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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.

YouTube TV Gets Turner Networks and More Sports Channels… and a $5 Price Hike

Phillip Dampier February 14, 2018 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, YouTube TV No Comments

YouTube TV is adding seven new basic cable networks owned by Time Warner/Turner Broadcasting to its lineup along with NBA TV and the MLB Network.

The new TW/Turner Network channels — TNT, TBS, CNN, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies, along with more sports programming, will also mean a $5 a month rate hike for the streaming service, effective March 13.

Existing YouTube TV customers and those signing up before the rate increase takes effect will be spared the price increase, paying $35 a month for the service instead of the $40 rate charged new customers next month.

YouTube TV has focused much of its attention in the last year on getting local broadcast stations on its lineup, and now has a complete assortment of NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX affiliates in dozens of TV markets. One of the reasons cord-cutters are reluctant to cancel their cable subscription is the loss of local stations, but YouTube TV has managed to overcome that roadblock for many subscribers.

The service has spent much of its annual budget on sports channels, which are usually the most costly basic cable networks. The addition of Time Warner, Inc./Turner Broadcasting cable networks came as a result of subscriber demand. Time Warner, fighting the Department of Justice over its proposed acquisition by AT&T, will likely use the new agreement as additional evidence the company is not withholding popular cable programming from AT&T’s competitors.

YouTube TV offers a 7-day free trial, after which subscribers are charged $35 a month. If interested in the service, now is the time to subscribe before it costs $60 more a year.

YouTube TV Reaches 50% of U.S. With Addition of 14 New Markets

Phillip Dampier August 17, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, YouTube TV 3 Comments

YouTube TV, an online streaming alternative to cable television, now reaches 50% of U.S. residents after the company introduced local TV service in 14 new markets.

The latest additions allow customers to view most local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC stations as part of their subscription. But YouTube TV has not yet signed agreements with all of those station owners, so some cities will continue to have only on-demand access to FOX network shows for the time being.

The newest cities added:

  • Florida: Jacksonville (inc. Brunswick, Ga.), Tampa-St. Petersburg, Sarasota, West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce
  • Kentucky: Louisville
  • Maryland: Baltimore
  • Massachusetts: Boston
  • Nevada: Las Vegas
  • Ohio: Columbus, Cincinnati
  • Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh
  • Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville
  • Texas: San Antonio
  • Washington: Seattle, Tacoma

The service costs $35 a month and includes a feature-limited DVR, which in certain cases does not allow customers to fast-forward past commercials. The service also recently added two new channels to its lineup: Tennis Channel, and for Boston-area residents only: NESN, a regional sports network.

An additional 17 markets are expected to be online before the end of summer:

  • Alabama: Birmingham
  • California: San Diego
  • Connecticut: Hartford, New Haven
  • Colorado: Denver
  • Indiana: Indianapolis
  • Michigan: Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo
  • Missouri: Kansas City, St. Louis
  • North Carolina: Triad Region (Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem), Raleigh-Durham
  • Ohio: Akron, Cleveland
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
  • Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, York
  • Texas: Austin
  • Utah: Salt Lake City
  • Virginia: Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth
  • Wisconsin: Milwaukee

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