YouTube TV, Google’s kid company, announced Tuesday that it is raising its TV subscription from $50 to $64.99 a month, raising concern about the sustainability of the platform amid COVID-19 woes.
YouTube TV has since 2017 when it was launched, became a darling to a multitude of viewers. Over 2 million have signed up to the network that provides different TV channels for online streamers.
YouTube TV’s vice president of Product Management Christian Oestlien said that after three years, following feedback from subscribers, the company has decided to increase its number of channels as well as the subscription cost.
“As we continue to evaluate how to provide the best possible services and content for you, our membership price will be 64.99. This new price takes effect, June 30, for new members. Existing subscribers will see these changes reflected in their subsequent billing cycle on or after July 30.
“We don’t take these decisions lightly, and realize how hard this is for our members. That said, this new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch TV.
“YouTube TV is the only streaming service that includes a DVR with unlimited storage space, plus 6 accounts per household each with its own unique recommendations, and 3 concurrent streams. It’s all included in the base cost of YouTube TV, with no contract and no hidden fees, he explained.
The increase has come as a shock to YouTube TV subscribers, given that the price was increased by $10 last April. But it defended the increase saying that it’s only the streaming service that includes a DVR with unlimited storage space and allows six accounts per household.
Other additions that were used to justify the price increase include the ViacomCBS, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, TV Land, VH1 and Paramount Network brands that YouTube TV announced in May that it will be adding to its collection of channels.
YouTube TV base plan offers more than 85 TV channels over the internet to streamers. In addition to the channels, there are recently introduced Cinemax and HBO Max, which includes all of HBO plus a robust library of content and original series, to top its list of add-on channels.
YouTube TV listed a host of new features it is planning to introduce to the family soon, including the ‘jump to the news that matters most to you’ that allows users to jump to specific news clips within the complete recording. The streaming company said it will be made available on mobile devices in the coming weeks.
The price hike has made YouTube the most expensive of the cable TV streaming alternative services.
Other TV streaming platforms are notably lowering their prices. AT&T reduced its price to $55 monthly, and Hulu with Live TV is $54.99. Sling TV is the lowest, offering streams at $30 per month for its orange or blue packages, or $45 both, giving a $15 discount.
While these ones appear cheaper, it is notable that they offer fewer channels. For instance, Philo is cheaper than the rest with a $20 monthly offer for streams, but it has no news and sports channels.
It seems that whenever a streaming TV adds more channels, viewers should expect an increase.
Many of YouTube TV subscribers are understandably disappointed in the increase, given that COVID-19 has disrupted earnings globally, and most of them were not expecting a hike at this time.
New York Times Shira Ovide said the virtual cable services are becoming more expensive because “Netflix and most other internet video services grafted existing business approaches or behaviors onto the web. And they’re also buying programming in many cases from the same companies that sell stuff for conventional TV channels and theaters.”
But there is more to it than that in the case of YouTube TV. COVID-19 ushered in a new era of crumbling ad sales that left social media platforms strategizing for survival. In the wake of the pandemic when lockdowns confined many at home, internet TVs offered an escape from boredom.
It appears that YouTube TV is acting from a chapter of an opportunistic playbook. Though the platform said users can cancel if they don’t buy the price increase, they know better, that given the circumstances, many will choose the $15 increment over boredom.