YouTube Bets It Can Convince Youngs to Pay for TV – Bloomberg (Feb 28, 2017)
It looks like Bloomberg got a pre-brief on the YouTube TV announcement this afternoon, and has posted its article just as YouTube’s event gets underway. The service is called YouTube TV, it’s $35 per month, and the headline is that it includes all four major broadcast networks, but not several big cable networks (no Viacom, Discovery, AMC, A&E, or Turner networks including CNN, TBS, and TNT). From what I’m seeing on Twitter as the event unfolds, it looks like the service will only launch in local markets where the broadcasters have affiliates, which means people like me (I live in Utah) are out of luck. As I predicted a couple of years ago in the context of a potential Apple TV service, local and sports are the big challenges, and YouTube hasn’t really cracked this on a national basis yet. The US TV market continues to be incredibly resistant to real disruption – every over the top streaming alternative to traditional pay TV is handicapped in at least one way, and often several. YouTube TV will offer cloud-based DVR as a differentiator, but the missing cable networks are a big downer. This is basically a four-way deal with the big broadcasters and their cable affiliates, but it means if you want any of the other networks you’re still going to have to buy Sling, DirecTV Now, Sony Playstation Vue, or whatever else comes down the pike later this year. There’s a certain irony to the fact that, though these services are nominally disruptive, they actually offer even less choice individually in many cases than the pay TV services they’re aiming to replace. These companies are each so determined to reach a $35 price point that they’re making decisions on behalf of customers about what should be included, and in all cases they’re excluding some channels a lot of consumers are going to want. We’re still a long way from being able to choose a bundle of channels that makes sense to us, rather than having to buy a bundle someone else configured for business reasons.
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