YouTube takes live TV market share as streaming war escalates – The Hollywood Reporter

The pay-TV industry has been in secular decline for years, with multi-channel video packages from cable and satellite companies (MVPDs) steadily eroding.

But even amid pay-TV subscriber churn, streaming-focused virtual multi-channel video providers (vMVPDs) — think YouTube TV and Hulu’s live TV tier — have continued to grow their share. market, the two main players in the space seeming to break with the package.

On July 12, YouTube released new data showing that major vMVPDs now have 12.4 million combined subscribers, just under 20% of the active pay-TV universe, and are well positioned to be the only area where pay TV could experience growth. , thanks to their smooth user interfaces, easy mobility between devices, and smooth registration and cancellation processes.

Even though vMVPDs feature many of the same channels as traditional MVPDs (CNN, Food Network, USA, ESPN, etc.), the experience is very different (think cloud DVRs, which allow users to record as many of programs they want, or overlays that display fantastic sports data in addition to live games).

YouTube has revealed that its YouTube TV service has reached 5 million subscribers, five years after its launch. With the caveat that the 5 million figure includes those for free trials, YouTube TV’s latest figures are major online rivals such as Hulu’s (Disney-owned) 4.1 million live TV subscribers. ) and the 2.25 million Sling TV (owned by Dish), according to these companies. latest earnings reports.

But while Sling has seen its subscriber base stagnate (it had 2.5 million at the end of 2020 and 2021, 2.6 million in 2019 and 2.4 million in 2018), YouTube TV and Hulu With Live TV seem to have been constantly adding subscribers over time (YouTube TV has added some 2 million subscribers since late 2020, the last time it broke, while Hulu With Live TV is up 8% year-over-year at last trimestre).

There are other players in the space, but so far they’ve played in specific niches, compared to the all-encompassing approach pursued by Hulu and YouTube (consider Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s FuboTV, with its focus on sports, or Philo TV and its cheaper entertainment push). The exception is DirecTV — now free from AT&T — which is continuing an aggressive streaming push, though specific numbers remain unclear. Before it started protecting its streaming subscriber numbers, DirecTV was in the same ballpark as Dish’s Sling TV.

The space appears to be evolving to a point where Disney and Google, both of which have other streaming platforms in their stable (Disney+, the main YouTube service, respectively) dominating, while satellite companies and players niche are fighting for the rest leftovers.

According to Leichtman Research Group, the first quarter of 2022 saw major pay-TV providers lose 1.95 million subscribers, down from 1.91 million a year ago and 1.96 million in 2020. Major cable companies, satellite and telecommunications now has 66.7 million subscribers.

However, this does not mean that a service is resting on its laurels. DirecTV, as a pure-play content company, now has strong incentives to boost its streaming ambitions, while Philo on July 12 launched a new brand campaign called “Channeling Comfort” in an attempt to steal market share. emphasizing its ease of use. and lower price.

Price is, in fact, a key factor in the battle for the streaming bundle, and it’s one area that gives YouTube an edge over its Hulu competition: At $64.99 per month, the subscription is cheaper than Hulu’s live TV tier, which costs $69.99 per month. month.

As for the other options: Philo TV starts at $25 per month, Sling TV starts at $35 per month (each with a much smaller channel selection), while FuboTV and DirecTV streaming start at $69.99. per month, according to Hulu.

And if vMVPDs can continue to grow as legacy players continue to decline, the future of pay-TV streaming could arrive even sooner than people think.

A version of this story appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.