Philo, Which Streams Discovery’s Cable Networks, Isn’t Worried About Discovery+

Since 2017, Philo has differentiated itself from other virtual MVPD offerings by focusing exclusively on entertainment and lifestyle programming, including streaming more than a dozen of Discovery Inc.’s cable networks. 

So it would seem likely that Philo seems threatened by a new streaming rival, that also boasts a hefty amount of Discovery programming: Discovery+, the company’s newly-launched streamer. However, Philo’s top executive insists that he’s not worried about the new platform, which he seems as a complement to, not a competitor of, his streaming service.

“I think overall it’s great to provide options for consumers,” Philo CEO Andrew McCollum said, speaking at CES 2021 on Tuesday. “It can be a great complement to what you’re getting through Philo.”

Philo is available for $20 a month with more than 60 channels, a price far cheaper than vMVPD competitors like YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV, which also offer sports and news networks. At the same time, Discovery likely doesn’t want to siphon viewers from Philo, as the media company was one of Philo’s first investors.

McCollum sees the vMVPD—which hit 800,000 subscribers last August—as a complement to SVOD services such as HBO Max and Netflix, though he does question when consumers will reach their “breaking point” when it comes to the proliferation of streamers.

The abundance of login credentials, billing details, user interfaces and content options becomes “overwhelming” for consumers, said McCollum. “I do think that over time things will become a lot more consolidated in a lot of ways.”

Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV and fuboTV all raised their entry-level tier prices to $65 a month in 2020, which McCollum said points to the virtual MVPDs “trying to make the basic economics of the service work,” due to high sports programming costs. In 2019, Philo eliminated its lower-priced tier, offering 45 channels for $16 per month, which has been the platform’s only pricing change since it debuted in 2017.

Philo still has no interest in adding sports or news networks to its lineup. “We don’t have any inherent bias against sports and news content; it’s compelling content,” said McCollum. “We believe that consumers should have a choice about how to get a group of content that made sense for them, and we felt like those other live sports and broadcast channels, comparatively for what you were getting, the cost just was a lot higher.”

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