Why I dumped PlayStation Vue for Philo


Why I joined Philo and dumped PlayStation Vue

When I dumped my subscription to PlayStation Vue for Philo this week, I realized there are some immediate benefits that could apply to just about anyone who subscribes to live streaming TV.

In the spirit of trying to be useful, I’m jotting down a few liner notes about hitting the reset button with my cord cutting ways. I will write a full review of Philo at a later date.

Here’s what happened

My PlayStation Vue bill went up $10 per month in November. Like a lot of PS Vue customers, I took a hard look at what I was actually watching.

I subscribed to the Elite channel bundle for nearly two years, which gave me about 92 live channels. At $45 per month, it felt like a bargain. My Internet connection cost $35 per month through most of 2016 and 2017 after I taught myself how to negotiate a better deal.

So overall, subscribing to PS Vue was great.

But then some of the Vue channel lineup changed. Then Sony announced over the summer Vue’s rates would increase by $10 per month for most customers. They seemed to waver on the decision before finally increasing my rate. It was all very wishy-washy, and not well executed.

Whatever. It’s their business decision.

My price increase didn’t kick in until last month. And once I saw $54.99 withdrawal from Sony on my bank statement, I felt like I was back to where I started with one of my last cable bills.

One of the old pitfalls of cable TV felt tangible again. I was paying for the option to watch many things, but rarely taking advantage of it.

Taking stock of my channel lineup

When I did an accounting of what my wife and I are really watching, I realized that we were spending too much money. We were using PlayStation Vue for just a few channels, less than 5 percent of its offerings.  

Even if we didn’t replace PlayStation Vue with Philo, we would still have 136 channels to watch. Our PlayStation Vue account added another 92 channels to the mix, bringing our total to 228.

So as I sit here, I have 44 channels coming from my antenna. My antenna gives me NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, PBS and many more networks. I have come to appreciate sub-channels, especially genre-specific ones like ESCAPE. I can record whatever I like using Plex DVR and a NVIDIA Shield Pro, which has a 500GB hard drive. I have even more external storage too if I need it.

The other 92 channels come from Pluto TV, the free live streaming platform. Pluto has a number of great channels. My favorite? Live Music Replay. I’ve also spotted a few movies in the on-demand library that I want to watch soon.

PlayStation Vue vs Philo: What am I really giving up?

Here’s the most important thing I realized. Having an awesome channel and actually carving out the time to watch it are two very different things. I think we all get a little bit caught up with the desire to have certain channels, and we gladly pay for them, but these channels are rarely, if ever, watched.

What channels am I talking about? It will likely vary from person to person. If you’re honest with yourself, you can come up with a list without putting in too much work. There’s no doubt that I’m sacrificing some decent channels by dropping PlayStation Vue. TNT and TBS are toast. No more CNN. FX or National Geographic are gone. All the sports channels are out.

These are all cool channels, but how much am I really watching them? Not much.

I love PlayStation Vue’s interface, especially the new one on Roku OS8. All the TV Everywhere support is fantastic. Realizing that I don’t use is a wake-up call.

What I’m getting with Philo

Maybe I haven’t learned as much I thought. Instead of truly downsizing, I opted for Philo’s largest bundle – 46 channels for $20 per month. I could have opted for the bare minimum – 37 channels for $16 per month. But I wanted some channels I had been missing.

I get back all the Viacom channels that Sony ditched months ago, including MTV Live and Spike. Viceland is added to the mix and I get to keep Animal Planet.

AMC is here for when Better Call Saul returns next season. Sundance TV and History channels will be watched with frequency. For $20, I also get to take care of basic features like unlimited DVR.


What’s ahead for Philo in 2018

According to Philo CEO Andrew McCollum, support for TV Everywhere apps is coming in early 2018. So I won’t be missing that for long. He also hinted during a Reddit AMA this week that Philo wouldn’t rule out adding sports channels. He suggested sports channels and others may come in the form add-on channel bundles.

Roku is the only streaming device that has Philo support. You can also use an iPhone, Android smartphone, PC or Mac. McCollum said more streaming devices will be supported soon. Right now, I’m using a Roku TV in one room and a Roku Streaming Stick+ in the other.

Philo has some room to improve with its user interface. As some other redditors noted, having an in-picture channel guide like Pluto TV, or even an interface closer to Vue would do a lot for Philo.

It’s early in the game for this live streaming service. Philo just launched on November 14. Either way, Philo has made my television set a lot more interesting again.

Remember that first time you cut the cord? Did you have the feeling like you somehow regained something? Well, that’s what I’m trying to sum up here.

Paying only $20 per month also frees up some cash. If I really wanted to get wild with my spending, I could check out some Amazon Channels like Showtime for $9 per month. Paying $99 for a year’s worth of FilmStruck seems like a solid investment.

Should you switch up your streaming service in 2018?

Here’s the salient lesson about cutting the cord that nobody is talking about.

Once you take better control of how much you pay for TV on a month to month basis, the work you put into deciding what you want, and how much you should pay for it every month does not end there.

I could have easily kept paying the extra money for PlayStation Vue because I like the service quite a bit. But the price increase and channel shuffling in recent months left me feeling like there were better deals to be had elsewhere.

Philo offers one of the best deals out there, especially with its skinny bundle of 37 channels for $16 per month. There’s an element of joy in starting over. TV becomes a bit more alive again. New channels come into the mix, while others that I never really watched go away.

Have you tried out Philo? Tell fellow readers what you think of their service in the comments below.

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  1. Been with VUE since launch, never an issue and has always been the most reliable, I also have YouTube TV now wish they would add Cinemax,HBO and Epix Hits but they only have Starz and ShowTime. Why can’t one service have it all. I would do Hulu but that is a mess of an interface to find anything you want to watch. I tried it for a month and was bombarded with outages and Hulu did nothing to give credit for keeping me as a customer but taking my money and say it is what is basically. DTVN is and never had operated smoothly always had an issue with DVR, or locals disappearing and or connectivity issues. Hulu has changed a lot with service as they are adding packages now like Sling TV and it more costly now it seems.

    I like VUE regardless of the price, it functions better to me and I have found the DVR is better as all my shows that I DVR don’t switch to On-Demand like YouTube TV does with some networks. I am paying for the DVR function I want to use it to skip commercial not watch it, unless I am watching it live I don’t mind then. So sticking with VUE and YouTube TV for now and battling those two to see which one will take over as my main service.

    • It all depends on your priorities. If sports is a high priority, then obviously Philo might not be for you. In today’s age of an almost post-cable world, it would be silly to think that you wouldn’t have a non-sports bundle. Let’s face it: you probably know SOMEBODY who wants AMC for The Walking Dead or A&E for their Friday night fix of Live PD, but doesn’t care much about watching ESPN. Providing sports channels are expensive. So why should they pay for pricey sports channels that are no use to them?

      I still watch plenty of sports, locals and news just using my antenna. Subscribing to Philo is a nice, inexpensive supplement for premium channels. But that just works for me because of the reasoning described above.

  2. I went through the same path of cable cutting…

    Ditched my cable for Vue then cancelled after the increase.

    I will say Vue is excellent but like cable I was paying for channels I wasn’t watching.

    I tried sling but it lacked free DVR features in their basic package..then I found Philo. Philo offers a cheap family and entertainment channel line up with DVR features for $16.

    Roku Philo Pluto Netflix Amazo prime has definitely replaced my needs for expensive cable packages.

  3. Don’t even need to read the article:
    1. it’s BETTER
    2. it’s FASTER (like it “tunes in” quicker then satellite)
    3. It just works

    Signing up could not be ANY EASIER, to start a trial all you need is a cell number, after 2 days you give them an email address and credit card number and you get 5 more days free, none of that setting up a PSN account/wallet, dealing with stupid recaptcha select all the tiles with cars/street signs/storefronts garbage then going back and adding a plan to your cart and checking out then having to establish a “home location” and only be able to use your main TV devices in that location and being restricted to mobile devices when outside the house (meaning no taking your Roku with you on vacation to watch TV with) which are major issues with Vue.

    Philo gives you an EXCELLENT price for an even better selection of channels, even at it’s best Vue NEVER had History and the other A&E networks and since then has DROPPED Viacom completely and moved DIY Network to the more expensive plans on top of the incoming price increase (so if you are grandfathered in on a slim plan, for the next little while till that goes away, you have to give up that lower rate plus pay the bump up to get a plan that now has DIY Network and that cost INCREASE ALONE is enough to pay for Philo).

