Soon, virtually anyone in the U.S. will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV, Google’s $40 monthly over-the-top internet television service aimed at cord-cutters.
First launched in five cities in April 2016, YouTube TV has been available in the top 100 markets in the U.S., covering around 85% of households, for about a year. Starting Wednesday (Jan. 23), the service will begin rolling out in an additional 95 markets, covering over 98% of US households. The company said YouTube TV will be coming the remaining 15 of the U.S.’s 210 designated market areas will follow “shortly thereafter.”
For now, Google has no plans to take the internet pay-TV service to international markets. “This is a U.S.-only app at this time,” a YouTube rep said.
Why has it taken YouTube TV nearly three years to become available everywhere in the U.S.? The reason has to do with the legacy of local-TV ownership in the country and the fact that YouTube opted to make broadcast TV a core part of the bundle: YouTube has to cut individual deals with each broadcast station group to get distribution rights.
YouTube TV offers access to all four big broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — in over 90% of markets served. For the rest, YouTube TV says it includes at least three.
YouTube is positioning the expanded availability of YouTube TV as coming “just in time” for Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3 on CBS. In all 195 of the biggest YouTube TV markets, local CBS stations are available on the service.
Some of the new YouTube TV markets include Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Boise, Idaho; Evansville, Ind.; Augusta, Ga./Aiken, S.C.; Johnstown-Altoona-State College, Pa.; Springfield-Holyoke, Mass.; Reno, Nev.; Lincoln, Tenn.; Tallahassee, Fla./Thomasville, Ga.;
Peoria-Bloomington, Ill.; Tyler-Longview, Texas; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Montgomery-Selma, Ala.
YouTube TV’s lineup of over 60 networks includes ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC (with all four in most areas, as noted), plus cable networks like TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN, and FX, with live and on-demand content viewable on smartphones, tablets, connected TVs and computers. The service offers a cloud DVR with no storage-space limits (with recordings stored for nine months), as well as up to six individual accounts per membership.
YouTube TV competes with conventional cable and satellite TV operators, as well as other services in the crowded OTT television space including Hulu With Live TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and FuboTV. The internet-TV providers have angled to win subscribers with cheaper pricing, more flexible bundle options and enhanced features.