At first glance, launching a new live TV streaming service seems like a terrible idea. But is it really? Our in-depth Vidgo review looks to see how it just might be the streaming service for the new normal.
Vidgo believed it had a strategy that made sense. As a competitively-priced “skinny bundle,” it doesn’t go head-to-head with cable or the major streamers. And with innovative features that let you watch TV with your friends, Vidgo seems perfectly designed for an era of self-isolation. Add to this a business model that lets under-represented populations enter the streaming world, and you have a streaming service in it for the long haul.
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Our Take – Why we rated Vidgo with this rating
Vidgo is doing its best to fight for market share with large-scale competitors like Sling TV and DirecTV Stream. It does the job well in most areas. Its channel selection is quite impressive for the price.
Sports fans appreciate ESPN, Fox Sports, Stadium, etc. Those who love entertainment content can enjoy anything from multiple Hallmark channels to Comedy Central. Documentary, child and female-friendly content are also strong on Vidgo. It even has an entire package in Spanish, making the platform tempting for those who speak this language.
However, Vidgo could be better in other areas. Its apps have room for improvement on many devices, and DVR seems severely limited as only 20 hours is available. The local channel support isn’t as impressive as the competition, either. Ultimately, Vidgo is a small-scale live TV streaming platform with steady growth. Although it can do better, it’s still worth giving it a shot.
What is Vidgo?
Vidgo is the newest entrant in a crowded field of live TV streaming services. The Atlanta-based company made its initial announcement of coming to the market at the CES tradeshow in 2016. It took a while for the business to launch, and the official release followed in 2017.
Vidgo implemented Spanish-language streaming plans in 2018. Unlike the rest of the industry, Vidgo based its service on pre-paid plans sold through a network of local retailers. The pre-paid subscriptions let Vidgo offer its service to Spanish-speaking locals and immigrants.
The company signed deals with Disney (owner of ABC and ESPN), Fox, Viacom (owner of HGTV) and Discovery to carry many of their basic cable channels. The deals also let Vidgo carry a limited number of network-owned ABC and Fox local stations.
Social watch parties
The feature that distinguishes Vidgo the most from other live TV streaming services is its social capabilities. You can schedule a watch party with other Vidgo subscribers and watch the same show at the same time. Chat windows let you share reaction pictures and emojis with your friends as you comment on the show.
This is a feature long-promised but never implemented by Philo. It’s also a feature that many people wished was part of Netflix. With the worldwide shutdown forcing people out of movie theaters, many turned to third-party apps like Netflix Watch Party to get social experiences out of on-demand content.
Related: Watch Netflix with friends – your Top 7 options
Vidgo’s social features deliver that experience now for live TV. Once sports leagues start playing again, this could give Vidgo an even more compelling advantage over more established streaming services.
Vidgo 60-second summary
You need to know what you’re getting into when considering Vidgo. This is not a full-on replacement for a cable TV subscription. Its ability to stream local network TV stations is limited to only ABC and Fox stations — and then only in a handful of major markets.
It’s better to look at Vidgo as a “skinny bundle” that complements the local TV you get through an HDTV antenna. You’ll get a solid lineup of basic cable channels similar to Philo but with more sports coverage.
Innovative features like Vidgo’s social viewing capability and its pre-paid options make this a great choice for people the other streaming services ignore.
Vidgo pros and cons
If you’re willing to give Vidgo a chance to iron out its kinks, the pros may outweigh the cons. However, many people may prefer to wait it out and subscribe to another service for now.
- Decent channel lineup
- Innovative social viewing features
- No contract or hidden fees
- Simultaneous streaming available
- Weak support for local and regional stations
- Pricing is not as competitive as before
- Apps don’t work as fast as the competition
Vidgo plans and pricing
When launched, Vidgo’s pricing was much lower – English language plans started at an affordable range. But the company dropped its cheaper plans and raised the prices of its remaining plans, two English-language and one Spanish-language package.
In addition to subscribing through the company’s website, Vidgo has distribution deals with a wide range of local retailers, from grocery stores to cellphone resellers to payday lenders. These Vidgo dealers offer prepaid options so anyone can enjoy streaming live TV services.
