YouTube TV Is Here... in 5 Markets

The YouTube generation now has its own TV service.

The giant of user-generated content on the web launched its new TV offering this afternoon in five markets: New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Philadelphia. For $35 per month, a YouTube TV membership comes with access to live streams from all of the major broadcast networks, plus ESPN, Fox Sports, Comcast SportsNet and more. Customers also get six user accounts per membership; unlimited cloud DVR storage; original content from YouTube Red; and streaming access on computers, mobile devices and Chromecast-connected TVs.

According to YouTube Inc. , the service will launch in additional markets -- and presumably eventually nationwide -- in the near future.

Screenshots from the YouTube TV app
Screenshots from the YouTube TV app

Of course, YouTube is only the latest entrant in an increasingly crowded over-the-top TV market. Rivals include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) with its DirecTV Now offering, Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) with Sling TV, Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) with its PlayStation Vue service and more. And that's not even counting super-skinny, low-cost packages from programmers like CBS, HBO and Showtime. (See Why DirecTV Now May Flop.)

With increasing competition, however, also comes increasing pressure on the traditional pay-TV market. According to MoffettNathanson LLC , US pay-TV providers lost 1.7 million video subscribers in 2016, up from 1.1 million the previous year. (See Cable Gaining in a Shrinking Pay-TV World.)

Those losses prove that the cord-cutting movement is slowly gaining momentum. And even though YouTube is entering a crowded field with YouTube TV, it's doing so at a time when consumers are growing more comfortable with the notion of ditching cable for an OTT alternative.

Want to know more about video and TV market trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

Of note, YouTube still hasn't solved the one major content problem all OTT services have today. Local news and sports coverage is still only available in select areas.

Sling TV has found a workaround for the issue, however. Dish launched the AirTV Player in January with a feature that combines local over-the-air broadcast content with online video channels in a single unified interface. The feature wasn't available at launch, but according to Cord Cutters News, a system update with the OTA integration function started making the rounds about two weeks ago. (See Dish AirTV Launch Pairs OTA & OTT.)

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

kq4ym 4/24/2017 | 11:09:20 AM
YouTube For Everyone? It will be interesting to watch how quickly or slowly for that matter YouTube ramps up it's TV service nationwide. It's as noted a competitive market out there, but of course Google has a huge existing customer base they can market to. Coincidentally, this week I noticed on my Roku the free Pluto TV channel which is interesting as they put on their list of several dozen selections available my local broadcast television stations with the usual network and PBS channels.
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