When YouTube TV launched in 2017, it felt like the future of television. It provided the live playback nature of cable channels, with the convenience of also being able to watch later if you wanted. You could watch on any of your devices, and the automated, unlimited Cloud DVR was a godsend.
But it worked because of the $35 price. Even if it was missing a few channels, the convenience and implementation made it worth it. Then, in 2018, the price went up to $40. Okay, five bucks isn’t too bad. Then again, in 2019, the price went up to $50 for just eight more channels.
Today, in the middle of a global pandemic leaving people stuck at home and the highest levels of unemployment since the Great Depression, YouTube TV decided to announce its biggest price hike yet. Starting today, a subscription for new members will cost $64.99. For existing subscribers, the price hike starts on or after July 30.
For your extra 15 bucks, you’ll get access to BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land, and VH1. At a future date, you’ll have access to BET Her, MTV2, MTV Classic, Nick Jr., NickToons, and TeenNick. That’s nice for people who care about these channels, but it sucks for everyone else, myself included.
To be fair, YouTube acknowledges the price hike could lead to lost customers:
We don’t take these decisions lightly, and realize how hard this is for our members. That said, this new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch live TV. YouTube TV is the only streaming service that includes a DVR with unlimited storage space, plus 6 accounts per household each with its own unique recommendations, and 3 concurrent streams. It’s all included in the base cost of YouTube TV, with no contract and no hidden fees.
While we would love every member to continue to stay with our service, we understand that some of you may choose to pause or cancel your membership. We want to make YouTube TV flexible for you, so members can pause or cancel anytime here.
The company says it plans on building new ‘flexible models’ for YouTube TV subscribers, but if you ask me, those should have been in place long ago. Competitor Sling has long offered various price tiers for its base plans, for instance. In any case, it made no mention of when these plans will materialize, leaving thousands of users paying for channels they might not care about.
Everyone’s price threshold is different, and I’m sure plenty of users will be happy to keep paying for YouTube TV. But that extra $15 a month — which feels like a small slap in the face considering the current anxious economy — crossed the line for me, and I suspect many users as well. And given the yearly price increases, YouTube has given me no indication the prices won’t just keep going up.
I love the idea of YouTube TV, but for now, I’ve canceled my subscription. While the ability to watch shows live is nice, between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and a myriad of other specialized services, I can’t bring myself to continue paying for another subscription — especially when the company announces a 30 percent price hike with nary a warning. $15 is the standard price for many full streaming services, not just a handful of channels.
For that price, I might as well start considering cable again. At least they give me more choice on what I actually want to pay for.