Google Announces a Live TV Service

Posted on March 1, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Music + Videos with 33 Comments

Google Announces a Live TV Service

Here is the service that Apple hoped to unveil with its latest Apple TV in late 2015: But Google today beat them to the punch in announcing YouTube TV.

“Consumers have made it clear that they want live TV without all the hassle,” Google product management director Christian Oestlien explains. “They don’t want to worry about their DVR filling up. They don’t want to miss a great game or their favorite show because they’re on the go. They tell us they want TV to be more like YouTube.”

Well, now it will be. At least according to Google.

“YouTube TV is live TV designed for the YouTube generation: Those who want to watch what they want, when they want, how they want, without commitments,” Google explains.

Here’s what YouTube TV offers:

Low-cost. Let’s get to the obvious first. YouTube TV costs $35 per month.

Availability. Unlike most new services, which tend to be US-based, YouTube is even more limited: When it launches “soon,” it will be available only “in the largest U.S. markets” at first, and will then “quickly expand to cover more cities across the country.” Visit the YouTube TV website to sign-up to be notified when the service is available in your area.

Live TV streaming from numerous (US-based) networks. ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN have all signed up, as have dozens of popular cable networks (USA, FX, The Disney Channel, Sprout, E!, and others) and regional sports networks like Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet. (The latter makes local sports possible, which is a key concern.) There are over 40 channels in all.

Live TV streaming from additional premium channels. You can also pay extra for additional premium channels like Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus. It’s not clear yet what the fee is there, but I assume each will be in the $10 to $15 range per month.

Unlimited cloud-based DVR. Google isn’t putting a cap on what you can record, because it’s all in the cloud. “Your cloud DVR can record as many shows as you want, simultaneously, without using precious data or space on your phone and we’ll store each of your recordings for nine months,” the firm says.

Multi-screen access. YouTube TV will work on any screen: Your HDTV, your smartphone, your tablet, or your PC. “You can easily stream to your TV with a Google Chromecast or Chromecast built-in TV,” Google notes. “YouTube TV works on both Android and iOS. And your cloud DVR goes with you, so you can stream your recordings on any device, whenever and wherever you want.”

Original content. Since it’s all the rage these days, YouTube has followed in the footsteps of Netflix and is offering original content through YouTube Red Originals. Which you get for free as part of your YouTube TV subscription.

Six accounts. A YouTube TV membership comes with six separate accounts, each with its own unique recommendations and personal DVR with no storage limits. “You can watch up to three concurrent streams at a time,” Google says.

OK, this sounds very interesting. I am very interested in testing this, but I wonder if living in a secondary market like Boston means I will have to wait.


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Comments (33)

33 responses to “Google Announces a Live TV Service”

  1. SleepingPelican

    One limitation is that NFL games will not be viewable on your phone due to the Verizon contract with the NFL. You will be able to watch on your PC (and I assume tablet) as well as your TV. Waiting to see what other content limitations pop up.

  2. Caden Jacob

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  3. lordbaal1

    all these streaming services aren't worth it for me. With my fios bundle, I'm paying only $70 for TV with free HBO and Showtime.

    At $15 for each channel, I'm only paying $40 a month for fios quantum. After taxes and fees, probably comes out to $50-$60.

  4. lordbaal1

    with all their buffing problems that they had for years, they should fix that first.

    He'll, they should have taken care of that years ago.

  5. gamersglory

    How long before Cable offering ISP's block IPTV services though. Now that Net Neutrality is off the table at the FCC

  6. mike2k

    Wonder if it's a sling killer. I'm cutting the cord next month and using HD antennaes and a sling account. You tube at the very least is another option

  7. jamiet

    'YouTube Red Originals' seems like a bunch of bad comedy shows right now; not surprising because the creators are some of the 'look at me' crowd who gain popularity by doing dumb stuff (but I admit it is often funny). Given time I hope they'll begin making mature and interesting content.

