Viacom, Discovery, A+E, Scripps and AMC Team Up for Sports-Free Streaming Skinny Bundle

Philo offers 37 entertainment networks for $16 per month, but no broadcast or sports channels

Philo's 37-channel package includes Comedy Central, Discovery, AMC, HGTV and History. Philo
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Five media companies are looking to upend the burgeoning live TV streaming bundle market, with an entertainment-focused, sports-free offering called “Philo” for consumers priced at less than half of its competitors.

Philo will feature 37 channels from Viacom, Discovery Communications, A+E Networks, AMC Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive at $16 per month. While that’s less than half of the of the $35-$40 price point offered by the likes of DirecTV Now, Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV, the bundle lacks broadcast networks as well as sports programming.

The 37 channel package includes AMC, Animal Planet, AXS TV, BBC America, BBC World News, BET, Cheddar, CMT, Comedy Central, Discovery, DIY Network, Food Network, FYI, GSN, HGTV, History, ID, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, MTV, MTV 2, Nick, Nick Jr. , OWN, Science, Spike, SundanceTV, Teen Nick, TLC, Travel, TV Land, Velocity, VH1, Viceland and WE tv.

For an additional $4 per month, subscribers can receive access to nine additional channels, including American Heroes Channel, BET Her, Cooking Channel, Destination American, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Logo, MTV Live and Nicktoons.

Because none of the entertainment companies with sports offerings are part of this bundle—including CBS, Disney, NBCUniversal and Turner—that means Philo lacks some of cable’s most-watched networks, including Adult Swim, FX, TBS, TNT and USA FX, in addition to the five broadcast networks.

Philo subscribers can watch content on up to three different devices simultaneously, and they’ll have access to an unlimited 30-day DVR and on-demand. Users can pause live TV, start in-progress programs from the beginning, and watch any program that has aired during the past three days.

Philo can be accessed anywhere in the U.S. on TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets. It’s available on Roku, iOS, Android via Chrome (with an app coming soon), as well as Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari browsers, with more platforms to come.

The service is named after Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of electronic television. The San Franscisco-based company started in the college market to create a new TV platform before going nationwide with this new streaming service.

“We started delivering streaming television at universities six years ago, and we’ve taken all of the unique insight we gained about this new generation of TV watchers in order to build a unique product and content package at an incredible value,” said Philo CEO Andrew McCollum in a statement.

Viacom, which is available on DirecTV Now but not a part of other live TV streaming offerings like YouTube TV and Hulu, had been looking to put together entertainment-focused skinny bundle like Philo since Robert Bakish took over as permanent CEO last December.

"We do think there’s an opportunity to go in lower and attract cord-nevers and people who need to aggressively manage their household spending."
Robert Bakish, Viacom president and CEO

Bakish told Adweek earlier this year that the broadcast and sports-based bundles, all of which are priced around $40, are “essentially the same … and if you talk to the CEOs of any of them, they’ll tell you the same thing: ‘We can’t make any money,’ which is probably code for, ‘We’re losing money on a variable basis.’” Those $40 packages, he added, “are not economic on a sustainable basis today.”

With an offering like Philo, “we do think there’s an opportunity to go in lower and attract cordnevers and people who need to aggressively manage their household spending,” said Bakish. “You can put together a pretty compelling offering at a pretty low price point.”

By teaming with a few competitors like Discovery and Scripps, “you can put that together at [around a] $15 price point, including a 30 percent margin,” said Bakish. “You can actually make some money and we believe you can attract some subscribers that aren’t currently in the game right now.”

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.