Philo Price Increase

Discussion in 'Internet Streaming Services' started by crkeehn, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. crkeehn

    crkeehn Godfather

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    On May 6, Philo will be eliminating the $16 package for new subscribers. According to an email sent out recently to Philo subscribers, Those who have signed up for the $16 package prior to May 6, can continue to keep it. On May 6, the $20 package will be the only option offered.
     
  2. rnbmusicfan

    rnbmusicfan Legend

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    I wonder if at $20/month and the channel selection, it is profitable and if it can keep customers without churn. It seems to be pretty reliant on Viacom channels, and the one concern there is Viacom's purchase of PlutoTV, although Viacom has no intention that I know to offer its channels there via paid subscriptions but Viacom has mentioned offering paid versions of PlutoTV (but not clear what it could offer). Most of Discovery's networks have made it to YouTubeTV and Sling also.

    According to articles and wikipedia, the owners of Philo are
    A&E Networks
    AMC Networks
    Discovery Inc.
    Viacom

    Disney, NBCUniversal, Fox, CBS and WarnerMedia channels likely will not be considered (too expensive, greedy and sports), but those channels have access to several other platforms.

    Philo did add Hallmark group of channels last year.

    As it offers GSN which is primarily owned by Sony, perhaps it could get GetTV national feed like Dish, and/or Sony Movie Channel and HDNet for a new enhanced package ($25/month) and start to fill more channels in there.

    It might be able to add FETV, INSP, Buzzr, Free Speech TV and some lower watched channels. Having a guide that can be integrated with over the air would be a plus. Sling has AirTV compatibility. Also I wonder if it can get Starz!, Showtime and Epix, as add-ons. It would make it competitive against Sling, but I'm not sure if the owners of Philo have any intention of expanding the service by much.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  3. Jun 4, 2020 #3 of 27
    rnbmusicfan

    rnbmusicfan Legend

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    I signed up with Philo again, and there is some integration with Amazon Firestick with Recast DVR, which is nice to see local channels integrated with a mix of cable networks. It's not perfect though and I prefer just using the Philo app directly.

    Philo did add GAC earlier this year.

    On other channels carried, Philo carries CLEO TV which is owned by Urban One, but it doesn't carry TV One - a co-owned channel from the same group. TV One is carried on AT&T TV. But Philo does carry Aspire and BET.
    Also, it carries Game Show Network, owned by SONY, but not SONY Movie Channel or getTV, which are both carried on fuboTV.
    It carries AXS TV, but not HDNet Movies;
    And there are some channels from other existing content providers, possible such as Military History and Pop. WGN America, INSP, Smithsonian Channel, Light TV, MGM HD Movies might be some other additions where it won't be needing a deal with Disney, NBC or Warner Media.
    I've kind of wondered if they would add a $30/month package, or a Philo II/Philo Plus pack to cover those extra channels.
     
  4. Jun 4, 2020 #4 of 27
    WestDC

    WestDC Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    NO matter what the service --The price is always increased
     
  5. Jun 4, 2020 #5 of 27
    crkeehn

    crkeehn Godfather

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    To date, Philo has been fairly stable in their pricing. I first signed up for the free trial in January of 2019. In April of 2019 I posted the top message about a price increase for Philo. As I had the $16 package, I would be able to continue with the package for the same price. In June of 2020, I'm still paying the same $16 and two additional channels have been added to the package. They've been more than fair, so far.
     
  6. Jun 5, 2020 #6 of 27
    grover517

    grover517 AllStar

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    I mainly subscribe to Philo along side YTTV for the channels PSV didn't and YTTV doesn't offer, gives us more concurrent streams to play with for the overlapping channels and is usually what we use when traveling since there are no geo location restrictions within the US due to their not carrying channels that require such things.

    And unlike others, even though YTTV is adding the Viacom channels later this year, we won't be ditching Philo anytime soon. We think it's still a great deal.
     
  7. Jun 5, 2020 #7 of 27
    techguy88

    techguy88 Well-Known Member

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    I really never thought of what Philo did as a "price increase" they just grandfathered a tier is all so technically they really didn't have a price increase.
     