Compared to skinny bundle services like Sling TV and Philo, the revamped Vidgo English-language plans are a toss-up. Philo has the price advantage but doesn’t offer news and sports channels. Sling TV’s Orange+Blue plan seems at least as good as Vidgo’s lineup but doesn’t offer any local affiliate stations.
And then you have full cable-replacement services like Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV that offer far more regional and local channels.
Vidgo English plans
English Plus gets you 110+ live channels and an on-demand library, while English Premium bumps things up to 150+ channels. Both plans include popular basic cable channels as well as local ABC and Fox stations in select markets. For a complete listing of the channels that Vidgo offers, check out Flixed’s Vidgo Channel List from A to Z – Updated for 2022.
Vidgo Spanish plan
The Spanish Mas plan includes 45+ channels plus on-demand content. Channels include the Spanish editions of Fox Sports, History and ESPN, as well as Latin American channels like Azteca America, Wapa America and Telefe.
Free trial and renewing
Vidgo doesn’t offer a free trial anymore. While this option used to be available, the company decided to deactivate it in December 2020. It seems that it was a smart move since Vidgo increased its number of customers and revenue from then.
As for the renewing, you don’t have a contractual obligation with Vidgo. It’s a prepaid service, so you pay for 30 days the moment you register. The subscription renewal is automatic. Once that month expires, your card gets charged for the following month automatically. It’s necessary to cancel your Vidgo subscription to prevent them from charging you for the next month.
It’s worth noting that Vidgo offers promo codes that could lower subscription prices. For example, using a “PREMIUM40OFF” would lower the cost if you agree to subscribe to the service for 90 days.
Vidgo channels and content
As mentioned earlier, the best way to evaluate Vidgo is as a skinny bundle that complements over-the-air television broadcasts received through an HDTV antenna. In that respect, Vidgo is a lot like Sling TV.
The selection of basic cable channels the two services offer is similar, with Sling TV having the price advantage while Vidgo has ABC, FOX and its social features.
Local and regional channels
As mentioned above, Vidgo’s support for local TV is lacking. You cannot watch CBS, NBC, the CW, or Telemundo at all. And although Vidgo has deals with ABC and Fox to stream local content, its coverage is around 75 cities for each station. There are much better options out there for watching the local affiliates of the major broadcast networks.
Regional sports networks aren’t available at all. Most of the major regionals are owned by NBC or the Sinclair Broadcast Group, neither of which has a distribution deal with Vidgo. Don’t hesitate to use Flixed’s Vidgo TV Guide to see what you can watch on this platform at this moment.
Vidgo has upped its news game since our last review. In addition to Fox News and Fox Business, it now carries ABC News Live, Newsmax, NewsNation, OAN and OAN Plus.
There’s also still Cheddar News, as well as the newly added i24 News, which mainly covers stories from the Middle East and Israel.
Thanks to its deals with Disney and Fox, Vidgo has many options for sports fans. Most of the ESPN channels are part of the Core lineup, as are Fox Sports, FS1 and FS2. The ESPN deal also means some college conference sports networks like PAC12 and SEC are available. The NFL Network, MAV TV’s motorsports coverage, and beIN Sports are also part of the lineup.
The Spanish-language plans get the Spanish versions of ESPN, Fox Sports and beIN Sports, as well as TyC Sports.
Lifestyle and entertainment channels
Deals with Discovery and Viacom allow Vidgo to carry many of the most popular basic cable channels. On the entertainment side, you’ll get A&E, BET, Comedy Central, all three Disney channels and more. Fans of reality and lifestyle programming will appreciate having the Travel Channel, HGTV and the Food Network.
On-demand content library
Vidgo has an on-demand library with 14,000+ titles and over 10,000 hours of content. The library comes standard with every plan. The library includes classic hit TV shows, new series, specials, and movies from yesterday and today.
Popular movies on Vidgo VOD platform include My Little Pony, 22 Jump Street, Holmes and Watson, Baywatch, etc. TV show fans will appreciate The Simpsons, Friends, House Hunters, and General Hospital. SpongeBob SquarePants and other cartoons are also available in the on-demand library.
Vidgo ease of use
The website features fast page loading times. As for the time required to load a live TV channel or VOD content, it depends on the device used. Here’s more information about how to register and use Vidgo!
