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YouTube TV price increase: Compared to cable bills
March 18, 2023
YouTube TV’s price hike means you won’t save much, but you’ve got nothing to lose but a set-top box — and the risk of having to talk to cable customer service.
Cutting the cord used to mean cost savings, but the once-smart maneuver took a big hit when YouTube TV, YouTube’s live TV service that offers access to more than 100 linear television channels, set its first major price hike since 2020. The $64.99 service will cost $72.99 per month, an increase of $8 (and 12 percent). New subscribers will have the higher price take effect immediately; Monthly bills for existing members will increase on April 18.
“As content costs have risen and we continue to invest in the quality of our service, we are updating our pricing to continue to provide the best possible service,” YouTube TV said in an email to current users on Thursday. “We hope that YouTube TV will continue to be your service of choice, but we also understand that some members may want to cancel their service.”
That’s a significant increase, but it reflects a market where users are increasingly comfortable using online apps for local and live TV — and with it, the ability to subscribe and cancel without having to run a cable customer service.
YouTube TV and other similar apps like Hulu Live TV or Sling occupy a unique place in the TV landscape – effectively streaming services that mirror traditional cable packages. It cuts the cord for those who want to lose their cable provider and set-top box, but not their channels. (DirecTV Stream and Spectrum are among the streaming services that may require a proprietary device, which may incur a separate fee.)
How similar is the user experience compared to cable TV? Earlier Thursday, Nielsen said it would no longer view virtual multichannel video program distributors (also known as vMVPDs) separately from linear television in The Gauge, its monthly newsletter that tracks consumer TV viewing. Prior to this, The Gauge collected vMVPDs with streaming. According to the most recent report in January, YouTube TV accounted for 14.9 percent of all YouTube views; Hulu Live accounted for 9.1 percent of all Hulu viewers.
YouTube TV logo
At this point, vMPDs are not necessarily the more cost-effective solution. YouTube TV includes a $10.99 sports add-on, a $14.99 Spanish-language add-on, and a range of premium add-ons like HBO, Starz, and Showtime. It’s not hard to break $100 a month.
Hulu Live TV, which currently has about 4.4 million users, costs $69.99, or $75.99 if you want to remove ads from on-demand content (for Disney’s other streamers, Disney+, and ESPN Plus also many bundling options are available). Add two separate $9.99 packages for various sports and unlimited screen viewing, a $4.99 package for Spanish programming, a $7.99 package for a variety of different networks like the Cooking Channel and MTV Classic, and more premium add-ons like Showtime and HBO, and you can pay between $147 and $154 per month.
In other words, it’s starting to look like a cable bill. THE US News report last year showed that most people pay about $200 a month on their cable bill; easily half of that is internet access required for streaming.
To soften the blow of the price increase, YouTubeTV also announced that the price of the 4K Plus video resolution add-on will be reduced from $19.99 to $9.99 per month; New users of the option can get a special rate of $4.99 per month for the next year. A user who previously subscribed to the add-on will pay slightly less, $82.98 (or $2 less) than their previous month’s fee.
We certainly have YouTube TV no toss its shiniest new addition, NFL Sunday Ticket. The package, which broadcasts all out-of-market NFL games, was a DirecTV exclusive for years. Google has agreed to bring the package to YouTube TV for the upcoming football season.
On DirecTV, Sunday Ticket costs $293.94 per season for the basic package or $395.94 with bonus features; YouTube TV is expected to be priced somewhere around $300.
Even without Sunday Ticket, YouTube TV was a hot ticket. (The company announced in July 2022 5 million people have either paid for YouTube TV or are currently testing YouTube TV, compared to 2 million subscribers in mid-2020.)