Good news for cord cutters who flocked to YouTube TV to replace their cable or satellite plan: the premium over-the-top streaming service is getting some major new features. Bad news: a couple of them will cost you quite a bit extra.
Today, YouTube TV announced that it will add 4K Ultra HD resolution support, as well as the ability to download saved content to a phone or tablet and view it offline. Both features add to the appeal and versatility of YouTube TV, but they are not standard enhancements.
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Instead, YouTube has bundled together the new “4K Plus” add-on package, which will cost an additional $20 per month on top of any standard plan. There’s a free 30-day trial for the feature, however, and you can currently lock in a discounted rate of $10 per month for a full year thereafter. After that, the price goes up to $20 per month. 4K Plus subscribers also can watch an unlimited number of streams on their home Wi-Fi, up from the standard limit of three simultaneous streams.
Luckily, there is one big feature coming to all YouTube TV subscribers without any additional expense: Dolby 5.1 surround sound support. This feature will eventually reach all YouTube TV subscribers, and will start rolling out to “select devices” in the coming weeks, via a blog post.
While some YouTube TV users will surely appreciate the added benefits of the 4K Plus plan, it comes at a significant premium. YouTube TV’s base plan starts at $65, so at the full rate, it represents more than a 30% price increase to take advantage of the 4K Plus features.
Services like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV have been marketed as replacements for bloated, costly cable TV bills, but all three services have seen recent price increases that muddle the argument that streaming is more affordable alternatives to cable and satellite plans.
YouTube TV’s base price jumped from $50 to $65 per month for new subscribers in June 2020. Similar service FuboTV raised its basic plan rate from $55 to $65 per month in July 2020, keeping pace with YouTube TV. Hulu later raised the price of its Live TV plans for all subscribers in December 2020: from $55 to $65 per month with advertisements, and from $61 to $71 per month without ads.
Sling TV, which offers smaller core channel bundles than its rivals, boosted the price of its Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans from $30 each to $35 each in January, with the combined bundle going for $50.
Last December, Tom’s Guide editor Henry T. Casey shared his experience with cutting the cord and using streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV. Despite the price increases, he found that the streaming services still offered the better bargain for his needs.