If you choose to go the subscription route, signing up for Vidgo ought to be a straightforward matter of entering your credit card information.
Unfortunately, upon completion of the registration, Vidgo would not let me log into my account on the website or in the iOS app. At first, it claimed that the email and password combination I copied and pasted from my password manager was incorrect.
Another failed attempt implied that reCaptcha thought I was a robot.
Finally, I reset my password and was given access.
When you launch the app for the first time, it requests your login credentials and then asks you to create a user name. If you’re like most people and you use your iPad in landscape mode, you’ll be a little annoyed that the app forces you into portrait mode to enter these things in. Once the setup is complete and you go through the intro screens, the Vidgo app sends you to live TV.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the Vidgo app for iPadOS did. I could watch the live stream of Cheddar’s news broadcast, but there was no way to change the channel. The user interface has nothing to indicate how and where you should tap to bring up the channel guide.
The only things that do appear are play/pause controls, volume control, and a settings icon that lets you enable/disable subtitles.
Switching over to the iPhone, everything worked as it should.
As with the iPad app, the iPhone opened to Cheddar’s live stream, but this time with the rest of the UI visible. The video occupies the top portion of the screen in portrait mode, and the social feed occupies the bottom portion.
When you tap the guide icon, you get the same kind of interface you’d expect from the cable with the currently airing programs in a long list. You can change the date and time to search for a future show.
The Guide lets you filter channels by categories including Sports.
There is also an option for watching YouTube with Vidgo’s social functions.
In addition to chatting, you can send GIFs, selfies and video reactions. Or you can create a poll for everyone in the Hang.
Tapping the settings icon lets you create Hangs and change your account settings.
The UI on the Apple TV looks different to accommodate the television layout. You also lose the ability to stream YouTube as well as social media tools.
When you select a program from the guide, Vidgo brings up a description and an option to watch that content.
Unfortunately, there was something wrong with the Vidgo guide on AppleTV. Even though the time axis at the top of the screen was correct, the guide displayed content from two hours into the future and would not scroll back to the currently-playing content.
Vidgo stream quality
Video quality is decent, with movies appearing in HD but with some softness due to compression. Although hard to evaluate on an iPhone display, the streaming quality was adequate overall. The single stream of Cheddar available on the iPad was fine for a news broadcast — probably 720p. Without being able to change the channel, there wasn’t any way to evaluate movies or sports that could benefit from higher resolution.
Vidgo device support
Vidgo ran into many of the same problems experienced by other newly-launched streaming services. The app lineup only supported a limited number of streaming platforms. In addition, many of Vidgo’s apps — and its backend infrastructure — weren’t quite ready for primetime. This resulted in many negative reviews early on. However, more recent reviews seem to indicate that Vidgo’s developers have been working through these early teething problems.
Vidgo on Roku
You’ll find the Vidgo app in the Roku Channel Store. Over 3,000 people gave approximately average reviews. There’s room for app improvement, but the creators are working on improving the software.
Vidgo on Fire TV Stick
The Vidgo app for Amazon’s Fire TV platform could have been received better. The reviews are average, and it seems that the smartphone app works best. Unfortunately, the poorly-functioning channel guide on Fire TV caused problems on these devices.
Vidgo on Apple TV
You can use Vidgo with your Apple TV. The layout is optimized for the television form factor, but social features and YouTube compatibility are missing.
Vidgo on iPhones and iPads
Vidgo’s iOS app gives you access to all of the streaming service’s features. People who want to watch Vidgo on their iPads will be slightly disappointed that the Vidgo app isn’t iPad-optimized. Instead, you get the iPhone interfaces spread out across the larger iPad display.
Vidgo on Android phones and tablets
It seems that Vidgo Android app performs much better than its iOS counterpart. Some of the issues reviewers have brought up are the excessive time it takes the app to buffer video and even the failure to load channels. People who gave better reviews liked the channel selection, streaming quality and social features.
Vidgo on smart TVs
If you have a smart TV based on the Roku, Android TV or Amazon Fire TV platforms, then you should be able to find the Vidgo app in your television’s app store.
Vidgo on desktops and laptops
You can’t watch Vidgo in a web browser. You won’t find a native Vidgo app for macOS or Windows computers either.
