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Opinion: YouTube TV has nearly doubled its price since launch, and I’m tired of it

When YouTube TV first launched a few years ago, it felt like the answer I’d been waiting for. Most of the channels I need, unlimited DVR, and a decent interface? All for $35? What a steal! Now, three years later, YouTube TV has seen numerous price hikes that have nearly doubled that cost, all for the sake of some added channels. I’m done with it.

YouTube TV has always had a very straightforward offering. Pay one fee, get every channel in the lineup along with all of the features. That model hasn’t changed, but the price itself has — dramatically.

Since 2017, YouTube TV has nearly doubled its price as of the latest hike today. Starting with the next billing cycle, all YouTube TV subscribers will see their price jump from $49 to $65. No grandfathered rates, no grace period. Just a $15 price hike that takes effect basically immediately.

Why the jump in price? The same reason as every other time, YouTube TV added more channels. With this latest “upgrade,” Viacom channels such as Nickelodeon and Comedy Central are added to the catalog. That’s great from the perspective of variety on the platform, but is it really worth an extra $15 per month?

With the jump in price, though, nothing really changes in the column of benefits. You still get unlimited DVR, you still get a robust family plan, you still get access to a ton of on-demand content. However, YouTube TV subscribers have had that since the service first launched. I don’t think those original benefits outweigh these newfound costs.

With all of this in mind, I’m kind of done with YouTube TV. I’m strongly considering dropping my subscription in the near future, because these price hikes have just passed the point of sanity. For my usage, I have real trouble stomaching this price point.

Does that mean YouTube TV subscribers should cancel in droves? Absolutely not. For a lot of people, this service is worth every dime, even if it costs 85% more than it did a couple of years ago.

The solution? Pricing tiers

How can YouTube TV solve its pricing problem? Getting rid of variety isn’t an option, and neither is the list of features. The only solution I see is the introduction of pricing tiers.

The truth of the matter is, not everyone needs every channel. In fact, that’s the reason YouTube TV and its competitors have become so popular. No one wants to pay the cable company for 10 channels they want and 2,000 they’ll never touch.

At this point, YouTube TV’s price is a question of competition. Google’s service has been the best live TV streaming service out there lately, but at $64.99 Sling TV ($30+) looks way more attractive, as do cable-company options like Spectrum TV ($25).

Luckily, it seems like pricing tiers are around the corner. In its announcement post, Google explains:

As the streaming industry continues to evolve, we are working to build new flexible models for YouTube TV users, so we can continue to provide a robust and innovative experience for everyone in your household without the commitments of traditional TV.

To me, that certainly reads as “pricing tiers are coming.” I certainly hope that’s the case.

There’s another solution I’d love to see here too. Google, please bundle YouTube Premium in with YouTube TV. $64.99 is a lot easier to swallow if it also means no ads on YouTube videos.

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Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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