Aug 31 2020
Getting rid of cable doesn’t always mean you want to lose all the channels that came with your subscription. You want to keep the ones you love without the expensive monthly bill. Streaming services like Hulu and Firestick will let you add some for a fee but after adding three or four channels, your bill is back up to where it used to be.
There is a way you can still watch your favorite cable channels without a huge expense. An over-the-top (OTT) streaming service is cost-effective and you still have access to most of your favorite cable channels. Two that are popular with consumers are Sling TV and Philo.
Both are designed to function like cable and broadcast the national networks but there are differences between the two services.
Brief Review of Sling TV and Philo
If you’re not familiar with over-the-top media service (OTT), it’s a service provider that streams media via the internet. There are no cables to connect, dishes to install, or satellite interference to worry about. Instead, all you need is a high-speed internet connection to watch cable and broadcast channels on Sling TV or Philo.
Sling TV is owned by Dish Network which automatically gives it access to plenty of cable channels. Even though Philo is newer, you won’t lack for channels to watch. One of the differences between the services is the types of channels each one offers.
If sports and news channels are the reason you had cable, you’ll love Sling TV. It has a broader selection than Philo. This doesn’t mean that Philo has nothing to offer. It does offer a few sports and news channels, along with plenty of entertainment ones.
Philo is cheaper than even Sling TV’s basic package. You can choose from three packages with Sling TV, while Philo currently only offers one.
Even though the type of channels each service offers might be enough for you to make up your mind, there are other differences between Sling TV and Philo that make might you rethink your initial decision.
Even if you didn’t know what an OTT was, chances are you’ve heard of Sling TV. The company’s commercials have been hilarious and popular for a few years.
With Sling TV you can any one of the three packages free for 7 days. While the first two packages, Sling Orange and Blue are the same price, the third package combines them at a slightly higher rate.
There are two primary differences between the three packages. The first is the number of channels offered before you have to pay to add one. The second is the number of streams. With Sling Orange, you can only stream media to a single device. Sling Orange & Blue has four streams and Sling Blue 3. All three also give you 10 hours of Cloud DVR storage.
There are a few disadvantages to Sling TV. You do have access to entertainment channels, including premium ones like HBO, Starz, and Cinemax. The downside is that many are add-ons that cost an extra monthly fee.
The amount of DVR space is limited to 10 hours, regardless of the package you buy. If you want more space, it is also extra per month. Even with the added fee, you’re still limited to 50 hours of storage.
Philo TV is newer, but it already has a strong customer base. The OTT media service is affordable and offers a variety of channels that makes it easy to find something to watch.
Philo offers the same number of channels as the Sling Orange & Blue package for a cheaper price. Currently, there are over 50 channels on Philo and many are not add-ons.
There is only one Philo package but it comes with plenty of features. You can create up to 10 user profiles which makes managing everyone’s favorite channels less frustrating. You also get 3 streams so multiple profiles can be important.
Sometimes you need more than a few hours of DVR storage, with Philo you have unlimited cloud storage. With three simultaneous streams, larger households will need plenty of storage space.
Philo might offer 50+ channels like Sling TV, but it is lacking some news and sports channels. You will have access to national networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox but you won’t be able to pick-up local stations without an antenna.
You also won’t find as many add-on channels with Philo, including some of the premium ones.
Sling TV vs Philo
There are some similarities between the two OTT media services but there are also differences. If you’re still not sure which service to choose, sometimes a brief comparison of their features helps.
Sling TV gives you the choice of three packages, while Philo only offers one. Philo is less expensive and gives you access to 55+ channels. With Sling TV, you have to purchase the higher priced package to get the same number of cable and national broadcast networks.
The right service will depend on what type of channels you want.
Entertainment and Sports Channels
Philo only has one package with 50+ channels that focus on entertainment. The package comes with networks like AMC, Comedy Central, BET, A&E, HGTV, and the Food Network to name a few. Most of Philo’s channels are entertainment.
Philo beats Sling TV with its included entertainment channels. Sling TV also offers them but many are add-ons. While Philo doesn’t have any dedicated sports channels, Sling TV offers several including ESPN and NBCSN.
If you primarily watch entertainment, then Philo is your best option. However, if you’re a sports fan, you’ll want to go with Sling TV.
Sling TV is the better option if you want to watch the local broadcast. How clear the channels come in will depend on your location. Philo does not offer any local channels. You’ll need an external antenna if you want your TV to receive the broadcast signal.
If you don’t live close to the signal, you’ll also have to purchase an antenna with Sling TV.
