Philo, a live streaming TV service focused on entertainment channels, has added Starz and Epix as its first two premium channel add-ons for subscribers.
The service – which offers more than 50 channels including A&E, AMC, Comedy Central, Food Network, HGTV, Lifetime and Nickelodeon for $20 per month – has special introductory prices to go along with the launch. Philo subscribers can get Epix for $3 per month for the first three months (regularly $6/month) and Starz for $5 per month for the first three months (regularly $9/month) if they sign up for the services before July 13.
Mike Keyserling, chief operating officer and head of content acquisition at Philo, said both Starz and Epix will have linear channels and large on-demand libraries on the service.
Premium channel add-ons are common practice for distributors (both traditional and virtual MVPDs) and Philo has been around for years now. So, why is the company just now getting around to launching the option for its subscribers?
Keyserling said Philo in its first year of business prioritized building out its subscriber acquisition mechanism and in the second year focused on its digital ad insertion technology.
“Now we have an opportunity to really expand the content offering and it’s a logical time to do it. Having add-ons very early on when you’re smaller doesn’t quite matter as much as when you have some scale,” Keyserling said.
Now that Philo has the infrastructure in place to handle functions like billing for premium add-ons, Keyserling said the company will likely look to add more content to its offering. That could take the form of genre-based bundles of linear channels, more premium channels or other SVODs.
The addition of Starz and Epix come at a time when Philo said it’s seeing continued growth while larger vMVPDs like Sling TV and AT&T TV Now are losing subscribers. Keyserling said Philo’s relatively low-cost vMVPD focused on entertainment while leaving out the sports has helped the service resonate during the pandemic that’s kept people home and forced professional sports to shut down.
Keyserling said that Philo has heard anecdotally from some of its connected TV partners that it’s the fastest growing vMVPD overall in the early part of the second quarter. He wouldn’t share specific subscriber totals for Philo but he did say the service is about 3x where it was one year ago and that it’s up 70% in the first half of 2020.