YouTube TV is getting another price hike, making its live TV streaming service less competitive with the cable TV services it aims to replace. The company announced today its service would now cost $64.99 per month, starting today, June 30, for new members. The change will also be reflected on the next billing cycle for current members after June 30.
The bump in pricing is now one of several price increases YouTube TV has seen since its debut, starting with a modest $5 per month bump in 2018, followed by a much more substantial price hike last year to $50 per month.
The increases are due to the rising costs of programming for the streaming TV service as the pay TV industry collapses amid a rise in cord cutting — a trend now accelerating at even a faster pace due to the pandemic.
YouTube TV had announced in May it would soon gain 14 more ViacomCBS channels as part of an expanded distribution deal. This included the addition of new channels like BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1, which are today being made available. This brings YouTube TV’s base plan to over 85 channels.
Other channels that were are a part of that same deal — including BET Her, MTV2, MTV Classic, Nick Jr., NickToons and TeenNick — are due to arrive at a later date, the company noted.
While YouTube TV didn’t announce its plans to raise prices back in May, at this point it’s to be expected whenever a service says it’s adding channels to its core offering.
But for YouTube TV’s some 2 million subscribers, new additions aren’t always welcome.
The original promise of live TV streaming services were smaller lineups, sometimes even a la carte options, for a lower monthly price.
Services like Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, Philo and others offer pared down channel selections compared with the hundreds of channels offered by cable and satellite providers. But in the years since their respective launches, they’ve slowly closed the gap with cable by adding more and more channels to base packages and raising prices.
In addition to the ViacomCBS channels, YouTube TV also recently introduced premium add-ons including Cinemax and HBO Max.
Now, instead of wooing consumers on price, YouTube TV focuses on feature set.
For example, YouTube TV announced today a new feature that allows users to jump to various segments within select news programs on the service, starting first on TV screens and coming to mobile in the next several weeks. It also touted its unlimited DVR, dark mode option, “Mark Watched” feature, and redesigned Live Guide with access to TV programming for the week ahead.
“We don’t take these decisions lightly, and realize how hard this is for our members,” YouTube TV’s announcement read, in detailing the price hike.
“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,” wrote YouTube TV VP of Product Management Christian Oestlien. “YouTube TV is the only streaming service that includes a DVR with unlimited storage space, plus six 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,” he said.
The company also noted it was working to develop more flexible models for YouTube TV users, but didn’t offer details on what those are or when they would arrive.