YouTube TV — which reportedly paid at least $14 billion for seven years’ rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket package — is now upping its basic monthly price by $8, or 12.3%, from $64.99 to $72.99.
The virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD) softened the blow by lowering the price of its 4K Plus add-on from $19.99 to $9.99 per month for current users, effectively cutting the overall monthly price by $2 for those using that option. Those new to the option are eligible for a promotional rate of $4.99 a month for 12 months.
The basic price hike will take effect on April 18. YouTube TV last raised its price in June 2022, from $50 to $64.99 per month.
“As content costs have risen and we continue to invest in the quality of our service, we are updating our price to keep bringing you the best possible service,” YouTube said in its email announcement to subscribers. “We hope YouTube TV continues to be your service of choice, but we also understand that some members may want to cancel their service."
Google doesn’t regularly release subscriber totals for YouTube TV, but reported surpassing 5 million as of last July (including those on free trials). That gave it a 36%-plus share of the U.S. vMVPD segment (up from 21% in 2019). Hulu+ Live TV had 4.1 million U.S subscribers at the time, Sling TV 2.25 million, and FuboTV 1 million. At year-end 2022, Hulu+ Live TV had 4.5 million in the U.S., Sling TV 2.3 million, and FuboTV 1.45 million, according to Leichtman Research.
Worldwide, YouTube TV is No. 1 in market share among vMVPDs, at 34% in 2022, followed by Hulu+ Live TV (30%), Sling TV (17%), FuboTV (8%), Pluto TV (7%) and DirecTV Stream (3%), according to Statista. Just three years ago, in 2019, YouTube TV was lagging, at 21% to Hulu+ Live TV’s 34% and Sling TV’s 27%.
YouTube TV hasn’t yet announced pricing for the Sunday Ticket, but reports have speculated that the service may charge as much as $300 per season for the option starting this fall, versus plans ranging from $79.99 to $149.99 under DirecTV, which had owned the rights since the package’s inception in 1994. DirecTV was paying $1.5 billion annually for the rights to the package, compared to YouTube TV’s reported $2 billion to $2.5 billion.
Under YouTube TV, Sunday Ticket will be available for the first time to all in the U.S., without a pay-TV subscription, as an add-on or as a standalone.
YouTube TV — which offers more than 100 channels, including NFL broadcasters CBS, NBC and Fox in most markets — should be able to leverage the Sunday Ticket to drive subscriber gains, in part through cross-selling the service across the NFL’s 10.3 million subscribers, 32 NFL teams and the league’s 10 official channels, Citi analyst Ronald Josey wrote after the rights announcement in December. The Ticket “deepens YouTube’s overall content strategy in a key live sports vertical," he noted.
YouTube TV offers cloud-based DVR with unlimited storage, up to six accounts per household, and has enabled three concurrent streams, but recently debuted a “multiview” feature allowing subscribers to watch up to four streams — or keep track of four games — at once.
Other vMVPDs have also been raising prices. Hulu+ Live TV upped its monthly fee by $5, to $69.99, in late 2021, also instituting a mandatory bundle with ad-supported Disney+ and ESPN+ and eliminating the ad-free bundle of those three services for new subscribers.
Sling TV also increased its prices for its Orange and Blue packages by $5, to $40, as of last November.