By Brian Henry
Television brings us together. That’s what Philo CEO, Andrew McCollum, told Cheddar at the Pay TV conference in Denver, Colorado.
“Fundamentally we believe TV is the most social form of media out there," said McCollum, who is also the co-founder of Facebook. "People talk about television way more than they talk about anything else except there’s no real functionality built in the TV products people commonly use today to enable that interaction.”
McCollum said that while TV was once thought of as a “solitary experience,” thanks to social media, conversation that was once saved for the water cooler is taking place in real time.
“If you’re watching a popular TV show like ‘The Walking Dead’ you’re experience that with millions of other people at the same time. But you have no access to it. We want to open up the visibility, make TV a two-way platform rather than a one-way experience.” McCollum explained. “So you can see, oh I’m not just sitting by myself at home watching ‘The Walking Dead’ I’m actually experiencing this with my five closest friends and we are watching this together. We think that really has a fundamental change to how you feel about the experience of watching TV. It suddenly gives it a whole different flavor than it did before.”
McCollum hopes to eventually build upon the social aspect and make TV watching an interactive experience, even if you can’t catch the episode in real time.
“One of the reasons you have to watch it live when you want to participate in that conversation is because if you go on Twitter even a half hour after your show airs, you’re going to have it spoiled for you.”
“What’s cool about building the social functionality into the product itself is that we can actually shift that. We can start to time shift the conversation to the content as well," McCollum added. "This isn’t possible today, but what we’re building into the service is, if you watch the show half-an-hour or an hour after, the next day or even a week later, you can see what your friends, or even the cast and crew, or what other people were saying about it as it was airing live and you can sort of recreate the conversation that was occurring when the show was playing.”
Philo subscribers can currently watch AMC, A&E, and The Discovery Channel, among others, but sports channels are not yet included in the bundles. McCollum says its all about keeping cost down and focusing on the customer.
“There’s no sports. For that reason it's much, much lower cost. It's about $20. That really sets us apart from the other offerings that are out there," he pointed out. "The other way we really try to distinguish the service is by being really customer-centric and really figuring out how we can do the best thing for our subscribers and really treat them in an honest and much more transparent way.”