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Streaming TV service Philo launching a friendship viewing feature – TechCrunch



After last year's $ 40m increase Prepares low-cost streaming service Philo to further differentiate itself from rivals with the launch of a new feature that allows viewers to watch shows together in real time. In summary, the company hopes to make a case of choosing Philo that goes beyond the affordable.

Instead, the company hopes subscribers will choose Philo simply because it's a better way to watch TV.

It's only 14 months since Philo first introduced his recording of the modern "skinny bundle" of television delivered over the Internet. The service chose to let go of sports to keep costs down to appeal to budget-conscious stringers, and especially the younger demographics who never signed up for traditional TV.

Today, Philo subscribers can pay $ 1

6 per. month for 43 entertainment and lifestyle channels – like those you could find on cable TV – or you can choose the top pay $ 20 for a larger package of 56 channels.

Since its debut, Philo has quickly rolled out to many platforms, including Four TV, Apple TV and Android TV. It has also added user profiles last year, started a referral program to increase its subscriber base and introduced built-in sharing features.

While Philo will not speak subscriber numbers yet, CEO Andrew McCollum told us at CES earlier this month that service grew by 40 percent on average throughout the month during 2018.

In 2019, Philo aimed to continue that path, he said. And it's a way of planning to do that by launching new product features.

"I want us to have a really strong and unique offer so it's good that people respond to it," McCollum said.

But he admitted that so far what Philo offers is still very similar to cable TV – the only thing it needs to replace.

"We give you a lot of the same experience you can get On a cable box it only works on all your devices. It is an unlimited DVR. It's all in the cloud. It's much simpler. It has much better search and discovery … by default, we do many things to make it easier and better, "McCollum said. "But basically it's a similar experience to what you're used to with cable."

Now it is changing.

The company has developed a synchronization technology that allows users to share links in order to invite friends and family to watch TV with them at the same time.

This technology has been available on other platforms. For example, in 2017, YouTube launched an experimental app to watch videos with friends called Uptime. Tumblr tried, so shuttered, a similar app called Cabana. There are also apps that let us see it, rabbit and others. Even Facebook has worked on a co-watching function.

But none of the live TV streaming services – such as Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, etc. – allows watching TV with others.

McCollum said that Philo's co-watching function is finished from a technical point of view and the team is now polishing the user interface. The plan will currently have Philo subscribers who use their television and their phone with each other to launch the conscience experience.

How it works: Once you have found something to see, you will be able to press a button to share a link with a friend via a text message. The friend opens the link on their own phone, throws the show on their television, and Philo connects the two sessions together.

The team concludes how all this flows to make the process work smoothly and naturally, with as few steps as possible, McCollum said. But the feature is ready to be launched and will arrive "soon".

In addition to looking together, Philo also works on a smart common recommendation function. With this you and another – a roommate, a friend or a significant other – can join your Philo profiles together to review a set of recommendations based on your common tastes and interests.

This can start after the consensus experience, but the two functions will be tied together at a time.

Also in 2019, Philo says it will investigate the extension of its service through additions. These may include premium cable channels (eg, Showtime and Starz, eg), premium digital content or even traditional broadcast networks or sports channels.

"We want to balance in creating more opportunities by ensuring that people do not want to" be forced into things they do not care about, "said McCollum.

Philo's upcoming updates could do the service more convincing at a time when there is a convincing choice to get television delivered over the Internet, while on-demand video services such as Netflix and Prime Video have gathered millions of subscribers, many consumers today still decide whether to cut cable with cable – only to replace it with something that looks very much like cable TV. Philo could encourage them to make the switch by offering something different.

Philo has so far raised over $ 90 from investors, including AMC Networks, Discovery, Viacom, A + E Networks, CBC New Media, NEA, Rho Ventures and Xfund. 19659002] (Image credits: Philo; Images do not show the features yet to be launched)


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