On Wednesday, the company got a shout-out from Discovery’s David Zaslav. During an earnings call with Wall Street analysts, the CEO said Philo has been a valuable driver for the company, which has carriage for networks like HGTV, OWN and the Discovery Channel on the service.
With about 60 channels from Discovery, ViacomCBS, AMCNetworks and other programmers, Philo costs $20 a month. It has caught on among a particular group of cord-cutters and cord-nevers: those uninterested in sports, which accounts for a large share of pay-TV prices. Even streaming bundle players like Hulu and YouTube TV, whose initial premise was consumer value, have had to raise rates significantly as they have added networks, especially those featuring sports.
Philo’s growth in the first half of 2020 was the most of any U.S. MVPD, virtual or traditional.
Among streaming bundles, there has been a fair amount of turbulence in recent months, with downturns at AT&T Now and Dish Network’s Sling and a steep price hike by YouTube. Sony PlayStation Vue shut down this year after failing to achieve sufficient scale. Five-year-old startup Fubo TV has built a loyal and growing consumer base, but recently phased in price hikes after adding Disney networks, including ESPN, and reached an impasse with WarnerMedia.
Originally known as “skinny bundles,” these streaming TV packages services have generally had to keep raising prices in order to make the economics work. As they get pricier, they more closely resemble conventional pay-TV systems and subscriber growth stalls. Philo has managed to avoid that same roller-coaster by sticking to its initial strategy.