Philo TV Review: 7 Reasons It’s Worth It (& 4 It Isn’t)

What is Philo and how does it work?

Philo is an Internet streaming service that offers live 60+ TV channels and 60,000 video-on-demand titles for just $20 a month, with a 7-day free trial. All you need is an internet connection and a supported device, such as Roku, Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, Android device, PC, MacOS or iOS device.

Philo’s channel lineup is oriented for people who mostly watch movies, TV shows, documentaries and various other entertainment channels such as reality TV or game shows.

On the other hand, Philo is a bad choice for sports lovers or people who watch a lot of news on TV, simply because it doesn’t have any sports channels and has only a handful of news channels.

History of Philo and how it started out

Philo was founded in 2009 in a Harvard dorm-room by a couple of students who wanted to pick up TV signals and stream them over to their computers and laptops, and did so by improvising an antenna out of aluminum foil. The service was a hit among their fellow students, and soon turned it into a company.

The founders chose the name “Philo” as an homage to Philo Farnsworth, an American inventor who came up with many crucial innovations that made modern televisions possible.

Since it’s humble low tech beginnings, Philo has grown to be a popular live TV streaming service, with over 800,000 paid subscribers.

7 reasons Philo is worth it

Affordable price

One of the biggest draws of Philo is its very accessible monthly price: just $25 per month.

For $25 per month, you will get more than 60 channels that cover nearly every major topic of interest: documentaries, news, movies, reality shows, cartoons, music and other forms of TV entertainment.

Philo however, does not have any sports channels, whether live or recorded. In other words, there are no sports on Philo.

That being said, it is possible subscribe to Philo but still watch sports through other means such as an antenna or Locast. More on this in the sports section.

Philo also offers completely optional, paid monthly add-ons for some premium channels such as:

  • Epix, Epix Hits and Epix 2 add-on, for a cost of $6 per month.
  • Starz, Starz Encore and Starz Kids & Family, for a cost of $9 per month.

Finally, Philo has a 7 day free trial period for you to decide if the service is worth the money or not.

No long term contract

Another benefit to Philo’s pricing structure is the no long-term contract requirement.

This means Philo charges you on a pay-as-you-go basis, month after month, so you can cancel anytime you want without fear of cancellation fees or other kinds of penalties.

As an example, you can subscribe to Philo for 1 full month and then cancel afterwards at 0 cost if it’s a bad fit.

In another situation, you could use Philo for 6-8 months, but then cancel if you found something better. Even in this situation, there will be no cost or penalty when cancelling.

60+ channels for every kind of content

As part of Philo, you will gain access to 60+ live TV channels that cover most areas of interest you might have:

  • News: Bloomberg Television, BBC America, BBC World News and more.
  • Films and TV series: Hallmark, Lifetime, Sundance TV and more.
  • Documentaries: Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, History, Science Channel etc.
  • Music: 4 MTV channels, VH1.
  • Cartoons: Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Nick Jr.
  •  Entertainment: BET, BET Her, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Game Show Network etc.

To be fair, regular cable TV comes with hundreds of channels, and even YouTube TV has 85+ channels (though at $65 per month), but Philo is hard to beat on a channel-per-dollar basis.

Overall, if you want to watch a certain type of content, Philo will almost certainly have multiple channels for that.

Easy to setup and supports 3 devices

To create a Philo account, you’ll have to provide an email address or phone number and also a valid payment method.

To use Philo, you’ll only need a stable Internet connection and a compatible device. For reference, Philo recommends a 7 Mbp/s connection for 1 HD stream, or 14 Mbp/s for multiple HD streams. You can test your Internet speed here.

After you’ve created your account all you have to do is install the Philo app on your device, login and you’re good to go.

As part of a Philo subscription, you can also connect and stream with up to 3 different devices to the same account. If you try to add a 4th device, it will automatically disconnect the 1st device you logged in to Philo.

