When Twitter announced it had acquired exclusive rights from the NFL to stream Thursday Night Football matchups in 2016, the move was heralded as a work of Belichick-ian strategy. In hindsight, it turned out to be a move more worthy of the Browns' front office. The initiative flopped, eventually leading to Amazon buying the rights to stream NFL games on Thursday nights for a sum of $50 million.
Unphased by Twitter’s failure and unafraid of competition from Amazon and others, YouTube has launched its own live TV streaming service today in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and the Bay Area that offers sports programming from 13 dedicated channels (ESPN, FS1, Comcast SportsNet, etc.) as well as each of the big four networks: ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. YouTube TV works on phones, computers and televisions (via Chromecast) and will let sports fans watch live action from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA and NCAA, among others offerings.
So why is this a big deal?
Well, besides offering a more comprehensive viewing package than any other service (besides cable, obviously), YouTube TV only costs $35 a month and can be shared with six accounts, each with their own login and DVR library, so the missus can watch the Masters while you record figure skating. So compared to purchasing a cable subscription — which includes streaming options from the major networks along with apps like WatchESPN and FOX Sports Go — YouTube TV’s price and functionality seem to make it a seemingly superior option. Also, unlike Twitter’s old/Amazon’s new NFL offering, the service broadcasts multiple sports and isn’t restricted to just one night per week.
Sure, there will always be (illegal) free streaming sites you can use, but those carry the risk of viruses, never-ending pop-up ads and landing on a watchlist (and you didn’t hear about them from us). But until a sports-only subscription service comes along to replace it at the top of streaming heap, YouTube TV appears to have the market cornered.