In the last 48 hours, it’s been reported that three major streaming platforms will be increasing subscription prices this summer. Those three are YouTube TV, fuboTV and ESPN+:
• YouTube TV are increasing their monthly rate by $15 from $49.99 monthly to $64.99 monthly
• Following suit, fuboTV announced that they will raise their family plan cost from $60 a month to $65/month. Additionally, all fubo’s standard plan subscribers will be switched to the family plan, a $10 increase (from $55 to $65), and
• It was revealed that ESPN+ will increase their monthly price one dollar from $4.99/month to $5.99/month beginning this summer.
Let’s dig into these case by case to see if the pricing changes are justified, and ultimately worthwhile for users.
On June 30, YouTube TV (who are owned by Google) raised the monthly cost of a subscription by $15. This marks the second time in 14 months that YouTube TV has bumped up their prices after a $10 monthly increase in April 2019.
Google addressed the rising costs in a blog post published that same day, claiming, “This new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch live TV.”
We at YouTube TV license content from our content providers to then provide to you. When content prices increase, the overall cost of streaming goes up for everyone.
— YouTube TV (@YouTubeTV) June 30, 2020
A major reason for the price increase is likely the introduction of eight new Viacom/CBS Channels, including MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon.
YouTube TV, despite the price increase, remains a market leader in several categories: they’re the only streaming service that includes a DVR with unlimited storage, and they allow six accounts per household. However, they don’t feature any of the channels from beIN SPORTS nor any of the Univision/TUDN channels, making YouTube TV not a destination for most soccer fans.
YouTube TV reported 2 million subscribers in Q4 2019. Their plan is now significantly more expensive monthly than some of their competitors (Hulu, AT&T, and Sling).
To summarize, YouTube TV is among the stronger streaming services, and has some features that other services do not have. However, as it inches closer to costing the same as basic cable, subscribers must ask themself if some of YouTube’s defining qualities (particularly the unlimited DVR) are worth the sharp spike in monthly cost.
fuboTV increased their monthly price on July 1, just one day after YouTube TV.
There are a plethora of changes coming to fuboTV, particularly in pricing and content. First, the price of fubo’s family bundle is now $65/month, up from $60 last month. Additionally, all basic bundle subscribers have been moved to the family bundle, a $10 increase. Per The Verge, a fuboTV spokesperson said that they moved customers from the Standard plan to the family bundle to provide more value (500 hours of DVR as opposed to 30, as well as a third stream).
There are also channel changes at fubo thanks to a multiyear deal with Disney featuring channels such as ESPN, ABC, and Disney Channel that will be joining Fubo, while Turner’s channels (TNT, TBS, CNN, etc) are departing. With TNT losing the Champions League, the Turner channels won’t be a big loss for many soccer fans.
Plus with fuboTV adding the ESPN networks, fubo is positioned to be the best streaming service for soccer fans with a combination of NBC Sports, FOX Sports, ESPN, beIN SPORTS and Univision, as well as other soccer-related networks including Telemundo, GolTV, Chelsea TV, FOX Deportes, FOX Soccer Plus and more.
Per The Verge, “sometimes to help us bring you new channels at the best value, and to deliver premium features like live sports in 4K, we need to remove other channels and adjust subscription prices,” a fubo spokesperson said.
Similar to YouTube TV, an increase in channels and bolstering of features will lead to higher prices. Whether or not the expanded DVR, third stream, and Disney deal cater to you or not may be a deciding factor in staying onboard with fubo.
In August, ESPN+ will increase their monthly subscription price from $4.99 a month to $5.99 a month, according to a report in The Verge. This price increase, however, will not change the overall price of the Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle, which is still $12.99 a month and saves customers around $5 altogether by bundling it together instead of subscribing to all three services separately. Interestingly enough, ESPN+ now costs the same as a basic Hulu subscription.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN+ has struggled the last few months with a lack of live programming. The Last Dance, the smash-hit documentary about Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls, is available to stream on the ESPN app without ESPN+, meaning that a main selling point for the platform won’t actually benefit subscribers.
However, live sports have returned. Serie A is back in full swing, as is the FA Cup and EFL Championship. Additionally, Major League Baseball is returning soon, along with the NBA. You can bet that there will be some new premium programming following the return of those two sports that could benefit ESPN+ subscribers.
I believe that the Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle is probably the best call, in which case the price increase isn’t applicable. But only paying a dollar extra, with the return of sports on the horizon, isn’t as much of a dent as the other two services are potentially causing.
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