With less than a month to go before the Olympics kick off in Tokyo, cord-cutting services like YouTube TV are attempting to woo new subscribers who are looking for a way to watch summer sports. But whether or not you're eager to watch Simone Biles defy gravity, YouTube TV's latest upgrades enhance the product with audio and video improvements.
Today, YouTube TV announced a 4K Plus add-on package with offline downloads, 5.1 Dolby audio, and features that make it easier to watch live sports. The company previously teased these features in February.
YouTube TV is already one of the pricier streaming services out there -- at $64.99 per month, you might not save much money by choosing YouTube in lieu of your cable service. Hulu + Live TV is priced the same, but offers a Disney+ and ESPN+ add-on for a total of $72.99 per month. But if you want to kick your video quality (and your monthly bill) up a notch, you can now enable 4K streaming for an extra $19.99 per month, bringing your grand total to $84.98 monthly.
The 4K Plus add-on package will also allow subscribers to download shows from DVR to watch offline -- currently, that's not possible on the standard $64.99 per month package. Subscribers will be able to try out the package for free for a month, then pay $9.99 per month for a year before the price increases to $19.99. This is pretty consistent with YouTube TV's continual price hikes over the years.
Meanwhile, the 5.1 Dolby audio capabilities will be a free addition for all YouTube TV members -- in a blog post, the company says this has been one of users' "biggest requests." Over the coming weeks, these surround-sound audio capabilities will begin rolling out to select devices.
The sports upgrades also come at no additional cost -- one new feature will let viewers jump to key plays and specific highlight moments when watching a DVR recording or trying to catch up live. So, if you're tuning in an hour late, you can view key moments from the game, then jump right in live. YouTube TV will also let users search for specific sports to add to their DVR, which has no storage space limit. So, again, if you're determined not to miss a single Simone Biles floor routine, it will be easier to make sure you're in the loop. There will also be a Medal count view during the Olympics within the app.
As the Olympics draw nearer, we can expect other cord-cutting services to up the ante on their live sports offerings -- the $9.99 monthly Paramount+ Premium plan includes a wide range of international soccer matches, but no word on the Olympics yet. Still, the service is far less expensive than YouTube TV and already offers 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision. YouTube TV had 3 million subscribers as of October 2020, but did not offer an update for Q1 of 2021. As of March, Hulu had 4.1 million subscribers to its Live TV service, which will also air the Olympics.