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As Rivals Surge, What is YouTube TV’s Next Move?

Ben Bowman

If you’re a YouTube TV subscriber, we can’t blame you for feeling dissatisfied lately. Other live streaming services continue offering more to their subscribers while YouTube TV stands still. Will something change soon or is YouTube TV being left in the dust?

Competition Heats Up

While YouTube TV held some important advantages in the past, those have all but eroded. Let’s look at the changes over the last six months or so.

Hulu Live TV

Subscribers to Hulu Live TV now pay a little bit more ($69.99/month, up from $64.99), but the service has become far more attractive. Disney+ and ESPN+ are now included for free. Hulu Live TV now has an unlimited DVR with a 9-month storage time, matching YouTube TV.

DIRECTV STREAM

The DIRECTV STREAM DVR got a major upgrade as users now get the industry standard unlimited capacity with 9-month storage time.

The service added a new grid guide. You can choose to set a recording for your favorite sports team and your DVR will auto-adjust if the game runs long. DIRECTV STREAM also added some new channels to its least expensive tier. And users got access to their local PBS channel, eliminating one key difference with YouTube TV.

FuboTV

In contrast to YouTube TV’s refusal to evolve, fuboTV seems to change every week. The service took away a free trial before bringing it back, it raised its price to $69.99/month and eliminated its least expensive tier. FuboTV pushed 4K content to its most expensive package. It experimented with quarterly billing before reversing course.

FuboTV even added free channels.

Philo

Philo rarely changes - their deliberate strategy is to keep costs low while offering the widest range of non-sports channels. But the service did sign a deal to add original programming.

Sling TV

While Sling hasn’t changed its service dramatically, there have been some interesting moves on the margins. Users can now pay for their service with cryptocurrency. The Sling TV iOS apps got an overhaul. And Sling subscribers will get free access to a different premium channel each weekend through August of this year.

What is YouTube TV Doing?

In contrast to its rivals, YouTube TV is barely budging. Android TV users can now get 5.1 audio. A handful of MLB games are available on YouTube TV's wildly overpriced 4K package. The service added a Spanish-language subscription. And YouTube TV now allows user profiles.

But these improvements don’t really get to the core desire of consumers: More content at a better price. YouTube TV hasn’t added any of the major channels missing from its list: A&E, History or Lifetime. It hasn’t included 4K for all subscribers. It hasn’t extended the length of its DVR memory.

Its biggest value is that it hasn’t increased the price of the base plan in over a year.

But, by standing relatively still, the value of YouTube TV has fallen in comparison to its rivals, especially considering the awesome value of the Disney-bundled Hulu Live TV or the RSN access, Unlimited DVR, and Unlimited Streams added to DIRECTV STREAM.

It’s entirely possible YouTube TV’s momentum has been slowed by its late-2021 battles with NBCUniversal and Disney. With the NFL season in full swing, those companies used their channels as leverage to negotiate some sort of deal with YouTube TV. Whatever arrangement came of those fights may have eaten up money that YouTube TV had earmarked for service improvements.

While there’s still a lot to like about YouTube TV, it’s not keeping up with its rivals. If you’re a subscriber, it’s worth re-evaluating that relationship. The competing platforms seem to offer a better value these days.

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