Well, well, well, YouTube finally gets serious about live TV

6 Apr 2017

YouTube TV. Image: Issarapong Suya/Shutterstock

We’ve often wondered how the TV streaming market would handle YouTube’s immense strength. We’ll soon find out.

YouTube Red has hardly exploded into the mainstream, with the streaming giant’s first genuine foray into Netflix’s domain proving to be a bit of a toe-dipper, rather than a game-changer.

However, yesterday (5 April), YouTube finally revealed its live TV hand to complement its DVR-like Red service.

YouTube TV is open to a soft release in the largest metro areas of the US – New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Philadelphia – with a $35-per-month subscription fee that can be cancelled at any time.

More cities are expected to be added in future, but the channel offerings are the really intriguing part.

As part of the package, there is access to live streaming from dozens of channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN, Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet. The latter trio will give users access to live sports from the NBA, MLB, NFL, and NCAA.

What’s even more interesting is that the launch comes just 24 hours after Amazon outbid YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to live-stream Thursday night NFL games.

There’s no HBO, MTV or Comedy Channel – a trio most would assume necessary to tap into the millennial audience this is clearly aimed at – but for a trial run, the offer seems extensive.

AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, WE tv and BBC World News will be added soon, while Showtime is available for an additional charge.

Another pretty appealing benefit to the service is the delivery of a free Google Chromecast to users who sign up and complete a full month of YouTube TV. Casting TV from mobile devices has become a bit of a necessity for streaming content providers to help sync up their superior mobile sites, with connected TVs now dominating households.

As it’s a new launch, there’s a cheesy promo video to go with YouTube TV, but this advert actually shows all you need to know.

The differentiator against Netflix will be what YouTube calls a “cloud DVR”, which will have no storage limits.

“With YouTube TV, you’ll be able to record live TV and never run out of storage,” explained Christian Oestlien, product management director at YouTube.

“Your cloud DVR can record as many shows as you want simultaneously, without using precious data or space on your phone, and we’ll store each of your recordings for nine months.”

The roll-out appears to be entirely US-based at the moment, with no information yet on a European release.

YouTube TV. Image: Issarapong Suya/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic