DENVER—Philo CEO Andrew McCollum could soon have a direct competitor in Watch, a nonsports streaming skinny bundle AT&T intends to launch. But he doesn’t seem overly concerned.
McCollum said that the details are still sparse on Watch and that it’s hard to say how the bundle will impact the market until we know exactly what’s in it. He said that Philo doesn’t like to get caught up in what competing services are doing.
“We don’t really pay much attention to competition. We focus on building the best product that we can,” McCollum said. He added that it was funny that AT&T is conditioning the launch of Watch on the outcome of its court battle with the Justice Department over the proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner.
At a JP Morgan investor conference this week, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson reconfirmed AT&T Watch and offered a few details about the service.
“And then WatchTV is a product that as soon as Time Warner is closed, we'll be launching this. We've talked a little bit about this, but this is literally a $15 product. The content is a very skinny bundle. There are no sports. There are no local channels. This is pretty much entertainment and the Time Warner content. We obviously can't launch this until the Time Warner deal is closed,” Stephenson said according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
So Watch is being built on a very similar model to Philo (which starts at $16 per month) but with a couple notable distinctions. One is that that Watch will include Turner networks and possibly other Time Warner networks like HBO, which Philo doesn’t currently have. The other is that Watch will be offered for free to AT&T wireless subscribers.
Regardless of how Watch could shake up the landscape, McCollum said Philo is staying focused on improving its own service by listening to customer feedback. He confirmed that this summer Philo will add support for both Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Beyond that, he said Philo is still trying to figure out what the next device support priority will be and added that ease of app development and popularity of platform influence the decisions. He said that once Philo has Fire TV, it will be a smaller jump to other Android-based platforms, and that Philo gets a lot of requests for Chromecast, Android TV and smart TV support.
Although Philo still isn’t sharing any subscriber numbers, the company did say that uptake of the service’s expanded $20 package is “doing remarkably well.”
“It’s been a lot higher than we expected,” McCollum said, referring to both initial signups for the larger package and customers who later upgrade. It’s a sign that subscribers are OK with the pricing of Philo. McCollum said that Philo being too expensive is “not a criticism we get.”
Currently Philo offers a $16-per-month package with 37 channels including A&E, AMC, Comedy Central, Discovery and HGTV. For $20 per month, customers get 46 channels total and add networks like Discovery Family and Logo.
“The people who want the content we offer are really happy about it. We want to maintain that and we don’t want to add a bunch of content to the platform and drive up the price and make people pay for stuff they don’t want,” McCollum said.