Apart from actual live TV channels, Vidgo tries to improve its service with extra features. Here’s an overview of what to expect from the platform!
Social is Vidgo’s stand-out feature. You can create watch parties, called Hangs, to enjoy movies, sports, TV shows or YouTube videos with your friends. By default, each channel has a public Hang where everyone watching a channel can get to know each other. You can also create private Hangs exclusive to your friends.
There are a couple of drawbacks. First, all of your friends have to be on Vidgo in order to join your Hang. And second, this is a mobile-only feature that is not available if you’re watching on a Roku or Apple TV. You can get around the second limitation by running Hang on your smartphone while watching the same stream on your TV.
Vidgo does a great job in simultaneous streaming. You can watch live TV channels on up to three platforms at the same time. It should be enough to cover an entire household on most occasions. And there’s no need to pay anything extra since this deal is available with all packages.
It’s easy to manage your devices on Vidgo. All it takes is logging into the platform with the desired device and using it to watch live TV or on-demand content. If you’ve already reached the maximum device limit, you can log out from the desired device and then use another one to access Vidgo.
Vidgo launched without a cloud-based digital video recorder but has since entered the DVR space, albeit slowly. The good news is you can now use DVR, and it comes with all subscription plans. The trick is you only get 20 hours of free DVR for the first 90 days with the Spanish Mas and English Plus packages.
But if you choose the English Premium subscription, you get 20 hours of free DVR as long as the subscription is active. As you can see, the limit stands at 20 hours. While it’s better than nothing, it’s worth noting that DirecTV Stream offers unlimited cloud DVR. Also, Vidgo’s DVR will only work with Roku, Apple TV, Google TV, and Firestick.
Vidgo customer support
Vidgo does not offer a self-serve support system. There’s no knowledge base or a support forum. Instead, Vidgo expects its customers to directly contact the Vidgo customer support center. This can be done by creating an email-based support ticket or by calling Vidgo’s toll-free support number.
The support center is open between 9 am and 9 pm Eastern Time on weekdays and between 10 am and 7 pm Eastern Time on Saturdays. The support center does not take calls on Sundays.
How to cancel Vidgo
Vidgo doesn’t have long-term contracts, but its subscription renewal is automatic. So, if you don’t want the system to automatically charge for the next month or three (depending on the package), you’ll need to cancel the service before the expiration date.
If you want to cancel Vidgo, follow these steps:
- Access your account from any device. It might be easiest to do it from a laptop, computer or smartphone.
- Find the Cancel Subscription button to deactivate automatic payments. If you joined via Roku, you’d need to use your Roku account or get in touch with their customer support to cancel the service.
- After canceling the subscription, you can still use Vidgo until your current payment period ends. Your account will remain accessible if you ever want to renew the subscription.
Vidgo refund policy
If you cancel before the end of your monthly term, Vidgo will not issue a pro-rated refund. Instead, you will continue to have access to Vidgo until the normal end of your subscription.
Vidgo has ups and downs, but it can be a great choice
Many industry insiders might wonder why the world needs another live TV streaming service when so many of the established players are struggling. DISH Network’s Sling TV has lost channels and users, DirecTV Stream simply lost customers, and Sony got out of the business entirely. At the other end of the spectrum, services like Disney-owned Hulu and Google-owned YouTube have deep pockets and long-term commitment to the market.
Since Vidgo isn’t trying to be a carbon copy of the big players, this streaming rookie is betting that different is better. Vidgo can reach customers other services ignore. And Vidgo’s innovative social watch parties offer features nobody else does at a time when people, more than ever, need to connect while staying physically isolated.
But rising prices may cap Vidgo’s potential. It’s not as tempting as other budget-friendly services like Sling TV. And if the price goes up, it won’t be much different from full-featured competitors like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV.
Despite all the downsides, Vidgo does many things right. It has a well-curated channel selection that audiences of all ages and interests would enjoy, ranging from sports to news and entertainment. Don’t hesitate to give it a shot and see if it meets your expectations!
Chris Casper is a former tech industry product manager who escaped from California for New Mexico. Now he writes about science and tech while searching for the perfect green chile sauce.