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YouTube TV May Be Working to Provide ‘Flexible’ Channel Options

Ben Bowman

In the midst of its ongoing negotiations with NBCUniversal, a glimpse of YouTube TV’s future may have slipped out on Twitter. When one user complained about the loss of Bally Sports channels and rising prices, a YouTube TV support account responded with something interesting: “Our new pricing reflects both the rising cost of content and the complete value of YouTube TV. We know that this may not work for everyone, so we’re working to add more flexible options in the future.”

This mirrors what YouTube CEO Neal Mohan said in an interview in August: “there’s the economic realities of how content pricing works and the like.” He continued: “We are also very focused on making it easy for users to add add-ons, to give them the flexibility of what else they’re looking for in the package. And we’re also doing more around either content-vertical type bundles or even feature type bundles.”

What does this mean? It’s possible YouTube TV will offer a more stripped-down base package with a handful of add-on packages like their Sports Plus and Entertainment Plus Add-ons. Alternately, they could keep the $64.99 base package and simply add additional tiers from there, similar to DIRECTV STREAM. Or, they could just simply add more options for add-ons of SVOD services, like Prime Video Channels.

Sports channels are often most responsible for driving up costs, but YouTube TV may have its hands tied with ESPN - removing that channel from a base package could cause trouble with other Disney-owned channels, including ABC.

YouTube TV could add try to push RSNs to an add-on or a more expensive tier, but its cost would likely be high and there would certainly be push back from channel owners. Right now, DIRECTV STREAM is the only live TV streaming service that even offers the Bally Sports, which is only possible because they have multiple tiers on their service.

A less likely option would involve YouTube TV adopting the Sling TV model, with multiple channel configurations as base packages. In one $35 Sling package, users can get NBC and FOX, but no other local affiliates. In the other $35 package, users get ESPN. Those who wish to combine the packages can pay $50. It can be complicated, but it does offer more choice than most services.

Channel costs won’t decrease anytime soon, so YouTube TV (and all streaming services) will have to decide whether to raise costs, drop channels, or split channels into tiers for those who are interested enough to pay up.

YouTube TV currently offers access to as many as 106 channels, including 32 of the top 35 cable channels. Its most glaring omissions are A&E, History en Lifetime.

YouTube TV offers a site for users to share feedback about which channels they’d like to see.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for US$ 64,99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets.

With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).

They recently added NFL Network and new Sports Plus add-on which include channels like NFL RedZone for $11 a month.

YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $19.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.

If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.

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