YouTube TV Celebrates Third Birthday with 30% Price Hike in Subscription Fees

As well as new content and features to soften the blow

YouTube TV, a subscription-based streaming video service, is celebrating its third birthday with more than 2 million subscribers and some major changes, including a 30% price hike in subscription fees. To soften the blow, YouTube TV is also adding new content and features. In terms of content, in May, ViacomCBS and YouTube parent Google announced a multi-year agreement where YouTube would carry CBS-owned channels. This summer they will add more networks to the line-up including BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1.

Other content changes include the addition of premium channels Cinemax and HBO Max. Later, YouTube TV also plans to offer BET Her, MTV2, Nick Jr., NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic.

New features

Along with channel additions, YouTube TV will add new features to improve the user experience. Here are a few of the features YouTube highlighted on its blog yesterday:

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  • Viewers will be able to jump to segments on news programs that interest them, like sports or news clips. This feature is available to viewers on TV screens now, and it will be coming to mobile devices soon.
  • Along with the unlimited DVR space, YouTube TV subscribers will be able to pause, rewind and fast forward through recorded programs.
  • Light-sensitive viewers will have the opportunity to use Dark Mode on desktop and mobile devices to reduce glare and watch YouTube TV on a darker background.
  • Subscribers can mark a program as watched for shows they’ve already seen. According to YouTube, this was one of the most requested new features.
  • YouTube TV’s Live Guide gets a new look and will include programs up to a week in advance.

30% increase in subscription fees

These changes come with a 30% price hike in subscription fees to pay for the increase in content costs. Effective June 30, YouTube TV’s price increased to $64.99, plus tax, for new subscribers, up from $49.99. Subscribers who signed up via Apple will likely pay an additional $5. Existing subscribers will see the price increase during their next billing cycle.

“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 live TV,” said Christian Oestlien, vice president of product management for YouTube 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 three concurrent streams. It’s all included in the base cost of YouTube TV, with no contract and no hidden fees. Thank you for being a part of the YouTube TV family. We’ll continue to work to make it the best place to watch live TV, how you want it,” added Oestlien.

Oestlien said they’d love to keep their current subscribers, but they understand that some viewers may pause or cancel their memberships altogether. However, the company feels the need to be flexible while providing subscribers with the best content and features available.

A sampling of TV channels available via YouTube TV. Channel line-up varies by location.

One package, one fee

Unlike other streaming services, YouTube TV offers one package for one flat fee. Granted it is higher than competitors like Sling TV, but its offering is pretty straightforward:

  • One-week free trial
  • 85+ channels of entertainment, news, live sports (including NBA and MLB) and more; channels vary by area
  • Most programming is ad-supported
  • Unlimited cloud DVR storage
  • Up to 3 streams and 6 accounts per household
  • No cable box, no contracts and no hidden fees
  • Premium add-ons including HBO Max, Showtime, Starz, Epix, Cinemax, AMC Premiere, Curiosity Stream and Acorn TV
  • Available on any compatible device including Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, LG TV, Samsung, PlayStation, Vizio, Sharp, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Fire TV

Insider Take:

With so much competition in the streaming video subscription market, services like YouTube TV are competing any way they can. That often means a combination of new, fresh and exclusive content. It can also mean new features for an improved user experience. Those things cost money, of course, but a 30% price hike in subscription fees is pretty steep – especially at a time when streaming churn is growing. The timing for a price increase seems particularly bad with tens of millions of Americans out of work. YouTube TV is gambling that it can afford the churn. We think this could potentially backfire.