Online TV Platform Philo to Bow First Original Program

Philo Feb. 23 announced it has inked a deal with entertainment company Kin to stream the upcoming “Boss Moves,” with hip-hop star Rasheeda Frost. It’s the online TV service’s first foray into original programming.
 
The series, which will premiere in April, will begin shooting later this month and will include 12 30-minute episodes.
 
The series will also be available across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. In addition, Philo will stream more than 65 hours of Kin’s women’s lifestyle content, including “Hello Hunnay” with Jeannie Mai Jenkins, “Really, Truly, Maybe” with Christina Milian, and “Heart of the Batter” with Jordin Sparks. Kin’s programs will be available as part of Philo’s base package for all subscribers.
 
 
“Kin’s programming, which specifically focuses on entrepreneurship and female empowerment, is a great fit for Philo’s community,” Mike Keyserling, COO of Philo, said in a statement. “We are certain that Philo subscribers will enjoy the extensive catalog of Kin shows, as well as Boss Moves, our upcoming new original series with Rasheeda.”
 
In the series, Atlanta native Frost will welcome audiences into her homes and businesses and behind the scenes of her many financial decisions, including a branded Frost Bistro & Bar or international real estate ventures.
 
“Kin creates programming that resonates with women of all backgrounds, wherever they are watching,” Tejal Ajmera, COO of Kin, said in a statement. “We are excited to debut ‘Boss Moves’ with Philo and are confident it will attract audiences looking for strong, talented and diverse talent.”

Online TV Platform Philo Cites ‘Yellowstone’ Season Four Premiere for Subscriber Surge

Online budget TV platform Philo Nov. 9 disclosed that the season four debut of “Yellowstone” on Nov. 7 contributed to a huge day for single-day subscriber sign-ups.

According to media reports, the “Yellowstone” debut, featuring Kevin Costner headlining an ensemble cast, was watched by 8.38 million viewers — the second-largest audience behind the season premiere of “NCIS,” with 8.45 million viewers. The first episode also drew the biggest same-day audience for any cable scripted since an episode of “The Walking Dead” in 2017.

Not surprisingly, Philo said “Yellowstone” was the most-popular show streamed in Montana, including the cities Billings, Butte, Bozeman, Helena and Great Falls; Casper and Cheyenne in Wyoming; and Idaho Falls (Jackson) and Twin Falls in Idaho.

The show also did well mid-sized cities, including Denver, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Portland, Ore., and Tulsa, Okla., in addition to Abilene, Amarillo, Boise, Idaho, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, IA; Evansville, Laredo, Lexington, Louisville, Colo.; Lubbock, Tex.; Topeka and Wichita, Kan.

Philo said Tyler Perry’s “Sistas” and “The Oval” also generated significant viewership, however, the majority of those respondents watched the show later, via DVR and on-demand.

The $25 monthly service eschews all regional sports networks and major broadcast channels in an effort to reduce cost. Primary channels include AMC Networks, A&E, MTV, BET, Discovery, VH1, Food Network, History, Nickelodeon, OWN, TLC, Lifetime, Hallmark, Paramount, TV One, in addition to premium channel add-ons Starz and Epix — available for $9 and $6 monthly, respectively.

Philo ended the most-recent fiscal period with 800,000 subscribers — well behind online TV market leaders Hulu + Live TV (4 million), YouTube TV (2 million) and Sling TV (2.4 million).

Philo Channels Joining Google TV

All Philo channels and content are being fully integrated into Google TV, according to a blog post from Philo’s Jane Marks.

The channels will be rolling out to users over the next couple of days, she wrote.

Philo subscribers using Google TV can access their shows and Philo channels directly from the “Live” tab, and see customized recommendations of more Philo content to watch in the “For You” tab.

To activate their account users much have an active Philo subscription and a Google TV device; select Philo in the Google TV settings under “Your services”; and play Philo channels by selecting the “Live” tab on Google TV.

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Philo is also available on all Android and Android TV devices, Fire Tablets and Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, iOS/iPad, Roku, PC/Mac Web browsers and Chromecast built-in devices.

Philo currently offers 60-plus channels for $25 and allows three separate streams on three different devices with up to 10 profiles.

Google TV is available on Chromecast with Google TV, Sony’s new Bravia XR TV line-up with Google TV, and TCL’s 5-Series and 6-Series with Google TV.

Is Shine Off Online Pay-Television?

Lost in the hoopla of Disney+ surpassing 103 million subscribers in the second quarter (ended April 3) was the reality that the online TV market leader, Hulu + Live TV, lost 200,000 subscribers during the same quarter. The 5% decline from 4 million subs likely attributed in part to a $10 price hike Disney imposed upon the platform last December.

But Hulu isn’t alone. Sling TV, which Dish Network launched in 2015, lost 100,000 subs in the quarter to 2.37 million. AT&T TV, formerly DirecTV Now and AT&T TV Now, reportedly declined to around 650,000 subscribers in early 2020 — about two-thirds fewer subs when the service launched in 2018.

