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.”

Philo Adds TV One Channel to Service

Philo has added the TV One channel to its lineup of 60-plus channels for $20 per month. It marks TV One’s first vMVPD distribution deal.

Philo subscribers can watch a broad range of real-life and entertainment-focused original programming on TV One, including classic series, movies and music aimed at adult black viewers, including original series “Unsung”; “Uncensored,” a docu-series exploring the intimate lives of some of today’s most notable personalities; “ATL Homicide”; and “Fatal Attraction.”

The addition of TV One will align with Philo’s lineup that includes recently added INSP and getTV, according to the service. Philo’s programming line-up also features networks including A&E, AMC, BET, CLEO TV, Comedy Central, HGTV, ID, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, OWN, ASPIRE, VH1 and Revolt.

“We are excited to have TV One’s first vMVPD distribution deal be with Philo,” said TV One and CLEO TV GM Michelle Rice, in a statement. “They have been a great partner and continue to demonstrate a commitment to diverse content.”

“What a great time to bring TV One onto the platform as it has been a highly requested network from our customers for quite some time, and we are excited to bring this sought-after content to our subscribers. We’re proud to be the first vMVPD to offer TV One while maintaining our best-in-class price point of $20 per month,” said Philo CEO Andrew McCollum in a statement. “Adding more diverse programming aligns with our continued commitment to our community. The addition of TV One is the result of our appreciation for the importance of Black-owned channels and content perspectives to our overall business objectives, which in turn create opportunities for diverse creators.”

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Philo’s ethos of “TV for Everyone” includes valuing the broader community and recognizing the responsibility to help accelerate progress by actively dissolving systemic inequity across the board, according to the service’s press release.

Initiatives that align with Philo’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) principles include:

  • a partnership with the National Urban League to create a three-part “Power Lunch Series: How to Build Your Brand”;
  • donating $1 million worth of video ad inventory for Black-owned businesses and social initiatives to run spots on Philo free of charge;
  • working with programming partners and the Ad Council to air anti-racism PSAs across the platform; and
  • a commitment to Black-owned content, including TV One.

 

Last month Philo added INSP and getTV networks to their base package. The network getTV features classic shows and Westerns such as “Good Times,” “Walker Texas Ranger,” “Hot in Cleveland” and “Bret Maverick.” INSP features Western and Western-adjacent content such as the original series “The Cowboy Way,” with a seventh season premiering July 29.

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To access Philo, fans can trial and subscribe at philo.com, free for seven days. Philo allows three separate streams on three different devices and everyone who shares the account can create their own profile and have their own sign-in credentials, saved shows and viewing history. Philo features a streamlined interface, intelligent search, and the ability to easily send your favorite shows to friends. All Philo subscribers can watch their favorite shows live from wherever they are in the United States on most web, mobile and TV streaming devices, including Apple TV, FireTV and Roku. Additionally, subscribers can take advantage of 30-day unlimited-storage DVR at no additional cost, and watch thousands of shows and movies on demand.

Philo Adds Starz and Epix to Online TV Service

Online TV service Philo June 16 announced that it is adding MGM-owned Epix and Lionsgate-owned Starz premium options to its programming portfolio. Philo’s standard $20 monthly subscription package includes more than 50 channels, including A&E, AMC, Comedy Central, Food Network, HGTV, ID, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, OWN, Tastemade, WE TV, among others.

Philo subs can add Epix for $6 monthly, following a promotional $3 fee for three months. Similarly, Starz is available for $9 monthly, after an initial promotion pricing of $5 per month for the first three months when customers subscribe to these services before July 13.

“In these challenging times, we remain committed to offering high-quality entertainment content at a considerable value and with the addition of Epix and Starz we continue to deliver on this commitment,” Mike Keyserling, COO and head of content acquisition at Philo, said in a statement.

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Philo currently allows subs three separate streams on three different devices; everyone who shares the account can create their own profile and have their own sign-in credentials, saved shows and viewing history. Philo features a streamlined interface, intelligent search, and the ability to easily send your favorite shows to friends.

All Philo subscribers can watch their shows live from wherever they are in the U.S. on most Web, mobile and TV streaming devices, including Apple TV, FireTV and Roku. Additionally, subs also have free access to 30-day unlimited-storage DVR.

Summit Explores OTT’s Promise and Pitfalls

The opportunities and pitfalls of the over-the-top market were the leading subjects of the OTT & Video Distribution Summit taking place Aug. 2 in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Consumers are cutting the cord with their cable companies and moving to OTT because of its superior value, including better choice and lower cost.

“Consumers have basically said, ‘We’re paying too much. I don’t want to watch all those channels,’” said panelist Mickey Alpert, president and CEO, Merisco Solutions, and former EVP at Cablevision.

