Philo, a cheap skinny-bundle TV streaming service, said Tuesday it raised $40 million in funding from its TV network backers AMC Networks, Discovery and Viacom.
Philo, which launched in November, is the latest in a parade of virtual TV services that emerged in the last three years -- and perhaps the most niche.
Most of its competitors are backed by tech Goliaths like AT&T's DirecTV Now, Google's YouTube TV, Dish's Sling TV or Sony's PlayStation Vue. They offer pretty deep lineups of channels so their parent companies can start marking their territory while viewers' migrate from traditional TV to streaming.
But Philo is backed by the smaller media companies that run the cable TV networks it carries, like AMC; Discovery and its stable of nonfiction-television channels like TLC, Food Network and HGTV; and Viacom, which runs channels like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Anything Philo can do to up its competitive stance is crucial. Up until last month, Philo's seriously skinny bundle meant it was also offering the cheapest live-TV streaming package out there. But AT&T launched a $15-a-month package called WatchTV, undercutting Philo by a dollar. WatchTV offers some of the same channels Philo has, lacks others (Viacom networks are absent, for example) -- but it includes networks with news and sports that AT&T just acquired in its takeover of Time Warner, such as CNN and TBS.
With the new funding, Philo said it plans to invest in product features and expand its marketing. The company said it's also developing a socially-driven TV experience.
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