YouTube’s live TV streaming service is finally getting of forced ad breaks for all cloud DVR recordings: YouTube TV announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that consumers will now be able to fast forward through ad breaks on recorded shows from CBS, the Smithsonian Channel and POP TV.
What's sweeter than unlimited DVR space? Full control of your recorded shows! Starting today, you can ️⏸, ⏪, & ⏩ through your @CBS, Smithsonian Channel, & POP TV favorites to your heart's content.
— YouTube TV (@YouTubeTV) December 2, 2019
YouTube TV was one of the first internet-based pay TV services to launch with a cloud DVR, allowing paying subscribers to record TV shows and movies on Google’s servers. However, at launch, YouTube TV was regularly checking whether a show was also available via video on-demand (VOD), defaulting to that version when available.
The crux: VOD versions play with forced ad breaks, with fast forwarding disabled. This led to many customer complaints, and YouTube eventually renegotiated its contracts with most of its network partners to let subscribers use their DVR recordings instead — a choice that made it possible to fast-forward through ad breaks, much like you’d be able to on your traditional cable DVR.
CBS remained a lone hold-out, forcing users to watch ads on their recordings. Now, the two companies finally seem to have come to an agreement, as YouTube vice president of product management Christian Oestlien suggested on Twitter.
“Now you can choose between VOD and DVR across anything in your library,” Oestlien wrote in a tweet Monday afternoon. “Thanks to all of our network partners for helping us make this happen!”
The changes come as services like YouTube TV are facing increasing headwinds: Initially positioned as budget-priced alternatives to expensive cable subscriptions, internet-based TV services have been forced to drastically raise subscription rates to make up for ever-increasing licensing fees.
AT&T for instance recently announced that it would raise the price of its AT&T TV Now service to $65 a month. When AT&T first launched the streaming service under the DirecTV Now branding, it signed up early subscribers for just $35 per month.
Those price increases also have led to significant subscriber defections: AT&T ended its fiscal Q2 with 1.34 million DirecTV Now subscribers, losing 469,000 subscribers to the streaming service year-over-year.
Sony, meanwhile, announced in October that it would shutter its PlayStation Vue service by the end of January. “Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected,” the company said at the time. “Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.”