In terms of compatible devices, Philo supports most popular devices and operating systems:

  • All Roku devices.
  • All FireTV devices.
  • Apple TV, 4th gen or later (4th gen came out in 2015).
  • Android TV 5.0 or higher (Android TV 5.0 came out in 2014, so if you’re device is newer than that you’re good).
  • Chromecast (2015 or later).
  • Any PC or Mac device through your Internet browser.
  • Any Android or iOS device.

Unfortunately, Philo does not support Xbox or PlayStation consoles.

Unlimited DVR and 3 day saved replays

Perhaps one of Philo’s biggest strengths is its Unlimited DVR (digital video recording) feature.

Basically, this DVR function lets you record as many shows and films as you want from all of the 60+ channels available on Philo.

For example, you can save 1,000 movies to your DVR list to watch at a later date.

To use the feature, all you have to do is click the “Save” button on a show or movie, and once it airs it will automatically be included in your DVR library for 30 days.

The only “catch” however is that recordings are only saved for a total of 30 days, after which they are automatically deleted. 

Another nice feature of the DVR function is that Philo automatically saves a replay of every show or movie that aired within the last 3 days. This makes it very convenient to watch an episode or movie you missed out on.

You can see if a show or movie is automatically saved with the VOD tag on the episode or film.

You can also add these 3 day replays to your own DVR list, which essentially extends their duration for another 30 days.

It just runs well and has nice quality of life features

Besides all the headline features such as DVR, channel lineup, price etc., Philo simply works well and without any technical glitches.

For example, Philo does not suffer from buffering issues or stuttering when streaming shows and films. It’s also very stable, and you never have to worry if Philo is going through a blackout or technical glitches.

The actual user interface is very clean and easy to navigate. To be fair, sometimes there are quite a few elements on the screen but they have a logical structure to them and are easy to follow.

Glimpse of the TV guide:

In general, the UI guides users so they know what each button does, and how to use each and every single feature out of Philo.

This is great, because Philo does offer quite a few quality-of-life features such as:

  • Up to 10 user profiles, each one with its own DVR list. No mixing up DVR lists between family members.
  • Surround sound 2.0.
  • 1080p for DVR recordings.
  • A TV guide that has all 60+ channels at once.
  • A very good recommendation feature that shows related shows.

Just to give you an idea of how good the “Related” feature is, below are two examples:

  1. “Louisiana Law”, a wildlife law enforcement show. Below are 6 other related shows about wildlife law enforcement.
  • “Taken 2”, an action thriller movie with a former spy. Below are other, very similar spy action thriller movies.

That being said, one important feature that’s completely missing from Philo are parental controls.

A lot of on-demand video content

One major benefit to Philo is that it has a library of 60,000 on-demand films and show episodes you can always watch, partly because it saves replays for a total of 3 days.

This means that a huge amount of shows and movies that aired within the past 3 days can be streamed on demand.

Depending on your viewing habits, this can make Philo work almost like a Netflix alternative.

4 reasons Philo isn’t worth it

Philo doesn’t have sports channels

Philo does not have any kind of sports related channels. No ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports etc.

This means you can’t watch any sort of live (or replays!) of sports such as NFL, NBA, baseball etc.

Depending on your viewing habits, this can either be a complete deal breaker, or something you don’t care about because you don’t watch sports at all.

Philo’s reason for not including sports is because these channels are extremely expensive to license and would increase the overall price of a Philo subscription.

That being said, there are some ways you can subscribe to Philo, but still be able to watch sports:

  • Install an antenna. This will allow you to watch live TV sports from CBS, FOX, NBC and others completely for free.
  • Use Locast, a free not-for-profit TV streaming service that includes channels that air sports. As downsides, Locast only covers 50% of USA population, and doesn’t have a DVR function.

Philo doesn’t have local news channels

A downside to Philo is it doesn’t offer major local news channels such as CBS, FOX, CNN, ABC, MSNBC. To compensate, Philo does offer other news channels such as BBC America, BBC World News, Cheddar News and Bloomberg Television.

