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YouTube TV ‘Skinny Bundle’ Expands to Reach 50% of U.S. Homes

YouTube has expanded the internet-delivered YouTube TV subscription service into 14 new U.S. markets, which makes it available to half of all U.S. households.

YouTube TV is also adding two channels to its network lineup — E.W. Scripps’ Newsy national news network and the Tennis Channel — while maintaining the $35-per-month fee. Customers in Boston also will have access to regional sports network NESN, home of the Red Sox.

The local TV additions include all of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates. Sinclair’s carriage deal for YouTube TV also covers Tennis Channel. In addition, under the pact the companies expect YouTube TV to add Sinclair’s CW and MyNetwork TV stations, as well as the 24-hour science fiction channel, Comet TV.

The new metro areas where YouTube TV is now available are: Baltimore; Boston; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla./Brunswick, Ga.; Las Vegas; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; Seattle/Tacoma; Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota, Fla.; and West Palm Beach/Ft. Pierce, Fla.

The service includes about 50 channels, including ESPN, AMC and FX, as well as features like an unlimited cloud-based DVR and mobile access. According to Google, YouTube TV now offers the most markets with live local broadcast feeds from the four major broadcasters — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — than any over-the-top competitor. Rivals in the space include AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV, Hulu, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and FuboTV.

However, the YouTube TV “skinny bundle” is missing big chunks of the cable dial. Unavailable on the service: networks from Turner, including CNN, TBS and TNT; Viacom; Discovery Communications; and Scripps Networks Interactive. HBO also isn’t available as an option, but Showtime is.

How much traction YouTube TV has gained to date isn’t fully clear; Google hasn’t released any subscriber numbers. But the service, and the other OTT contenders, are clearly appealing to a consumer segment that’s looking for a cheaper alternative to cable, satellite and telco TV — and traditional pay-TV customers are continuing to dwindle.

YouTube TV first launched in April in five markets – New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Philadelphia. In July, YouTube expanded into an additional 10 markets: Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Charlotte, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

More markets are on tap for YouTube TV’s road map. The service will expand into 17 additional markets in the coming weeks, including greater metro areas of: Austin, Birmingham, Cleveland-Akron, Denver, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Hartford-New Haven, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Oklahoma City, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, San Diego and St. Louis.

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