  8. Gavin Groom

    <insert obligatory 'US only' grumble>

  9. sharpsone

    Sounds expensive...and LIMITED!

  10. skane2600

    It would be far more useful if it were $6/month for one account. Having 5 more accounts doesn't really add much value and seems to be a way of downplaying the fact that the service is more than 3x the cost of Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime.

  11. eeisner

    If this is more reliable then Direct TV now, then I may have to make the switch.

  12. Jeff Jones

    Google and Hulu have both announced basically the same thing since the beginning of this year. I'm betting AT&T is now wishing they didn't bungle the launch of DirecTV Now so bad.

    However with Google's channel pack there are a few channels missing to make this a good replacement for a normal cable service, many of which DirecTV Now and Sling TV are already offering. i.e. AMC, DIY, HGTV, History, Lifetime, MTV, TBS, TNT, TLC.

    Still, it looks like the competition is heating up in this space for sure.

  13. Gardner

    Wow what a disappointing announcement. The lineup is full of fails for many people likely: It fails to include CNN, Turner Classic Movies, HBO, TNT (#2 rated last week), HGTV (its #3 believe it or not), Discovery(#6), AMC(#7). Since these are covered by competitors, it seems unlikely that this is the real lineup.

    Additionally, there is total handwaving regarding rollout timing ("coming weeks and months"), total handwaving about initial and target rollout ("in the largest US markets") -- that phrase is totally meaningless, so one can imagine that it is intended to get press without committing to anything. There are 210 "markets" in the USA. Are they promising the largest 110? 25? 10? 5? How many to start? Why limit the cities? Why making this rollout so confusing. All the others are available everywhere in the US. What did Google mess up in order to be forced into a city by city rollout?

    Paul, you are probably lucky, Boston/Manchester is the #9 market, nestled comfortably between Houston and Atlanta :) San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose is #6, so you know they at least will go that far (How embarrassing if Google's own employees couldn't get the service, and yeah, I know, theres significant LA presence for the YouTube part of the business)

    • maethorechannen

      In reply to Gardner:

      Do the competitors have as much sports content available? The lack of sports content is regularly cited as a major show stopper to cord cutting (I'm not in the US, so I have no idea if ESPN, Fox Sports and Comcast SportNet is all the sport one could ever want or not).

  14. Bats

    Obviously...this is AWESOME. This mightily enhances the Google ecosystem, by leaps and bounds. Why make life so complicated and hard? Just go Google for everything. Why not? Almost everything is awesome and easy to operate.

    I trust that this service will grow and get better in terms of tv offerings, because it obviously lacks sports. For example, I need the YES Network and right now they don't offer it. So for now, I'll be sticking to DirecTV Now, which I am only getting it for $35/month as well.

    The trend for cord-cutting is clear and unsettling, but it's all positive and great. What is needed are more internet service providers that will keep data services low and hopefully get lower. Right now, there is only the regional cable companies, Satellite, FiOS, and the wireless carriers. We need more competition in this space so data prices will be low(er) and that we can freely and easily access and enjoy video/audio online without any worry.

    • Narg

      In reply to Bats:

      I agree, hoping others follow to give more competition.  I've chosen Amazon for my main media and home services (Alexa, et al) so I'm hoping they provide a similar live streaming option sometime.  Having a single provider is not always the best, but it does help provide a more simple way to achieve some things.

      And while I haven't "cut the cord" just yet, all these options are making it easier.  I just expect to see internet charges start to rise pretty soon, as the old school providers start to realize they can't make money on TV any more and have to make it on the feed used for cord cutters.

      • Jeff Jones

        In reply to Narg:

        That would suck if Cable TV providers started raising their internet rates simply because they weren't making as much on Cable TV anymore. Especially if the rates for stand-alone ISPs in neighboring markets don't go up to match. Hopefully we could convince the FTC or the Department of Justice to step in and do something about their monopolistic practices in that situation.

