ahead and use it!
Philo Review: Pros and Cons
|60+ channels for $20/month||No sports, major cable news or local stations|
|Unlimited DVR storage||DVR recordings only saved for 30 days|
|Live guide: Preview 2 weeks ahead|
Philo is one of the few remaining deals in live TV streaming, but it’s not for everyone.
If you watch mostly reality shows and can live without cable sports or news, Philo could be your main live TV streaming service. You can always pair it with an indoor antenna (or Locast.org) to get local stations without cable.
Although Philo is a live TV streaming service, it’s made for people who want to watch TV on their own schedule — thanks to its unlimited DVR.
At its current price, Philo is a great value. YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV start at about three times Philo’s monthly rate. That just shows you how much live sports, cable news and local stations can drive up your TV bill.
If you want to try out Philo, it offers a 7-day free trial. Get started here and let me know how you like it in the comments below!
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