When I signed up for YouTube TV in 2017, its $35 monthly price tag felt too good to be true.
In 2019, when the cost went up to $50, that felt more realistic. For the features and channel lineup, it was a great deal compared to other providers.
When they raised it again to $65 in 2020, that stung a bit—but felt like it had kind of reached parity with all the other players.
Now, it’s going up again—albeit almost three years later, and “only” by $8. Given that every prior increase has been by $15, I won’t be surprised to see another $7 added onto my bill within the next year or two anyway.
I’m not leaving, though. Not yet, at least. Here’s why.
It still beats cable
There’s been some grumbling that we’re fast approaching cable pricing with these streaming TV services now.
That’s technically kinda-sorta true, but not really. I have Fios internet, to which I could add a comparable TV package for $75 per month. However, that just covers my channels and a cable box for one TV in my house. To cover all our TVs would add an extra $42 a month in cable-box fees. And that doesn’t include recording shows. DVR service starts at $12 for 50 hours and tops out at $30 for 200 hours.
With YouTube TV, I get unlimited recording, and I’ve been paying an extra $10 a month for the 4K plan, which includes unlimited streams to unlimited TVs. Even without the 4K plan, it’s three simultaneous streams to however many TVs you have.
There are other little niceties as well. We’re on vacation at the moment and, when I signed into the YouTube TV app on our out-of-state condo’s Roku TV, we got access to the local channel lineup here but also all our recorded shows from back home.
Unlike with cable TV, I can put a TV wherever I can get a wireless signal: in the bathroom, in a closet, in the garage, wherever. I’m not tied to the rooms (and corners of those rooms) that have cable connections running to them.
So, I’d be at almost $150 for Fios to even come close to the $83 I’m paying for YouTube TV, and Fios would be far less convenient.
That’s one of the best things about YouTube, as well as rival streaming services such as Hulu Plus Live TV and Sling TV: If they say your bill is $83 a month, it’s $83 a month. Cable bills are rife with fees, taxes, and equipment rentals that aren’t always reflected in the advertised prices.
The other best thing about streaming services? Leaving is super easy. I can quit YouTube TV in a few clicks and spin up a competing streaming service a few clicks later. I lose my DVR recordings but that’s about it. With cable, you often have to argue with a retentions person on the phone in order to ditch service, return equipment, and deal with other old-school unpleasantness like cancellation fees.
It still beats other streaming services
I should probably put an asterisk on that header, but for most people looking for a fully-featured TV package, YouTube TV is really tough to beat when it comes to price, channels, and features.
It’s not impossible to beat, though—especially if you’re into regional sports. I live in Boston, and YouTube TV doesn’t carry the channel that shows all the Red Sox games, for instance. Luckily, I’m a long-suffering Twins fan, so I just pony up for MLB.TV and have a dull stomachache all season.
If you’re looking for better sports, Fubo TV has arguably the most competitive answer to YouTube TV: $75 a month for close to the same number of channels (depending on your location), 1,000 hours of DVR (YouTube TV is unlimited), and 10 simultaneous streams (versus three for YouTube TV unless you pay $10 extra for the 4K package, which gets you unlimited streams). And you have access to regional sports networks as well, although some carry additional fees depending on your ZIP Code.
But for a family of five—including a non-technical spouse, three young kids, and no strong feelings about regional sports coverage—YouTube TV is easy to use and has most or all of the channels anyone’s looking for.
Now, if you don’t need the whole enchilada or if you have a very specific kind of content you’re looking for, YouTube TV or any of the other big guys probably aren’t appealing given that they all start around the $70 mark. Take a look at this column I wrote a while back for some good streaming options that are cheap or even free.
The post Two big reasons YouTube TV is still great after the price hike appeared first on Fast Company.