Fortunately, just like with sports channels, you can watch your favorite local news channel either through an antenna or by using Locast.

Philo misses a few heavy hitting channels

Besides the absence of sports and local news channels, Philo also doesn’t have a few other household name channels that might be important to you:

  • Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and Disney for families with kids.
  • National Geographic and NatGeo Wild for documentary lovers.
  • Bravo TV and USA Channel for entertainment.

Philo does have alternatives to all the channels listed above, but if you want to watch a specific show from a specific channel, there’s a decent chance the show may not be on Philo.

Live streaming is only 720p and has unskippable ads

Live TV on Philo is streamed only in 720p. To be fair, this is the standard resolution that most TV channels broadcast in and is also the standard resolution for Philo competitors such as Sling TV or Hulu Live TV.

However, some competitors such as YouTube TV do have a few channels that stream in 1080p, such as NBC, CBS and Warner owned channels.

Fortunately, DVR recordings as well as all 3 day replays are streamed in 1080p. If resolution quality matters to you a lot, then you can always save a show or movie and watch it later at the higher resolution.

Another small inconvenience about Philo is that many live streamed shows and movies have unskippable ads.

Fortunately, a DVR recording lets you fast forward through ads.

While the unskippable ads sound annoying, it is in line with how other live TV streaming services do things.

YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV have an identical policy when you can’t skip ads on live TV, but can fast forward through them on shows saved to DVR.

Conclusion

Overall, Philo punches above its weight, in terms of channels and features offered for the price.

Depending on your viewing habits, Philo is a TV streaming service that keeps only the essentials and leaves out a lot of the bloat that you wouldn’t watch at all and just increase your monthly subscription cost.

For other users, Philo’s price might be attractive, but it misses out on channels that

are important to them such as news or sports.

Regardless of which camp you might be in, Philo has a 7 day free trial during which you can decide if it’s worth it, or not.

Philo FAQ

Does Philo have live TV?

Philo does have 60+ live TV channels with a DVR function to pause shows or movie at only $20 per month. To keep its price low, Philo does not offer live sports channels like NFL or ESPN, local channels or ABC, Fox, CBS, or NBC.

Does Philo have video on demand movies, series and shows?

Besides live TV channels, Philo does have 60,000 video-on-demand (VOD) shows, movies and series plus movie channels such as AMC, BET, Hallmark, IFC, LMN, Showtime, Paramount, Sundance and more.

Does Philo have a TV guide?

Philo TV does have a program channel guide with schedules for every channel, show, and even individual episodes. From the TV guide you can save shows to view later and watch replays from shows that aired in the past 3 days.

What devices does Philo support or work on?

Philo supports a wide array of streaming devices and works on Android phones, Android TV, Roku, Fire TV and Fire Tablet, Apple TV, iOS devices and finally PC and MacOS internet browsers.

Does Philo have DVR?

Philo TV does have an unlimited DVR function that allows you to record unlimited shows and movies for 30 days. DVR recordings are stored in the cloud, not on your hard-drive, and you can rewind or fast forward to skip ads.

Does Philo DVR cost extra?

Philo’s unlimited DVR function does not cost extra and is included in the base price of $20 per month.

How does Philo DVR work?

Philo’s DVR function allows you to record unlimited shows or movies by clicking a save button. The DVR function will record all future airings and even replays from past 3 days. These recordings are kept for 30 days.

Does Philo really have unlimited DVR storage?

Yes, Philo really does have unlimited hours of DVR recording. However, movies and shows are saved in the cloud, and you cannot download them to a hard-drive. Also, all recordings are automatically deleted after a 30-day period.

How long does Philo keep DVR recordings of movies and shows after they air?

Philo automatically saves a DVR replay of every movie and show for 3 days after it has aired on live TV. You can then save this replay to your account’s DVR recording library for an extra 30 days after which they are deleted.

