Well, that’s annoying.
I was always under the impression that the entire purpose of switching from traditional cable providers to streaming services – cutting the cord, as they say – was done as an intended tradeoff.
I pay less money to the person who provides my television channels, and in return, they give me fewer channels, and it is then incumbent upon me to find the optimal pairing of the most channels I like for the least amount of money.
This worked great when I first got SlingTV in 2015, as I was glad to sacrifice a few of my desired sports channels for the chance to cut my costs by 75percent. I gradually shopped my way around from there to HuluTV, where I paid $5 per month more to get CBS Sports Network, crucial for a G5 fan.
One year later I moved again to YouTubeTV (YTTV) because I liked the user interface better and I could pay slightly less for essentially the same channels.
As of yesterday, YTTV raised their prices to $65 per month, a marked increase from the $35 a month I paid when I first got it three years ago. I never balked at the changes before because I enjoy the product and the price hikes always meant that they simply were no longer clearly the cheapest option.
I’m not against the price point itself – $65 per month isn’t cheap, but it’s within the budget I have for myself. The problem I have is that after the initial streaming boom and the bargain-hunting that was actually rather fun, all any service has done in the last three years is increase their cost while also increasing the number of channels I don’t want.
I have television to watch sports – I couldn’t care less that you’ve added Cartoon Network to your channel lineup. I’m hopeful that the language in Google’s press release about future changes is indicative of potential pricing tiers or other options on the horizon.
I can confidently say that any additional price hike could mean just going back to a cable box, but let’s take a look at what is currently available and at what price points for Group of Five sports fans (RIP Playstation Vue).
Looking at this in full view, a few things are rather apparent. The first is that DirecTV Now continues to be an absolute non-starter, as it is essentially YouTubeTV but costs an additional $15 per month and doesn’t give you unlimited Cloud DVR.
I initially was curious about FuboTV after their recent announcement of gaining all of the ESPNs, but then noticed that it already cost $55 a month and knew that a price hike was coming. The base set-up would cost the same as YTTV, but you would then have to pay another $5-10 per month to match the channel lineup.
SlingTV would be a decrease of $5 per month, and you’d make the tradeoff of gaining beIN Sports, the PAC12 Network, and Stadium, but losing CBS Sports Network. There’s probably person to person variance with how much that change would matter.
The real win in my book is with Hulu + Live TV. I personally switched away in the past simply because the price was identical to YouTubeTV but their user interface was a frustrating mess, especially on the streaming app on my Roku.
With this price difference, I’ll probably have to reconsider. It provides the exact same channel lineup as YTTV but for what will now be $10 a month less. Factor in paying for ESPN+ separately and a move to Hulu would bundle those two, gaining Disney+ and still decreasing the overall monthly cost to $62.
Both now and in the future, beIN Sports and Stadium have been both limited and variable in their utility to G5 fans, even more as ESPN+ continues building their market share. If those still matter to you, Sling’s “Blue+” package with the sports package add-on is likely your best bet.
If you don’t care about those channels, and/or you’ve been considering Disney+ for a while, then Hulu appears to be the best bang for your buck now. Granted, they’ll probably raise their price soon just to spite me, but at the moment they’re the winner in my book.