YouTube TV announced today that it is raising prices of its streaming live TV service. Effectively making the service $64.99 per month now, effective today (June 30). This marks the third price increase for YouTube TV in a little over three years. Almost doubling in price since it was first unveiled. That begs the question though, is YouTube TV still worth it?
I, myself, have been a user of YouTube TV for almost two years now, having signed up when it was $40 per month – after its first price increase. I quickly fell in love with the service. It offered most of the channels I wanted, but the biggest feature for me was (and still is) the unlimited cloud DVR.
But with this recent price increase, I'm even starting to wonder if YouTube TV is still worth it.
Let's take a look at YouTube TV's competition
YouTube TV's two main competitors – Hulu + Live TV and FuboTV – are both priced at $54.99 per month. Hulu + Live TV offers fewer channels, while FuboTV offers more. However, the kicker with FuboTV is that most of those channels, you'll likely rarely watch.
For $55/month, Hulu + Live TV offers you 60+ channels. That's 25 fewer than YouTube TV. And it offers a limited cloud DVR. For that price, you're getting just 50 hours of cloud DVR available. And you'll need to pay more to get only 200 hours.
Now, FuboTV offers its cheapest plan at $59.99 per month right now. There are 104 channels here and that plan is actually $54.99 per month, but for $5 more you get more cloud DVR space and more screens to watch simultaneously. You'll get the local channels, plus a bunch of sports channels that you may have never heard of. Like eight beIN Sports channels. So while its number of channels is higher, for a few bucks less than YouTube TV, it really doesn't look like it's worth it.
FuboTV does offer 500 hours of cloud DVR with this package and the ability to watch on three screens at once.
This is where YouTube TV is different. It comes with 85+ channels, for $64.99. But the majority of these channels are part of the top 100 cable channels. So YouTube TV isn't just adding a bunch of channels to pad that number. One could argue there are a few channels that do pad that number though, like TYT Network, Cheddar, Local Now and a few others.
When it comes to streaming live TV services, it isn't so much about the channel count, but about the quality of those channels. As well as making sure it has the channels you want.
What makes YouTube TV stand out?
For a lot of us, there is one major feature that makes YouTube TV stand out, and worth it. That is the unlimited cloud DVR.
With YouTube TV, you can add any show or movie you want to your DVR and it'll stay there for nine months after it is recorded (within those nine months it'll likely get recorded again, so it'll always stay in your library). And there's no limit on how much you can record. If I take a look at my library on YouTube TV, I probably have thousands of hours of content that is recorded. And a good number of those are movies.
Meanwhile other services – if they include a cloud DVR option – only give you 10 or 20 hours of DVR space. If you want more, you'll have to pay. And even then it's only 200 or 500 hours. No other service is doing unlimited cloud DVR. While 200 hours might sound like a lot, if you have a family using the service, that can quickly fill up.
YouTube TV also gives you six accounts and the ability to watch on three screens at once. This means that you can easily share YouTube TV with family members and not give them your Google password. And you could also split the cost with others. Giving you three screens to watch at once is actually more than the industry average. Most give you two with the option to pay for more screens.
Finally, YouTube TV doesn't have any real hidden costs. Other services will offer you add-ons that give you things like more cloud DVR space, or unlimited screens. Those options don't exist with YouTube TV. The only add-ons that YouTube TV offers are for premium networks. Like HBO/HBO MAX, Showtime, and others.
One-size fits all doesn't necessarily fit all
YouTube TV (and even Hulu + Live TV) have been successful for offering one plan with all of its channels. Instead of offering multiple plans like FuboTV and Sling TV do. Which would have different channel options available. But that doesn't necessarily work for everyone.
Out of the 85 channels on YouTube TV, I likely only watch around 20-30 of them on a regular basis. Yet I'm still paying for the other 55+ channels. Google can't do an a la carte thing here, where you add individual channels to your account, because that's not how the TV business works. But give us an option with say 50 channels for a lower price and then all 85 for the $64.99. That would definitely make everyone a lot happier.
But because of the way these deals are worked out with providers like YouTube TV and companies like Viacom and NBCUniversal, this is likely not going to be possible. The price increase likely was not Google's decision, but more the decision of Viacom – as YouTube TV is spending more money on licensing to get these channels and that cost is passed onto the consumer.
YouTube TV is approaching Cable prices
One of the big advantages to cord cutting is the fact that streaming live TV services are typically cheaper than cable and more convenient. But with this price increase, YouTube TV is getting close to cable prices.
I just priced it out with Comcast (my internet service provider here), and to get mostly the same channels plus almost a hundred others that I wouldn't watch, would cost me over $100. And that's before paying to rent their cable box to be able to watch TV.
While yes, a big reason for a lot of people ditching cable is the price, another is the convenience. With Comcast in particular, you can only watch TV on the TV that has your cable box connected or one that has the Stream TV app installed. You can watch on your phone, laptop or tablet, but only at home. Most channels are not available to watch outside of the home. Which is dumb in my opinion, but that's a rant for another day.
With YouTube TV, you can watch every single channel anywhere you want (in the United States). For those that travel a lot, or work long shifts where they need some content to entertain themselves, that's where a live TV streaming service really comes in handy.
Final word: is YouTube TV worth it?
For me and my situation, yes. I've tried the other options out there and really missed the unlimited cloud DVR, plus I really want to watch Comedy Central, VH1 and a few other Viacom channels that it has just added.
Am I upset that they raised the price by $15? Yes, of course I am. It's the biggest increase for YouTube TV to date. But did I see it coming? Yes.
There's a lot of people that are upset with this price increase, saying that they don't watch these channels and will be leaving YouTube TV. Well that's the beauty of cord cutting. You can easily switch to something like Hulu + Live TV or Sling TV without having to see if it's available in your area, then wait for them to send out your cable box and so forth. Not to mention the fact that they all offer free trials. So you can try them out without paying for a thing.
Yes, YouTube TV is worth it at $65 per month. And in all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised to see the others raise their prices soon too.