It's been almost a year since Google first announced YouTube TV, its $35-per-month service for cord cutters. Since then, Google has been iterating to improve on a product that was solid at launch -- but today marks the biggest expansion of YouTube TV thus far. The service now has access to a host of new channels from the Turner network, including TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, CNN, Turner Classic Movies and a few others. For sports fans, YouTube is also adding NBA TV and the MLB Network as well.
But there's a bit of bad news that comes along with this: New YouTube TV subscriptions will now cost $40, up from the $35 price that the service has cost since launch. The price increase will hit on March 13th, so new potential customers still have a month to get in the door and lock in the $35 rate; existing subscribers won't see a change to their bill at all.
YouTube's Heather Moosnick said that the decision to add channels and raise the price is a result of a balance between content and price that the company has been paying attention to since YouTube TV launched. "We've looked at both qualitative and quantitive info to understand what is the perfect package for our users, the vast majority of whom otherwise stopped watching live TV," she said. "Live sports was a key driver in terms of getting new users interested and subscribing to [YouTube TV]."
The timing of this expansion is no accident; the NBA All-Star game is taking place this Sunday, while the NCAA basketball tournaments are only a few weeks away. But even non-sports fans will probably find something to like in this expansion, which gives YouTube TV a comparable channel lineup to competitive services from Hulu and Sony.
This new price also puts YouTube TV in line with both Sony's PS Vue service as well as Hulu's live TV plan, both of which cost $40 per month. Of course, each option has different perks — Hulu comes with access to the service's extensive on-demand catalog and original content, while YouTube and Sony both offer unlimited cloud DVR storage, for example.
If you're intrigued but don't have YouTube TV in your area, check again: as of today, YouTube TV is available in all of the top 100 US markets, which the company says covers 85 percent of households in the country. And YouTube has focused on making sure it has as much local broadcast programming as possible when it enters new markets; Moosnick said that while not every market has all four big broadcast networks, they have three plus the other on demand in many cases. Compared to the competition, she said that YouTube TV has "by far the most" local programming.
For those who've been considering an over-the-top video streaming service, now is a good time to find out if YouTube TV is right for you. There's a month left to get in at the $35 price point, and there's still a free week to give it a shot before putting down your cash.