Several years ago, it seems like it was only Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu controlling most of the cord-cutting movement. Now there seem to be companies sprouting up left and right monthly! BET+, Disney+, and HBOMax are just a few of the latest to start their ‘cord-cutting’ services with more to debut in 2020. One of the services that have been around and has been slowly creeping up is Philo.
Since launching the TV service to the public last November, a large batch of their subscribers are women and/or black and most dwell in cities like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Black Enterprise got a chance to speak with Philo’s Chief Marketing Officer Nii Mantse Addy. He discussed why the service has an appeal to a mostly black audience, his role in the emerging support and marketing of Philo, and where he sees this streaming war heading.
Why has the significance of streaming TV been more prominent of late and what do you anticipate the streaming wars between companies leading to in the near future?
Move toward more choice and value for people. Legacy business is antiquated and expensive, which is driving the cord-cutting wave that’s been predicted for years. The new model is people only paying for what’s relevant to them, which means the role of distributors is changing. Ten years ago, content companies had no real way to get directly to customers.
How did Philo get its start and why should we join the streaming company?
It started with the idea that there has to be a way to provide a better TV experience in the tech age. Cable companies are some of the most disliked companies for decades. With the evolution of streaming in music with the rise of beloved brands like Spotify, etc., there hadn’t been the same innovation in TV. Enter Philo. A broad selection of entertainment content relevant to black audiences + premium service (all the bells and whistles like unlimited DVR) = a truly unique value at $20/mo. As a bonus, a great live TV complement to other services like Disney+, Hulu, Prime, antenna, etc.
A competitive landscape
With so many choices for consumers nowadays, how are you able to do your job to try to obtain new customers that may be lured to more popular choices?
Paying attention to our specific customer base, being data-driven with a human filter, and not trying to chase the shiny object. We’re really intentional about super-serving audiences like black women, who are largely underserved (or at least under-considered) in the streaming platform space. Philo is the most affordable way to get most of the channels that we offer.
You were involved with the launch of Philo. What was the process in trying to bring awareness to the general public about a company they knew nothing about and how do you feel the process worked out for you and the company?
Honestly, the first phase was being laser-focused about finding people who were interested in the shows and networks we carry. From an advertising perspective, people are basically looking for ways to watch their shows without spending a fortune. That brand equity + the price point was enough to get the early adopters to give us a try. The quality of our experience is what keeps them. We are only recently moving into the mass market awareness phase where we are investing in making sure Philo is in the conversation when folks talk about cutting the cord and various streaming options.
What direction do you see the streaming business going in and how do you plan to capitalize on it?
Unbundle for as close as we’re gonna get to an a-la-carte model. Then rebundle with more flexibility than in the past to address the paradox of choice. We are inverting the old model by offering a mini bundle that people can pair with other services and will be looking at focused content whether that be premiums like Starz, or genre-focused tiers around movies/reality/kids that allow people to customize their Philo experience without being forced to pay for it all.
Growth begins with mindset
Why do you think a large portion of your subscriber base are women and/or black?
The fact that we don’t focus on sports is a part of it as we’ve seen that those audiences skew male. The other part is that we carry channels that appeal to black women specifically, that aren’t carried on many of the other streaming services (BET, OWN, VH1). We saw shows like Queen Sugar and all the Hip Hops (Love and Hip Hop, Growing Up Hip Hop) performing well in the data. We took note of this early on and are continuing to look for ways to add content like (CleoTV, Revolt) that is relevant to this valued part of our base.
What are some of the most important things necessary to help facilitate the growth of Philo?
It’s part psychology and part convoluted math equation. Best ways to get the word out to the folks who we matter most to, through opportunities like this. Thinking forward about where trends and the market are going so that we are relevant for the future of television. Going beyond advertising to considering what’s missing from the TV experience that we can pioneer… and how do we make sure people get the most out of Philo when they give us a test drive.
In your role, what goes into your decisions pertaining to accomplishing Philo’s directives and plans?
Stay true to our mission to take care of our customers like they’re our family. Part of that is striving to make sure our business is representative of our customer base. I have a unique privilege as a black executive to bring the voice of my culture to the table to make sure it is endemic to all of the decisions we make about the future of the business and how we interact with our customers. Overall we aim to make Philo inclusive. Our campaign tag line focuses on Philo being “TV for Everyone” and we really mean that in terms of breaking down the barriers for access to great TV as well as being less of a “corporate” feeling brand. At the end of the day, we need to stay focused on what we do best and play nice with others by partnering with like-minded businesses with whom we can offer greater value together.
What advice or suggestion would you give to someone who is reading this and wants to pursue the type of work you do?
Psychology and statistics are the two most critical disciplines from a knowledge perspective. Marketing/branding is essential to every business—think about the products you love and pay attention to what they’re doing so that you have an informed opinion. Many different paths, from agencies to companies of all sizes and types. Get in somewhere as an intern or entry-level role and figure out what parts of it speak to you. Check-in at philo.com/jobs and apply to an open role.
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