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YouTube TV finally gets the 4K Plus plan’s price right

The price of the 4K Plus add-on for YouTube TV always has been a bit weird. Technically the add-on has been $20 a month since its launch in mid-2021, but subscribers have always gotten the first year of service for half that. And that will remain true come April 2023, when the YouTube TV base plan goes up to $73 a month and the add-on changes price to $10 a month, with the first year of service at $5 a month.

That’s a much more palatable price for an add-on that’s absolutely an extravagance.

YouTube TV 4K Plus channel.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You have to think of the 4K Plus add-on in a couple ways. First is that it gets you some live video in the higher resolution. That’s almost exclusively meant sports — big events like the Super Bowl and the FIFA World Cup, but also more regular events like the English Premier League and NFL games on Fox. Not every live game is available in 4K resolution, as some broadcasters (looking at you, CBS) don’t yet do anything in 4K. Right now, only ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, and MLB Network are listed as serving up anything live in 4K on YouTube TV.

But the simple fact is that once you watch a game of any kind in 4K — be it football or soccer or baseball — you’ll want it all in 4K, even if it’s compressed. (An exception to that has been MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, which has mostly been excellent in 1080p.)

Then there’s the on-demand content. Again, the options are pretty slim. But Discovery, FX, Nat Geo, and Tastemade all have on-demand content available in 4K on YouTube TV. That’s not what spurred me to splurge on 4K Plus in the first place, but it’s there if I want it.

There are a couple more sweeteners, too. If you have the 4K Plus add-on, you also have the ability to watch simultaneously on as many devices as you want at home. Without it, you’re limited to three devices at once (I’ve only run into that limitation once or twice). You’re also able to download some content locally to your device for offline viewing.

YouTube TV also isn’t the only 4K game in town — FuboTV basically has the same live options for 4K as YouTube TV, and it doesn’t charge you anything extra. And with the recent price increase for YouTube TV’s base plan, there’s now only a $3-a-month difference between it and FuboTV’s cheapest option. That’s going to make Fubo a lot more appealing as a YouTube TV alternative.

The question always has been whether 4K Plus was “worth it,” and $20 a month has always been a pretty big pill to swallow. By comparison, HBO Max is $16 a month (and also has some movies in 4K). Those are apples and oranges in comparison, to be sure. It’s just that 4K Plus on YouTube TV won’t leave as bitter a taste in your mouth every month anymore.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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