Philo Launches Entertainment-Only Skinny Bundle

Philo_Home_Page - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Philo

The startup is backed by a consortium of cable networks, including A+E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps and Viacom.

Over the last two years, a half-dozen different products have launched to offer a television bundle over the internet. For many, live sports have been a selling point. 

But a new offering backed by several television networks is taking a different approach. 

Philo, which launched Tuesday morning, is selling a bundle of entertainment-only channels for $16 a month. For that price, customers get 37 channels including AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, HGTV, MTV, History and VH1. (A $20-per-month bundle includes nine extra channels including Logo and Nicktoons.) 

The service is able to keep costs low by stripping out the expensive sports channels that typically come packaged in a cable subscription. But it also has only struck deals with companies that don't offer dedicated sports channels. Notably absent from its lineup are networks from Disney, NBC, Fox and CBS.

"Our goal at Philo is to build a television service that people love as much as they love their favorite shows," CEO Andrew McCollum said in a statement. "We're constantly looking for ways we can improve the experience because at the end of the day, we're also building Philo for ourselves."

Philo began in 2009 as Tivli, a service that offered cable TV to Harvard students. As it grew to encompass more campuses, it raised funding from such backers as HBO, New Enterprise Associates and CBS New Media Group. 

Earlier this year, it raised $25 million from the companies that now offer their channels on its service — A&E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps and Viacom — to focus on an over-the-top skinny bundle.

"We started delivering streaming television at universities six years ago, and we’ve taken all of the unique insight we gained about this new generation of TV watchers in order to build a unique product and content package at an incredible value," said McCollum. 

Philo enters an already crowded market for these types of services. In recent years, Dish Network, DirecTV, Google, Hulu and Sony have all launched skinny bundles that feature the channels that Philo carries, though their services generally cost more because they also include the broadcast networks and their affiliated sports channels. FuboTV, meanwhile, offers a sports-centric package that also includes channels like HGTV and USA. 

Philo's offering also includes a 30-day DVR, an on-demand library and simultaneous viewing on three different devices. It will soon offer social integration that will allow viewers to connect with friends about the shows they are watching. 

Philo is currently available on web browsers, Roku devices, iOS and Android. It is expected to launch on other set-top devices, such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Chromecast, at a later date.