Skip to main content

Switching to Philo from Sling: My Thoughts on the Streaming Value Winner

Let me just say that I don't dislike Sling, in fact I still recommend it. However, I've been eyeing Philo from afar for a while now for a few reasons. First, I am a strange person, and I like having access to MTV Live, and MTV Classic: two channels that while I haven't really watched them for any extended period of time, I respect the fact that they exist. Second, the price: $20. How did Philo get there? They don't have channels that have sports, as well as no local networks.

The three big companies that provide sports programming are Disney/Fox, WarnerMedia, and Comcast. That means in addition to no sports from them, Philo doesn't have access to their general entertainment content. I can only assume this is due to these companies bundling their entertainment channels with sports channels. You can't get FXX without also carrying Fox Sports 1 and 2, or something like that. Is it a big loss? Kind of. Sure, I'll miss Conan on TBS. I'll miss movies on FX. I'll miss Cash Cab on Bravo. Were they worth the extra $20? I don't think so. While I had access to TBS, I watched Conan clips on YouTube, I can watch movies on whatever the next streaming services will be, and I can watch reruns of Cash Cab on the Game Show Network. At this time, it would be smart for the three conglomerates who aren't on Philo to jump on board, considering that not all people want access to sports, and don't want to pay for those sports channels. I recognize that the expensive sports channels rake in tons of cash, however, if these companies want their brands to survive, they have to understand that they will be losing a lot of value by removing themselves from an entertainment platform like Philo. While this is difficult for the WarnerMedia channels, as TBS, TNT, and TruTV all carry sports content, leaving only CNN, TCM, and Cartoon Network; Comcast and Disney/Fox could bring their entertainment channels like FX, FXX, Freeform, Disney Channel, Bravo, E!, SyFy, and others, maintaining their brand to a low-cost service for consumers who don't want sports. I'd love to still receive these channels, I just don't want to pay for what I don't care for. If Disney, Comcast, and WarnerMedia all care about investing in streaming platforms designed around providing entertainment content, they might as well do so for a service like Philo.

The experience of Philo is better than Sling. I've been using Sling on-and-off for almost three years, and in that time, the UI hasn't changed very much. They added a guide, and the "My TV" tab is nice, but it never felt complete; there was always something off about the experience. Philo feels modern, and fits well into the streaming world we've become accustomed to. Users can create their own profiles to fit their TV watching patterns, where they can choose their favorite channels, and shows, and get recommendations based on them. The "Keep Watching" tab stores shows and movies that haven't yet been completed, including shows that were watched live, without needing to be told to save them. This is also a feature on Sling, but not all channels support that functionality. Users also get a list of trending live shows to see what other users are also watching, which I really like. In addition, there are also lists of top shows, what you've saved, and new upcoming episodes and shows. In the saved tab are all the shows the user has saved, and when a show airs, it DVRs it into your list. The reliability is just as good as Sling, which was excellent.

One thing I really like about Philo is how it treats live shows. Everything can be rewound, regardless of a show's appearance in your saved shows list. This means the user can set their profile to automatically play a live show from the beginning. For users who are used to an on-demand streaming platform, this is a big deal in bringing value to linear channels. The service also places an emphasis on on-demand content. Philo treats shows as a service like Netflix would: it displays the seasons it either has access to display through on-demand, or when its airtime will be. This is something that Sling doesn't do very well. Sling's interface is focused on live TV, as the Cloud DVR is an add-on package. This focus means gaining access to a show's on-demand library is not intuitive. You either have to do a search for it specifically, or you have to switch your guide view from grid to channels. Once you select the channel that carries the show you want to watch, this takes you to the channel's on-demand library, and from there you can access a show on-demand. The user can also favorite a show, so it appears on the "My TV" tab, but this just isn't intuitive. Philo presents content in a binge-friendly way, so if you're on the fence about paying for a linear service, Philo does its best to present it as on-demand as it can. Keep in mind, the DVR only stores for a month, but is unlimited.

In conclusion, while I will miss the programming from WarnerMedia, Comcast, and Disney/Fox, I greatly enjoy spending half for the content I watch more often, with a much cleaner, easier experience. Recently, I've been trying to cut down on unnecessary subscriptions, and found myself wondering if I should still keep Sling. I used the service often, but I didn't see myself using all the channels. Philo is a great option for those looking for linear content. My recommendations for over-the-top linear online cable services goes YouTube TV, then Sling, then Philo. YouTube TV is the best bang-for-your-buck, with local channels, a great channel lineup, and unlimited DVR. However, for me, it didn't have the Viacom channels I wanted, which led me to Sling with no locals, and a 50 hour DVR limit. Which led me to Philo: if I can pay less for more of the channels I want, with a few I wasn't getting with Sling, and a better experience, I'll do it. Philo is a the value champion, where if you can live without the locals and the channels you may be interested in, I recommend it greatly for $20.

If I've enticed you, and you want to sign up, do so with my referral code here. I'm not sponsored by Philo, but this referral code gives you $5 off your first month if you want to try it out.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pluto TV: Viacom's Different Answer to Streaming

First, Some Context and History All the major media conglomerates are beginning to reign in their content from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and are bringing them to their own streaming services for maximum profits. AT&T, who owns WarnerMedia, Comcast, who owns NBCUniversal, and Disney, who also own Marvel and 21st Century Fox, have all announced that they are developing their own streaming services to house all of their valuable content available for a monthly fee. Want to watch Friends? You'll have to subscribe to AT&T's thing. Want to watch The Office? You'll also have to subscribe to Comcast's thing. They'll both probably cost around $10 a month, and you're also going to want Disney+, the home to Marvel. All of these companies are taking a non-linear subscription approach to delivering content, something that we first fell in love with when Netflix introduced their instant streaming service back when they were better known for delivering DVDs through …

Why I Cancelled YouTube TV

I made an article a week or so ago in defense of YouTube TV’s price increase, a stance I still stand by. Many users online are understandably upset about the new price, and that’s reasonable. Some articles are taking the discussion a bit further by suggesting that the price increase betrays the initial goal of YouTube TV and cord-cutting as a whole by offering content at remarkably low prices, which I disagree with.

YouTube TV’s goal was to make live TV better, and they succeeded. The service is generally regarded as the best online live TV service because it has the local channels, the guide is customizable, the DVR is at least as good as a traditional DVR in functionality (something no other online live TV service can say) and gives you unlimited storage with individual recordings lasting for 9 months, and the experience is at least as good as your cable service and probably even better. I call that a success.

The problem comes with the channel lineup. The service initially cost $35, …

Will the ViacomCBS and Disney/Fox Merger Affect Cable TV Prices?

Yes it will, but the reason I ask this question is not from a traditional cable TV perspective, but from a vMVPD, like Sling, and YouTube TV for example.
With Sling, they have three base packages: Sling Blue, Sling Orange, and Sling Blue+Orange. Once upon a time, the difference was essentially if you want Disney channels like ESPN, Freeform, and Disney Channel, those were on Sling Orange, and Sling Blue had the Fox and Comcast channels. Or get both Orange and Blue. Also, the Viacom channels were included on either package, but the CBS channels weren't. Now that it's 2020, the combined entity that is ViacomCBS has stated they have some renewals this year, especially with vMVPDs, which is what made me question how a service like Sling will change, seeing that Disney now owns the FX networks, will they move into the Sling Orange package? Seeing that CBS's cable channels aren't on Sling, will ViacomCBS force their carriage with their renewal? How will this affect the pric…