Philo, a sports-free streaming TV service that is "focused on entertainment, lifestyle and knowledge programming," is the latest entrant in the live TV streaming service wars. At launch, Roku is the only set-top box supported, but subscribers can also stream through web browsers and an iOS app.
Philo is competing for cord-cutter subscribers with several other services available on Roku, including Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Playstation Vue, and Hulu with Live TV Beta. Philo is the least expensive, though, with a basic 37-channel package for $16/month. That compares to a $20/month for 30 channels on Sling Orange, $30/month for 55+ channels on Playstation Vue, $35/month for 60+ channels on DirecTV Now, and $40 for 55+ channels on Hulu.
Of course, there's more to consider than just the number of channels available for the advertised price. Philo has only one upgrade option, which adds nine additional channels for a total of $20/month, while Sling offers two different basic packages and many add-ons with additional channels. Likewise, DirecTV Now and Playstation Vue have several options that include many more channels. And competing services also include much larger libraries of video on demand that include movies and TV series. And you'll need to look at the specific channels available, as they vary by service and subscription package.
But the budget-priced Philo does offer some nice features at no additional charge. You'll find a cloud DVR service that lets you record an unlimited number of shows - but the recordings are available for only 30 days. Also, you have on-demand access to all shows broadcast in the last three days.
Philo is offering a free trial of the service, so you can try the service before subscribing, or you can read a full review of the channel at this link. I found the user interface to be a bit clunky and was disappointed that listings for future shows are not available in the Roku channel, although the user interface isn't bad for an initial release. I would expect future upgrades to address some of the awkwardness and to add features, like a programming grid with upcoming shows like Philo includes on the website version of the app.
Cord cutters looking for specific shows and an abundance of on-demand fare may not be happy with Philo, and those who use multiple streaming devices and apps won't be happy with the limited devices that Philo is found on. But economy-minded viewers and those who just want to do some casual channel surfing or catch up on recent episodes of their favorite shows will likely find Philo to be a good service at a budget price.
For more information, visit our Philo channel page.