YouTube TV Adds New Channels, Raises Price

Posted on February 14, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, iOS, Mobile, Music + Videos, Smart Home with 43 Comments

YouTube TV Adds New Channels, Raises Price

Google will announce today that it is expanding the YouTube TV channel lineup by about 20 percent. But it is also raising prices a bit too.

As I write this, Google’s official post revealing the changes isn’t yet available. But here’s what’s happening.

Google announced its cord-cutting YouTube TV service in March 2017, and the service went live in April with about 40 channels and a monthly cost of $35. But the big limitation at launch was that YouTube TV was only available in the biggest TV markets in the US.

Since then, Google has expanded the service numerous times. It added family-sharing functionality in May 2017, many new markets in July and August 2017. And then it finally came to TVs, with a new client for Xbox One in October 2017, followed more recently by clients for Apple TV, Roku, and other living room set-top boxes; previous to that, YouTube TV users had to navigate the service on their phones and then cast video to their TVs.

I could see early on that YouTube TV would likely emerge as the best cord-cutting service, and when we moved to Pennsylvania in August 2017, I began testing it and other services. Within a month or so, the awkwardness of using YouTube TV via the phone had become problematic, and the service didn’t provide access to HGTV, which my wife and I watch regularly. By October, I realized that the experiment was not working, and we admitted defeat, returning to cable TV.

(Premium members: I will have an update on this situation as soon as today, and coincidental to today’s YouTube TV news.)

But Google moves quickly. And it is improving YouTube TV yet again.

First, they are adding about 10 more channels: CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TBS, TNT, truTV, and others are available now, according to reports, and others, like MLB Network and NBA TV, are coming soon (though it’s not clear what we get for free and what is a paid add-on).

And the service will soon be available in over 100 markets, a huge increase over last year. New markets include Lexington, Dayton, Honolulu, El Paso, Burlington, Plattsburgh, Richmond, Petersburg, Mobile, Syracuse, Champaign, Springfield, Columbia, Charleston, Harlingen, Wichita, Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton.

In the bad news department, the price of the service is going up, from $35 to $40 per month starting March 13. But it’s not clear if existing subscribers can keep the original price for some time. And the new price is in line with pricing from rival services like PlayStation Vue, which starts at $40 per month.

Worse, HGTV is still not available. How am I going to explain that to my wife?


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Comments (44)

44 responses to “YouTube TV Adds New Channels, Raises Price”

  1. marshalltm

    My suggestion for this cutting the cord:

    Philo OTA service ($16 a month, includes HGTV) + WatchAir (free after hardware purchase) free to air antenna converting to digital stream around your house. Apps available for iPhone Android, fireTV

  2. dcdevito

    I love YouTube TV. My only wish was if it would merge with the YouTube app. I would love to intermingle the content between the two.

  3. Daekar

    So... the whole reason to embrace these alternative platforms is to save money by not paying for the content you don't care about. For me, that would be sports and 99% of TV dramas. It seems the longer these services evolve the more like regular cable packages they are - why bother at all, especially if not all the content is on-demand? This seems like going backwards to me.

  4. Chris_Kez

    Wake me when there is a service that offers all major channels a la carte, with unlimited DVR and on-demand, and easy access across all devices. I expect I'll be waiting a few more years.

  5. richfrantz

    Is YouTube TV ad free for that price?

  6. Jeff Jones

    Still no Hallmark Channel and HGTV, the only two channels that get watched around my house outside of the main local channels.

    But regarding the price increase, I'm now wondering... does Turner demand their channel pack to be on every subscriber's plan or else Youtube can't offer it at all?

    I realize Youtube probably can't do true single channel a la carte subscriptions, but why not do it per channel collection? If Tuner costs them about $5/mo extra then make that an add on. Then break it down even further. After an initial base fee, let every group of channels be an add on based on content owners instead of artificial tiers. For example let people choose the NBC/Universal collection, or the CBS pack, or the Disney pack.

  7. Patrick3D

    It would seem Youtube is in a hurry to be the next Comcast. So much for the dream of "à la carte" TV service.

  8. wocowboy

    Anyone thinking that subscribing to YouTube TV would mean cheaper prices for a television service than cable or satellite in the long run is pretty much delusional. Anyone thinking that the programmers are going to demand less in programming fees per customer per month from YouTube, Sony, or whatever streaming service than they get from cable and satellite providers are just as delusional. Perhaps the most delusional are the people who subscribe to several ala carte individual streaming services from programmers for the usual $8 per month, which include ads, and sometimes the same amount of ads they would be seeing via cable or satellite. The programmers are going to get the same amount of money out of you whether you subscribe to cable, satellite, or streaming service, you can guarantee that!

  9. slerched

    Make sure you put a request in for HGTV to be added. Eventually maybe enough people will do it and they will go ahead and add it?

    I wish I could get the service without the sports. Or at least hide the channels if I'm forced into accepting a bundle with them. I literally do not watch sports on any level. Yes, I am weird. And I don't begrudge anyone else enjoying them - enjoy away. I just don't care to watch and wish I could avoid them like I could with Dish Network and setting favorite channels.

