For a while, the value offered by YouTube TV seemed too good be true – and now the streaming service has shown that was indeed the case with its first big price hike in three years.
The US-only subscription service, which offers cable-like features like live sports, will see its price raised to $72.99 per month (up from $64.99). YouTube TV has blamed the rise on the fact that “content costs have risen”. Subscribers will see the price change from April 18, while new members will be charged it now.
That price doesn’t include 4K resolution streaming, but YouTube TV has at least lowered the cost of that add-on to $9.99 per month (down from $19.99). However, the Google-owned company hasn’t yet said if this price drop is temporary or permanent.
In an apologetic email to subscribers, YouTube TV added that “we also understand that some members may want to cancel their service”, which echoed an official Tweet stating that “we want to give you the flexibility to cancel at any time”. It provided subscribers a link to do just that.
In fairness to YouTube TV, many of the best streaming services have raised their prices in recent months. That includes the likes of Sling TV, which has traditionally been one its cheapest rivals, and also Hulu, whose Hulu Live TV bundle went up to $69.99 at the end of last year.
But during this challenging financial year, some subscribers may understandably conclude that the live elements and choice offered by YouTube TV are difficult to justify at this new monthly price, which now works out to over $875 a year.
Analysis: End of an era?
When it launched in 2017, YouTube TV looked like the perfect replacement for cable TV providers who bundled too many unnecessary features into overpriced bundles, while charging you for the privilege of bonuses like HD quality.
Back then, YouTube TV cost only $34.99 a month. So while this new price hike is the first one in three years, the service still costs more than twice its original launch price, which puts it closer to those cable TV rivals.
YouTube TV still has a few advantages over traditional cable, including the ability to cancel at any time. That’s a lot better than being locked into a never-ending contract. You can also share your YouTube TV membership with up to five other people by creating a ‘family group’.
But given the similar rises we’ve seen from its TV streaming rivals like Sling TV and Hulu, it does feel like the glory days of cheap TV streaming are over. Even if the likes of YouTube TV do now let you watch four streams simultaneously with features like ‘multiview’ (above).