    I’ve had Sling, Vue, DirecTV Now (Sling from Nov/Dec 2015 till Dec 2016, Vue from March 2016 till Nov 2016 and DTV Now from LAUNCH to Nov 2017) so I have a GOOD amount of time spent with all 3 of them so when I say Philo is BETTER I mean it, it suffers NONE of the issues Vue has had, like how the Vue DVR cuts off the lat 10-30 seconds of shows because its the EXACT length of the time slot and the time slot is slightly misaligned (so you see the last 10-30 seconds of the previous show), Philo DOESN’T do that, it does like what the Vue DVR USED to do where it had an extra minute or so at the end. Philo has a 72 Hour Rewind but unlike Sling where it’s limited to specific channels it works on EVERY CHANNEL, Philo also has basically the same concept for it’s DVR except it’s BETTER (at least on the web interface) you can select the episode NAME and manually chose WHICH version of the recorded episode to watch, for example I was watching a Street Outlaws episode a few weeks ago and in the middle of a guy talking (a solid minute before the actual commercial break) it jumped to a commercial break, I was able to back out to the show and chose the repeat airing that aired a few hours later and watch that one which did NOT do that from a list of airings instead of having to scroll to that specific time in the guide like I would have to do when a DVR recording would not play on Vue because of some error.

    Philo does have some room for improvement, it needs a GUIDE on the Roku interface, it needs increased device support and it needs PROFILES for multi-user households, once those things are done it’s gonna be a show stopper.

  4. Yeah, I dropped Vue a couple months ago when my price went up (October it was for me).
    Since then I’ve been with YouTubeTV.
    I don’t have an OTA option really for “the locals”, I’m far enough away with some hilly terrain in between that the only way to get OTA for me would be a big rooftop antenna. If I could get away with an in-attic antenna I might give that a shot, but according to antennaweb I have only a slim chance of that working. Plus then I’d have to get a HDHomerun or something similar and DVR to my Plex as most of my TV’s don’t even have tuners.

    And I STILL contend cord cutting is just not for everyone. There’s something to be said for the consistent interface (even if crappy, at least it’s all your channels and all in one place) of overpriced cable. Since cutting the cord, depending what I want to watch I either deal with 4 or 5 different apps on my phone or FireTV’s, or wildly different user interfaces via browser on my laptop then having to “cast” to a Chromecast. It’s sometimes so frustrating I long for the days of just picking up one remote and “watching TV”…

    • Yes this is a mess all around for many. And I sure agree about how nice it would be to just click the tv on and boom it’s all there with a remote. I really have to wonder about cable almost to the point to where I’m thinking there may be an end to this push of net streaming tv. Cable is in a lot of areas, the places it isn’t people can use streaming or satellite if they want less bs. But on cable it is there and depending on the provider works well. I find it hard to believe that until the infrastructure dies that they can’t provide us tv for a reasonable price. I would like proof it costs that much to maintain the system. I don’t think I have ever seen lines worked on unless they were adding areas. They run around but it is just to connect up new service or disconnect. We have the good system and I would like to see it made to work. Net tv is simply not ready yet and I wonder is cable should be an option for many areas. I miss cable

      • Well, their infrastructure us the same for TV and internet since it’s ALL digital to their TV set top boxes anyway. I have said for a LONG time the cable cos missed the boat for providing cheaper TV without their stupid boxes. There is ZERO technical reason they couldn’t offer exactly the same content and unified single interface, providing ZERO hardware to the end user. If my cable company would offer that I would go back in a heartbeat, all these stupid different apps and interface and controls and options for different channels is just stupid and frustrating.

  5. I have found PVue to be glitchy and problematic using either my firestick (bad device?) or the browser (my preferred usage mode). That along with the $10 increase and I still only having one of the major networks has made me mad. I don’t know for sure where I am going in about a month when I restart up. I realize everyone wants what they want but I am a sports guy like many. I get sick of the idea of sports add on. Great, but after having to pay a bunch for an initial package of “entertainment” that I have near zero need for and then the additional for sports I am now getting up high and having tons of channels I do not need. Never going to get even a half way a la carte. And with the likely coming exchange of dvr to on demand (think controlled content) I am tired of being manipulated and my wallet sucked dry.

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