    First world problems.

  10. Waethorn

    Internet TV is no different than cable, except that YOU have to bear the cost of the infrastructure with Internet bandwidth, not the cable company. The costs will never go down.

    • davebindy

      In reply to Waethorn:

      For me, the main difference between IPTV and cable is that I'm not paying any additional money to rent equipment from a cable company, and I'm not locked into a contract. I'm not paying an extra $120 or so a month for a cable box, and if I'm no longer satisfied with my IPTV provider (for the past year, DirecTV Now), I'm gone with no penalty.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to davebindy:

        Huh? You'd have to buy a Bluray player or streaming device for your TV. How is that any different? AFAIK most cable and satellite companies do allow you to buy your hardware too. And all of them support month-to-month agreements without a contract. And ABSOLUTELY NOBODY pays "$120/mth for a cable box". A cable box with a DVR usually costs well under $20/mth rent, but all the cable companies offer on-demand video now anyway.

        • davebindy

          In reply to Waethorn:

          My mistake; I meant $120 a year, not $120 a month, based on what Comcast charges (last time I looked) for their least expensive converter around here.

          The "difference" is a one time payment of $35 or so for a Chromecast or even a low-end Roku vs. that ongoing $120 a year.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to Waethorn:

      No, it is different. You don't get a guide full of duplicate channels, for example.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Are you talking about time-shifted channels on cable? Well yes, if you subscribed to a service like YouTube TV in every city and state, you'd have the same thing. But as it stands, you can't. YouTube TV only supports the city that you actually reside in, and only with the channels they paid licenses for in said city.

  11. Stooks

    Ahhh new tech.

    This area (TV over Internet), IOT devices and digital assistants are hot right now. That said they are all in their infancy and A LOT of stuff will rapidly change in the next 3 years and it will be a hectic mess while it is changing.

    Personally I am just going to sit by and let everyone beta test this stuff and bleed on the edge so I can have a nice smooth transition.

    Tomsgide has a good article, from 2/2/18 that compares Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, DirecTV NOW, Playstation Vue and Sling TV. That said with this Google change it is already out dated and it is only 12 days old. Like I said lots will change and some contenders may even go away.

    Google from a Joe Consumer perspective really needs to get their offerings paired way down. Their music and video offerings are simply way too many and just a mess of apps and services.

    • Jeff Jones

      In reply to Stooks:

      I think Google is just overly fond of trying different things to see what works.

      Youtube is the one that doesn't make sense with them trying to branch out from user generated content to commercial TV and Music. While Google already has a commercial content division over in Google Play with separate audio, video, and book apps that logically make sense.

      However, Youtube is run almost like a separate company from the rest of Google proper. So they may have people there trying to push boundaries while Google Play sits around meeting the bare minimum. Who knows.

  12. Nicholas Kathrein

    Lets face it, you can't. You'll stuck for another 6 months or year till HGTV finally sees that the service is important enough for them to budge on whatever is keeping them off the service.

  13. adamcorbally

    I have a feeling that the price of these Internet TV packages will level out to around the same as cable TV in a few years time once you add it all up - which is fine but the truth is these Internet TV services are far more clunky and complex than traditional cable. Yes cable TV should be cheaper but the content providers aren't going to give anything away for free here or cheaper. The market has already shown what is willing to pay for TV, ultimately and I fear the consumer will suffer if this ever takes off.

    In a way it reminds me of smartphones dumping the headphone jack, change for changes sake.

  14. Travis

    Directv Now is superior in every way except they lack an Xbox app.

    • Travis

      In reply to Travis:

      Directv now also has a deal where you prepay for 3 months of service - $105 minimum - you get a free 4k Apple TV. And their regular price for HBO is $5 per month.

    • Skolvikings

      In reply to Travis:

      I ended up going with PS Vue over Directv Now due to the features (better DVR, 5 simultaneous streams, picture-in-picture, etc.). There are actually a few more channels on Directv Now, but none that really mattered to my family. That said, it's all subjective and Directv Now seems to be a solid service. The free hardware is definitely a nicety.

    • eeisner

      In reply to Travis:

      DirecTV Now performance is TERRIBLE on the Fire Stick, though. Constant buffers, random crashes, really bad input lag... I tried the Youtube TV trial via Xbox One, and was blown away. Only thing that kept me from switching was the lack of certain channels on Youtube TV that I get on DirecTV now, partially thanks to their launch promo pricing that I still have ($60 package for $35, I believe). The now inclusion of Turner channels (TNT + Comedy Central, as well as TBS/TNT/TrueTV for March Madness matter to me) and the sports channels makes Youtube TV more compelling now. Hmmm..

  15. Skolvikings

    I'm still happy as can be with PS Vue. Family likes to also. It even has HGTV.

  16. wolters

    YouTube TV was our choice in cutting the cord. It just fit better with our Google Ecosystem (Google Home Mini/Home/Max, Google Music, YouTube Red.) We don't watch a lot of TV so this is OK. We still lack our local NBC affiliate and yes, my wife wants her HGTV as much as I want my NFL Network.

  17. rextillerson

    youtube marketplace high.. hp driver

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