Philo Review: Channels, Features, Price, and More

Philo Review: Channels, Features, Price, and More

When the cord cutting trend began, it meant living with on-demand options: cable and satellite were still pretty much your only legal paths to live TV. The rise of the skinny bundle has changed that, and has sparked a gold rush in a business space that didn’t exist just a few years ago. The latest skinny bundle on the scene is Philo. How does it measure up? Here’s our complete Philo review, including everything you need to know about the channels it offers, the features that set it apart, and the price you’ll pay if you sign up – plus, of course, my advice on whether or not you should!

Philo Review

User Experience

To start your free trial with Philo, you don’t need any credit card information. That’s great! The less great part is this: they need your phone number.

Philo needs your mobile number

In Philo’s FAQs, they explain that they need the number “solely to identify you and start a 7-day trial watching Philo without a credit card or other information (we will ask you later for payment information).” But there’s no way that I saw to just give them the credit card information instead of the phone number. The phone number also becomes your primary login credential, so the “identify” part of that answer seems to be the key.

At any rate, I gave Philo my number.

Once it has your number, Philo texts you a code, you enter it in your browser, and you’re off to the races:

Philo web app

Yep, you are immediately in the web browser after entering the code. I was impressed with the simplicity – though, of course, you’ll have to enter your credit card information eventually.

The web app is simple and pretty good. You can click over to “Live” and get a tiled menu of the channel selection, and you can click to the “Guide” tab and get everything laid out in the familiar cable-guide manner – and, frankly, those are the only two things I ever really want from a skinny bundle UI.

When you click on something to watch, Philo starts streaming it and automatically snaps to full screen, while helpfully reminding you via temporary pop-up that you can hit escape to get out of it. I wish it had been easier to channel surf, but the web app gets good marks from me.

But what about mobile? Well, Philo had texted me to say hi at this point, so I clicked the link in the text on my mobile device and logged in with my phone number again. Another text-code verification – Philo seems to use these in place of a password – and I was in, at which point I was able to click a link over to the app in the iOS app store, download it, and log in with my phone number (again) and a text verification code (again). I was able to pick up watching The Cheerleader Murders on Lifetime right where I left off, which was great, because I didn’t want to lose track of the very complicated plot.

The mobile app – which is available for Android as well as iOS – looks a lot like the in-browser one, which is nice. The Roku channel looks the same, too. I liked them all, and they were all pretty much the same.

Philo has a DVR feature and lets you save favorites. Those features stack up nicely against the competition’s.

All in all, Philo’s user experience is where the service most shines. If you’ve got something you want to watch, Philo’s UI is among the best ways to watch it on a skinny bundle – it’s arguably the best interface, depending on how much you care about channel surfing. But, of course, for you to end up watching something on Philo, Philo would have to have something you want to watch – and this is where we hit a snag.


Philo offers two basic packages: a 37-channel package ($16/month) and a 46-channel package ($20/month). Here are the Philo channels, as presented by Philo’s website as of this writing:

Philo channel list

A few things jump out about this content right away. Philo is missing the four major networks, even as its many competitors are adding more local feeds and filling gaps in their major network coverage. Philo is also heavily reliant on Viacom networks: Comedy Central, MTV, Nick Jr., VH1, and some of the other big-name channels above are all Viacom-owned. This is interesting in part because Viacom has had its share of difficulties in dealing with competitor skinny bundles.

Philo has a ton of content for the price, but its bundles have some very big gaps. Disney’s properties are nowhere to be found here. Neither are Fox’s. The apparent lack of deals with Disney and Fox explains absence of two of the major networks (Disney-owned ABC and Fox-owned, uh, Fox) and it’s also a big blow to the service’s sports coverage (Disney-owned ESPN and Fox-owned FS1, along with their respective related networks, are MIA here). Fans of movies and shows lose a lot, too (Disney owns Freeform, and Fox owns FX and its related networks).

In the end, Philo feels very limited in terms of content. Hope you like Viacom networks!

Streaming Quality

Like most skinny bundles, Philo tops out at 1080p. It streams reliably and smoothly, though, on all the devices I tried (web, iOS, and Roku). Loading times were short, and HD video snapped in within seconds. On both Wi-Fi and wired connections, and on each of the mobile app, in-browser app, and Roku channel, I was quite impressed with Philo’s streaming quality.


Philo is a newcomer to the skinny bundle scene at the time of this writing, and it feels like it. Philo is available on only one major streaming box: Roku. It works on Android and iOS mobile devices, and it has a web app that works in browsers on both PC and Mac. For now, at least, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and Chromecast users are out of luck.


Whatever else can be said about Philo (and I’ve said a lot of it), it’s really cheap. Philo’s pricier package ($20/month for 46 channels) is as cheap as the cheapest major skinny bundle on the market right now (Sling TV’s Sling Orange). The even cheaper $16/month 37-channel deal is an incredibly cost-effective path to live TV, and as of this writing it’s the lowest price available on any respectable live TV streaming service.

You can check out Philo for free for a week. Unlike other free trials, Philo won’t even demand your credit card information right off the bat – you can get 48 hours into your trial before you have to share your billing details.


