At first glance, launching a new live TV streaming service seems like a terrible idea. But Vidgo may have actually hit on a strategy that makes 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.
Check out our full review of Vidgo to learn more about this could be the streaming service for the new normal.
Before we start, we want to highlight a featured deal. The Disney Bundle is one of the best options for streaming in 2020 with a package that offers a rich catalogue of content for all ages including movies, shows, and sports.
Sign up below to get the whole bundle for only $12.99 a month or start a 7 day trial for Disney Plus.
What is Vidgo?
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 through 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 Now, rebranded as an AT&T service, 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 have 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.
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 only then 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, you do need to remember that Vidgo is a startup with all of the teething pains that come with it. The streaming service hasn’t deployed important features like cloud DVRs or on-demand which leaves you only able to watch whatever is on TV right now. In addition, Vidgo customers have complained that the company releases apps that haven’t been fully developed. Based on the experience with other streaming services, you can expect aspects of Vidgo to feel like they are still in beta.
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
- Competitive pricing
- 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
- No support for CBS or NBC
- Apps often feel like beta releases
Vidgo Plans and Pricing
Vidgo offers four subscription plans, two English-language and two Spanish-language, with prices ranging from $14 per month to $50 per month. At times, Vidgo offers promotional pricing that reduces the monthly costs by as much as 25%.
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.
Vidgo Core is the least expensive English-language plan at $40 per month. It includes 66 basic cable channels as well as support for local ABC and Fox stations in select markets.
Vidgo Plus is a 100-channel subscription plan that costs $50 per month. In addition to the channels that come with Vidgo Core, you’ll get a mix of sports, news and lifestyle channels.
Vidgo Latino is the entry-level Spanish-language plan. For $15 per month, you get 15 channels. This includes the Spanish editions of Fox Sports, History and ESPN as well as Latin American channels like Azteca America, Wapa America and Telefe.
Vidgo Latino Más
Vidgo Latino Más is the step-up option in Vidgo’s Spanish-language lineup. For $25 per month, you get an additional 15 channels including Television Dominicana, Canal Sur and Video Rola.
Free Trial and Renewing
Vidgo offers a free, 7-day trial to anyone who signs up with a credit card. Unless you cancel before the end of the trial period, Vidgo will automatically charge your credit card for the first month’s service. There are no long-term contracts so Vidgo automatically renews your account and charges you on a month-by-month basis.
Vidgo Channels and Content
The best way to evaluate Vidgo is as a skinny-bundle that complements over-the-air television broadcasts received through an HDTV antenna. The streaming service has such weak support for local television stations, that it cannot compete as a cable-replacement service like YouTube TV.
In that respect, Vidgo is a lot like Philo and Sling TV — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The selection of basic cable channels Vidgo offers, and its price, makes it competitive with Sling TV. And the presence of sports channels from ESPN and Fox may give it an edge over Philo in some households.
For a complete listing of the channels Vidgo offers, check out Flixed’s Vidgo Channel List from A to Z – Updated for 2020.
Local and Regional Channels
As mentioned above, Vidgo’s support for local TV is anemic. You cannot watch CBS, the CBS, NBC or Telemundo at all. And although Vidgo has deals with ABC and Fox that let it stream local content, those deals only apply to the network-owned stations in a dozen major markets. Until Vidgo can sign deals with the owners of other local stations, this is not the best option for watching local TV.
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.
The only major 24-hour news channels you get with Vidgo are Fox News and Fox Business. The digital-first news channel Cheddar is also available.
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
At the moment, Vidgo is a live-TV-only streaming service. There is no cloud DVR feature to let you record content and play it back later. In addition, unlike other streaming services, Vidgo does not have an on-demand content library.
As a result, the Vidgo experience is more like Pluto TV than what you would experience on FuboTV or Hulu with Live 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 400 people have given it, on average, a 2.9-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, 115 people had given Vidgo an average of 2.1 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 April 2020 seem to indicate that an app update has resolved these issues.
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.
Overall, the app gets high ratings with an average score of 4.1 stars. A substantial majority of the reviews give Vidgo for iOS 5 stars. Many of the negative reviews were posted in 2019 when Vidgo was just ramping up. More recent reviews praise the service, especially the social features.
Vidgo on Android Phones and Tablets
The Vidgo app in the Google Play Store gets mediocre reviews with an average 3.3-star rating. It isn’t unusual to see a disconnect between Android and iOS reviews since the Android version has to work across a much more complex device ecosystem.
Some of the issues reviewers have brought up is 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 the 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. As a result, you can only use Vidgo to get the live, linear TV experience. Vidgo has indicated that a DVR is in the works, but has not provided a date when it will be available.
The absence of a cloud DVR is a common criticism of Vidgo. Similarly-priced live TV services all offer this as a standard feature. Even Sling TV which for years charged an upgrade fee for DVR capabilities now includes a functional 20-hour DVR with its subscriptions.
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
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 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, AT&T TV Now just 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 may actually have a chance to make it big. The skinny-bundle channel lineup is priced competitively against Sling TV and Philo. With a business model based on both subscriptions and prepaid plans, 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.
Almost all of the weaknesses in Vidgo’s service can be attributed to the fact that Vidgo is a startup. Once its developers have a chance to address the company’s growing pains and deploy missing features, Vidgo will be a more complete solution for cord-cutters.