  8. Jun 5, 2020 #8 of 27
    Jhon69

    Jhon69 Hall Of Fame

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    I just returned to Philo,after being away after a little more than a year.I also have YTTV/w Starz both I consider a decent price,with all the repeats going on
    (due to the Shelter in Place and COVID-19 issues) I had to have more channels.With YTTV adding more channels this summer their not the ones I used to watch
    and miss,AHC,DIY,Science,Cooking,History,just to name a few.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  9. Jul 1, 2020 #9 of 27
    rnbmusicfan

    rnbmusicfan Legend

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    Philo just added getTV and INSP. Yay! I actually got a couple of channels that I requested.

    It could add a Philo extra tier with
    The Outdoor Channel, SONY Movie Channel, HDNet Movies and MGM HD Movies, Military History, WGN America?, maybe a few others

    I was reading on the YouTube TV price increase, and some of it is attributed to the ViacomCBS channels, which is concerning. I'd think ViacomCBS is a liability price point wise for Philo, as it is a significant block of channels already on Philo, and at some point, it will likely lead to a price increase more so than smaller scale channel additions like getTV or INSP, especially if CBS affiliates and Smithsonian channel are added. However, ViacomCBS is part-owner of Philo according to wikipedia, so it would seem unlikely Philo would drop Viacom's networks out of protest of the increases.
     
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  10. techguy88

    techguy88 Well-Known Member

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    ViacomCBS is a part owner of Philo but the reason for that is due to old Viacom originally being a part owner. That's why it has the group of channels associated with "Viacom" but not anything associated with "CBS" like Pop or Smithsonian Channel. Even though ViacomCBS is part owner Philo doesn't even offer Showtime as a premium add-on just Epix and Starz because Showtime was part of old CBS.

    At the time of Philo's launch in 2017 old Viacom, Discovery, A+E Networks and AMC Networks were wanting a bundle of channels that wasn't attached to highly priced news/sports channels. They drew on their portfolio of cable channels to launch the service. Since the service is operated by the owners of the content they can cut out the middle man and take more of the revenue for themselves unlike with YouTube TV.

    "Old CBS" likes to bundle their channels together which requires the MVPD/vMVPD to carry CBS O&O locals, CW O&O locals, CBS Sports Network, Pop & Smithsonian Channel. This is why Sling TV doesn't carry any "Old CBS" channels on their service because for the most part they don't carry locals. Now that ViacomCBS is merged back together how this will impact Sling TV when Dish Network has to re-negotiate their contract for either CBS or Viacom channels is up in the air since they carry the "Viacom" channels.

    "Old Viacom" was offering the Viacom channels for lower carriage fees from 2017-2019 mostly in a bid to keep existing MVPDs from dropping them due to the previous CEO in exchange for other perks. Charter Spectrum got reduced fees in 2017 for example. AT&T got a lower carriage rate in 2019 and added back 5 Viacom channels to the Plus & Max packages for AT&T TV Now (Max got 3 additional Viacom channels.) Altice USA got a deal where after 3 years it was able to add a bare minimum of Viacom channels back to its then newly acquired Suddenlink systems as part of a continued deal for its Optimum systems.

    With ViacomCBS re-merged those kinds of deals that happened in 2017-2019 will most likely not happen again as the combined company wants to increase its carriage fees and is on record of that which is why YTTV increased $15 instead of the $5-$10 most were expecting.
     
  11. rnbmusicfan

    rnbmusicfan Legend

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    I noticed Philo's avoidance of Showtime as a premium addition, but figure if might happen at a later point, such as when it comes back to the discussion table with ViacomCBS as a whole.

    Sling might have similar CBS Viacom issues, but I figure the Dish ownership would manage to figure it out, somehow while keeping costs down over YouTubeTV, since the satellite service has both.

    With Philo in particular, since ViacomCBS is still part owner, does that pretty much guarantee CBS and Pop, etc. will be part of Philo eventually? Or maybe possible but unlikely, Philo breaks up from ViacomCBS. The strongest channel, in my opinion, from the old Viacom is Comedy Central, and it might be too much a disruption to Philo's service for that channel to be dropped. (Many might be subscribing primarily for that channel).

    Philo adding getTV, INSP and Hallmark (back in 2018) helps in a small way that they are diversifying out by adding new channels of channels not owned by its parent owners.

