This week YouTube TV discounted the cost of an NBA League Pass offering those still looking to gain access to NBA coverage for the rest of the season the option to do so for less, while also adding a new channel to its lineup. Typically, an NBA League Pass through YouTube TV costs $249 per year although for the time being it is being offered at just $209. Representing a saving of $40 which conveniently is the same price YouTube TV charges for a single month of service. So another way of looking at this promotion is by signing up for the rest of the NBA season you gain a month of YouTube TV for free. YouTube TV did not specify how long the promotion will be live for but has marketed it as a "special holiday price."
The new channel now added to YouTube TV is Local Now and as the name suggests, this is a channel designed to focus in on the user’s local area and therefore will differ somewhat depending on location, although the general premise is to provide local coverage on topics such as traffic, news, and sports.
Continued emphasis on sports
Although YouTube TV arrived somewhat late to the market, it did so with what seemed to be a clear sports agenda. Identifying how sports are a big play when it comes to choosing a live TV provider YouTube TV hit the ground running in this area thanks to a robust selection of sports-oriented content largely spearheaded by the inclusion of NBC and FOX-related sports channels. This did result in a sacrifice in other areas with entertainment being one of the more obvious examples when compared to what you can get for the same price through other live TV providers.
In spite of this clear sports focus, the service was still missing some over the top sports services such as NBA League Pass. Although this was rectified earlier in 2018 when YouTube TV announced the arrival of NBA League Pass back in March of this year, along with NBA TV and MLB Network, with the optional add-on service going live just before of the 2018/2019 season started.
Slowly adding channels
YouTube TV is limited on the channel front for the price it charges but the service has slowly been expanding its channel lineup over time with Local Now being the latest addition to go live. Although this is a fairly small expansion in reality, the company has been making greater strides throughout 2018. Back in February for example, YouTube TV announced one of its most impressive post-launch expansions thanks to the addition of Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT, truTV, and TCM.
These slow, but frequent additions have seen the channel lineup climb fairly substantially as the service now offers more than 70 channels compared to the over 40 that was on offer when the service first launched in 2017. During the same time, YouTube TV has also been slowly expanding its availability by providing access to its service in more locations. At the last count, YouTube TV was available in 100 locations across the US.
Price increase likely
In addition to focusing on sports, YouTube TV has always tried to remain ultra competitive in terms of pricing as a means to attract new customers. An approach which has seemed to work well up until now although it remains unclear how long YouTube TV will be able to continue offering the lineup and content it does, at the price it does. Unlike other services that typically offer different tiered points where consumers can opt for an even cheaper (or more expensive) package in return for more limited (or robust) content, YouTube TV has stuck to a one-size-fits-all approach where everyone gets the same channels, at the same price. Although not as cheap as the entry-level options from the likes of Sling TV, pound-for-pound YouTube TV's solution offers great value. However, a report came through earlier in 2018 suggesting YouTube TV is running at a per-subscriber loss of around $9. Evidently, as its user numbers increase, so does that deficit and at some point it does stand to reason that YouTube TV will need to increase its price, and especially if it plans to continue expanding the channel lineup.
YouTube TV has actually already seen one price increase this year when the cost of the service rose form the initial launch price of $35 up to the current $40. Although that price increase was irrespective of the per-subscriber loss. In other words, the $9 loss YouTube TV reportedly operates at each month for each subscriber is based on each subscriber paying the current $40 price each month. If YouTube TV does increase its prices in 2019, it is unlikely to be alone with other services also understood to be suffering in the same respect with AT&T almost certain to increase the entry price point for its DIRECTV NOW service in 2019.