“Cable companies are literally the most hated companies in America,” said keynote speaker Jeff Binder, EVP, home and entertainment, T-Mobile U.S., because they are regional monopolies and don’t have to cater to customers.

In addition to OTT services peeling away video subscribers, another threat to cable is the coming 5G technology, which will be a “game-changing technology,” he said. Cable companies that have been able to lean on broadband fees, even as cord cutters have eschewed buying a video subscription, may find customers can get rid of broadband with 5G.

“There are changes around connectivity that are coming that are probably a bigger story in some ways I think than the story about how the content industry is changing,” Binder said.

“4G changed the way all of you use your phone; 5G is going to change the way all of us use our home as well as our phone,” he said.

For now, though, it’s the chance to get the content they want at a lower price that is drawing consumers to OTT services.

“Customers value choice and flexibility,” said panelist Kathy Payne, head of content acquisition management, Amazon Channels. “At Amazon, we’ve decided we’d like to offer channels a la carte.”

Amazon Channels aggregates such OTT subscription services as HBO, Showtime and Starz. There are more than 150 channels offered in the United States, Payne said, not to mention the hundreds available internationally.

“We’ve heard from customers loud and clear that they like the option to just buy channels a la carte,” she said. “It’s really easy to come in and pick what they want.”

In addition to a la carte there are bundled OTT services that are making a go of it, such as Philo, which started in colleges. “It’s a TV package that hasn’t really been available before. [It’s a service] without paying this huge amount for sports,” noted keynoter Andrew McCollum, Philo CEO.

There are also ad-supported services that offer programming to consumers for free. Roku Channel has aggregated some of those. Roku’s Seth Walters, VP, demand partnerships, called it “our sandbox for creating our most premium ad-supported service on Roku.”

Making a go of it as a new OTT service is a challenge. The number of domestic OTT services has reached more than 200, with the three top players dominating, noted Brett Sappington, senior director of research, Parks Associates.

“It’s Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and everybody else,” he said, adding there is a second tier of services, such as HBO, Showtime, Starz and CBS, that range from 1 million to 5 million subscribers.

A smaller service must differentiate itself and appeal to a niche, rather than try to compete with the big pocketed broad services offered by Netflix and others, he said.

“If you cannot specifically identify who your customers are then you’re probably not going to be successful,” he said.

Offering exclusive or new content helps, as consumers rank new release or original content as most important, according to Parks research.

Many OTT services overlook marketing, and that’s a mistake, Sappington said. Startups “don’t realize the marketing costs involved,” he said.

He praised the marketing efforts of independent film streaming service Fandor, mentioned in a panel at the summit. Panelist Felice Oper, COO of Fandor, said they had sold 290,000 subscriptions through a Costco bundle with subscription theater ticket service MoviePass in just two and a half months.

“It was a very successful transaction,” Oper said. “We’re still working with Costco.”

Keynoter Darcy Antonellis, of Amdocs-owned Vubiquity, talked about the international reach of the OTT business and the services her company supplies it, noting her team is often on a plane.

“We all have to be thinking global,” she said.

“It’s all about understanding where the audiences are,” she added. “It’s an on-demand world, but it has to be in a form and a language for a particular culture.”

She offered an anecdote about a viewing spike at 3 p.m. that they found involved parents waiting for their kids to get out of school. She said the industry must start to understand how to service consumers when and where they need entertainment.

A prominent woman in the industry, she also addressed the dearth of women in the entertainment and technology business. Having mentored girls 8-13, she noticed, “You could almost set your watch, because of peer pressure, when they were gonna shut off STEM [science, technology, engineering and math].”

“It’s a real challenge for our country,” she said. “You don’t want any room as smart as one brain, and you don’t want any room as smart as a collection of similar brains.”

Online TV Service Philo Bows on Apple, Amazon Devices

Upstart online TV service Philo July 10 announced it is now available on Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, giving subs access to 40 pay-TV channels for $16 per month.

The San Francisco-based service also announced that it has raised more than $40 million from existing investors with AMC Networks, Discovery and Viacom leading the company’s Series C round of funding.

Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV add to the list of platforms Philo is available on, including Roku devices, desktop and Web browsers, iPhones, and Android devices via Chrome (native app coming soon), as well as more than 35 participating TVE apps.

“The expansion onto Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV is a natural extension for us and allows many new people to discover and enjoy Philo, as well as expanding the viewing options for our existing subscribers,” CEO Andrew McCollum said in a statement.

With this new round of funding, McCollum said the service would invest in product features/enhancements and expand marketing efforts. The company is also developing additional innovations, including a socially-driven TV experience.

Currently, Philo subs can watch on up to three different devices at the same time; an unlimited 30-day DVR, an on-demand library, pause any live channel, start programs from the beginning, and watch programs that have aired in the past three days; and a streamlined interface, intelligent search, and the ability to send shows to connected friends.