My brother recommended YouTube TV a few years ago and a year later pulled the plug on DirecTV in favor of the new streaming service. At the time, I saw the simplicity of the streaming service and the portability. I needed to wrap my head around the idea that all TV viewing could now be piped in through the internet. Speaking of portability, I liked the option of my wife watching a Netflix movie while I could be in my upstairs office on my large monitor watching NBA or European Football. Another attraction was unlimited recording drive space. With 60 channels, I was going to experience the value of YouTube TV. What could go wrong?
FOX Sports (FS1 and FS2) Losing the Bundesliga
Before I enrolled in early 2020, I needed to determine if a fair amount of sports were available. I noticed FS1 and FS2 had the Bundesliga (Top tier German Soccer league) so that gave me a great chance to experience German football. Then, late last summer, the Bundesliga signed on to partner with ESPN (Plus) for broadcasting rights to the top German league. This contractual agreement between the parties means that for the 2020-21 seasons, I’m bumped from the Bundesliga like the fall of the Berlin Wall unless I subscribe to the ESPN Plus service.
Thinking back about a year ago, when I originally subscribed to YouTube TV, there were plenty of sports available from this streaming service, including at least 3 ESPN/ABC channels. In other words, with this change, I’m not getting all the streaming services I originally signed up for. If I could borrow a sports analogy from another, but slower sport, “strike one. (In today’s world, the entire streaming service options are as competitive as ever. That phenomenon will not change in the foreseeable future, and change will continue to happen, perhaps at an even higher rate.)
NBC Sports is Broadcasting many more EPL games on the Subscription Service Peacock
Last year, NBC Peacock was introduced by NBC and NBC Sports to provide a unique channel experience and another potential revenue stream. Peacock replaced the NBC Gold package, so the three new tiers are: Peacock Free, and monthly charges for Peacock Premium ($4.99), and Peacock Premium Plus ($9.99). So for $4.99, a no-brainer to subscribe but some past viewers are turned off by such a change, especially when so many games were presently broadcast on NBCSN (in mostly empty stadiums) less than 1 year ago, available. Just to be transparent, at the time of signing up, I ensured that this new streaming service was still broadcasting many English Premier League games on NBCSN.
Is it a big deal? No, more of an annoyance. Before the change from NBCSN to Peacock, in the last 5 years, I often watched some of the 3 to 4 games on weekends and often a game or two during the week. I enjoyed watching the EPL on the pitch, even if it was viewed a day or so after the actual live recording.
After NBC introduced Peacock Premium and Peacock Premium Plus, I estimated that over half the games have moved from NBCSN to Peacock. For those who signed up for YouTube TV a year ago, with certain viewing expectations, this change is not good news for YouTube TV subscribers. Apart from the nominal monthly fees, I was not in a mood to signup for a new service. From my sport's perspective, I have quickly lost many EPL games which makes me think my YouTube TV subscription isn't as valuable now. It's strike two.
Champions League (UEFA) Losing Fox and Moving to Paramount+
In late July of 2020, Fox Sports (FS1 and FS2) lost the rights to broadcast the Champions League’s quarter and semifinals under a new contract between CBS and UEFA. These games in ’20 were shown on Paramount+ which is a subscription-based service from CBS Sports. Imagine making a new business deal adversely affecting current subscribers of Fox Sports during the Champions League tournament?
Just to remind me, when I signed up for YouTube TV, I had CBS Sports, so I could listen to some of their talk shows and watch a lot of NCAA Basketball. Also, I really enjoy European football but would now lose my live viewing to the Champions League in ’20 and beyond, unless I opted to subscribe to Paramount+ (plans start at $5.99 per month). I had no idea that the sports broadcast landscape changes so quickly. You may soon need a notepad and a good pen to track all the business movements for an average American consumer – especially someone who loves American football and when it’s off-season, love European football. If I could borrow a sports analogy from another, but slower sport, “strike three, you’re out!”
I thought getting YouTube TV was going to simplify things, but that’s not exactly how it’s working out. When a consumer reviews promotional material on a new service, the consumer may evaluate how the new service will be the best option at the time – you expect to see certain movies or sporting events once you change providers. The last thing I anticipated that after 6 months or so of service, many of those desired sporting events would no longer be part of the agreement.
At least now I know what I’m in for, especially as a sports viewer. This will not slow down, if anything, it will become so fragmented. Moving forward, to view a wide variety of sports, especially European football, it will be a common occurrence to sign on to several new services even after signing on to a service like YouTube TV. This trend wasn't something I anticipated originally with YouTube TV but at least for the foreseeable future is something I need to consider moving forward.