Philo burst onto the streaming scene with an amazing proposition: get more than 55 channels for only $20 per month. The catch? No local TV stations and no sports channels. Our 2020 Philo review digs into every feature and benefit offered by this low-cost, high-channel streaming service.
What is Philo?
Philo may be unfamiliar to most cord-cutters, but it’s been around for several years. For most of its history, Philo provided streaming TV services to universities.
After hiring Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum to be its CEO, Philo landed investments from HBO, Discovery Communications, A+E Networks and other media companies.
That support let Philo put together a new kind of live TV streaming service. Rather than try to reproduce the cable experience over the internet, Philo chose to serve certain kinds of customers.
Many cord-cutters walked away from cable because they were tired of paying for sports channels they never watched. Others get all the local TV they need using a TV antenna so don’t need everything services like Sling TV offer.
Philo meets these cord-cutters’ needs by offering an affordable live-TV streaming service with a focused channel lineup, which eschews both sports and local broadcast networks, both of which are very expensive to carry. The result? A very low-cost TV service focused on entertainment, educational, and lifestyle networks.
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With a large package of channels that keeps growing well beyond its price, Philo is a strong contender in the cord-cutting market for new subscribers. Some may balk at the lack of sports and local TV broadcast networks, but this niche service is just that: niche. It provides a unique opportunity for those who want access to entertainment-focused cable TV channels to get them at a price that’s more easily affordable.
Philo’s biggest faults are indeed the fact that it doesn’t provide local broadcast networks or sports channels. Beyond that, its app library leaves a lot to be desired. However, if you’re willing to combine Philo with other options, such as ESPN+, an over-the-air (OTA) antenna, or another streaming service like YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV, you’ll still be able to cut the cord while saving a huge amount versus traditional cable TV.
Thankfully, Philo’s biggest weakness is also its biggest selling point, making it heavily weighted in the positive.
- Low cost-per-channel ratio. Because Philo only offers entertainment cable TV channels, it’s able to load offer a lot of networks for a low price.
- Must-have entertainment networks. Philo isn’t just full of networks nobody wants. You’ll have access to popular channels like Discovery, History, AMC, A&E, MTV, BET and more.
- High-quality streaming. Philo’s streams come through in HD quality with minimal buffering or freezing issues.
- Excellent features. Despite the low price, Philo offers a cloud DVR and 3 simultaneous streams per account.
- Smooth UI. Philo has one of the best user interfaces you’ll find on the market for a service of its type.
- No local broadcast networks. You won’t find ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX or other local networks on Philo.
- No sports networks. Philo also offers no cable TV sports networks.
- Limited app library. Philo works on some popular devices, but the number of devices with direct app support is limited.
Up until 2018, Philo offered both a $16 and $20 channel package. Now, however, the service offers just one channel package.
7-day free trial
3 simultaneous streams
For $20 per month, you’ll get 50+ channels. Philo regularly adds channels to its line-up and has a fairly staunch commitment to keeping its price low. By comparison, almost every other service has raised prices multiple times during the same time period that Philo has been available.
As of this time of reviewing, Philo has 58 channels in its $20 per month channel package:
- American Heroes Channel
- Animal Planet
- AXS TV
- BET Her
- BBC America
- BBC World News
- Cheddar Business
- CLEO TV
- Cooking Channel
- Comedy Central
- Destination America
- Discovery Channel
- Discovery Family
- Discovery Life
- DIY Network
- Food Network
- Game Show Network
- Great American Country
- Hallmark Channel
- Hallmark Drama
- Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
- Investigation Discovery
- Lifetime Movies
- MTV Classic
- MTV Live
- Nick Jr.
- Oprah Winfrey Network
- Paramount Network
- Science Channel
- Sundance TV
- Travel Channel
- TV Land
- WE tv
Philo Local Channels
There are no local channels available through Philo. The lack of local channels is part of Philo’s business model and is intended to help provide lower-cost access to entertainment cable TV networks, like those listed above.
If you’re interested and Philo but still want locals, you may want to consider using an OTA antenna, signing up for a service a different service, such as Hulu with Live TV alongside Philo, or using Locast (limited markets).
Philo Stream Quality
Philo has some of the most consistent streaming you’ll find, both through its live TV and on-demand content library.
There are three key things to point out when streaming through Philo:
- Quality is almost always good
- You’ll experience very little buffering and loading issues
- There are additional features you can use to interact with videos, including saving the video to your cloud DVR
This isn’t to say that Philo’s video streaming was perfect. We experienced buffering on live videos occasionally while testing. This happens mostly when you’re trying to rewind to a previous section of a live broadcast, which Philo allows you to do. In those cases, the video at times continued to buffer and suffer from loading issues for several seconds before eventually catching up.
There’s also a weird occurrence where loading live TV starts streaming the end of the previous show that was playing before catching up to where the current live stream is.
