Yet another internet-enabled skinny TV service debuts today. This one, from Philo, will only include entertainment-focused content at launch.
Philo's basic package will include 37 channels for $16 per month, with the option to add another nine channels for an additional $4.
Philo, which started in 2011 as a TV service on college campuses, will not include any sports content or broadcast channels initially, but CEO Andrew McCollum says it will certainly look to add more networks, albeit with a caveat: "We are not going to include a network unless we can preserve consumer choice and flexibility," he says, adding, "This becomes tough when talking about sports content."
Another potential differentiator to the likes of Dish Network's Sling TV and DirecTV Now is Philo's social features. In 2018, Philo will enable users to share content with friends. So a user who is watching "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," for example, can send an alert to a friend to tune in. That friend will receive a notification and if they are also a subscriber, watch it with one click. You can see what your friends are watching, at what point they are in the episode and even synchronize your viewing with theirs.
"We are looking to change TV viewing from being a solitary, isolated experience, to a shared one with friends," McCollum says.
It remains to be seen who, exactly, the audience is for such a service. While McCollum says he expects Philo to appeal to everyone from millennials who are shunning expensive pay-TV bundles to middle-aged women, its still a fledgling marketplace.
When it comes to advertising, Philo will sell the two-minutes of ad time per hour that's typically sold by traditional pay-TV operators, with plans to allow marketers to better target consumers through dynamic ad insertion. While McCollum says it will enable these capabilities in the near term, dynamic ad insertion will not be available at launch.
Part of the promise of these so-called over-the-top services was to not only improve the content viewing experience, but ad delivery as well. But thus far much of the TV viewing experience on these IP-enabled services look the same as traditional linear viewing.