One of our favorite (and more annoying) games to play is “Which streaming service is the biggest?” And for the most part, we tend to have pretty strong answers. YouTube TV is the biggest, probably. It’s followed by Hulu With Live TV, then Sling TV, and then FuboTV. And DirecTV Stream is way at the back of the pack. Again, probably.
The hedging is because three of those providers give solid numbers every three months. One of them gives numbers whenever its corporate overlords feel like making a splash. And one doesn’t say anything at all.
But we did get a very brief glimpse behind the YouTube TV curtain in Google’s (ahem, Alphabet’s) third-quarter earnings call. For some context, the last time we got any actual subscriber numbers for YouTube TV was in June 2022, when it said “we’re humbled that 5 million of you are currently on this journey with us.” That was 2 million more than the previous time it said anything about numbers, which was in October 2020.
Google has never been more specific than that, though. And it still wasn’t today. We’ve long worried that maybe YouTube TV has actually been shrinking in the interim, and we’d never know it. But it looks like that’s not the case.
Ruth Porat, who serves as president and chief investment officer for Google, in addition to being the CFO, noted that the “other revenues” category was up 21% to $8.3 billion. She attributed “YouTube non-advertising revenue driven by subscriber growth in YouTube TV, followed by YouTube Music Premium.” So,
Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer, gave a little more color on the state of YouTube TV during the earnings call Q&A in response to a question from Michael Nathanson, senior managing director at MoffettNathanson.
“I think in the broader context,” Schindler said, “you have to look at (NFL Sunday Ticket) as our overall YouTube subscription strategy. The great feedback we’ve gotten so far on the YouTube experience is very, very significant. People love the navigation. They love multiview. They love the chats and the polls and, frankly, people are very happy with the lack of latency here.”
Schindler also reiterated one of the bigger requests the company has heard from customers — the ability to choose which games you can watch in multiview, instead of just going with a few set options. There’s still no word on whether that’ll come to YouTube TV anytime soon. ESPN+ and Apple TV have their own multiview options that allow for it. On the other hand,
“Overall, the teams are working hard to build a fantastic experience,” Schindler said. “And we are really trying to stay focused on getting our first season right and providing the best possible experience.”
So, again, we wait. We wait for actual subscriber numbers, and an improved multiview. No bets on which will come first.
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