Philo currently does not offer any premium channels, but Sling TV comes with several add-ons. You will have to pay an extra fee for each one, but if you love HBO, Starz, Cinemax, Showtime, and more, Sling TV is the best option.
Overall, you will have access to more channels with Sling TV, but many come with added fees. Philo has fewer channels, but only charges one fee for the bundle.
Installation and Device Compatibility
Installing either service is simple. You don’t have to connect any added cables or have a satellite dish installed on your roof. Some smart TVs are compatible with the OTT media services. Simply create an account on Sling TV or Philo’s website and download the app to your media device.
If your TV isn’t compatible several devices will work with both services. Sling TV and Philo devices include,
- Fire TV
- Apple TV
- Android TV
- iOS/Android devices
Sling TV is also compatible with,
- Xbox One
Along with Samsung and LG smart TVs. Currently, Sling TV does cover more devices but it is the older service. As Philo continues to grow it’s expected that the service will become compatible with more devices.
Regardless of which package you choose with Sling TV, it only comes with 10 hours of DVR storage. It is an additional $5 per month to up the storage to 50 hours.
Unlimited DRV cloud storage is included with Philo’s single package. If you love to record TV to watch later, then Philo is the winner.
Original Content and On-Demand
Neither service offers original content but both have an on-demand library. It is limited with both Sling TV and Philo. How often and when the programming is available depends on the channel, the OTT media services do not control the content’s availability.
Not sure what simultaneous streaming is? It refers to the number of devices that can access the service at the same time. Each device can watch different channels. So, if you are watching sports, someone else can watch a comedy on a different device.
The first package Sling TV offers has one stream but the higher-priced one comes with three. Philo gives consumers three streams with its package.
If you need to keep people entertained on multiple devices, Philo is the more cost-effective option.
Even though both services’ app is compatible with several devices. Sling TV does have more options that include Chromecast, AirTV, Xbox One, Oculus, along with smart TVs by Samsung and LG.
The interface for both services can be frustrating. Philo comes with three navigational modes, Home, Live, and Saved. If you want to see a channel guide, you’ll have to visit the web browser. Philo does not have a channel guide on the TV menu.
Sling TV also doesn’t make it easy to search through the channels. It does have a search tool on the TV, but it is limited to only,
- My TV – you’ll see your channel preferences
- On Now – you can scroll through the channels to see what is currently playing
- Guide – limited to only the channel you’re currently on
Unless you have a movie title or program name that you want to search for, like Philo it’s not easy to browse through the channels. When comparing the two services, it’s a tie for this feature.
Philo lets customers create up to 10 user profiles. Each viewer in the household can save their favorite channels and shows. The profile also tracks their viewer history to help consumers find new programming that fits their interests.
Sling TV only lets customers personalize their viewing experience with the My Tv function. You can keep the channels you frequently watch in one place, instead of scrolling through the menu.
Philo may provide a better user experience, but it does not come with parental controls. Sling TV does let parents control what their children watch.
Philo does come with a few Spanish channels like Telemundo and Univision but it is limited compared to Sling TV that boasts close to 200 foreign language channels. Viewers will have access to Arabic, Filipino, Hindu. Mandarin, Punjabi, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, to name a few.
While Philo is expected to expand its list of foreign channels, currently Sling TV is in the lead. It’s worth noting that Sling TV charges a fee for most of the foreign language channels.
You do get more extras with Sling TV than Philo. With Philo, there are not any add-ons, only what comes with the package.
Sling TV lets you customize your package by adding extra channels. You can also increase DVR storage for $5 per month. If you don’t miss any sporting events, for an extra $10 a month you can have access to the MLB and NHL Networks, along with NBA TV, and ESPN.
There are also bundles for viewers that prefer comedy or want to keep watching their favorite shows and movies on the premium channels.
These channel bundles do help keep the overall cost for Sling TV down, but it’s still more expensive than Philo’s entertainment package.
There are disadvantages to both services. Philo is the cheaper of the two, even with Sling TV’s basic package but you will be missing out on sports and news channels. Philo also doesn’t come with any extras, so you won’t be able to add any premium channels to your package.
Sling TV does come with both sports and entertainment packages, along with several add-ons, it doesn’t beat Philo when it comes to user personalization features. You also have to be careful with the add-ons, or your Sling TV bill could match your previous cable bills.
When you’re trying to decide which OTT media service is right for you, start by thinking about what you frequently watch. If you’re more oriented towards sports and the news, you will want to give Sling TV a try. It’s free for 7-days.
Philo is also free for 7-days if you prefer to watch comedy and other entertainment shows. Even without the premium channels, you still have the ones that come with a basic cable for a significantly lower rate.