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No YouTube TV Subscriber Update During Alphabet’s Q4 Earnings


YouTube TV premium channels

Alphabet released its fourth quarter results today, but failed to provide any additional information on YouTube TV, including how many people are subscribed to the service. As a result, it remains unclear where the service stands in relation to the rest of the market, beyond the numbers that came through months ago.

How many people are subscribed to a specific live TV streaming service is often a good metric for how well the service is doing. For example, AT&T TV Now went through quarter after quarter of subscriber decline before eventually merging with AT&T TV. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it is clear that Hulu Live TV continues to increase its presence with the service now credited with more than four million subscribers. In fact, it was this time last year when Alphabet and Google confirmed two million subscribers, with the announcement representing the first time official YouTube TV numbers had been provided.

Alphabet released its latest quarterly results, confirming almost $57 billion in revenue. However, neither the announcement nor the following earnings call provided any additional information on YouTube TV, such as specific subscriber numbers. The only real mention was when Google’s CBO Philipp Schindler stated “In the U.S., we have over 100 million people that watch YouTube and YouTube TV on their TV screens each month” before later adding “YouTube TV continues to gain momentum” in response to a question on TV advertising.

Alphabet did also report an increase in Google Services revenue, which includes YouTube TV subscription fees, although that also accounts for the rest of the company’s services as well, including the highly lucrative ad business.

YouTube TV stuck at three million

The last time Alphabet and Google provided firm information on YouTube TV subscribers was back in October when Alphabet’s third quarter results were released, confirming the live TV service had reached three million. However, this was roughly one month before Hulu confirmed it had jumped up to four million.

Since then, YouTube TV has also lost the Tennis Channel, following on from the Fox RSNs that were also dropped at the start of the fourth quarter of 2020, as part of the same ongoing dispute with Sinclair Broadcast Group.

While these channel losses might have led to some subscribers leaving the service during the last quarter, at the same time, Hulu has since increased its live TV subscription price to $64.99 per month. That puts it directly in price competition with YouTube TV and may have helped to draw in subscribers looking for an alternative. However, without any firm details released, it remains to be seen where YouTube TV is, or how recent events have affected the subscriber numbers one way or the other.

Source: Alphabet, YouTube

John Finn


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