Does Philo have access to past seasons or previously shown shows?

Philo does have access to past seasons and previously shown shows since they are aired continuously on Philo’s channels. You can then save these past seasons and shows to your account using the DVR function. 

How many streams does Philo allow?

A single Philo account lets you stream on up to 3 devices and screens at the same time.

Does Philo stream in 4k, Full HD or HD resolution?

Philo streams live TV channels only in 720p HD resolution, so no support for live TV at 4k or 1080p. However, shows that are video-on-demand or saved to DVR will stream at 1080p resolution.  

Does Philo have 5.1 or Dolby Surround Sound? 

Philo currently only supports 2.0 stereo sound, and does not have or support surround sound such as Dolby Digital or 5.1 audio.

Does Philo have commercials or ads?

Philo does have commercials and ads, and these are unskippable on VOD or Live streamed shows.  You can only skip or fast forward commercials when viewing shows saved to DVR.

Does Philo TV work with Roku Stick or Express? Does Philo cost extra on Roku?

Philo TV does work with Roku devices such as Roku Stick or Roku Express. Philo also offers a dedicated Roku app, that includes all features such as Live TV streaming for 60+ channels, TV guide, unlimited DVR at no extra cost.

Does Philo TV work with Chromecast?

Philo works with Chromecast and allows you to cast on your TV. Simply open the Philo app on your mobile device or computer browser, and then use Chromecast to stream Philo on your TV.

Does Philo work with Amazon Fire TV Stick or Tablet?

Yes, Philo does work with Amazon Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablet, or even Fire TV. All you need is to have a Philo free trial or active subscription, download the Philo app, log in to your account and start watching.

Does Philo have an Android or iOS app?

Philo does have an Android app that works for mobile, tablet and Android TV box. It also has an app for iOS devices. Both iOS and Android apps let you continue watching shows from the point you left on other devices.

Does Philo work on Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo or other consoles?

Unfortunately, Philo does not have an app for PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo or any other console.

Does Philo work or have an app for Samsung Smart TV or LG Smart TV?

Philo does not support and work on Samsung TV, LG TV and Vizio TV, however you can stream Philo on those smart TV’s by using a Chromecast device.

Does Philo provide internet service?

Philo is not a cable provider, and does not offer internet service. Philo is a TV streaming service that runs off your Internet connection and offers 60+ live TV channels, unlimited DVR recording, and 60,000 video-on-demand titles.

How much bandwidth and gigs per hour does Philo use?

Philo requires a bandwidth of 7 Mbps to stream in HD for a single device, and 13 Mpbs to stream on HD for multiple devices. In terms of data usage, Philo uses between 2 to 2.5 gigabytes per hour.

Does Philo work overseas or outside the US?

Philo is a USA only internet TV streaming platform, so you can’t use it while overseas or outside the US. You can however use a VPN to make Philo think you are in the USA.

Does Philo have parental controls or adult channels?

Philo does not have any parental controls at this time, however Philo does not carry any adult-oriented content and all of its channels are child friendly.

How many subscribers or users does Philo have?

According to Philo’s own statements, they have 800,000 subscribed users as of November 2020.

Philo pricing

How much does Philo cost per month?

Philo TV has a cost of only $20 per month, which is a much lower price compared to other Internet TV streaming services. Philo costs so much less because it doesn’t include expensive channels such as ESPN, NFL and major networks.

Does Philo TV offer a free trial? How does the free trial work?

Philo TV offers a 7-day free trial period with full features, including a working DVR function. Philo does not charge you for the 7-day free trial, and only bills you after the trial period has ended, through credit or debit card.

How does Philo charge you?

Philo TV charges you through credit cards and even takes prepaid debit cards (except Discover). At this time Philo doesn’t accept PayPal, and also doesn’t bill your cell phone if you create an account on it.

Does Philo require a contract?

Philo is a monthly, pay-as-you-go subscription and does not require a contract. However, it does not prorate cancellation, so you can use Philo until the current billed month expires but can’t get a partial refund for the remaining days.

Does Philo have a student rate or discount?

At the moment Philo does not offer a student rate or discount, but you can use the 7-day free trial to see if it’s worth $20 per month or not.

TV channels that are on Philo

Does Philo have AMC?

Yes, Philo does have AMC included for free, allowing you to watch original shows such as The Walking Dead, The Terror and many more on demand shows and movies.

Does Philo have MTV?

Philo does have MTV Channel, MTV Classic, MTV 2, MTV Live and VH1. Combined, you will have access to current music, hits from the 80’s to early 2000’s as well as numerous original shows from MTV.

Does Philo have Discovery Channel?

Philo does have Discovery Channel plus 3 other channels: Investigation Discovery, Discovery Life and Family Discovery. Combined, the 4 channels offer more than 500 documentary shows you can watch.

Does Philo have Hallmark?

Philo does have the Hallmark Channel, as well as Hallmark Drama and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. With Philo’s replay feature you can watch any show or movie 3 days after airing.

Does Philo have Cartoon Network or Nick Jr.?  

Unfortunately, Philo does not have Cartoon Network or Adult Swim. However, Philo does offer Nickelodeon, Nicktoons and Nick Jr as a source of animated shows and cartoons.

Does Philo have TLC channel?

Yes, Philo does have TLC channel, complete with older episodes of TLC shows. On top of that, Philo also offers channels with similar content to TLC such as Cheddar, Aspire, DIY Network, FYI and more.

Does Philo have Paramount network?

Yes, Philo does have Paramount Network and carries some of its most popular shows such as Friends, Two and a Half Men, The Office, Sponge Bob, Jersey Shore and more.

Does Philo have History channel?

Philo is great for documentary lovers, since it does have History Channel, all 4 Discovery channels, and even Animal Planet. Combined, you have access to some 700 shows and documentaries on nearly every topic.

TV channels not on Philo

Does Philo have ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX News or The CW? Does Philo have local news channels?

Philo does not have ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, The CW or any live local news stations, and you can’t stream major broadcast networks at this time. You can however use an antenna to pick up local channels for free.

Does Philo have live sports channels like ESPN, Fox Sports, NFL or local channels?

Philo TV does not have ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NFL or any other live sports channel. There is no separate add-on for sports either, but you can use an antenna to watch local sports channels for free.

Does Philo have CNN & MSNBC?

No, Philo does not have CNN News or MSNBC, but it does offer Newsy, BBC World News and BBC America to cover your news needs. 

Does Philo have Syfy, HBO, FX, Showtime or TNT?

Currently, Philo TV doesn’t have Syfy Channel, Cinemax, HBO, FX Channel, Showtime and TNT Channel. However, Philo does have Hallmark Channel, AMC, Paramount plus a library of 60,000 video-on-demand titles.

Does Philo have Telemundo

Philo does not have Telemundo and does not offer any Spanish speaking channels.

Does Philo have National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild?

Unfortunately, Philo does not have National Geographic or Nat Geo Wild. However, it compensates by having Animal Planet, Cheddar and Science Channel which have similar documentaries.

Does Philo have TBS?

At this time Philo TV does not have TBS, but it does offer Comedy Central and even shows such as Young Sheldon or Friends.

Does Philo have Disney

Philo TV does not have Disney Channel, so no Marvel or Star Wars content. Fortunately, Philo compensates by offering, AMC, BET, Hallmark, IFC, LMN, Showtime, Paramount, Sundance and more.

Does Philo have USA Channel?

Philo does not have USA Network at this time and there are no known plans to include it.

Does Philo have Bravo TV?

Unfortunately, Philo does not have Bravo TV but it does carry other channels with similar content such as A&E, HGTV, OWN and People TV.