Philo Streaming Service & Live TV Review for 2023
Pros and Cons of Philo
- Most affordable live TV option
- Includes most familiar and popular TV channels
- Unlimited cloud DVR
- No sports channels
- No local channels
- Very limited news selection
5 Reasons to Choose Philo
- You want the cheapest live TV streaming option.
- You want live TV, but don’t care about sports.
- You already have an antenna for sports and local news, but want cable channels for movies and TV shows.
- You want to stream on multiple devices, including mobile devices.
- You’re sick of paying for cable!
What You Can Watch on Philo
Like all streaming services, Philo is designed to replace many of the live TV channels that cord-cutters lose when they cancel cable or satellite (though it’s not designed to replace every last one of them, as we’ll talk about in a moment). Philo is a “multichannel” service, so — like cable — it gives you access to multiple live TV networks that you can surf between, make DVR recordings from, and so on.
When it comes to movie channels, reality TV networks, and other general entertainment outlets, Philo’s channel lineup is really impressive. Philo’s channel bundle includes a wealth of channels, including AMC, Comedy Central, The Hallmark Channel, HGTV, IFC, and many more well-known cable TV staples.
Add-ons make premium channels like STARZ and MGM Plus available, too. Philo’s channel list changes from time to time, but it has always been pretty impressive when it comes to movies, sitcoms, dramas, reality TV, and other straightforward forms of TV programming.
But part of what makes Philo unique is what it doesn’t have. Philo offers very low prices, and the reason it’s able to do so is that it omits certain channels. Philo takes the classic pay-TV bundle and deliberately carves out the channels that contribute the most to high cable bills — namely, sports channels and local affiliates of the major networks.
As a result, Philo is lacking precisely these things. You won’t find ESPN or any other big sports networks here — in fact, you won’t even find non-sports channels that air sports occasionally, like TBS or TNT. Philo is also missing the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) and their local affiliates, so don’t expect to find your local action news team on this streaming service. Philo has also been careful about adding news channels, though the selection of those has improved quite a bit since we first reviewed Philo many years ago. You won’t be able to stream CNN or watch Fox News with Philo, but you will see at least a little bit of news thanks to the welcome (and relatively recent) addition of BBC World News.
Philo Fire TV Guide
How much these omissions bother you will depend on what you like to watch. For a big sports fan like me, Philo felt like it was missing a lot: When I’m looking for live TV options as a cord cutter, it’s usually because I’m trying to find a way to stream baseball. Since Philo didn’t have my team’s local regional sports network and was also missing ESPN, TBS, Fox, FS1, MLB Network, and the rest of my go-to channels for baseball, I didn’t always feel like I was watching what I really wanted to. On the other hand, I do enjoy relaxing with a home improvement or DIY show, so I loved being able to surf between HGTV and DIY Network.
Your mileage may vary, of course. If you’re a sports fan like me, Philo’s trade-off might feel like a deal with the devil. But if you could take or leave channels like ESPN and CNN — or if you’re able to shore up those areas with other options, like an ESPN Plus subscription or an over-the-air TV antenna — then you might be overjoyed to see Philo’s impressive lineup of entertainment channels available without the pricey sports and news networks holding them back.
If the type of content is your cup of tea, you’ll have plenty to watch: All told, Philo has more than 70 channels on offer at the time of this writing. It also has an on-demand library populated with recently aired TV from the many networks included in its bundle. If you miss a show, there’s a good chance you can just catch it on-demand shortly after it airs. You can make sure of this by digitally “recording” the program with the cloud DVR — which, in Philo’s take on the DVR, pretty much just saves on-demand content to a watchlist.
How It Felt to Use Philo
Using Philo on a Fire TV Stick
Right off the bat, Philo felt a little different to me than other live TV streaming services that I’ve tried. Like most of its competitors, Philo offers a free trial. Unlike most of its competitors, though, Philo didn’t necessarily need my credit card information — not right away, anyway. You can watch Philo for free for a week using the free trial, and you don’t have to enter any payment information for the first 48 hours of that period. An important note: This 48-hour grace period only applies if you sign up for Philo using a phone number. If you use an email address, you’ll have to provide your payment information from the start.
Philo’s Sign-Up Process
I elected to sign up via email. Philo emailed a code to the address I provided, and then I entered that code to start watching in my browser. That same process repeated whenever I activated one of Philo’s apps — I never had to worry about a password. I found this pretty convenient, but you may decide that you’d rather use a phone number (if you do that, Philo will text the login code each time instead of emailing it).
Philo – iOS – login process
Either way, Philo is easy to log into and doesn’t require you to create any new passwords. The flip side of this is that you’ll have to OK each new login to your account — you can’t just give a family member or friend your password and let them log in on their own.
Philo Channel Guide
Philo’s User Experience and App Design
Philo’s user experience was pretty straightforward. Like most great live TV streaming services, Philo divides its app up into sections. The “Home” screen offers a few trending live programs before diving into lots of recommended on-demand content. The “Guide” screen hosts a familiar-looking TV guide menu that makes it easy to select a live channel. I could find my recordings and favorites under the “Saved” tab, and there was a “Search” option as well.
It was also easy to find shows by genre or category. I liked scrolling through the home tab as I decided what to watch — though this tended to send me to on-demand content rather than live TV. When I felt like channel-surfing, I headed to the TV guide screen instead — just like with other live TV streaming services I’ve reviewed, I found that TV guide was one of my favorite ways to find something to watch.
Philo’s ‘Unlimited DVR’
Philo also comes with an “unlimited DVR.” Philo’s DVR option essentially saves all available episodes of the series you choose (unlike with a traditional DVR, you don’t have to wait for them to air again as reruns). The unlimited DVR feature also adds all future new episodes to your library of saved content.
Philo – Saving a show to the DVR
Using the DVR feature was simple, though it does feel a bit different from the typical DVR experience. There was no limit to how much I could “record,” but my saved programs only stuck around for 30 days. I would have preferred a more straightforward (and more DVR-like) DVR, but Philo’s watchlist-like option works just as well in most cases.
Philo Streaming Quality
I didn’t have any trouble streaming Philo in my extensive trials. The service worked just fine on Roku and Fire TV, as well as on iOS and in my browser.
|Live TV content||720p||30 FPS|
|On-demand content||1080p||30 FPS|
Philo’s streams may have been smooth, but the quality didn’t quite blow me away. Philo tops out at 30 frames per second. That number refers to the number of images that Philo flashes up on your screen per second. As you can probably imagine, lots of speedy frames make for smoother viewing. (Just imagine a flipbook: If you tore out every third page, it would look “choppier” — that’s what a lower framerate is like, though the effect is a bit more subtle.) Philo’s rate of 30 FPS is only about half of what we’re used to from some other live TV streaming services. This isn’t the end of the world — a 30 FPS stream is still perfectly watchable, and the sports content that suffered most from lower frame rates isn’t available on Philo anyway — but it’s still an area where I would have liked to see Philo step it up a bit.
Philo’s live streaming content streams at 720p HD (this measurement means how high the resolution of the image on the screen is — it’s about how sharp it is, not how quickly it flips from frame to frame). With on-demand content, quality goes up to 1080p. Both of these numbers are very typical for live TV streaming services, so I can’t fault Philo here. A little 4K UHD content would have been nice, but I don’t consider that a must-have for services like these.
More About Philo’s Features
Philo’s features aren’t overwhelming, but they’re strong and include pretty much everything I was looking for. I was able to create multiple user accounts within my main account, and I could rename those accounts and choose from a few profile image options (I chose a little tree icon that I thought looked neat). I could stream on up to three devices at once.
Philo also includes the unlimited DVR feature that I mentioned earlier. Since this is an online (“cloud”) DVR, it doesn’t really “record” anything. To me, it felt more like using a watchlist or “bookmark” feature than using a DVR, though I didn’t think that was necessarily a bad thing.
Philo Platform Support
Philo offers apps for all the major devices and platforms that we recommend. I had the option of using Philo on Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS, and Android. I could also use it on Mac or PC through the in-browser app — which, I was happy to see, works not only on Chrome and Safari but also on Firefox and Microsoft Edge.
This is a very solid platform support lineup. Other than certain smart TV platforms, Philo has the full lineup covered here. And if you’re using one of the devices and platforms that we recommend here on the site, you’re 100 percent going to be able to use Philo.
Philo on Roku
Philo offers a pretty consistent experience across all of these platforms. For this review, I tested Philo on Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, iOS, and two browsers (Chrome and Firefox). Based on my experience, I think that Philo works great on every platform.
At long last, we have reached the part of this Philo review where we discuss pricing. And I have some good news for you: Philo is a really, really cheap way to watch TV without cable.
There’s only one main Philo subscription, so we don’t have to worry about any price tiers — just a simple price tag of $25 per month, with the option to splurge on a couple of add-ons for a few extra bucks. (MGM Plus is an extra $6 per month, and STARZ is an extra $9 per month.) The service has increased its price over the years (at launch it was just $15 per month), but that’s not at all unusual for a live TV streaming service. Most of Philo’s competitors, including fuboTV, have raised prices by larger margins — and they were also more expensive than Philo in the first place!
That $25-per-month price is extraordinarily low for a live TV streaming service. Only Sling TV comes close. Most other live TV streaming services cost about $60 per month.
Of course, there’s a reason that Philo is so cheap: It’s missing sports, news, and local channels. Those are the most expensive channels for pay-TV services to carry, so Philo cuts them out and passes the savings on to you.
So is Philo a good value? In my view, absolutely: You simply can’t get a live TV experience this cheap anywhere else.
This isn’t to say that Philo is the right deal for you specifically, though. Like anything else in life, value is in the eye of the beholder. If you don’t like sushi, you probably won’t care how cheap the lunch specials at the local sushi place get — no matter how good the deal is, you’re just not in the market for sushi! As a huge sports fan, that’s how I felt about Philo: Without sports, it just didn’t make sense for me to stay subscribed. But if I’m being objective, I can imagine what Philo would look like to a non-sports fan — and boy, oh boy would it look good. If this is what you’re looking for, then this is an absolute steal.
4 Things To Know Before You Sign Up for Philo
If you’re tired of paying a big cable bill each month, you could save a bunch of money by cutting the cord and subscribing to Philo in 2023.
This live TV streaming service is a bargain seeker’s dream. For just $25 per month, you can watch more than 70 live channels. Philo’s lineup includes popular channels such as Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, Nickelodeon and more.
And thrifty streamers will appreciate that this service costs less than half the monthly subscription price of YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV.
But there’s always a catch, right? Philo lacks the live news and sports channels that many people enjoy.
I downloaded Philo and gave it a test spin. In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the live television subscription service.
This article was updated in July 2023 and I review it once per month. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
July 2023 Updates
Latest Philo Updates
- On May 23, 2023, Philo announced that it added nine new FAST (free, ad-supported TV) channels to its menu. These include “Fail Army” and “Cowboy Way Channel.”
- Philo added the USA Today channel to its base package in April 2023.
- Decades Network was rebranded to Catchy Comedy in March 2023.
- People TV shut down in February 2023 and the channel has been removed from the Philo menu.
- Philo added POP and the Smithsonian Channel to its channel lineup in January 2023.
- T-Mobile has extended its partnership with Philo which gives subscribers $10 off per month. You can read more about it here.
What Is Philo? Team Clark Reviews the Live TV Streaming Service
For $25 per month, a Philo subscription provides access to more than 70 popular broadcast and cable channels. There is no contract or cable box required. You can stream content live or on demand from your television, phone, tablet or computer.
The sales pitch for Philo is pretty simple: It has a bunch of the channels you like for a fraction of the monthly bill you’d have with the cable company or even with some other live TV streaming services such as YouTube TV.
The trade-off for the low monthly price is that you have to give up live sports, news and local channels.
Still, money expert Clark Howard says Philo could be a real value for select streamers.
“For people who don’t care anything about sports, I love Philo as a live TV streaming option,” Clark says.
Team Clark has tested Philo to see what makes it different from its competitors. Read on to learn what you need to know before you sign up!
Table of Contents:
- Channel Lineup
- Supported Devices
- Multiple Streams
1. What Channels Do You Get With Philo?
The Philo channel lineup is unlike most of the other options in the live TV streaming market thanks to an alternative programming strategy.
First, let’s start with the things you won’t see on Philo that many of its competitors offer:
- Local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX affiliates)
- Sports channels (ESPN, FS1, NFL Network, etc.)
- National news and commentary channels (CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, etc. )
Access to these channels is what drives the price of competing services into the $65 per month range.
Instead of paying expensive broadcast rights fees for these popular channels, Philo focuses instead on bringing you reality TV, documentaries, drama and comedy series, movies and children’s programming.
You’ll be able to enjoy channels such as AMC, Comedy Central, Food Network, Hallmark and Nickelodeon with a Philo subscription.
And it has the Paramount Network, which is a plus for fans of the hit TV series Yellowstone.
If you like Philo’s channel lineup but still want local channels, here’s how you can get them without cable. And if you want sports with a Philo subscription, you may be best served by paying for an ESPN+ subscription or one of the professional league’s annual game packages. Here’s our guide to watching live sports without cable.
Below is a full list of the Philo channels. If you want to compare Philo’s channel lineup to other streaming TV services, see our side-by-side chart or use our live TV streaming channel tool.
Search for Channel:
Premium Channel Add-On Packages
Philo doesn’t have a very large menu of add-ons, but there are a few options for upgrades.
