This Should Be YouTube TV’s 2019 New Year’s Resolution
To start the New Year, we have been taking a look back at each of the 7 Live TV Streaming Service’s past year, and what we hope lies ahead in 2019. We’ve shared our New Year’s Resolutions for Hulu Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV — and today we’ll look at YouTube TV
When we look at YouTube TV in 2018, we saw a year of progress with new devices, new markets, new channels, and feature enhancements.
YouTube TV Year-In-Review
At the beginning of February, YouTube TV added much needed support for living rooms devices, expanding the service with native apps on Apple TV and Roku. Until then, the company which launched in April 2017, only supported Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, select Samsung and LG Smart Televisions, and Apple TV (via AirPlay). Due to an ongoing spat with Amazon, the service hasn’t been made available on Amazon Fire TV devices.
New Channels and a Price Hike
A few weeks later, the company made a big Valentine’s Day announcement — new channels, new markets, and a price hike.
YouTube TV would announce the addition of Turner Channels (TNT, Adult Swim, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, truTV, and TCM), MLB Network, and NBA TV. These were much needed on a service that at the time had the fewest top cable channels of any Live TV Streaming Service. Later in the year, YouTube TV would add smaller networks like Cheddar, Tastemade, The Young Turks, and the ability to subscribe to Starz and Showtime.
But with the new channels, came a $5 price hike. The company announced that starting in March they would raise the price of the service from $35 to $40 (while keeping existing subscribers at their current rate). This was just a sign of what we saw from other services over the course of the year.
Greater National Reach and Promotion
The service also expanded to 18 additional markets like Charleston, Wilkes-Barres-Scranton, Dayton, Honolulu, and El Paso — bringing their total to nearly 100. Being the only service that isn’t offered nationwide, the rapid expansion helped raise the company’s profile with cord cutters. In August, the company would surpass 100 markets with the addition of Tri-Cities, TN.
One of YouTube TV’s rollout strategy was to ensure that local channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX) would be available in every market. While some markets had to use national feeds or were missing a single affiliate, the company tried to fix that by adding NBC, FOX, and The CW in additional markets.
They tried to build on this growth by expanding their marketing partnerships to become the presenting sponsor of the World Series and NBA Finals.
Restricted DVR and Outages
Much of the year was good for YouTube TV, but there were some struggles. In April, they started restricting shows on customer’s DVR. This forced customers to watch a VOD version, even if they recorded the show. This meant, on most recordings, customers wouldn’t be able to skip commercials.
For a company that promoted an Unlimited DVR, this was a problem. Fortunately, in October, the company was able to get channel partners to remove the restrictions on all but CBS-owned channels.
The service had two major outages — both during very inopportune times. The first in July during the FIFA World Cup Semifinal and the second in October during the NLCS and NBA opening night. In both cases, customers were frustrated because both the streaming service and their TV Everywhere authentication system wouldn’t work. YouTube TV tried to make it right by giving $10 credits in both cases.
In late-November, customers started seeing issues streaming on Apple TV. The company had put in a patch to fix it, but to this day, some users still see the issues.
Over the course of the year, YouTube TV innovated on their apps with the addition of user customizable grid guides and sports highlights.
Just like Hulu Live TV, one of the most noticeable changes for YouTube TV was the addition of 60 FPS support across nearly every channel. This just meant that streams looked crisper, especially for live sports.
YouTube TV’s 2019 New Year’s Resolution
By all accounts YouTube TV had a fabulous year, they expanded the reach of the service, built more awareness, added a few new channels. Their biggest issue coming into 2019 is that they have the weakest channel lineup of any Live TV Streaming Service.
They don’t have any channels from A&E, Discovery/Scripps (Discovery Channel, HGTV, and Food Network), and are missing pro sports networks like NFL Network or NFL RedZone. YouTube TV only has 18 of the Top 35 cable networks (DIRECTV NOW has 34 and Hulu Live TV and PlayStation Vue have 26).
In fact, we would argue they succeed everywhere DIRECTV NOW fails (quality), and fails everywhere DIRECTV NOW succeeds (channel lineup).
YouTube TV subscribers have been taking this into their own hands. An interesting trend is seeing how many of our readers pair Philo with YouTube TV — despite it being more expensive than DIRECTV NOW. It shows a willingness to pay more for channels that YouTube TV doesn’t carry.
The services are perfect complements to one another. Of the Top 35 Cable channels, Philo has every channel YouTube TV is missing (A&E, Discovery/Scripps, and Viacom) and vice-versa (FX, Turner, and NBC Universal).
Our resolution for YouTube TV is to create a “Philo” add-on, just like do for other streaming services like Sundance Now and CuriosityStream. The company should partner with Philo and allow customers to subscribe and view their lineup through the YouTube TV interface.
This may not be possible with existing content agreements, but it’s clear that YouTube TV needs to at least offer customers additional channels — while keeping the price of the core bundle at $40. They could follow in Hulu’s footsteps and add an “Entertainment Add-on” with additional networks as part of an upgrade.
One thing is obvious though - they listen to their customers. They fixed their “broken” DVR, they gave credits during outages, improved streams, and added new channels and markets. We hope that in 2019, they’ll listen to what their customers have been saying with their wallets and give them a way to expand their bundle.
Top 35 Cable Channels
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Want to Learn More About Live TV Streaming Services?
- You can read our comprehensive YouTube TV review which highlights channels, features, performance, and supported devices, and more.
- You can read comparison of 7 different cord-cutting services including DIRECTV NOW, PlayStation Vue, fuboTV, Hulu Live TV, Philo, Sling TV, and YouTube TV.
- If you need a recommendation, use Channel Finder to add your favorite channels, shows, and sports teams and we’ll tell you the best service for you.