    I believe Smithsonian in Philo would be complementary though it is somewhat a premium and there might be a price increase for it unless it is placed in a higher tier (note: AT&T TV places it in one of its higher tiers), Pop would be okay but nothing exciting for me, but I'm just skeptical about CBS going in as a value-added, as it would likely increase costs more significantly. A lot of Philo viewers probably already get locals with antenna or even a basic cable, or with CBS All Access.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  12. rnbmusicfan

    rnbmusicfan Legend

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    Of Philo's 60 channels, 15 are Viacom owned, which is 25% of Philo's lineup:
    BET, BET Her, Comedy Central, CMT, Logo, MTV, MTV Classic, MTV Live, MTV2, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Nick Toons, Paramount TV, TV Land, VH1

    Let's say upon next contract renewal, CBS and Pop insist to be included and the old discounted rates of Viacom channels are no longer applied. If the total ViacomCBS programming cost exceeds majority of the other channels combined, I think Philo will have a problem internally.

    Sling increased from $25 to $30/monthly while adding the popular Fox News Channel and then lost subscribers. I'd really hope Philo wouldn't go down the path of a steep increase (let's say $20/monthly to $30/monthly) to accommodate ViacomCBS.

    I'd rather Viacom is bought out of its interest from Philo, and the 15 channels are replaced with Buzzr, Court TV, LIGHTtv, TV One and Bounce and the price dropped to $16/monthly with maybe Grit TV, FETV and Military History added if available to streaming providers, then $4/mo extra packs of Movies Extra (HDNet Movies, MGMHD, PixL, and SONY Movie Channel) and Outdoor Extra (The Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network) added to replace the 15 lost Viacom channels,

    Peacock is launching this month. It will have King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Office at some point, some of the best "classic" shows that are on Viacom's linear channels. Sure, it won't cover Daily Show but I believe it's on Youtube the next day.

    I know it's kind of early to be concerned of a Philo price increase, but the YouTube TV increase is just unsettling and it seems bound to happen to Philo especially with Viacom involved.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  13. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Who knows what will happen, but this seems like a plausible scenario to me.

    If I'm ViacomCBS, I'd rather you subscribe to CBS All Access (which will become a larger service with lots of stuff from Viacom brands/channels in 2021) rather than Philo. Does it make sense for ViacomCBS to own and back two competing low-cost OTT services when one of them, Philo, doesn't include CBS or offer Showtime as an add-on, and of which they have only partial ownership?

    And I have to think that Philo's subscriber numbers may take a hit now that it has so much overlap with YouTube TV. Lots of folks used to subscribe to both YTTV and Philo for a combined price of $70. But now that YouTube TV has added the Viacom channels and increased its price by $15, I don't see anyone much keeping both it and Philo just to get those few additional channels Philo offers (mainly the Hallmark and A+E groups).

    Meanwhile, if ViacomCBS were to insist on Philo including CBS locals across the country (as CBS All Access does), that would definitely drive up the cost of Philo beyond $20 and probably lead to even more subscriber declines.

    So maybe ViacomCBS will just decide that Philo isn't a particularly attractive ownership proposition or distribution path for them any more and they just sell out their share of the venture to the other owners. All of the Viacom channels disappear, allowing Philo to lower their price and/or add in some new niche channels from small players (e.g. HDNet Movies, RFD-TV, PixL, etc.).
     
  14. gio12

    gio12 Icon

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    I am one of those YTTV subs that canceled Philo
     
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  15. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Another factor to consider when pondering the future of Philo are the OTT plans of Discovery, which is one of Philo's joint owners. Discovery's CEO has talked for a couple years now about the need for a truly skinny sub-$10 OTT content bundle that they could be part of. This Feb., he said that they are definitely planning to launch an OTT service that will feature content from all of their main channels/brands, although it sounds like it still could be a ways off from launching (and that was before the pandemic really struck).

    Discovery wants to go OTT without alienating pay TV distributors

    Once that thing finally launches, Discovery may decide that they no longer need Philo either. I doubt any of these guys are making meaningful money off Philo anyhow. I'd be surprised if it has more than a quarter-million subs.
     
  16. rnbmusicfan

    rnbmusicfan Legend

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    Well, I wonder if Discovery streaming would have the all of the linear Discovery channels, plus the On Demand of everything latest. My hunch says no, since none of the cable channels have something equivalent.

    With Smithsonian, apparently new content is on the linear channel, and old content is on Smithsonian Plus $4.99/month. So the app doesn't step on the toes of the linear channel, and Smithsonian still wants the linear channel carried on linear vMPVDs.

    I think the same is with the Hallmark and UPTV channels vs. the app that these channels manage.

