Q. I’ve been looking at some streaming options instead of using cable. I tried Sling TV for awhile but it’s now $30 a month instead of $20. But Philo is just $20 a month, which is what Sling used to be. So before I get it, one question: Does it have sports and sports channels? I need that! — Nate, Brooklyn.
Nate, before I answer, allow me first to explain what Philo is for readers who are not familiar with the streaming service.
For $20 a month, Philo offers 61 ‘basic cable’ channels such as AMC, A&E, TV Land, OWN, Lifetime, Comedy Central, MTV, Game Show Network and BET. You can see the complete list here.
Once you purchase the base package, you can also add some premium channels separately such as Epix for $6 a month and Starz for $9 a month.
The streaming service, which comes with a seven-day free trial, does not require any installation or cancellation fees. And you can cancel at any time. There are no contracts such as those required by many cable and satellite operators.
At $20 a month, Philo has the lowest price of all live streaming services, including Sling TV, which, as you note, increased its base price from $20 a month to $30 a month last December. However, there is something different about Philo that helps explain why it can charge such a low rate. And that fact is the answer to your question.
Philo does not carry sports channels, such as ESPN, Fox Sports, or regional sports channels. You didn’t ask, but it also does not have local channels. The decision to omit sports channels and network affiliates allows Philo to charge less because both groups are very expensive to carry. (ESPN, for instance, arguably charges more in carriage fees than any other channel.) They don’t have to pay as much in carriage fees so they don’t need as much subscriber revenue to succeed.
In contrast, Sling TV, and every other major live streaming service, offers ESPN as well as other sports (and local) channels. And this is partially why they require a higher subscription fee.
Philo’s executive team believes there’s a market for a streaming service that provides a strong lineup of entertainment channels at an affordable rate. And as long as they keep sports out, they can do that.
Nate, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann