Philo fills a great niche in the streaming industry: a good collection of standard cable channels for a low price that cord-cutters can use as a base. You don’t get local channels and you don’t get sports. But not everyone wants those. And at just $25/mo, you can easily supplement it with an antenna and a couple of specialized streaming services.
In a hurry? Philo offers a modern interface with essential channels with unlimited DVR and the ability to watch on three different devices at once in your house. Try out Philo free for 7 days.
Table Of Contents
Humble little Philo, named for the inventor of the television Philo T Farnsworth, started its life in 2009 as Tivli, a TV platform for university students. It has expanded considerably since then, launching its full nationwide OTT streaming service in 2017.
Philo has a surprisingly wide selection of channels for its low price tag. What it lacks is flexibility may be frustrating or liberating, depending on your personal watching preferences.
If you don’t want to fuss around deciding which tier of service you need or hunt through a bunch of Extras to figure out which ones have the channels you want, Philo will be like a breath of fresh air. Philo is the service that asks, is this set of channels good enough for you or not?
Philo Plan Basics
Currently jointly owned by A&E Networks, AMC Networks, Discovery Inc, and Paramount Global (formerly ViacomCBS), Philo contains mostly channels from these four (technically Viacom legacy networks from before it remerged with CBS in 2019). There’s at least a little bit of everything in Philo’s over 60 channels, except sports. There is not a single sports channel, and, again, that could be a plus or minus based on your interests. (You will see some sports on MotorTrend.)
Philo, like virtually all live TV streaming services, has no contracts or commitments. It offers a seven-day free trial, after which it’s an unbelievably low $25/mo. Considering they throw in unlimited DVR, a great UI, and streaming on up to three devices at a time, it’s a pretty sweet deal. If you like the channels. Do you like the channels? Take a look.
Due to Philo’s joint pedigree, it has inherited a lot of popular channels, and because the companies have an ownership stake, there are a fair number of channels offered that are only found on other streaming services’ add-ons or higher priced tiers.
Discovery’s secondary channels Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Science, Cooking Channel, Destination America, American Heroes Channel, and DIY Network are rarely found in base packages.
The same thing goes for Paramount Global’s BET Her, MTV2, MTV Classic, MTV Live, NickToons, TeenNick; AMC‘s BBC World News; A&E’s Crime + Investigation and FYI; and the GAC channels. No tiers means you never have to wonder if it’s worth paying extra for CMT or the Hallmark Channel.
Here is the base Philo channel lineup:
On top of its regular channels, Philo also carries 8 “free channels.” Generally speaking, you could stream these channels elsewhere free, usually off their websites or apps. But it’s convenient not to have to go hunting for them or switch apps.
- Bloomberg TV
- Cheddar News
- Ryan and Friends.
And, just to keep a leg up on Vidgo, even though it’s already cheaper, Philo has three premium add-ons for film buffs.
- Movies & More ($3/mo)
- HDNet Movies
- MGM HD
- Sony Movies
- Epix ($6/mo)
- EPIX Hits
- Starz ($9/mo)
- STARZ Encore
- STARZ Kids & Family.
Philo’s Missing Channels
So what’s missing? The big ones are
- Local network affiliates (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc)
- Sports channels (ESPN, NFL Network, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, etc)
- National news opinion channels (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc).
Also conspicuously absent are the major media conglomerates that are not in the joint-ownership-of-Philo club:
- WarnerMedia (Turner channels, Cartoon Network, HBO, Cinemax)
- NBCUniversal (Bravo, E!, SyFy, Oxygen, USA)
- Disney (Disney channels, FX, National Geographic, ESPN)
The good news is that you can mitigate a lot of that with other services if you’re so inclined. The trick is figuring out whether you’ll end up paying so much combined that you may as well just sign up with a bigger service.
Most people can pick up their local stations totally free with an antenna and tuner, which you can pick up for as little as $20. Just connect the cable to your TV and you’re good to go. You will be amazed at all the channels you can pick up for free with one of these things. And since it all went digital, you can watch in HD!
If you’re out of broadcast signal range, or just don’t want to mess around with an antenna, you can stream most of their shows on-demand via different services like Hulu, Paramount+, Peacock, and others.
To get started with an antenna, check out our guide.
Receiving your network stations via antenna goes a long way towards resolving the sports issue as well. Your local networks have oodles of live NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL action, plus college sports as well.
There are also stand-alone services you could get to complement your Philo channels. ESPN+ is just $6.99/mo, and has tons of live events for sports of all types. Paramount+ also has live sports — UEFA soccer and NFL for Essential subscribers ($4.99/mo) and even more for Premium subscribers ($9.99/mo).
So the question becomes, how many apps are you willing to flip between? If you’re the sort of viewer who likes everything right there in a single app, a full streaming service like Hulu + Live TV or DIRECTV STREAM may be better.
Philo actually has probably the best cloud DVR service of all the streaming services. You get unlimited storage, and your saved shows are kept for up to one year. The only other live streaming service that offers unlimited cloud DVR is YouTube TV, and it only keeps your recordings for 9 months. And it costs almost three-times as much!
You can watch on up to 3 screens at a time — pretty standard — and you can make up to 10 profiles, which is pretty wild and the most of any service we know of. (Score another point for Philo!)
Philo supports a generous number of TV Everywhere apps. This is the login prompt you get on TV websites and apps where they ask you to sign in with your TV provider.
Keep in mind not all channels have TV Everywhere supported apps on every platform, but the majority support most of the platforms Philo supports.
Channels you can use a Philo TVE login:
- Animal Planet
- BBC America
- Comedy Central
- Cooking Channel
- Destination America
- Discovery Family
- Discovery Life
- DIY Network
- Food Network
- Game Show Network
- Hallmark Channel
- Nick Jr
- Sundance TV
- Travel Channel
* If you are subscribed to this extra.
Alternative Streaming Services
So how does Philo stack up next to other services? No single service gets you everything, though DIRECTV STREAM and Hulu + Live TV come the closest. It all depends on how much you’re willing to pay and how much you’re willing to go without.
- Sling TV: Starts at $35/mo with no free trial (though you can save $10 on Sling TV for the first month) for over 30 or 40 channels, depending on which package you choose. NBC and Fox are included with Sling Blue. ESPN and Disney are included with Sling Orange. It also offers a ton of add-ons so you can create exactly the lineup you want. See our Sling TV review for more information.
- Vidgo: Starts at over 100 channels for $59.95/mo and you can try it for free for a week. It has ABC, Fox, a lot of family content, college sports networks, and conservative news. Note that it comes with no DVR service. Get the details in our Vidgo review.
- Hulu + Live TV: Over 85 live TV channels for $69.99/mo. Lots of on demand (it is Hulu) and all the local networks, but no AMC Networks channels. Check out our Hulu + Live TV review for more.
- FuboTV: Over 100 channels starting at $69.99/mo, with a seven day free trial. A third of those channels are pure sports — kind of the anti-Philo. Also comes with all the networks, but missing WarnerMedia and A&E Networks channels. For more information, see our FuboTV review.
- DIRECTV STREAM: Offers 4-tier pricing levels starting at $69.99/mo for roughly 80 channels. Get DIRECTV STREAM free for 5 days. All plans come with all local channels, and the second tier includes regional sports. Get the details in our DIRECTV STREAM review.
- YouTube TV: Like Hulu + Live TV, over 85 channels for $64.99/mo after a free trial. All networks included.
Devices to Watch Philo TV Channels
You can watch Philo’s wide range of channels on most of the standard streaming devices:
- Roku devices
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV
- Android TV capatible smart TVs
- Android mobile devices
- iOS (iPhone, iPad)
- Amazon Fire Tablet
- Web browsers (Windows, Mac).
Philo offers a decent number of channels, and roughly two-thirds of its channels are in the top 100 cable TV channels. If you are sick of partisan news commentary and either don’t follow sports or are willing to get your sports from another source, Philo could work for you just fine.
Bottom line: you will not find a cheaper major-channel streaming service. How much are sports, news, and local stations worth to you?
How many channels does Philo have?
Philo’s official count on its website is 63 channels. This does not include the 8 free channels, nor any of the add-ons. Movies & More is 5 channels and Epix and Starz are 3 channels each. They just recently added G4, and are supposed to be adding two new GAC channels in the coming months, so you’ll want to keep checking.
Does Philo have more channels than Sling TV?
That’s a tricky question. Philo unquestionably has more channels in its base package with 71. Sling TV has 2 base packages; the Blue package has 43 and Orange has 32. But then there are eight or so “Extras,” each with 5-10 channels or more, and then 42 or so more a la carte premium channels. So Sling TV unquestionably has more channels available. Quality? That’s for you to decide.
What packages and channels are available from other streaming services?
Want to compare channels lists from other streaming services? Check out our guides below:
- FuboTV channels list (or see FuboTV local channels)
- Hulu Live channels list (or see Hulu Live local channels)
- Sling TV channels list (or see Sling TV local channels)
- Vidgo channels list
- DIRECTV STREAM channels list.