And Google-owned YouTube TV saw its 3 million-sub base unchanged over the past four months, while T-Mobile this year threw in the towel on its upstart TVision platform with about 100,000 subs. Sony’s PlayStation Vue service shuttered in January 2020 after almost five years of sluggish sub growth.

That’s a trend in the wrong direction considering TDG Research in December 2020 predicted strong growth for the 6-year-old market.

“The number of virtual pay-TV households will increase five-fold by the end of the next decade, topping 24 million by 2030,” senior analyst Joel Espelien wrote in a December 2020 note. “Importantly, this growth will come almost exclusively at the cost of legacy subscriptions.”

Indeed, fuboTV and Philo have added subscribers, the former tacking on 42,550 subs to top 590,000 subs in the quarter. Philo says that as of August 2020, it had 750,000 subs.

Overall, the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered pay-TV services combined for about 6.7 million subs — less than 10% of the top pay-TV providers with about 78.7 million combined subs.

“A whole generation of customers likely viewed [online TV] quizzically, as a solution to a problem they didn’t have,” MoffettNathanson wrote in a note last year. “The real issue was the grid. Not the user interface grid, by the way, but instead the very idea of a [program] schedule. Why would anyone want to view entertainment content on a schedule, much less someone else’s schedule?”

Philo Adds Crackle, Bloomberg TV Content

Online TV serivce Philo April 20 announced it is adding ad-supported Crackle, owned and operated by Crackle Plus, to its platform. Philo is also adding Bloomberg TV and Revry. Bloomberg TV gives viewers live access to the latest news in business, markets and technology, and Revry brings the first global streaming network focused on the LGBTQ community.

“Philo offers affordable TV content to their fast growing audience and we are thrilled to give them full access to Crackle’s library of Hollywood blockbusters and classic TV shows, as well as a growing collection of original and exclusive content not available on any other platforms, such as ‘Going From Broke,’ which will launch a second season on May 20,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

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Philo’s subscription package includes more than 60 live channels and 60,000 current on-demand offerings for $20 per month. Earlier this month, Philo partnered with T-Mobile to offer Philo for $10 per month to all T-Mobile and Sprint postpaid subscribers.

“The addition of new content from Crackle, as well as Bloomberg TV and Revry, further highlights Philo’s commitment to provide our customers with the best TV viewing experience at a great value,” said Mike Keyserling, COO and head of content acquisition at Philo. “We’re glad to be able to add these incredible channels to our robust line-up of programming for Philo viewers.”

 

Philo Launches Black & White Television

To celebrate April 1, online TV platform Philo is rolling out black and white programming of classic TV shows through a new new service dubbed “PhiloVision.”

“Travel through the decades of timeless TV hits with PhiloVision,” says the company. “Enjoy classics the way they were meant to be watched.”

Philo’s classic TV collection (also available in color) includes a curated a list of sitcoms, detective shows, sci-fi, westerns and sketch comedy. Shows include: “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Gunsmoke,” “CatDog,” “Doug,” “Eve,” “Family Matters,” “Frasier” and “Little House on the Prairie,” among others.

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Philo features more than 60 channels for $20 monthly fee, including AMC, A&E, MTV, BET, Discovery, VH1, Food Network, History, Nickelodeon, OWN, TLC, Lifetime, Hallmark, Paramount and TV One, among others. The platform also offers premium add-on channels, including Epix and Starz.

T-Mobile Dropping Branded Online TV Service; Adding YouTube TV, Philo

Wireless carrier T-Mobile’s attempt at a standalone ad-supported online TV service is coming to an end. The carrier March 29 announced it will discontinue TVision on April 29 — about six months after launching — and replace it with discounted access to Google-owned YouTube TV and Philo.

T-Mobile customers get YouTube TV, starting at $54.99 per month ($10 off SRP), and Philo starting at $10 per month ($10 off SRP). YouTube TV offers more than twice as many channels as TVision Live, and Philo offers nearly twice as many channels as TVision VIBE. Plus customers of both get unlimited DVR, can watch TV on more devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Google Chromecast.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert

“This shift may surprise some given last year’s TVision streaming services launch,” Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile U.S., said in a statement. “But innovation seldom follows a straight line. Since launching the TVision initiative, we’ve learned a lot about the TV industry, about streaming products, and of course, about TV customers. We also saw trends that made us take a fresh look at how to best do in video what we always do: put customers first. With our TV software provider encountering some financial challenges and with our broader, strategic partnerships with Google and Philo, we saw an opportunity to deliver unique value to our customers and strengthen the TVision initiative with the best partners.”

The online TV market is currently spearheaded by Disney-owned Hulu + Live TV with about 4 million subscribers, followed by Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T TV.

“This industry is incredibly fragmented, with new streaming services launching all the time, and we’ve concluded that we can add even more value to consumers’ TV choices by partnering with the best services out there, negotiating incredible streaming media deals for T-Mobile customers, and helping our customers navigate the increasingly complex streaming world,” Sievert said.

