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The Bauminator

YouTube TV to launch premium add-ons as sub base flattens out

YouTube TV is set to introduce a wave of add-on features as the streaming video service seeks out ways to stoke a subscriber base that appears to be stuck in neutral.

YouTube TV, launched almost three years in a few markets ahead of nationwide availability by early 2019, has more than 3 million subscribers, according to this blog post from Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief product officer. That's effectively the same sub number that Google reported almost four months ago.

YouTube TV is preparing a yet-to-be-priced add-on option that will provide access to 4K fare and the ability for subscribers to download shows.
YouTube TV is preparing a yet-to-be-priced add-on option that will provide access to 4K fare and the ability for subscribers to download shows.

While YouTube TV's sub base appears to be flattening out, that total still places it near the top of the US virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD) market. Hulu's SVoD + Live TV combo still has the lead despite a drop to about 4 million subs. Dish-owned Sling TV ended Q3 2020 with 2.46 million subs, Philo has crossed the 750,000-sub mark, FuboTV has at least 545,000 subs, and AT&T's OTT-TV variants have fallen to 656,000. Vidgo, a service focused on the prepaid market, recently indicated it has more than 25,000 subs, expecting that total to climb to 100,000 sometime this summer. TVision, T-Mobile's recently revamped OTT-TV offering, has well over 100,000 paid subs, according to our most recent check.

Given this mix of players, adding a degree of differentiation beyond traditional packaging and pricing will be critical as subscriber growth becomes increasingly elusive. Most are trying new things to distance themselves or attempt to make their respective services more attractive to the portion of the consumer base they are pursuing.

While Philo has made some hay by focusing on entertainment programming and steering clear of sports, FuboTV, a self-proclaimed "sports-first" service, is expanding into online sports betting.

YouTube TV, which already offers a cloud DVR with unlimited recording, is nearing the launch of a new add-on option that lets viewers watch available shows in 4K format and download shows for offline viewing. That option, Mohan explained, will also allow YouTube TV subs to access unlimited concurrent streams at home, an improvement from a baseline service that today lets subs access YouTube TV on up to three separate devices at the same time.

What Mohan didn't reveal was the price of this add-on option. Following a price hike last year, YouTube TV's current base offering fetches $64.99 per month.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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