YouTube TV has become one of the priciest virtual pay TV providers-- rising 12% to $72.99 starting next month. Beginning in 2020, it had risen to a $64.99 price level -- and was $50 before that.
No surprise there. Those seemingly inexpensive vMVPDs (virtual multichannel video program distributors) -- relative to the traditional pay TV distributors (cable, satellite, and telco) -- are not so cheap.
YouTube TV now tops Hulu + Live TV ($69.99); Sling TV (Orange and Blue), $60; and Philo, at $25 per month. In a different category, sports-focused FuboTV is the most expensive overall, with its lowest cost package now at $74.99 a month.
This compares to the average cable TV plan that costs around $83, according to analysis by CableTV.com.
That said, many might argue -- depending on the package, of course --- that virtuals can be cheaper than the old-school stuff.
They can also be more expensive, depending on the specific channels. CableTV.com says the range can be broad for legacy cable packages -- anywhere from $55 to $250 a month.
This comes as all pay TV providers continue to look for ways to continue as profitable businesses -- amid an overall industry that continues to endure non-stop cord-cutting.
Sports networks -- specifically regional sports networks -- have been in the headlines as being major targets for pay TV distributors to consider cutting back on.
YouTube TV, in my area, has a modest number of choices for sports programming, and no regional sports networks. It has ESPN and Fox Sports as well as NBA TV, Golf, FS1 and the NFL Network. You can also add some niche sports networks including MavTV, Outside TV, Fight Network, and Fox Soccer Plus. And that is about it.
Still, its related, free sister streaming platform YouTube now has secured a major expensive sports property -- NFL “Sunday Ticket” package -- where consumers can buy this package of out-of -market games without buying a broad pay TV service.
But now, of course, we have broader issues for all pay TV providers -- legacy services and virtual. Pay TV operators are now looking to slow down/make cuts to what was seeming no-brainers when it came to channel carriage -- local TV stations.
This has affected -- for a short period of time -- CBS affiliate stations, Sinclair-owned ABC affiliates -- and other groups. Almost all have been resolved.
But as virtual pay TV providers look for future growth -- and efforts to trim costs back down let up -- we wonder about more permanent future moves by pay TV platforms, specifically virtual pay TV platforms, that may just drop some local TV stations entirely.
This might not come in wholesale moves, but rather could erode slowly -- affecting fringe and perhaps lower-rated outlets in specific markets.
Maybe YouTube / YouTube TV will finally need to do the obvious thing -- and eliminate its misnomer brand once and for all. (Oh, YouStreamer, you!)
Have always felt that the argument that virtual pay TV is getting as expensive as cable was a red herring. If you live in an apt with one tv then maybe this comparison makes sense, but in a home with multiple TVs, users and maybe even locations, cable is much more expensive than the virtual providers. Cable still charges for cable boxes (at least Optimum does), and they can range from $10-15/month per box and remote. DVR services? That's another $10-20. And if you have a second location then you need to subscribe to an entirely new deal with a new cable subscription.
The advantage the virtual platforms have is that they do not depend on 25 yo proprietary cable technology. You bring a device with an internet connection and they deliver video. They do not charge extra for more devices or more locations. They do not generally charge for DVR capacity (YTTV's DVR package is ridiculously large). They offer 4K for free or at a nominal cost. There is no equipment rental fee. It's just not an apples to apples comparison if you match virtual programming costs v. cable programming costs.