But can such a massive media site topple cable television?
Based on YouTube’s newest offering, not yet.
The streaming site has joined the “cord-cutter” contingent with its new pay TV service, YouTube TV. Much like Vue, Sling and DirectTV Now (and Hulu’s upcoming bundle service), it offers a smaller number of channels for a smaller price without the need for a cable company.
Here’s what $35 per month gets you:
- No ads
- Access to the main broadcast networks (Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, The CW)
- 30+ cable channels, mainly ones owned by the broadcast networks (FX, Bravo, Syfy, Disney)
- A decent sports package (ESPN, Fox Sports, NBCSN, etc.)
- Unlimited online DVR storage
- Up to six accounts at one price
- A cancel anytime policy
You can watch YouTube TV via your actual television set through an app and Chromecast, but the service seems better designed for smartphones and laptops.
What you’re missing: Viacom (MTV, Nickelodeon) and Time Warner (CNN, TNT). HBO. Regional sports channels. BBC America. Plus, the initial rollout will only include “major cities,” not the entire country.
And while you’ll have access to “YouTube Red Originals”—which means, hooray, unlimited viewings of “Dance Camp” and “Jingle Ballin” — you won’t get any of the ad-free browsing benefits of YouTube’s Red service. And that service includes a free subscription to Spotify competitor Google Play, which might have made an integration worthwhile (imagine: $35 getting you 40 big TV channels and unlimited music streaming you can take anywhere? Not terrible.)
So, once again, we have a company designing a service that no one needs ... yet. Your use case here: That low, low number of dedicated cord-cutters who have a few shows they have to watch in real time that happen to fall into YouTube’s tiny initial line-up. Frequent travelers who want some hassle-free viewing options on their laptop — if you’re gone for a month, the “cancel anytime” option is great for a limited subscription. And people who have ditched their TVs entirely who occasionally want live sports and new Big Bang Theory episodes.
YouTube TV will roll out early this year in select markets.