Cord cutting is becoming more popular as the cost of cable continues to skyrocket. The average cost of a cable bill is over $100, and more Americans than ever are deciding to cancel their pay TV service, instead of paying high monthly fees.
But while canceling cable is a great way to save some money, you risk missing out on some of your favorite live TV shows. That’s where internet TV providers like Philo and DirecTV Now come in.
In this article, we’ll compare DirecTV Now and Philo, to help you figure out which one of these “skinny bundle” streaming services is right for you. Let’s get started.
Philo and DirecTV Now are both what are called “skinny bundles” in the internet TV industry. These “skinny bundles” let you purchase a select package of cable channels, and watch them directly over the internet.
You don’t need a cable connection or a satellite to use internet TV services. All you need is internet service. In addition, these services do not have a long-term subscription or a cancellation fee, so you can try them out and cancel them after just a month, if you don’t like them.
Let’s dive into the basics of both Philo and DirecTV Now.
Philo is a newer internet TV provider, which got its start on college campuses. It’s a skinny bundle service that focuses on providing the most possible channels for the lowest possible price.
7-day free trial
3 simultaneous streams
You can choose between a $16/month bundle and a $20/month bundle, and these choices come with 37 and 46 channels, respectively. Mostly, the channels are focused on “edu-tainment” and DIY programming, as well as comedy and cable dramas.
The best selling point of Philo is that it is incredibly inexpensive. Sling TV, for example, costs $20/month – but Philo offers more channels for a lower price.
If you are interested in watching live TV, but want to save the most money possible, Philo may be the right internet TV bundle for you. It also has pretty good features, with a good DVR and 3-device simultaneous streaming policy.
The biggest weakness of Philo is that it lacks much channel variety. You won’t get much news programming, and you do not get any sports coverage.
Unless you like cooking shows, documentaries, comedy, and some cable dramas, Philo is probably not for you.
It also does not yet have very good device coverage. There is no support for most modern streaming platforms like Amazon Fire TV, though the company is currently developing more apps.
Philo has not yet released their total number of subscribers – this is likely because the service was only just released in November of 2017.
DirecTV Now was started by DirecTV and AT&T in order to reclaim cord-cutters who had ditched pay TV. It offers a great lineup of channels, but is somewhat lacking in modern features.
DirecTV Now offers a total of four different subscription tiers, so you can easily choose the package that has the channels you want. You can see the full lineup of channels that is included on their website.
The best features that DirecTV Now has is the excellent lineup of cable channels. Even if you only get the $35/month package, you get just about everything you need.
ESPN provides sports coverage, you get channels like VH1, Viceland, and BET for reality TV, cable networks like FX, AMC, and A&E, and even news coverage from CNN.
And if you need more channels, you can get up to 120+ with the “Gotta Have It” package.
DirecTV Now also has 25,000 hours of on-demand content across 10,000 titles.
You also get “TV Everywhere” logins that let you log into most cable networks that you get from DirecTV Now. While Philo also lets you log into some network websites, DirecTV Now supports many more of them.
It also supports almost every major streaming device, such as iOS and Android devices, Roku, the Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, and more.
DirecTV Now still does not have a DVR, despite announcing the development of a DVR beta in late 2017. It’s supposed to come out in “Spring 2018”, but there is no clear release date. Even when the DVR is released, it will only be a paltry 20 hours – don’t expect to be able to keep most of your shows saved.
You can also only stream on 2 devices with DirecTV Now, which is fewer than Philo.
DirecTV Now had more than 1.2 million subscribers as of January 2018.
Fact 1: Philo Doesn’t Have Any Sports Coverage
Philo’s low price is due to two primary factors. The first is that it eschews any kind of sports coverage. You won’t get any kind of sports programming on Philo at all – no ESPN, Fox Sports, NBCSN, or any other sports channels.
As a cost-cutting move, this makes sense. ESPN is one of the most expensive channels for cable companies to carry, due to the cost of licensing major league games. If you don’t like sports and want a cheap cable bundle, Philo may be right for you.
DirecTV Now is a much better choice for sports fans. You get ESPN, and ESPN2 with the cheapest $35/month subscription, as well as Fox Sports 1, NBCSN, and some other networks like TNT and TBS which often show MLB and NBA games.
Fact 2: Philo Doesn’t Have Any “Big Four” Local Broadcast Channels
The “Big Four” channels refer to ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. This is the second factor that makes Philo so inexpensive. Licensing and running broadcast networks on an internet TV service can be quite expensive and difficult, so Philo has opted to avoid doing this altogether.
To get around this, you can set up an OTA antenna and a TV tuner to get all four of these networks – and many more – without cable, for free. Take a look at this guide to learn how.
