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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Vidgo is the newest entrant in a crowded field of live TV streaming services. The Atlanta-based company made its initial debut at the CES tradeshow in 2016 but then struggled through a series of strategic pivots and ownership changes.
The new Vidgo reintroduced itself in the Fall of 2018 with the launch of its bundle of Spanish-language streaming plans. 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 immigrants and other underserved communities excluded from the credit economy.
Vidgo launched its English-language live TV streaming service at the end of 2019. The company had 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.
The timing of Vidgo’s launch was nearly perfect. Sony had already announced that it would shutter its PlayStation Vue streaming service in early 2020. DirecTV STREAM, going through rebranding itself, had spent most of 2019 raising prices and dumping customers.
And then COVID-19 arrived in the United States and more people than ever were looking for affordable ways to stream live TV.
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.
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.
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.
However, Vidgo is subject to the same contract issues with content providers that other streamers must deal with. Over the course of 2020, Vidgo raised prices and dropped cheaper plans and is not as price-competitive as it once was.
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
- Pre-paid option lets underserved populations cut the cord
- Missing cloud DVR and on-demand features
- Weak support for local and regional stations
- Pricing not as competitive as before
- Apps often feel like beta releases
Vidgo Plans and Pricing
When launched, Vidgo’s pricing was much lower – English language plans started as low as $40/month. But the company dropped its cheaper plans and raised the prices of its remaining plans, 2 English-language plans and one Spanish-language plan.
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 underserved markets 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 Orang+Blue plan matches Vidgo’s lineup for only $50/month, but doesn’t offer any local affiliate stations.
Vidgo English Plans
English Plus gets you 110+ live channels and an on-demand library for $59.95/month, while English Premium bumps things up 150+ channels for $79.95/month. Both plans include popular basic cable channels as well as local ABC and Fox stations in select markets.
Vidgo Spanish Plan
The Spanish Mas plan costs just $29.95/month and includes 50+ 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
Rather than offer a free trial, Vidgo offers a small discount to new and returning customers (who haven’t had Vidgo in 60 days) signing up for a 3-month subscription. Subscribers to Plus save $20 over 3 months while Premium subscribers save $40. Eligible customers sign ing up for 3 months of Spanish Mas save $14 over that period.
At the end of 3 months, customers are billed at the regular price for another 3-month period. At that point, there’s no incentive to pay in advance, so you may as well switch to monthly billing for the same price.
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 2 services offer is similar, with Sling TV having the price advantage while Vidgo has ABC, FOX and its social features.
For a complete listing of the channels Vidgo offers, check out Flixed’s Vidgo Channel List from A to Z – Updated for 2022.
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, and they only cost around $5/month more.
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.
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 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.
There is a limited cloud DVR included with the English Premium plan, but it only works with Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and Android TV.
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 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 chat, you can send Giphys, 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 the 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 on the Apple TV was 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 decent 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 where about 3,520 people have given it, on average, a 2.8-star rating.
Vidgo on Fire TV Stick
The Vidgo app for Amazon’s Fire TV platform has not been received well. At the time of this review, 3,200 people had given Vidgo an average of 3.3 stars. Many people started their reviews by saying their smartphone app worked great. A poorly-functioning channel guide on FireTV devices, however, meant they didn’t have a way to get to watch TV on their TVs. Reviews in Spring 2022 were mostly negative, stating connection issues, videos freezing, and poor customer service.
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. The app has a score of 2.7 stars from 196 ratings.
Vidgo on Android Phones and Tablets
The Vidgo app fares better in the Google Play Store with an average 4.0-star rating from 595 reviews.
Some of the issues reviewers have brought up are the excessive time it takes the app to buffer video and even failure to load channels. People who gave 4-star or 5-star 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.
Vidgo On Game Consoles
The only gaming device that can run Vidgo is the Android TV-based NVIDIA Shield.
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 the Hang on your smartphone while watching the same stream on your TV.
Vidgo lets you and your family use its service with up to 3 devices at the same time. This is consistent with most other streaming services that charge similar prices.
Vidgo launched without a cloud-based digital video recorder, but has since entered the DVR space, albeit slowly.
The limited cloud DVR is only available with the English Premium plan, and it only works with Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and Android TV.
You cannot download content to view while offline.
Vidgo Customer Support
Vidgo does not offer a self-serve support system. There’s no knowledge base or 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
Unless you sign up for the 3-month subscription, Vidgo does not lock you into long-term contracts. As a result, you can cancel Vidgo at any time without facing cancellation fees or penalties.
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.
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 customers, DirecTV Stream simply loses 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 suffers in comparison to other skinny-bundle services like Sling TV. At the same time, the $60 monthly rate isn’t that much different from full-featured competitors like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV.