YouTube TV Reaches 8 Million Subs, No. 1 Among Online TV Streaming Services

Google-owned YouTube TV has reached 8 million paid subscribers, almost double the 4.6 million subs for Disney rival Hulu + Live TV.

YouTube disclosed the updated subscriber tally in a Feb. 6 letter from CEO Neal Mohan, who said the platform now generates more than 1 billion hours a day of content across viewer televisions.

Neal Mohan

Mohan said the platform has more than 3 million channels in the YouTube Partner Program, which gives creators ways to earn money on YouTube.

“We paid over $70 billion to creators, artists, and media companies over the last three years,” Mohan wrote.

Indeed, YouTube consistently remains the No. 1 streaming video platform — ahead of Netflix — on Nielsen’s monthly The Gauge streaming metric across U.S. household televisions.

Going forward, Mohan said YouTube would rollout enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as AI-generated backgrounds enabling users to create better video content. Last year, YouTube launched Dream Track, enabling creators to explore AI in music video creation.

The technology is also part of YouTube Shorts, which focuses on video creation for phones and portable devices. Shorts is averaging more than 70 billion daily views, and the number of channels uploading Shorts has grown 50% year over year, according to YouTube.

“AI should empower human creativity, not replace it,” Mohan wrote. “And everyone should have access to AI tools that will push the boundaries of creative expression.”

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Google Subscription Services Ups Q4 Revenue Nearly 23% to $10.8 Billion

Alphabet Inc. Jan. 30 reported that its Google Services’ subscription, platforms, and devices business segment saw fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2023) revenue of $10.8 billion, which was up 23% from revenue of $8.8 billion in the prior-year period.

Google subscriptions include YouTube TV, YouTube Music and Premium, and NFL Sunday Ticket.

Google Services also includes products and platforms such as ads, Android, Chrome, devices, Google Maps, Google Play, Search, and YouTube. Google Services generates revenue primarily from advertising, the sale of apps and in-app purchases (such as movies and TV shows), and devices.

Google Services saw a 32% increase in quarterly operating income of $26.7 billion, from operating income of $20.2 billion in the previous-year period. Revenue increased 12.5% to $76.3 billion from $67.8 billion in the prior year period.

On the fiscal call, Philipp Schindler, chief business officer at Alphabet, said the company was actively looking at expanding YouTube TV into international markets.

“It is something we are closely looking at,” Schindler said without elaborating.

The recently concluded 2023 National Football League season featured the first year exclusive distribution of”NFL Sunday Ticket” on YouTube TV after nearly 30 years on DirecTV.

CEO Sundar Pichai hailed “Sunday Ticket,” calling the weekly offering a perfect fit for YouTube TV. Indeed, YouTube TV reportedly generated more than 1.3 million new subscribers after acquiring the rights last year.

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Verizon Offering New, Existing Subs Free ($449 Value) Access to YouTube TV’s ‘NFL Sunday Ticket’

With the 2023 NFL season set to begin in six weeks, Verizon Communications, in partnership with online subscription streaming platform YouTube TV, is offering new and existing telecom subscribers free access to “NFL Sunday Ticket” — which typically costs $449 a year — when purchasing select mobile phones and home broadband service.

Google, which owns YouTube TV, last December secured exclusive rights to “NFL Sunday Ticket” for a reported $2 billion annual license fee. “Sunday Ticket” affords viewers access to all out-of-market regular season afternoon games broadcast on Fox Sports and CBS Sports. DirecTV retains “Sunday Ticket” pay-TV rights to bars and restaurants.

Earlier this year, Verizon announced a new partnership with the NFL to deliver its Verizon Business Managed Private Wireless Network across each of the 30 U.S. NFL stadiums. The platform includes full support for coach-to-coach communications on the field and provides the NFL with speed, security and reliability for on-field coach-to-coach communication. The technology will be implemented for all 2023 NFL games, including the 2023 international games in London and Frankfurt, Germany.  

“This partnership adds to our growing roster of the best content providers in the industry as we continue to deliver the best in choice and exclusive value to our customers,” Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, said in a statement. 

Verizon recently renewed a separate promotion with Netflix, offering +play subscribers free 12-month (valued at $240) access to Netflix’s premium tier service option. It continues to offer free six-month access to Disney+ for select mobile customers.

New Verizon “Unlimited Plus Mobile” subscribers get free access to “Sunday Ticket” with the purchase of select Smartphones, including Samsung Galaxy S23 Series, the Galaxy Z Flip5 or the Galaxy Z Fold5; Google’s Pixel Fold, Pixel 7 or 7 Pro; or Motorola’s Edge+. 

New Verizon Home Internet customers enrolling in plans for Fios 1 Gig, Fios 2 Gig, 5G Home Plus and LTE Home Plus plans are also eligible for the promotion. All other existing Verizon mobile customers are eligible for $100 off “Sunday Ticket.”

“Through our new partnership with Verizon, we’re proud to offer fans additional ways to access NFL Sunday Ticket,” said Neal Mohan, CEO of YouTube.

YouTube TV Announces Inaugural NFL ‘Sunday Ticket’ Pricing, Up 19% From DirecTV Last Year

Google-owned online television streaming platform YouTube TV made news last year wresting exclusive rights to the National Football League’s “Sunday Ticket” broadcast rights from DirecTV, which had owned the rights for 28 years.

YouTube April 11 announced the 2023 pricing for “Sunday Ticket,” which affords viewers access to all out-of-market games not broadcast on local legacy TV networks CBS and Fox. Google is reportedly paying the NFL upwards of $2 billion annually for the rights for the next seven years.

YouTube TV subscribers, who recently saw their monthly fee increase to $72.99 from $64.99, will be able to access “Sunday Ticket” for $349 for the season, up from $294 last year when it was available on DirecTV.

For the first time, NFL Sunday Ticket will be available without a satellite subscription to non-subs priced at $449 through YouTube Primetime Channels.

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YouTube is offering discounted pricing ($100 off) through June 6 on the basic “Sunday Ticket” plan, in addition to the NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone combo ($289) for YouTube TV subs, and $389 for non-subs.

“Members will have access to features like the brand new multiview as well as unlimited DVR storage, personalized recommendations, the ability to view key plays, NFL Fantasy data, real time stats and hide spoilers,” YouTube said in a statement.

The platform said it would also integrate shopping functionality so viewers could buy merchandise to support their teams, and social features that YouTube users are already familiar with including chat and polls, among others.

YouTube TV Raising Monthly Subscription Price 12% to $73

Google’s online television service YouTube TV has raised its monthly fee 12%, from $65 to $73 for new subscribers. Existing subs will see the $8 price hike take effect on April 18.

YouTube TV, which made the announcement in a series of social media posts, said the the price hike is the platform’s first in three years and due in part to rising content costs. The platform, however, is also lowering the monthly fee for the “4K Plus” add-on from $20 to $10.

Last July, YouTube announced that its streaming TV service had topped 5 million monthly subs, ahead of previous leader Hulu + Live TV, which ended 2022 with 4.5 million subs.

Meanwhile, YouTube also offered condolences and an escape link for those who no longer wish to subscribe.

“We are committed to offering a premium way for you to stream TV, but understand this new price may not work for you,” read the post. “We do hope YouTube TV continues to be your service of choice, but we want to give you the flexibility to cancel at any time.”

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Google to Bring NFL ‘Sunday Ticket’ on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels in $2 Billion Deal

The National Football League Dec. 22 announced a multiyear agreement with Google granting YouTube TV subscribers and YouTube Primetime Channels the right to exclusively distribute “NFL Sunday Ticket” in the U.S. starting with the 2023 NFL season.

“For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this strategic partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

NFL Sunday Ticket will be available on YouTube’s subscription businesses as an add-on package on YouTube TV and standalone a-la-carte on YouTube Primetime Channels.

Consisting of all out-of-market Sunday regular-season NFL games (based on viewer’s location) broadcast on Fox and CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket allows domestic fans to follow their favorite teams and players no matter where they live.

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“Through this expanded partnership with the NFL, viewers will now also be able to experience the game they love in compelling and innovative ways,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube.

NFL Sunday Ticket launched in 1994 and has been distributed on DirecTV’s satellite service since its inception. The NFL and YouTube will work together to determine additional ways to support distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket in commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants.

The NFL and Google have been partners since the 2015 launch of the NFL channel on YouTube. Since then, the NFL YouTube channel has grown to more than 10 million subscribers who can access clips, highlights, game-day compilations and exclusive original content series like “NFL Follies” and NFL Films’ two-time Emmy winning flagship series, “Gameday All-Access,” a mic’d up players show bringing fans inside the huddle and on the sidelines.

The NFL is the most popular live television content in all of sports and entertainment, according to Nielsen. Over the last five years, 49 of the top 50 and 92 of the top 100 most-watched programs on U.S. television have been NFL games.

Google’s deal underscores U.S. streaming services’ increased interest in live sports. Amazon has exclusive distribution of “NFL Thursday Night Football” in a 11-year, $11 billion deal. Apple TV+ will begin streaming exclusive access to Major League Soccer in 2023.

Nielsen: Americans Grew Average Weekly Time Streaming Video by 18% From 2021

Americans increased their average weekly time streaming video by 18%, with a year-over-year increase from 143.2 billion of streamed minutes to 169.4 billion between February 2021 and February 2022, according to Nielsen’s inaugural “State of Play” report.

Streaming service consumption is expected to grow, according to the report, with 93% of Americans reporting they will increase their paid streaming services or make no changes to their existing plans over the next year.

Over the last three years there was an 18% increase in all available video content, according to the report.

However, due to a nearly 20% increase in unique program titles over the past three years, nearly half of audiences (46%) feel overwhelmed by the growing number of services and platforms and that makes it more difficult to find the content they’re looking for, the report found.

The “State of Play” report leverages Nielsen TV measurement and streaming data, insights from Gracenote (a Nielsen company) and findings from an online custom survey of U.S. video streamers.

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Subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) now accounts for 53% of minutes streamed. Of the 4 hours and 49 minutes per day that the average American spends watching content, a little less than a fourth of that time (1 hours and 22 minutes) is through connected TVs. 

Ad-supported VOD, multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and virtual MVPDs (vMVPDs) have grown to account for 35% of streaming. The percentage of homes with YouTube TV — the vMVPD with the highest household penetration — has grown by more than 160% since 2020.

Consumers now have more than 817,000 unique program titles as of February 2022 versus more than 646,000 as recently as December 2019, according to the report. The increase in content also comes with an increase in consumption, as 18% of Americans are now paying for four streaming services versus the 7% who did so in 2019. In February of this year, content from streaming platforms accounted for just under 29% of consumers’ total time with TV, ahead of broadcast programming (26.4%) for the fourth straight month, according to Nielsen’s “The Gauge,” its monthly total TV and streaming snapshot.

In total, Americans watched nearly 15 million years’ worth of streaming video content last year. 

When asked about whether bundled streaming services might make it easier for consumers to find the content they are seeking, 64% of respondents indicated they wished there was a bundled video streaming service that would allow them to choose as few or as many video streaming services that they wanted.

“The inaugural ‘State of Play’ really underscores the fact that we’ve entered the next phase of streaming, based on the trends we have been detailing about streaming over the past few years,” Brian Fuhrer, SVP of product strategy at Nielsen, said in a statement. “We’ve moved from infancy into adolescence, and all the complexities that one would expect at that point. It’s not just that streaming is increasing year over year. Now consumers want access simplified and the explosion of services has renewed discussions around bundling and aggregation. Ultimately, these challenges signal an opportunity as the industry harnesses streaming for long-term business growth.”

TiVo Integrates 4K Streaming Software With YouTube TV

TiVo April 5 announced that its branded “Stream 4K” and “TiVo Stream OS” are now integrated with online platform YouTube TV — the first such support of its kind among streaming products, according to TiVo.

TiVo Stream 4K affords users with a customizable program guide designed to bring together multiple streaming services and favorite channels into the functionality of a TV guide. The service offers national broadcast affiliates, including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, along with premier sports and news channels such as ESPN, NFL Network and PBS.

“As TiVo’s business has evolved from pioneering digital video recording to streaming products and services, our success has been grounded in understanding consumer preferences and delivering exactly what consumers want,” Ben Maughan, GM of stream platform, said in a statement. “The YouTube TV addition represents the largest content-related integration update since the launch of TiVo Stream 4K. Providing consumers with an integrated experience that includes premier live TV with a partner like YouTube TV is a significant step to becoming a leading streaming platform in the market.”

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The integration makes controlling the viewing experience easier and more efficient, and will include several enhancements to elevate the TiVo Stream 4K user experience with live and upcoming content in the following areas:

  • Users can access TiVo Stream 4K’s guide using the remote control to find sports, entertainment, comedy and news channels from YouTube TV.
  • Content that is on live TV or upcoming on YouTube TV is discoverable throughout the TiVo Stream 4K user experience.
  • Users can utilize TiVo Stream 4K’s voice and text search to find live and upcoming content on YouTube TV for a seamless interaction between the two platforms.

Hulu, Paramount+ Help Up NCAA ‘Final Four’ Basketball Tournament Games to Highest Viewership in Five Years

The increasing distribution of live sports on subscription streaming video platforms is paying off in the ratings game. New data from Nielsen found that the April 3 “Final Four” thrilling victory by the University of North Carolina Tarheels over archrival Duke University in the semifinal of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament generated 16.3 million viewers on WarnerMedia’s TBS, TNT and TruTV cable networks, in addition to Hulu, Paramount+, Sling TV and YouTube TV streaming platforms.

That was the highest viewership for a Final Four game since 2017. In addition to contesting the first ever matchup in the men’s NCAA tournament between the legendary rivals, the game also featured retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in his final game.

The tally is expected to grow after including out-of-home viewership.

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The other semifinal game, which saw the University of Kansas beat Villanova University April 2, averaged 10.3 million viewers, which was up 21% from the 2021 Saturday matchup between Baylor University and the University of Houston with 8.1 million viewers.

Last year’s Final Four matchup between UCLA and Gonzaga University attracted almost 15 million viewers on TV and alternative platforms.

Meanwhile, the numbers still pale from the 2015 semifinal matchup between the University of Wisconsin and University of Kentucky that was viewed by more than 22 million people.

Roku, Google End Dispute, Ink New Carriage Agreement

Roku and Google have ended a reportedly contentious negotiation and signed a new multiyear carriage deal for distribution of the latter’s YouTube and YouTube TV properties on the Roku platform. The existing contract was set to expire Dec. 9.

Roku, with 56.4 million active accounts through Sept. 30, remains a vital conduit linking third-party streaming video services with consumers on their television. In exchange, Roku either collects percentage of the subscription fees and/or access to user data.

It is the latter that apparently irked Google, resulting in a yearlong war of words between the search behemoth and SVOD co-pioneer (with Netflix). While YouTube remains the largest social video platform in the world, YouTube TV relies on consumer awareness to grow its reported 3 million to 4 million subscriber base.

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“Roku and Google have agreed to a multiyear extension for both YouTube and YouTube TV. This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform,” a Roku spokesperson said in a statement.

Roku’s carriage terms have met resistance from other media companies, which resulted in both HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock SVOD service launching without Roku support. The lack of visibility on the platform hurt both services’ subscriber growth out of the gate, leading WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal to quietly iron out their differences and sign distribution deals.