The news that YouTube TV — the largest streaming provider of live TV in the U.S. with more than 5 million subscribers — is getting more expensive is neither welcome nor surprising. It’s just the latest price increase among multi-platform video distributors, which is industry parlance for services like YTTV, Hulu With Live TV, FuboTV, Sling TV, and DirecTV Stream. And prices for four of those five providers are dangerously close to what you’d pay for traditional cable.
But in a slightly strange turn of events, the monthly bill for some YouTube TV subscribers — myself included — actually will go down slightly starting in April, when the new rates take effect.
As a quick recap, the base YouTube TV plan is increasing from $65 a month to $73 a month. That’s about a 12.3% increase. But at the same time, the YouTube TV 4K Plus add-on — which gets you some live sports and a smattering of on-demand content in that higher resolution — is decreasing in price from $20 a month to $10 a month. (And the new promotional period will get you that add-on for $4.99 a month for the first year.)
You have to factor a little bit of taxes into things, too, and we certainly can argue over whether 4K Plus is worth it. But the bottom line is this: My monthly bill is going to go down a couple of bucks a month — from $85 to $83 — despite the base plan price increase. And for what it’s worth, my March bill shaves off even more, combining the current $65 base plan rate with the cheaper $10 4K Plus rate. (That’s all before taxes.)
We’re all going to gripe about streaming services raising prices, and it’s an individual decision whether it’s “worth it” to you. I can’t answer that for you, and it’s a good time to remind folks that there’s no such thing as a “best” streaming service. They’re all different, and it’s simple to cancel one and start up another.
And that means it’s all a numbers game. You have to do the math. You have to maintain at least a loose understanding of what you’re paying every month on all of your services, and you should do an audit at least once a year and decide if you’re still OK with what you’re spending.
And if what you’re spending is more than what you think it’s worth to you, it’s time to look around at some YouTube TV alternatives.