Netflix invented the video streaming industry. The company started out as a postal DVD rental Sling TV and Philo are two internet-based cable TV replacements services. Rather than requiring a separate cable to be laid to the home, live TV streaming services can be carried over the same media used for the internet and even over telephone wires. For this reason, internet TV systems appeal to people who want to get away from the restrictions of choice that cable TV imposes. These people are called “cord cutters.”
Most of the United States is a patchwork of exclusive territories for cable TV companies. Very few locations get a choice between cable TV services. This is why cord-cutting internet-based live TV streaming services are so appealing. In the case of Sling TV and Philo, customers switching over from cable or satellite TV will save a lot of money because both services are considerably cheaper than traditional cable TV packages.
Sling TV started up in 2014. It is the second-largest live TV streaming service in the United States and currently has 2.59 million subscribers. Philo’s customer base is tiny by comparison. The service started up as a hobby project for university students in 2009. Philo went commercial in 2013 and currently has 50,000 subscribers.
Compare Sling TV vs Philo plans
Philo only has one plan. Sling TV has two plans, called Sling Blue and Sling Orange. The channel lineup of each of these two Sling TV packages overlaps and it is possible to get a combination deal on both.
|Sling Blue||Sling Orange||Philo|
|Free trial||No||No||7 days|
|Number of TV channels||47||32||59|
|Cloud DVR included?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hours of cloud DVR storage||10 hours upgradeable to 50||10 hours upgradeable to 50||20 hours|
Sling Blue + Sling Orange costs $45 per month and this combination gets a simultaneous streaming allowance of four devices. Sling Blue is available every evening between 5 pm and midnight for free. Sling TV changes its signup incentive frequently. Sometimes it is a free trial of varying lengths, sometimes it is a $10 discount on the first month of service and sometimes it is a premium package included for free for the first month.
The Philo free trial initially lasts for two days and that gets extended by a further five days once the customer enters billing details into the system.
Compare Sling TV vs Philo content
The big four
Both Sling TV and Philo cut prices as low as they can. They are both a lot cheaper than most live TV streaming services and they leave out the major channels that the competition includes to achieve that aim. Philo does not carry ABC, NBC, CBS, or Fox. Sling TV doesn’t include any of those channels in the Sling Orange package but it does include NBC and Fox in the Sling Blue bundle.
Sling Blue and Sling Orange both include A&E, AMC, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, Food Network, HGTV, Investigation Discovery, History Channel, and Lifetime, among others. Philo has all of those too, plus some channels that are paid addons with Sling TV, such as MTV and VH1.
Philo has no sports programming. Without the major networks, it doesn’t have access to the regional sports networks and it doesn’t offer any extras or specialist channels that have sports content. Sling TV includes sports in both of its plans, but the sports content in Sling Orange is by far the best. Sling Blue includes the regional sports network through NBC and NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1 and it also has the NFL Network. Both Sling Blue and Sling Orange include TBS and TNT, which include some live sports events in their schedules. Sling Orange includes ESPN and ESPN2.
Philo does not have any addon packages. Sling TV offers individual channel add-ons plus specialist packages. Channel add-ons include MTV, VH1, and Hallmark. Sports channels that can be added on include Fox Sports 2, NBA TV, MLB Network, NHL Network, PAC-12, AAC Network, ESPNU, and SEC Network.
Channel package add-ons available with Sling TV include three comedy bundles, three children’s TV channel bundles, there lifestyle channel bundles, three news channel bundles, and three sports packages. There are three different combinations of Spanish language channels available as packages and there are three movie packages that include channels from EPIX. As well as those, there is a Starz package and a Showtime package.
Compare Sling TV vs Philo streaming devices
|iOS mobile app||Yes||Yes|
|Android mobile app||Yes||Yes|
|Android TV box||Yes||Yes|
|Amazon Fire TV||Yes||Yes|
|Samsung smart TV||Yes||No|
|LG Smart TV||Yes||No|
|Vizio smart TV||Yes||No|
Compare Sling TV vs Philo user experience
The TV guide layout of Sling TV follows the format of a video-on-demand system rather than a live TV service. A scrollable menu bar along the top of the guide allows the user to select a channel. The main body of the TV guide screen has categorized sections showing the entertainment in each category that is going to be shown on that channel. The top line shows the schedule for the channel, but it doesn’t have a time bar. Each show is displayed as the title image of the show.
Philo lists all live shows in a grid of images with a slot per channel. Clicking on a show image gives a list of all available episodes on the system, including the current and forthcoming showing. Again, this is more like a video on demand library that a live TV system.
Both systems use a video on demand layout but Philo’s TV guide is slightly better.
The details screen of Philo gives a one-line description of the show and then lists available episodes as images with the series and episode number and the schedule slot for upcoming episodes. The Sling TV includes a paragraph of each show and a trailer.
The Sling TV details screen has more information.
Philo has a great playback feature, which is that it takes the viewer to the beginning of the show even if he or she tunes in while the show has already been running for some time. The viewer then has the option to skip to the current live position of the video or keep watching from the beginning. Sling TV shows each video live and doesn’t allow playback controls on live TV.
The Philo playback controls are exceptional.
Sling TV pros
- Lots of add-on choices
- Good value for money
- Up to four simultaneous streams
- Excellent options for sports fans
- Good options for children’s TV
- Spanish language options
Sling TV cons
- Adding on all of the channels found in a typical cable TV package can end up costing more than cable TV.
Philo TV pros
- Very low price
- Great video playback system
- Good user interface
Philo TV cons
- No sports channels
- Only one news channel
- No local networks or the Big Four