It’s a trend: Philo is the latest internet pay-TV service to plug linear channels from digital-media companies into its low-cost “skinny” bundles.
Philo, whose backers include four big cable programmers, is adding three channels to its base packages — Cheddar Big News, Meredith’s PeopleTV, and Tastemade — available to all new and existing subscribers for no additional cost.
Tastemade, which features food, home, and travel lifestyle original programming, will go live Thursday on Philo. Coming soon are Cheddar Big News, providing general news and headline news targeted at younger auidences, and PeopleTV, a blend of celebrity, pop-culture, lifestyle and human-interest content from People and Entertainment Weekly.
The pacts follow a string of similar distribution agreements. Cheddar’s flagship financial-news channel is streaming on Hulu; YouTube TV is carrying Cheddar, Cheddar Big News, and 24-hour networks from Tastemade and TYT Network (the Young Turks); and internet pay-TV startup FuboTV carries Meredith’s PeopleTV and Sports Illustrated TV.
For internet-TV providers, such newly minted channels command much lower per-subscriber fees than well-established cable TV brands — and may even be being distributed without a carriage fee at all, as digital-media companies look to expand their reach to sell premium TV advertising. The question is how much of a draw the likes of Cheddar Big News, Tastemade or PeopleTV will prove to be, especially given that they include content that’s repurposed from their free-to-watch properties.
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Philo’s skinny bundles, launched last fall and available only in the U.S., start at $16 per month for 40 channels and $20 monthly for 49 channels. Both lineups include such channels as A&E, AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Lifetime, MTV, TLC, Travel Channel, VH1 and Viceland.
Most of those networks are from its cable programmer investors — A+E Networks, AMC Networks, Discovery/Scripps, and Viacom — which pumped $25 million into Philo last year. To keep the retail price down, Philo doesn’t have any sports or broadcast TV programming. Nor does it offer premium nets like HBO and Showtime.
Earlier this week, Philo launched a referral program that offers subscribers a $5 credit for each referral that results in a new subscriber, as well as a $5 credit for the person they refer. More info is available at this link.