New OTT Service Philo Testing Whether Consumers Can Live Without Sports Content
New OTT service Philo launches today without sports content, and if it "does well, it may undermine the value the industry places on expensive sports rights," but if it "doesn’t, it may strengthen the value of sports networks like ESPN and leagues like the NFL," according to Peter Kafka of RECODE. Philo "shows programming from some three dozen cable TV networks" and the fact that none of the programmers contributing channels "pay big fees for sports means that Philo costs much less than other web TV services." A base package "will cost $16 a month, compared with $35 a month for YouTube TV, or $40 a month for Hulu’s live TV option." But Philo users also "have to live without Disney-owned channels like ABC or the Disney Channel, or Fox-owned channels like Fox News or FX." Also not included -- "anything owned by CBS or NBCUniversal" (RECODE.net, 11/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Cara Lombardo writes Philo is "offering a bundle of 37 channels, including Comedy Central, TLC, Food Network, AMC and A&E." Basic level subscribers "get access to a slate of channels" owned by Discovery Communications, Viacom, Scripps Networks Interactive, A+E Networks and AMC Networks. Among the other nets included are Nickelodeon, Animal Planet, History, HGTV and MTV. The five companies supplying programming are also Philo’s "primary financial backers," together investing a total of $25M. Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger "dismissed the idea of a product like Philo on an earnings call earlier this year when asked about the feasibility of lower-cost packages that exclude sports" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/14).