The cheapest add-on option is a $3 monthly charge for a movie channel package that includes Cinemoi, HDNet Movies, MGM HD, Reelz and Sony Movies.
You can add the EPIX channel package, which includes EPIX, EPIX2 and EPIX Hits, for $6 per month.
You also can add the STARZ channel package, which includes STARZ, STARZ ENCORE and STARZ Kids & Family, for $9 per month.
2. Does Philo Come With DVR Capabilities?
Good news for potential cord-cutters: Philo has one of the better cloud DVR policies in the live TV streaming space.
You get unlimited storage space on your cloud DVR with Philo, which means you can record as many shows and movies as you’d like without fear of running out of storage. The only other service that offers this much storage at its base subscription price is YouTube TV.
Philo’s cloud DVR
As a part of a 2021 price increase, Philo started allowing subscribers to keep recordings on their cloud DVRs for up to a year. Previously, the limit for cloud DVR storage was just 30 days.
There is fast-forward and rewind functionality on Philo’s cloud DVR, so you can skip right through commercials on recorded content. You can read more on how Philo’s cloud DVR functions here.
When I downloaded Philo to test it out, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the DVR function was to operate and how smoothly you could move through commercials for quicker content consumption.
Here’s a look at how Philo’s cloud DVR storage space stacks up against some of its top competitors.
3. How Do You Stream Philo?
One of the biggest perks of cutting the cord and opting into a service like Philo is the variety of ways in which you can enjoy the content.
Not only can you move seamlessly from device to device, but you can also take your recorded content with you thanks to the portability of the cloud DVR.
You can stream Philo on your smartphone, tablet, computer or your TV. All you need is high-speed internet access to enjoy.
If you’re planning to watch on your television, you’ll need a streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick.
Here’s a list of compatible devices according to Philo’s website:
- Amazon Fire TV devices
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Roku devices
- Chromecast with Google TV
- Android phones and tablets
- ioS (Apple) phones and tablets
- Amazon Fire tablets
- Samsung smart TVs
In October 2021, Philo announced that it is now fully integrated with Google TV devices. This means your Philo content can now show up on the “live” tab without having to enter the Philo app on the device.
I was able to replicate this experience on my Chromecast with Google TV during a test run.
4. Does Philo Allow for Multiple Streams?
If you are considering cutting the cord and have a household with more than a couple of viewers, you’re probably concerned with how many people can watch your streaming service at once.
Philo meets the industry standard for concurrent streams by allowing each subscription to stream on as many as three different devices at the same time. For example, two people could be streaming on two TVs at home, and a third could be watching from a smartphone from anywhere!
Philo also allows for personalized streaming experiences for everyone in the household by allowing up to 10 customized user profiles on a single subscription.
Here’s a look at how the simultaneous streams and user profiles stack up against some of the top competitors in the space.
Pros and Cons for Philo
|One of the best live TV streaming subscription prices on the market||No local channel access|
|Unlimited cloud DVR storage is included at no additional cost||Sports and news channels not included|
|Up to 3 concurrent streams and 10 user profiles on one subscription||Price jumped from $20 to $25 in June 2021|
If you’re streaming on a budget, there may be no better combination of price and product on the market than Philo.
You’re going to get more than 60 live channels that include some popular options, unlimited cloud DVR and up to three streams at the same time.
But it’s far from perfect. You’re giving up quite a bit of sports and news programming by choosing this service. And you won’t get access to local channels through Philo.
Some budget streamers may find that adding one of Sling TV‘s $35 monthly packages is a good compromise, as Sling offers some of the channels Philo is missing.
If you’re willing to spend $65 per month, some of the other live TV streaming services offer channel lineups that will more closely resemble a traditional cable or satellite TV package.
Have you tried Philo? Share your experience in our Clark.com Community!
TVs and Plasmas – Reviews and Articles
How to choose a TV in 2023
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The fact that LG is going to release brighter TVs on panels, dubbed OLED Evo, became known more than a year ago, but this news did not cause a stir.
Other companies using its matrices have made similar claims many times – and people are used to such claims. But in vain! After all, this time the news was announced by the direct developer and manufacturer.
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The home theater system provides an opportunity to deeply immerse yourself in the events of a movie or series and get a lot of vivid impressions. Because DC is indispensable for a lover of film works. What else can be attributed to the passion for console video games – a set of modern audio and video equipment will give a unique feeling of the gameplay. We have already talked about options for excellent acoustics for a recreation center more than once in a variety of collections of audio equipment. Now it’s time to touch on the topic of choosing a TV.
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