The skinniest virtual pay-TV offering available is going by the wayside. Philo, the over-the-top TV company backed by four cable programmers, is eliminating its super-skinny bundle that offered more than 40 channels for just $16 per month for new customers.
It’s more evidence that OTT players are being forced to adjust their pricing and packaging — and move to a more sustainable economic model.
As of May 6, Philo will offer only the $20-per-month plan (with 58 channels) to new subscribers. Current customers on the $16 monthly plan (which has 45 channels) will be able to keep that package and pricing, according to the company.
Philo has been able to keep its prices relatively cheap by omitting live sports, news and broadcast networks. Most of the channels in its OTT offering are from its four cable investors: A+E Networks, AMC Networks, Discovery and Viacom.
In a customer notice announcing the change, Philo CEO Andrew McCollum said that since the service launched 18 months ago, most of the other OTT pay-TV providers have raised their prices (sometimes multiple times).
“We didn’t want to do that,” McCollum wrote. Instead, “when we looked at all of the costs of operating Philo — which increase over time — consolidating into a single $20 package was the best way for us to maintain the same offering we have today without raising prices for everyone, or having to cut back in places we strive to excel, like our customer support.”
Both Philo plans have been available only in the U.S. The $16 plan includes: A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, AXS TV, BBC America, BBC World News, BET, Cheddar, Cheddar Big News, CleoTV, CMT, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, DIY, Food Network, FYI, GSN, Hallmark, Hallmark Drama, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, HGTV, History, IFC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, Motor Trend, MTV, MTV Classic, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Paramount Network, PeopleTV, Science, Sundance TV, Tastemade, Teen Nick, TLC, Travel, TV Land, VH1, Viceland, and weTV.
The $20-per-month Philo package — which will be the only option for new customers starting next month — includes all those channels plus 13 more: American Heroes Channel, Aspire, BET Her, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Law & Crime, Logo, MTV Live, Nick Toons, Revolt and UPTV.
Philo’s change comes after other OTT-delivered television services have raised rates, including YouTube TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Hulu’s live TV service and FuboTV. Last summer, Dish Network raised the price of its Sling TV original package (now called Orange).
Founded in 2009, Philo previously was geared around delivering broadband TV over college campuses, before shifting two years ago to reach a general consumer market of cord-nevers and cord-cutters with the backing of A+E, AMC, Discovery and Viacom. The company has raised more than $90 million raised to date.