Outside of these issues, we found the quality to be top-notch. Videos were always in HD and have a good framerate.
Philo’s support for streaming devices is one of its weakest areas. Philo’s features aren’t fully implemented in all of its apps. In addition, the apps haven’t been fully optimized to take advantage of the devices they run on.
At present, Philo has apps for:
- TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up), Amazon Fire TV (all models), Chromecast and Roku (all current models)
- Smart TVs: Android TV (5.0 and up)
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android (7.0 and up), iOS (10.3 and up)
- Desktop browsers: Most Mac and PC browsers
Philo on Roku
Roku devices are one area where Philo shines. You can use Philo on all current Roku models, including Roku TVs. The app has a 3.9 out of 5 rating on the Roku Channels Store.
Philo on Fire TV Stick
Philo launched Amazon Fire TV functionality in 2018. You can stream Philo on a Fire TV Stick or any other Fire TV device. Philo supports all Fire TV generations and models. The app has a 3.7 out of 5 rating on the Amazon App Store. Most negative reviews appear to be from users who thought Philo was a free service or misunderstood what the app was for.
Philo on Apple TV
You can use Philo on Apple TV devices that are 4th generation or newer. The app has a 3.8 out of 5 stars.
Philo on iPhones and iPads
The Philo iOS app requires iOS 10.3 or higher. You can download it for free through the Apple App Store. The app currently has a 3.8 out of 5 stars on iTunes. Most users enjoy the app and its functionality on iOS devices.
Philo on Android Phones and Tablets
You cannot use Philo natively on Android phones or tablets. Instead, you need to run Philo through the Chrome browser. As such, there’s no app rating to go from, but from testing, your experience won’t be great on Android devices. Streaming from the Chrome browser on Android uses a large amount of processing power and drains the battery.
This service offers on-demand content through two means:
- A 72-hour rewind feature for content from all live channels
- Select TV shows and movies from most channels
Thanks to both of these options, there are over 25,000 titles available to watch through Philo at any given time, even without using your cloud DVR.
To find on-demand content in Philo, either use the search bar or use the “Guide” button to find specific channels, then load their on-demand content.
All of Philo’s on-demand TV episodes have commercials. Some you can skip, most you can’t. Some only have commercials at the end or the beginning. It mostly depends on the contract Philo has with the channel in question.
The Saved section lists the TV series and movies you’ve “recorded.” Clicking on any of the thumbnails takes you to the content profile page. The TV series profile pages list the episodes that you can watch right now and any upcoming broadcasts.
Philo lets you save record an unlimited amount of content, with a 30-day expiration date on videos. You also get 2 profiles per account, and each profile user gets their own cloud DVR storage.
Philo Customer Support
You have two options to get support through Philo:
- Dedicated help center with a knowledgebase
- Chat support
- Support number
Philo’s knowledgebase is fairly extensive. We found that it effectively answers most of the questions you might have about the service. However, it’s somewhat lacking in technical support.
If you are having technical issues, the chat support is fast. The chat initially offers a chatbot instead of a real person that sends back articles to your questions. If you need a real person, select “Get in touch”, then fill in the contact form.
How fast you get in contact depends on how many other users are in the queue. Since Philo still has a relatively small user count, we found it only took seconds. Some questions Philo’s support agents may not have answers for, so you may just be directed to follow them on social media for updates.
It’s easy to cancel your Philo subscription. To cancel, you’ll just need to follow a few quick steps:
- Open your Philo account from and go to your user profile (profile pic)
- Click on “account”
- Scroll down and select “cancel my account”
- Select “CANCEL SUBSCRIPTION”
You’re done! You can restart your Philo account at any time, but you won’t get the free trial again if you’re using the same email address and payment method.
Philo Refund Policy
As with most services of its kind, Philo does not offer refunds. If you cancel Philo, you can continue to use the service for the remaining paid-for period.
You will need to look at the channel lineup on Philo to decide whether it makes sense for you. If you consider local stations or sports networks essential TV, then Philo is not for you. Where Philo comes into its own is when it’s paired with a TV antenna. Philo adds most of the basic cable channels that round out the TV experience for an amazingly low price.
Considering so many of its competitors keep raising prices, the fact that you can still get Philo for $20 per month makes its service all the more attractive.
Other Great Streaming Services
Did you find Philo lacking in any way? Its approach may not be for everyone, but you can easily tack on a few additional services or even replace Philo with a different service altogether.
For example, you may want to add Disney+ for an expanded library of on-demand content, especially if you’re into popular movies. There’s also ESPN+, which offers a wide selection of sports that you won’t get from Philo. And if you need a completely different service altogether, Hulu+Live TV provides a live TV streaming package that offers many of the same channels available on Philo, but also adds in sports and local broadcast networks.
What’s more, if all three of those sound good, you can bundle them and save a ton.