 

 

 

Philo Launches AccuWeather Service via Online TV Platform

Online television service Philo Jan. 26 announced that it is adding AccuWeather to its line-up of entertainment, lifestyle and knowledge-based programming for its 800,000 subscribers. Philo’s standard $20 monthly subscription package features more than 60 channels from networks, including A&E, AMC, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, ID, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, OWN, TLC, TV One and WE tv, among others.

AccuWeather TV Network delivers 24/7 in-depth coverage on a local, regional and national scale. Backed by a team of meteorologists and in-field reporters, AccuWeather provides advanced severe weather warnings and forecasts with Superior AccuracyTM.

“The inclement winter season often means weather news needs to be timely and accurate,” Mike Keyserling, COO and head of content acquisition at Philo, said in a statement. “Philo is focused on bringing new and differentiated content to our service while maintaining value for our subscribers.”

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Sarah Katt, GM of AccuWeather TV Network, said the weather service is “committed to delivering the most accurate and reliable local and breaking coverage,” and looks forward to bringing this “breadth of weather forecasts, news and insights” to Philo.

Philo, which remains the least-expensive option in a niche market that includes AT&T TV, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV and FuboTV, currently offers 64 channels and allows three separate streams on three different devices; everyone who shares the account can create their own profile (up to 10 profiles) and have their own sign-in credentials, saved shows, and viewing history.

Philo is available in the U.S. on most Web, mobile, and TV streaming devices, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Google Chromecast via Android. Additionally, subscribers have 30 days unlimited-storage DVR at no additional cost, and can watch thousands of shows and movies on-demand — for an additional fee.

CES: Streaming Execs Discuss Race to Please, Attract Customers

Executives from streaming services gathered at the virtual CES Jan. 12 to discuss how they aim to please consumers in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“We are all in this battle to make sure our customers can find our content as easy as possible,” said Stefanie Meyers, SVP of distribution at Starz, who manages its digital business.

Sarah Lyons, SVP of product experience at WarnerMedia, said the company’s new HBO Max service uses a blend of curation and data to target programming to consumers.

“About two-thirds of the time consumers know what they are looking for,” she said. “In those instances, get out of their way. Make it as easy as possible.”

As far as content, Lyons said, “you see tremendous engagement when you offer up lots and lots of content.” But that content has to be a mix of originals and catalog, she said.

Meyers agreed, noting that theatrical blockbusters with huge marketing campaigns are a draw, but “if you have a deep library, that can help with retention as well.”

Consumers are in different mindsets when they approach a service, Lyons said. Sometimes they are ready to sit down for a two-hour movie, and sometimes they just want to watch for a quick 30 minutes. She noted a trend of families coming together to watch a story, either virtually or in their homes, as families did in the past gathering around the TV.

“What’s old is new,” she said.

Indeed, streaming is the new TV, noted Andrew McCollum, CEO of virtual MVPD Philo.

“20 years from now people aren’t going to consider streaming TV streaming; they’re just going to consider it TV,” he said.

Thus, the competition is heating up in the virtual MVPD marketplace that replicates traditional TV, with consumers confronted with streamers, such as YouTube TV, that are having to raise prices to cover the cost of content, especially sports and news.

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“A lot of the services came to market with price points that were not sustainable,” he said, citing YouTube TV’s price jump from $25 to $65.

Philo took a different tack, eschewing such costly content that consumers may not need or want.

“It was never our intention to be the lowest cost service, but it was our intention to be the best value service,” he said.

Consumers can now get bundles of streaming services “for less than they were paying for cable,” he said.

Pluto TV, now owned by Viacom, relishes its market leading position in the ad-supported VOD or free streaming marketplace, as well as the content available from its parent, said Pluto TV SVP of programming Scott Reich. Pluto fills a niche in the Viacom streaming strategy, he said.

“It’s about creating a complementary ecosystem,” he said. “Pluto is the priority on the free service side of things. Paramount+ and Showtime are obviously the priority on the paid side.”

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Content from Viacom is filling Pluto’s AVOD pipeline, delighting customers with classic shows.

“This year we added a lot of CBS content,” Reich said, allowing Pluto consumers to revisit “Three’s Company,” “Love Boat” and “Happy Days,” among other classics.

“What’s old is new again,” he said.

 Being a free service is an advantage in the crowded streaming market, he noted, “You just fire it up, and it works.”

Philo Online TV Service Tops 800,000 Subs

Budget online TV service Philo Nov. 8 disclosed it has topped 800,000 subscribers since launching in 2017. That’s up almost 7% since cresting 750,000 subs at the beginning of August.

CEO Andrew McCollum made the announcement at The Stream TV Show about the online TV service that costs $20 monthly for access to 60 pay-TV channels. That’s cheaper than online TV pioneer Sling TV. Only T-Mobile’s upstart TVision Vibe is cheaper at $10 monthly.

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“I can’t say that the price of Philo will never go up,” McCollum said in a question about loss-leader pricing. “But we definitely put a lot of effort into keeping it as low as we can.”