    If the Philo owners make a profit on the linear channels, and the sale of Philo, I don't see why it would have to shut down. Philo is supported on the major streaming devices, and has some integration with Amazon Recast. I look to the recent addition of Starz, Encore and getTV and INSP as positive signs. I was a bit dismayed in 2019 of the quietness of activity. Apparently it added GAC but that is a channel owned by one of the Philo owners.

    I've wondered if a tech company like Amazon could buy it up or a share of it. In some ways, it'd be a great as a Recast owner, if Amazon could better seam the experience of Philo and the local channels. There is a combined EPG but it's slow switching to a Philo channel at first as it has to open up the app. But I'd dislike Amazon making Amazon Prime a requirement, and then limiting Philo to Firestick devices as well, cutting off Roku support, and Apple TV and others. I prefer Roku's UI over Firesticks, that limits horizontal scrolling to three tiles, over the horizontal scroll approach that Amazon is heavy on. The Firestick remote though allows for fast vertical scrolling though on EPG from Philo or even Sling, so even it has some user experience benefits over Roku.

    In general, I'd hope Amazon opened up than limited their product lines even though I know their reason. With Amazon involved, I could anticipate benefits but possibly some loss as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
  17. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Good question. I was thinking about this yesterday. If you read the stories from earlier this year about Discovery CEO's comments, it sounds like he wants to involve MVPDs (e.g. Comcast, Charter, etc.) in the distribution of their forthcoming app/service.

    Discovery wants to go OTT without alienating pay TV distributors

    My hunch is that they'll essentially take all of the content in their various cable-authenticated "TV everywhere" apps/sites -- Discovery Go, HGTV Watch, Food Network Go, TLC Go, etc. -- and combine them into one new app, possibly just named "Discovery". And they'll add some additional fresh content that's exclusive to the app and not aired on any of their linear cable channels.

    There will be two ways to access this new Discovery app. If your MVPD has struck an agreement to do so, and if your cable bundle from them includes at least some of the Discovery-owned linear channels, then you can use your cable TV login to access this new app at no additional cost. In effect, it will just replace all of the old individual "Go" apps for you, plus give you some bonus exclusive content. The other way you can get this app is to buy a standalone subscription to it, either directly from Discovery.com or via the app stores operated by Apple, Google, Roku and Amazon.

    As for whether or not this future unified "Discovery" app would include live streams of their various linear channels, well, their current TV everywhere apps/websites do. And Discovery's CEO has been talking for a few years about offering just their own channels as a super-skinny, cheap OTT bundle priced around $5-8/mo. So my guess is that their future OTT service will include the live channels, although the main draw will be the large on-demand library. No cloud DVR for the live channels, though. You'll just watch titles from the on-demand library with a limited amount of forced ads. Maybe they could sell that for $5/mo, with an $8/mo option to remove the ads.

    Discovery's streaming service could package 17 channels for $5 a month

    Yeah. In those instances, the owners are still playing it safe and trying not to alienate their MVPD partners. So they make their OTT apps complementary to their linear channels rather than duplicating/replacing them. And the linear channels remain their main focus. But as the cable bundle continues to crumble, everyone's hand is being forced. Discovery senses that and I think they're going to make their full content slate available either as a standalone service or as part of the traditional cable bundle. No different, really, than what HBO, Showtime and Starz did years ago. I expect that most Discovery subscribers will continue to come via MVPD bundles for several more years but they know that they're missing too many potential paying viewers by not also offering themselves as a standalone OTT service too. In another couple years, the ESPN family of channels will arrive at the same point and that will *really* be a blow to the traditional cable bundle.

    Well, who knows what will happen with it. I'd love to know how many subs Philo has grown to. It was originally launched by its joint owners as a sort of experiment, a way to gather consumer data and explore the OTT business. Perhaps ViacomCBS and Discovery will remain committed to it but, OTOH, they may decide that it no longer warrants their participation as they focus on their own direct-to-consumer OTT efforts. My guess is that a pretty insignificant portion of each owner group's bottom line comes from Philo.

    But that still leaves co-owners A+E Networks and AMC Networks, though, as well as the popular Hallmark group of channels that are on Philo. I'm not sure what the future holds for any of them. I could see any of them getting bought by one of the much larger media groups. Privately-held Crown Media (owner of the Hallmark channels and their video content), in particular, looks like a solid acquisition target. Not hard to imagine NBCU buying it and folding some of that Hallmark content into Peacock. Or perhaps Disney would buy it and make Hallmark the sixth family-friendly content hub inside Disney+ (alongside Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and Nat Geo). Could help the service increase its appeal with adult women (even those without children in the household), which I would guess is a weak area for Disney+.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
  18. rnbmusicfan

    rnbmusicfan Legend

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    Interesting perspective NashGuy.

