Vidgo attempts to offer a different type of live TV streaming service and experience, but some aspects work better than others. The service is an interesting one, however, and some may find it preferable to services like Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV. For others, Vidgo might not be enough of a complete live TV streaming package just yet.
Vidgo launched in 2019 and has looked to offer something different from the very beginning. For example, one of its main features is its emphasis on a social viewing experience through the mobile apps. These “Hangs” are a way to watch live TV remotely with friends, family, and even strangers. Originally available with two plan options starting at $40, Vidgo now only offers the one main English-language plan with access to a varied selection of live TV channels.
A Vidgo subscription currently costs $55 per month and whether it is worth a subscription at that price will come down to what matters most to a consumer and what they expect from a live TV service to begin with. While Vidgo does offer a unique experience in places, it makes a number of compromises along the way.
Live TV and on demand
Vidgo is a good option for channels overall, although this won’t be the case for everyone. For example, Vidgo currently doesn’t offer access to any NBC channels and this is arguably the channel lineup’s biggest weakness and its most notable omission. Due to this, Vidgo is unlikely to be the right option for any individuals or households specifically in need of access to Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, and Syfy, among other channels. The NBC family aside, Vidgo offers a good balance of news, sports, and entertainment, and does include some channels consumers don’t get with some of the other services.
In general, there were no major issues with the streaming quality, consistency or reliability when watching live TV through Vidgo. The service is still somewhat limited in the number of users compared to others, so whether the live experience will become an issue during more congested times remains to be seen. For now, however, as long as you have the internet connection speed, there should be no major issues with the reliability of the service and watching live TV channels. Once watching a live TV channel, the playback controls are fairly basic, but more than sufficient for purpose.
The live TV playback menu does also include shortcuts at the bottom of the screen, making it easy enough to flip between what’s playing now on various live TV channels.
Channels aside, Vidgo doesn’t really offer much in the way of on demand content. Essentially, the service has a playback feature that allows subscribers to watch episodes that have been shown live within the previous twenty-four hours. While this isn’t the same as watching whenever the subscriber wants, it is still an option for watching show episodes and movies outside of their time slots. However, the interface is fairly basic.
Instead of adopting the usual card-like format where users can pick the show and then the episode, Vidgo’s playback feature is hidden within the TV guide. Subscribers can switch between a ‘live’ and ‘playback’ mode for the guide and then on a channel. At which point they can select an episode that has recently been shown live TV.
Although the feature works well enough, it is not always the easiest to navigate. For example, episodes are simply labeled by episode title, occasionally making it difficult to decipher what show it is from. For those in need of additional on demand content, Vidgo does come with some TV Everywhere support, allowing subscribers to use their subscription login username and password to access a channel or network’s own app and website. Once logged in, most channels will then offer the option to watch live or stream a selection of on demand videos.
The rest of the Vidgo experience
Vidgo doesn’t quite feel like a finished product yet. However, part of this is by design. With Vidgo lacking a proper on demand section and advanced features in general, much of the focus is simply on the live TV experience. This results in somewhat of a basic interface and user experience.
For example, when accessing the TV app, Vidgo launches straight into the live TV guide. Other than filtering the channels by category, there’s not much to do or any other sections to navigate. For those transitioning straight from traditional TV, and only interested in live TV access, the interface might be fine. For everyone else, it is likely to feel just a little too basic at the moment.
That said, the interface and experience is only in relation to the TV apps. In spite of this being a live TV service that’s typically consumed at home on the big screen, Vidgo appears to have been designed as a mobile-first service, resulting in a significant imbalance between the mobile and TV apps. In other words, for those more likely to watch through a mobile device, Vidgo is a far more interesting experience, and mostly thanks to Hangs.
Generally speaking, Vidgo provides wide enough device support to account for the needs of most individuals and households. However, device support is likely to be an issue for some. With apps available for Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku, many are unlikely to encounter any major issues with downloading Vidgo. For those looking to stream live TV on other platforms and devices, including popular smart TV brands, Vidgo could be a problem.
No DVR, but a place to Hang
Hangs is the big feature and selling point with Vidgo. Essentially, subscribers can download either the iOS app from the App Store or the Android app from the Google Play Store and watch live TV along with others. Furthermore, the feature is not just for private watch parties between family and friends, but also with just about anyone who uses the service as there are public Hangs available as well.
The feature is easy enough to use. There’s a Hangs button at the bottom of the screen and tapping it launches the social chat interface. Here users can either join an ongoing Hang or create their own. Besides posting comments, users can start a poll, post a GIF, or even record a quick five-second reaction video.
The problem is, it seems to work better in principle than in reality. For public Hangs, the feature’s usability is entirely dependant on others and when testing there just didn’t seem to be anyone using the feature. A subsciber’s miles will vary with this and some may find they have better luck, but unless significantly more people are signed up to Vidgo, or the subsciber is watching a very high profile event, then it remains to be seen how useful Hangs are at the moment.
Of course, there is also the option of hosting private Hangs with friends and family members, but that too comes with its own limitations. After all, the friends or family members all need to be Vidgo subscribers as well to be able to take part in a Hang. Another option is to be invited to a private Hang by someone else. However, outside of friends and family circles, it remains to be seen how someone gets an invite to someone else’s Hang.
Each channel does show a viewer list, so it is possible to simply tap on another user and invite them to a Hang, but that might not be something many subscribers will feel comfortable doing.
Even then, if the viewer list gets too long, the app tends to show a “full house” warning and is unable to show the list to begin with. One interesting feature, however, is Hangs comes with an integrated version of YouTube.
Due to this, subscribers can search and watch YouTube videos, and even with others in a watch party environment, all within the Vidgo app. For those that do find they stumble across a busy Hang, or know enough people already using the service, Hangs is likely to be a useful and unique feature.
The cost and is Vidgo worth it?
On paper, Vidgo is well positioned in terms of the price. While the $55 per month is more expensive than Sling TV and Philo, it is cheaper than many other live TV services, including AT&T TV, Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV. Barring any increases in the near future, this makes it a competitively priced option overall.
Furthermore, Vidgo doesn’t really offer any upgrades. While that might be considered a negative by some, it does mean the asking price is the actual price for the entire Vidgo experience. Although there are no real routes to change a plan, there are no hidden or additional costs either.
With price relative to value, that’s where some may find Vidgo to be overpriced. Considering there are still no recording options, as well as very limited access to on demand content within the app, the Vidgo experience just might not be worth $55 to some. Then again, if the watch party feature works for an individual user or household, that alone might make a subscription worthwhile.
Vidgo review summary
If nothing else, Vidgo is an interesting live TV streaming service. It appears to be intentionally trying to offer something different and this approach results in both positives and negatives. Hangs is certainly one of the main selling points and, in time, could prove to be a unique and useful way to stream live TV. However for those simply looking for a way to watch and record live TV over the internet, and access shows and movies on demand, Vidgo is a less compelling option compared to other services.
Overall, Vidgo is one of those services that consumers will simply need to try for themselves, as that’s going to be the best way to see if it is right for them. It is a mobile-first service and although it won’t be for everyone, some may find its different approach to live TV streaming refreshing.