For the last three years, YouTube TV has been the affordable alternative to pricier live TV streaming services, such as Hulu and AT&T TV. But that price gap just vanished. YouTube TV is jumping from $50 a month to $65 due to the “rising cost of content,” the company announced in a blog post.
You’ll get eight new channels for your money—BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land, and VH1—with six more coming later this year, for a total of 85+ channels to watch.
But this isn’t exactly the cord-cutting utopia we once envisioned. It’s not a world in which you could ditch the expensive cable TV package and pick and choose the channels you wanted for a much lower monthly price. It once felt that way: Each service offered different bundles of channels, so you could decide which to subscribe to based on what you wanted to watch. Now what appears to be happening, FastCompany noted last summer, is that media company mergers are forcing streaming TV services to add channels—including ones many people might not want—and raising their prices in the process. So you have to pay more for a subscription bloated with options, with no choice to ditch the shit you don’t want to see. Kinda sounds exactly like cable, right?
Christian Oestlien, YouTube TV’s vice president of product management, acknowledged in the blog post announcing the price hike that some subscribers might want more affordable a la carte options.
“As the streaming industry continues to evolve, we are working to build new flexible models for YouTube TV users, so we can continue to provide a robust and innovative experience for everyone in your household without the commitments of traditional TV,” Oestlien said.
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The new price is comparable to AT&T TV’s Choice package, which includes 90 channels and a free year of HBO Max for $65/month, and is $10 more than Hulu’s $55/month live TV package, which is Gizmodo’s pick for best live TV streaming service.
But those prices could easily change, too. In April 2019, YouTube TV jumped from $35/month to $50/month. Hulu’s Live TV plan increased by $10 a month last December. AT&T’s Choice package was $50 a month, until it too jumped by $15 to the now-current price of $65/month. How soon until every streaming service is $100/month and we all switch back to cable? What is the point of all this?
YouTube is trying to sweeten the deal with a few new features to keep you from jumping ship, in addition to all the new channels you probably won’t watch. You can now jump to specific segments in a live TV program, like a sporting event (not that there are many of those right now, but maybe one day!) or a newscast. You also still get free unlimited cloud TV storage space for recording your favorite shows.
If that’s not enough to make you want to pay more, the good news is that, unlike with a cable contract, you can always cancel YouTube TV whenever you want out. Or at least you can for now.