    For the time being, one thing I really like about Philo is the price point and the mix of channels, is decent enough. I think it's primary competition is Sling, and maybe now FrndlyTV on the lower end. But at $20, it even competes against mundane upgrades on basic services. For example, for those that go basic with cable, they might like adding on Philo, and it's less expensive than upgrading to a higher tier.

    For example, I like the Travel Show on BBC World News. When checking out other providers, that channel is usually in a higher tier. With FIOS, I have to spend at least $30/mo or even more extra to get that channel and INSP to bump up in tier. Perhaps Philo has limited recognition or just isn't appealing enough without sports, or maybe CNN/Fox News, or maybe broadcast networks.

    If the owners of Philo decide to go in other directions and want out, it'd be a loss I think in the streaming space. I know there are a lot of free to $4.99/month video on demand apps that will have plenty of entertainment, but it's still a loss for those that like both channels and On Demand, but something better than the "free" apps like Redbox TV.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
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  19. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, well, I wouldn't worry about it. The content you want will end up available somewhere or another, although maybe not all in the same package as it is now with Philo. What's slowly happening is that each of the major cable network families is shifting to their own direct-to-consumer streaming package(s). So just as I hypothesized with the Discovery family of channels above, we'll see the same thing happen with ViacomCBS (via an expanded All Access, plus their separate Showtime service), NBCU (via Peacock), WarnerMedia (via HBO Max), and Disney (via Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+). I'm not sure if any of the smaller players -- Lionsgate/Starz, AMC Networks, A+E Networks, Crown Media (Hallmark) -- have the scale and appeal to go out on their own. So they'll likely end up getting acquired by one of the bigger groups or just selling their content anywhere they can, into multiple different streaming services, with their linear channels eventually fading away. (A+E just struck a deal to supply some of their on-demand content to Peacock, for instance.)
     
  20. rnbmusicfan

    rnbmusicfan Legend

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    If Philo has a low subscriber count, then it's valuation as a company will be low as well, and whatever Viacom tries to sell out, if it opts to sell out, would be relatively low price for another party to buy in.

    If Philo is itself unprofitable to even operate, then it's an issue with the four collective owners and they decide to wind it down.

    Sometimes joint ventures are profitable and/or have lasting power to justify its existance, e.g. A&E, The CW network.

    With Viacom and the changes in packages at YTTV and likely all streaming providers, I suspect that Hulu Live will have to reckon with Viacom the same way YouTubeTV has had to lately. Viacom channels added, and the price point easily goes up, let's say $65-75/monthly. Not exactly the price point where Sling starts out and Sling is the largest (or maybe second-largest) streaming service of cable networks.

    I kind of wonder of a scenario where Disney buys out Viacom's share of Philo. It anyways owns half of A&E which might be 1/4 of Philo. It replaces the Viacom channels with the $5.99 Hulu subscription tagged into Philo service. Let's say $20/month (with Viacom channels) - $5/mo (loss of Viacom channels) + 5.99 (Hulu) = $21.99/mo. Add in ABC News Live. Let's say re-priced $22-$25. But overall, now all Philo subs get a Hulu from the deal.

    Then over at Hulu, it replaces the $7.99 Entertainment Add On package with a discounted rate for Philo for more streams and different channels, Hallmark, etc, but at least accounting a subtraction of the $5.99 Hulu cost embedded in.

    It'd be a pain to switch apps, but users are doing it for Disney+ and HBOMax anyways. Maybe it'd eventually switch users to Hulu Live EPG, and those with both will eventually have all seamless together.

    Basically, it permits Disney better grip of a competing service, while competing slightly in the mid-range price point against Sling Orange/Sling Blue. As Disney is willing to operate different apps (Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+), it'd just add to the portfolio of apps even if its a minority owner in this case, and the Philo service is an add-on for Hulu Live, and those who open via Philo get Hulu.

    I think Dish has used different tiers (AT120, ATXXX, etc., Sling Orange, Sling Blue) to its advantage. Dish can negotiate with Disney and ensured ESPN was in Sling Orange but not Sling Blue and ABC out of both of them. Keeping Dish and Sling packages differentiated itself and it helped target a price point that these all-in-one comprehensive packages don't cover.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020

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