DirecTV Now does offer FOX, ABC, CBS, and NBC to viewers. However, not all of these channels are available in every geographic location, due to the difficulty of licensing with individual network providers.
Fact 3: DirecTV Now Offers Many More Channels
Even the cheapest “Live A Little” package for DirecTV Now offers 50+ channels. You also have the option to upgrade to a 120+ channel package – which includes premium channels – for $70/month.
If you watch a lot of TV, and you tend to watch more than just a few different channels, DirecTV Now is almost certainly going to be a better choice for you.
Most internet TV services let you add premium channels – like STARZ, Showtime, Cinemax, and HBO – for an additional fee. However, you can’t do this with Philo. That means you won’t be able to watch shows like Game of Thrones if you have a Philo subscription.
In contrast, DirecTV Now offers a number of premium channels, including Cinemax, HBO, Showtime, and STARZ. The prices are good, too. HBO only costs an extra $5/month, compared to $15/month with other internet TV streaming services.
Fact 5: Philo Has A Great DVR – And DirecTV Now Doesn’t Have One (Yet)
With Philo, you can record unlimited episodes of TV shows for up to 28 days. This is a great DVR, on par with DVRs from more expensive services like PlayStation Vue.
As mentioned above, DirecTV Now still doesn’t have a DVR of any kind, though one is in the works. If you like recording your shows, Philo may be a better choice for you.
Fact 6: Philo Lets You Stream On More Devices Simultaneously
You can stream on up to 3 devices at once using Philo. This makes it a good choice if you plan on sharing your account with housemates or family members, as you are unlikely to run into the simultaneous streaming limitations.
With DirecTV Now, you can only stream on 2 devices at once. If you plan to share your account with more than one other person, this may be a problem.
Fact 7: DirecTV Now Has More “Cable Login” Support
DirecTV Now allows you to log into 100+ different websites and subscription networks with your DirecTV Now login credentials, depending on your subscription package.
Philo does let you log into some website like Comedy Central with your Philo login, but it has far fewer supported websites.
Fact 8: DirecTV Now Has Much Better Device Support
Currently, this is one of the biggest drawbacks of Philo. Because it’s so new, it’s only available on a few different platforms.
You can watch Philo on Roku, iOS, and your computer. Currently, Android support is only available on the Chrome web browser – there is no dedicated Android app for Philo yet.
In contrast, DirecTV Now supports an enormous variety of different streaming platforms and products. You can use DirecTV Now on both iOS and Android, as well as on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast, most web browsers, and even some Samsung and LG Smart TVs. That gives you more options when it’s time to watch TV.
Fact 9: AT&T Unlimited Choice Customers Get A Big Discount On DirecTV Now
Because DirecTV is owned by AT&T, they have a partnership that lets AT&T customers get a discount on the service.
If you use AT&T for phone service, and you have the “Unlimited Choice” package, you can get the $35/month DirecTV Now package for just $20/month.
That’s a significant cost savings, and puts DirecTV Now at the same price as the 46-channel Philo package. It’s definitely worth checking this deal out if you are a current AT&T subscriber.
Fact 10: Philo And DirecTV Now Are Offering Free 7 Day Trials
You can get a free trial of both DirecTV Now and Philo, to see which service is right for you.
Currently, Philo is offering a free 7-day trial that does not require a credit card. You just need to put in your phone number. You can check it out on their website.
DirecTV Now does require a credit card for a 7 day trial. You can give it a shot at their website, and see if you like the service.
Philo Vs. DirecTV Now: Which Is Better?
Well, it all comes down to the kind of content you want to watch. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself, in order to decide which service may be right for you.
Do you need sports, news, and local coverage?
If you need local coverage of live events, news coverage, and sports programming, Philo won’t be right for you. You can augment Philo with an OTA TV antenna for local networks, but you’ll still miss out on prime sports networks like ESPN and Fox Sports, and cable news networks like CNN.
DirecTV Now is a much better choice if sports, local shows, and news coverage are very important to you.
Are you looking to save money?
Philo is definitely the cheapest way to watch live TV. No other streaming service even comes close. If Philo offers most of the channels you want, it may be worth subscribing just to save money.
Still, though, even DirecTV Now is much cheaper than cable. Whichever option you choose, you’ll still save quite a bit of money compared to a traditional cable subscription.
Do you need to stream on many different devices?
Philo is a good choice if you primarily use a Roku device or an iOS device like an iPad or iPhone to watch internet TV, or if you like to watch TV on your laptop. However, it is not ideal if you tend to stream on quite a few different devices.
DirecTV Now has much better device support, so if you’re looking to stream on platforms like the Apple TV and Chromecast, it will be more suitable for your needs.