        • Michael Rivers

          In reply to Jeff Jones:

          At least in my area, that already happened several years ago. A subscription for internet and TV service isn't that much more expensive than internet by itself. I suppose there is room for it to get even worse now.

        • Bill Russell

          In reply to Jeff Jones:

          Or if not raise internet prices, there is less incentive to providing good internet service, if they become just cheap dumb pipes to cord cutters getting the same channels from some other internet service like this. They might even want to degrade service to get us running back to cable. The new head of FCC is concerning.

        • SvenJ

          In reply to Jeff Jones: I expect that is exactly what will happen. First though, we will see more data caps, with overage fees. Comcast just expanded their limited market 1TB cap nation wide. 1TB doesn't allow a lot if you are going to get all your typical TV over your internet. So, You can cut the TV part of your cable, but you can't replace it with the internet part of your cable, unless you are getting your IPTV from your cable provider. Thank goodness we don't have net neutrality to prevent Google from zero rating Google TV on Google fiber.

  15. Narg

    Sling TV channel setup and options look a LOT better than the YouTube offering...

    And, the DVR thing kind of bothers me.  Why not just assume all programs will be re-playable on demand at anytime.  No need to bother pre-programming DVR like functions?  DVRs were a cool thing of the past.  And really need to go away.

    • the_real_entheos

      In reply to Narg:

      I'm all for a DVR if that means I can fast forward thru commercials.

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to Narg:

      It's all about licensing and patents and stuff. While Google is obviously just recording everything and storing all of it, they probably are required to register a users intent to record before giving them access to a stored recording. It's an antiquated notion, but it's what the content providers are demanding.

    • Bats

      In reply to Narg:

      No. Content is not playable at anything. Sometimes you have to wait 12-24 hours or even more when you can view the program that you want to watch. That's why you still need a DVR.

      • Narg

        In reply to Bats:

        OK, so the wait time should go away too.  For example, Netflix and Amazon have plenty of good shows, no DVR there needed.  You just play them when you want to.  Networks would need to change their thinking, and I think they are going that way.  Hulu often carries shows the same night they air, but not all yet.  Change is wanted, and more people are starting to want this type of change, as shown in the increase in subscription to services like Hulu and Netflix, etc etc.  The whole DVR concept is outdated, and the reasons for it need to go away too.  Is that a better explanation?

  16. david.thunderbird

    Another not ready for primetime Google rollout, sputter spurt splatt. How long will this last?

  17. cdarrigo

    $35 a month for free OTA local channels? What? How about an HD Antenna ($15) , HD HomeRun ($99) and PlexPass ($120). All in around $235. One time costs, all my local channels, available immediately, playback on pretty much any device on the planet.

    BTW - remember its from Google, so its very possible corporate ADHD will cause them to lose focus and drop the service whenever they are so moved. Hey do you think I'll be able to play this back on my Logitech Revue? Maybe I should ask Google Answers, or Helpouts. Now where did I leave my Project Ara phone, its probably next to my Google glasses?

    Caveat emptor people. I don't understand the value proposition here.

    • wshwe

      In reply to cdarrigo:

      YouTube TV isn't just local OTA channels. It's also cable exclusive channels like "USA, FX, The Disney Channel, Sprout, E!, and others) and regional sports networks like Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet."

  18. wolters

    Very interesting. The ONLY reason I've held on to DirecTV is I am an NFL fan and want my direct ticket. If YouTube could strike a deal, for perhaps, a cafeteria plan for the NFL games, then for sure, I may drop DirecTV.

  19. wshwe

    It's my understanding that Time Warner, Viacom and others didn't want to play with Google. That's why many cable channels aren't available on YouTube TV.

    They have to roll out this service market by market because of the local sports markets. None of its competitors has local sports. If my memory is correct the satellite TV operators had to roll out their local channels market by market. Cable companies don't have this issue because they all have local contracts/licenses.

  20. nageshroy

    There are many live sports streaming apps that are completely free; one can watch live sports from ghd live sports streaming apk such as uefa, isl, ipl for free.

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