Viacom, Discovery Join New Entertainment Streaming Service

Programmers who have complained that they haven’t been able to get carriage with over-the-top virtual distributors at a time when traditional pay-TV operators are losing subscribers have cast their lot with a tiny startup.

Discovery Communications, Viacom, Scripps Networks, AMC Networks and A+E Networks have signed up to have their channels put into an entertainment focused bundle that will cost subscribers $16 a month for about 35 networks.

Those programmers are notable for their lack of the broadcast networks and sports programming that provide leverage with distributors.

Most of the early providers of skinny streaming bundles have concluded that without broadcast networks and sports won’t draw the bulk of subscribers.

The new bundle being launched by a tiny start up called Philo starts with the leftovers.

Discovery and Viacom have been arguing that their channels drawn viewers in greater proportion than the share of distribution revenue they generate. And as traditional pay-Tv subscribers have eroded, they have been unable to make up some of those losses because streamers including the recently launched Hulu and YouTube TV live products have spent their allowance on the bigger ticket items.

Channels on the new service include A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, AXS TV, BBC America, Cheddar, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Food Network, GSN, HGTV, HISTORY, Investigation Discovery (ID), IFC, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, TLC, Travel Channel.

For $4 more channels can be added.

Subscribers will e able to watch on up to three devices at the same time.

New subscribers will get a seven day free trial.

The service include an unlimited 30-day DVR, plus on-demand programming. Viewers will be able to pause live programming and watch programs from the beginning if they’ve aired within the last three days.

Philo is also planning to link its service to a social platform, enabling friends to share shows and watch together.

At launch, Philo supports web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari), Roku devices, an iOS app, and Android via Chrome

Philo is named for Philo T. Farnsworth, who invented the electronic television. The company is backed by investments from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Rho Ventures, Xfund, Home Box Office Inc. (HBO), Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments, WME, and CBC New Media Group.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.