YouTube TV, the internet-based live-TV subscription service from Google, will reportedly be raising its prices to $50 per month from $40 per month after signing a deal with Discovery to add a range of new channels.
When YouTube TV launched in early 2017, it boasted around 40 live TV channels and a host of on-demand content for $35 per month. It was a simple, and cheap, proposition that stood in stark contrast to the complicated, expensive offerings from cable companies, or internet-TV offerings that didn’t really mirror how many consumers engage with video content.
Since then, YouTube TV has added more channels and add-ons. It first raised its price to $40/month in 2018 after adding in a few more channels; now it’s jumping to $50 per month with more than 70 live channels. Google wasn’t immediately available to comment on why customers couldn’t continue to pay $40 per month by not gaining access to the new channels, which include Discovery, the Food Network, TLC, and HGTV.
By tacking on more non-essential channels, whose shows don’t need to be watched live, YouTube is complicating the cord-cutting model, effectively replicating the bloated cable bundle without offering cheaper tiers or cross-functional bundles like cable companies do.
The average US internet connection costs around $60 per month, and the average cable bill around $107 per month, but many companies offer bundles to lump these costs together for cheaper. A new customer signing up for Verizon FiOS can get a year of Netflix, a high-speed internet connection, a phone line, and just about every TV channel you can think of for $80 per month (on a two-year contract). Charter’s Spectrum offers TV, phone, and internet bundled together for just under $100 per month. When services like these from traditional cable companies offer on-demand streaming and prices like these, it’s not clear where cord-cutting services like YouTube’s fit in.
And YouTube TV isn’t alone here: Hulu Live recently increased its live-TV offerings to $45 and $51 per month (depending on whether you want to see ads). Whether customers want so-called “skinny bundles” of subscription services or not, it seems that the only way to make money on TV is to sell as much as possible at scale.
With even more streaming services set to launch in the near future and the existing ones battling for a larger share of your wallet, it’s not clear what the solution is here. Do you jump from service to service each time your contract is up, hoping to take advantage of as many promotional offers as possible, or do you just give up the ghost and admit that it’s far easier to pay one bill each month?
I’m not sure, but that’s how we got into this mess in the first place.