Philo is incredibly cheap, but it’s also incredibly underwhelming. It feels like a service that we would have raved about two years ago, when live TV streaming was in and of itself a new and thrilling thing to be happy with. But Philo isn’t the first skinny bundle we’ve seen, and it’s in an increasingly crowded and competitive market. We expect skinny bundles to have the major networks now, and Philo doesn’t. We expect skinny bundles to have sports coverage, and Philo mostly doesn’t. We expect streaming services of all kinds of have decent platform support, and while we can forgive a missing app or two near launch, the fact that Philo supports only one streaming box is too much to let slide.

It’s good to have a new skinny bundle on the market. It’s great to see one with such a good user experience. From where it is now, it would be easy to imagine Philo growing to add more channels and platforms, as many of its competitors have in the past. If it does, Philo seems destined to be among the best of the skinny bundles – but for now, save your money.

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About the Author

Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely is a freelance writer and a longtime cord cutter with a passion for technology and entertainment. You can find his work on and his tweets at @stephenlovely.

14 Comments on "Philo Review: Channels, Features, Price, and More"

  1. IMO, the value of Philo is that it includes several channels that other services stick on higher tiers like BBC News, Science, and Sundance — plus the Viacoms which are increasingly tricky to get — for just $16. If Spectrum hadn’t just lured me back with a deal, a pairing of Philo + Hulu Live would be pretty much perfect for me.

  2. I attempted to give it a try and ran into the phone requirement for sign up. I called their tech support for a way around that. They said they could not do it at this time. I said thanks but NO THANKS. Until they get rid of that BS I’m not interested.

  3. Michael Herzog | December 8, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Reply

    These used a phone number login to prevent one person using the service multiple times for free.

  4. I have had Philo for at least a week and I am very happy with it. I get the channels I want without all that extra junk like news and sports. If you are holding out because of the phone number, don’t. They haven’t called or text me as of yet. I will be keeping Philo for as long as it is around, or until they ruin it by adding sports.

  5. I signed up on Monday the fourth after a breakup with PSV. After entering my favorites it has been viewing as usual plus a bonus of saving $25 per month. I use TiVo OTA for locals and Philo for the rest. The UI is more than adequate. I can quickly find what I want. The stream quality here in Hawaii is exceptional. No drops, buffering or downgrades. I hope that does not change after it catches on. For now this is a great fit. A discounted HBO add-on would be icing.

  6. Brice Holtzclaw | January 3, 2018 at 3:24 am | Reply

    I began subscribing to Philo because I was sick and tired of supporting the ever expanding sports industry and networks that push political ideologies that are an affront to my personal beliefs. The cheap package contains most of the channels I have always watched, and I supplement that with Netflix and Amazon. So far I am very happy with the service. I don’t care about the cost.

  7. I have just tried Philo and I am very impressed with the quality of this streaming service on my Roku. The DVR is a great plus also. The only con for me is the lack of a news channel like CNN or MSNBC. If this bundle also included the Hallmark Channel and TBS this would be a definite winner.

  8. Johnny B. Good | January 5, 2018 at 11:12 pm | Reply

    Was an early adapter with DirecTV Now. Had over a 100 channels for $35 a month. Buffering, freezing, sometimes just loose everything, black screen… very frustrating. Finally just dropped it. I’m very happy with Philo. The nicest DVR system, unlimited storage space. Shows over 30 days old are deleted. And best of all no buffering, freezing, etc.

  9. I’ve tried many streaming services. I love PlayStation Vue, but it was expensive. Philo has most of the stuff I watch and the rest I use Hulu, Netflix, and I’m even an Amazon Prime Member. Don’t miss Comcast, sports, or news at all. But I do have an antenna if I need to see some news.

  10. I’m about to sign up for Philo. I just loaded it to my Roku Express app list. I basically just wanted a way to watch Investigation Discovery, my longtime favorite cable channel, which Philo carries. Philo also appeals to me because I DON’T need sports. So to find a live TV service with a line-up where I don’t have to go through countless sports channels and countless news channels and countless other total crap channels, makes Philo a PERFECT fit for me.

  11. I love Philo. ID, Lifetime & Lifetime Movies and the Nickelodeon channels for the grandkids are my favorite. I supplement with the basic traditional Hulu subscription for $7.99 a month. Get news from free Roku channels like CBSN 24/7 news streaming, free Roku movie channel and an abundance of other free channels for me and grandkids on Roku. Philo was all I needed. Love it!

  12. I am not a fan of sports, and I am done with cable. I don’t even have Roku, and am happy watching any cable at all on my tablet for the mere $16, but I guess I’m just low maintenance like that!

  13. Love Philo and its price is so reasonable. Dropped Sling as it did not have my Discovery Channel which Philo does along with History and HGTV, DIY, etc. More than I have time to watch. Would like National Geographic, but can get most of them on Hulu.

  14. Alyce Coleman | June 29, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Reply

    It don’t stay on the program that you are watching. You can’t get the same program back when it ✂ off.

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