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YouTube TV launches pricey premium for 4K and offline viewing

YouTube TV has jumped on the 4K bandwagon, but at a price.

The OTT-TV service provider this week introduced "4K Plus," a premium add-on that supports 4K streaming of select programming and channels, along with the ability for subscribers to download content for offline viewing.

The premium feature regularly costs an additional $19.99 per month, on top of YouTube TV's baseline package of $64.95. Customers who have a 4K TV and want that full package will be on the hook for almost $85 per month. But to prime the pump and incent customers to take advantage of the new features in their early days, YouTube TV is offering a one-month free trial followed by a promotional price of $9.99 per month that lasts one year. After that time is up, the 4K Plus price rises to the aforementioned additional $19.99 per month.

FuboTV CEO David Gandler took advantage of YouTube TV's announcement to remind the world via Twitter that his service launched 4K streams during the 2018 World Cup as part of FuboTV's base package, which currently goes for $64.99 per month.

YouTube TV's 4K Plus feature also allows subscribers to access unlimited streams in the home (when connected to a local Wi-Fi network). That compares to a policy on YouTube TV's standard subscription plan that lets customers access up to three separate devices at the same time. The download feature allows customers to download shows and movies recorded on the service's cloud DVR for offline viewing on a tablet or smartphone.

The premium add-ons arrive a few months after YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan hinted at the forthcoming offering, but didn't reveal what price it would carry.

YouTube TV's premium plan adds 4K live TV streaming to the service for the first time. Initially, it will support content from networks such as NBC and ESPN, along with VoD fare in the format from networks and programmers such as FX, Discovery and Tastemade. The move also comes ahead of NBCU's plan to deliver live coverage of the Tokyo Summer Games in 4K and HDR for the first time (NBCU previously offered a subset of Olympics coverage in 4K on a one-day delay).

YouTube TV's premium move also arrives as consumer adoption of 4K-capable TVs continues to climb. According to recent data from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), more than half of US homes (52%) have a 4K TV, a 16-point jump from 2020, and the largest rate of growth for any product surveyed by the organization.

Among other changes and updates, YouTube TV is also adding 5.1 Dolby audio capabilities for all YouTube TV subs. YouTube TV said it will roll that enhancement to select devices over the coming weeks.

YouTube TV, which raised its baseline by $15 per month last year amid a programming lineup expansion, had about 3 million subscribers as of October 2020, but has yet to announce an updated figure.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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