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YouTube TV Announces 30% Rate Hike: Now $64.99/mo for Streaming TV Package

Phillip Dampier June 30, 2020 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, YouTube TV No Comments

YouTube TV has announced the addition of eight new Viacom-owned networks to their lineup, but has also passed along word the price is going up 30%, from $49.99 to $64.99/mo effective from Tuesday for new customers, Aug. 1 for existing customers.

Google last raised the price of the service in April 2019 when a YouTube TV subscription increased by 25% to $49.99.

Today we are also adding more of ViacomCBS’s family of channels to YouTube TV, which includes 8 of your favorites: BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land, and VH1.

To continue delivering the best content and service possible, we’re also updating our price for new and existing members to $64.99/month. Existing members will see these changes reflected in their subsequent billing cycle after July 30, 2020.

YouTube TV was widely perceived to be the best value streaming service combined with the best interface and feature set, including unlimited DVR service and the ability to share the service with up to six family members (up to three watching concurrently). The service has benefited from unfettered price hikes by its streaming competitors, notably AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now). But social media channels show customers are not thrilled about a $15 rate increase, even with the addition of eight channels to the lineup:

WOW! Lays Foundation to Ditch Selling Cable TV; Starts Offering Streaming Alternatives

Cable system overbuilder WideOpenWest, better known to customers as WOW!, has begun offering its customers subscriptions to streaming video competitors fuboTV, Philo, Sling, and YouTube TV, in what could be a gradual move away from selling its own video packages.

WOW!, like every cable operator, is losing cable television customers to cord-cutting. As of the end of 2019, the company had just 381,000 video subscribers remaining, down another 6,300 in the last three months. Because of its small size, WOW! does not qualify for the steep volume discounts offered to cable television and satellite TV companies that have tens of millions of video customers. As a result, it either has to continue to raise prices or watch its cable television packages become unprofitable. WOW! has apparently decided it is smarter to partner with nationwide video streaming providers, if only to keep its broadband and television customers from switching to a competitor.

“WOW! has always put a high value on offering choices to consumers,” said WOW! CEO Teresa Elder. “This is one more way we’re empowering customers to determine when, where and how they consume information and entertainment. Our robust broadband network is the natural choice for high-speed data customers […] who want to access streaming services on their terms.”

WOW! specializes in providing service in communities already served by another cable operator. Many of its systems are in the Midwest, where it competes with Charter Spectrum, Cox, or Comcast.

WOW! will offer customers one free Amazon Fire TV Stick and a $25 rebate that can be used to buy other set-top boxes that will support streaming TV alternatives.

If successful, it may not be too long before WOW! stops selling cable television altogether, to focus on its broadband business.

YouTube TV Follows Others, Raises Subscription Price to $49.99 a Month

Phillip Dampier April 10, 2019 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, YouTube TV 3 Comments

YouTube TV is raising rates 25-43%, depending on your existing package.

Effective today, the company is raising the price of its YouTube TV package to $49.99 a month and is notifying customers it is ending grandfathered pricing arrangements that allowed some customers to pay as low as $35 a month for service.

The price change comes at a time when many of YouTube TV’s competitors have announced or implemented rate increases to cover the rising costs of programming. To reduce the sting, YouTube TV will coincide its rate hike with the addition of eight new channels from Discovery: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, ID, MotorTrend, TLC, and the Travel Channel beginning today.

All existing customers will be billed at the new $49.99 rate beginning May 13. New signups will be billed the higher rate immediately. Customers billed by Apple will be penalized the most, with a new rate of $54.99/mo.

The company argues its new package price is still a good value because it now includes more than 70 channels, including robust carriage of local stations in more than 90% of the country. YouTube TV also offers unlimited cloud DVR service and up the three simultaneous streams.

YouTube TV Now Offers Local Channels in Top-95 TV Markets

Phillip Dampier January 23, 2019 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, YouTube TV No Comments

YouTube TV, which offers cable-free live television, today announced it now offers local network affiliates covering over 98% of the U.S., allowing consumers in smaller cities to cut the cord and still keep good reception from most local, over-the-air stations.

Since launching almost two years ago, YouTube TV has gradually added local stations from most metro areas, but many smaller markets were not covered. Effective today, YouTube TV adds most local ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and some independent stations in these areas:

