YouTube TV has 8 million subscribers

YouTube TV, Google’s live streaming virtual MVPD service, has amassed more than 8 million subscribers.

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan disclosed the tally in a blog post Tuesday, which marks the first official YouTube TV subscriber update since July 2022 when the company announced it had 5 million subscribers as of June, including both paid and those trialing the service.

“We’re excited to announce that we have more than 8 million subscribers to YouTube TV,” wrote Mahon in the post, which also cited the living room via CTV and subscriptions as “YouTube’s next frontier.”

In a LinkedIn post, streaming industry analyst Dan Rayburn pointed out that the blog didn’t designate “paying subscribers” for YouTube TV, writing that the new figure “includes free trials, which, in the past, I have heard can be as high as 20% of the total number of subs.” 

Still, it’s the newest data from YouTube itself to help quantify the vMVPD’s growth. At the end of Q3, estimates from Leichtman Research Group pegged YouTube TV’s subscriber base at 6.5 million (estimating 600,000 subscriber additions in the quarter), ahead of other vMVPD rivals as of the end of September, including Hulu + Live TV (4.6 million as of Q3), Dish’s Sling TV (2.1 million subs) and Fubo (1.47 million).

In addition to competing against other virtual MVPDs, YouTube TV competes with cable, as its internet-delivered linear channel lineup is more akin to a traditional pay TV package. In that context YouTube TV now has more subscribers than Dish’s traditional satellite TV base, which stood around 6.7 million at the end of Q3 (although the total Dish pay TV base also includes aforementioned subscribers to Sling TV).  YouTube TV’s subscriber count is also more than half of that of each of the two largest U.S. cable operators Charter and Comcast, which after Q4 losses each had respective video traditional subscriber bases of about 14.1 million (including business subscribers). Of course, the previously noted “paying subscriber” caveat for YouTube TV remains.  

YouTube didn’t share subscriber updates during Google-parent Alphabet’s Q4 earnings but said subscription revenue growth was driven by YouTube Music and Premium, as well as YouTube TV. 

Last year YouTube TV became the exclusive home of the popular (and pricey) NFL Sunday Ticket Package, along with a standalone option for the package via YouTube Primetime Channels. Executives during Alphabet Q4 earnings didn’t comment on specifics regarding Sunday Ticket driving YouTube TV subscribers, other than to say they were pleased with signups to the football package, both through the vMVPD and a la carte option. They did cite positive customer feedback on the viewing experience, including multi-view capabilities, unlimited DVR and a lack of latency or lag time, while emphasizing continued investments in the CTV experience.

In November research firm Antenna released data estimating that 1.3 million consumers signed up for NFL Sunday Ticket through YouTube, with 62% of those coming via YouTube TV subscriptions. At the time, Antenna estimated YouTube TV’s subscriber base at 7.3 million.