  • Alabama: Dothan, Montgomery-Selma
  • Alaska: Anchorage, Fairbanks
  • Arkansas: Jonesboro, Monroe-El Dorado
  • California: Bakersfield, Chico-Reading, Eureka, Monterey-Salinas, Palm Springs, Yuma-El Centro
  • Colorado: Grand Junction
  • Florida: Panama City, Tallahassee-Thomasville
  • Georgia: Albany, Augusta-Aiken, Gainesville, Macon
  • Idaho: Boise, Idaho Falls-Pocatello, Twin Falls
  • Indiana: Evansville, Ft. Wayne, Lafayette, Terre Haute
  • Illinois: Peoria-Bloomington, Rockford
  • Iowa: Davenport-Rock Island-Moline, Ottumwa-Kirksville, Sioux City
  • Kansas: Topeka
  • Louisiana: Alexandria, Lake Charles
  • Maine: Bangor, Presque Isle
  • Massachusetts: Springfield-Holyoke
  • Michigan: Lansing, Marquette, Traverse City
  • Minnesota: Duluth-Superior, Mankato, Rochester-Mason City-Austin
  • Mississippi: Biloxi-Gulfport, Columbus-Tupelo, Greenwood-Greenville, Meridian
  • Missouri: Columbia-Jefferson City, Joplin-Pittsburg, St. Joseph
  • Montana: Billings, Butte-Bozeman, Great Falls, Missoula
  • Nebraska: Lincoln, North Platte
  • Nevada: Reno
  • New York: Binghamton, Elmira-Corning, Utica, Watertown
  • North Carolina: Wilmington
  • North Dakota: Fargo, Minot-Bismarck-Dickinson (Williston)
  • Ohio: Bowling Green, Lima
  • Oregon: Bend, Eugene, Medford-Klamath Falls
  • Pennsylvania: Erie, Johnstown-Altoona
  • South Carolina: Myrtle Beach
  • South Dakota: Rapid City, Sioux Falls
  • Texas: Amarillo, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Corpus Christi, Laredo, Lubbock, Odessa-Midland, San Angelo-Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, Sherman-Ada, Tyler-Longview (Lufkin & Nacogdoches), Wichita Falls
  • Virginia: Charlottesville, Harrisonburg
  • Washington: Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick
  • West Virginia: Bluefield-Beckley-Oak, Clarksburg-Weston, Parkersburg, Wheeling-Steubenville
  • Wisconsin: La Crosse, Wausau-Rhinelander
  • Wyoming: Cheyenne-Scottsbluff

Additional small markets will be added later.

YouTube TV offers over 60 networks, on-demand programming, cloud DVR service with no storage limit and unlimited simultaneous recordings, up to six personal accounts (three simultaneous stream limit), for $40 a month.

Some YouTube TV Subscribers Fuming Over DVR Feature, Force-Fed Ads

YouTube TV customers attracted by unlimited storage DVR service are now discovering their recorded shows have been temporarily replaced with an on-demand version loaded with unskippable advertising.

In late April, YouTube TV dramatically increased the number of shows that cannot be viewed using DVR service. Instead, viewers are pointed to the on-demand version instead, even when a customer records the show using YouTube’s unlimited storage DVR service. Some customers who pay $40 a month for YouTube TV don’t appreciate what they consider a “bait and switch” DVR that raids their library of recorded shows and puts them off-limits in favor of an alternative version littered with ads one cannot skip.

Customers may not have noticed the gradual increase in the number of ads-included, on-demand shows until recently when YouTube TV started restricting the option of watching an ad-skippable DVR recording instead. Now it is the on-demand (VoD) version or nothing in many cases, at least for the first month or so after a show airs.

“I never had trouble watching DVR versions of programs from NBC, USA, FX, FOX, etc. several days — if not weeks — after recording them. Even if there was a VoD version available,” noted Daw Johnson. “As of last week, the service has completely changed. Roughly 16 hours after the program airs live, you completely lose access to recordings on shows from any of those networks. You’re 100% forced to watch the VoD version (with ads).”

How YouTube TV is marketed.

Each network seems to handle advertising differently. CBS is notorious for loading as many as 20 ads per hour, while some shows on ABC don’t include any ads at all. Some ads are 15 seconds long, others — especially pushing prescription drugs, can run much longer.

Some customers feel YouTube TV has misled them about its DVR service, noting it was sold as an unlimited service:

You can record as many programs as you want at the same time, without ever running out of storage space. We’ll even keep each recording for 9 months. Stream from your library anywhere in the U.S.

But in reality, because of YouTube’s own desire to increase advertising revenue and thanks to agreements with certain programmers, DVR service is becoming more restricted on current shows, and a growing number of older titles airing on cable networks are likely to see mandatory ads creep in as well as YouTube starts selling ad time itself.

“Many networks provide recent episodes of shows, movies, and more on demand. If you’ve recorded a program that’s available on demand at the time you’re watching, in some cases the on demand version will be played back instead of your recording. You typically cannot fast-forward through video on demand ads,” the company explained.

This week, YouTube unveiled a brand new effort to integrate the Google video ads platform into the YouTube TV experience, opening up plenty of new advertising opportunities for companies that want to target YouTube TV customers and be assured viewers cannot fast forward past their ads.

Now Google’s advertisers can target video ads at YouTube TV customers.

“Content from some cable networks in the U.S. will be part of Google Preferred lineups so that brands can continue to engage their audience across all platforms,” said Debbie Weinstein, managing director of YouTube/Video Global Solutions. “This means advertisers will be able to get both the most popular YouTube content and traditional TV content in a single campaign – plus, we’ll dynamically insert these ads, giving advertisers the ability to show relevant ads to the right audiences, rather than just showing everyone the same ad as they might on traditional TV.”

That is likely to mean an exponential increase in GEICO ads.

None of this should be a surprise, if subscribers reviewed the terms and conditions of service when they signed up. In March, 2017, we warned would-be customers the service would insert forced advertising into the DVR experience. YouTube TV isn’t likely to be the only streaming service that will start pushing mandatory advertising into DVR recordings. TV executives want to establish a precedent for forced advertising on the cord-cutting streaming marketplace.

“While it isn’t possible to put the DVR genie back in the bottle for traditional cable customers, TV networks are hopeful they can train viewers to expect ads at least in on-demand, current-season shows they stream,” reported the Wall Street Journal in 2017.

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