YouTube TV hits 4M subscribers, surpasses Hulu as biggest vMVPD: analyst

YouTube TV, Google’s live streaming TV service, now has about 4 million subscribers, pushing it ahead of Hulu + Live TV as the biggest virtual MVPD in the U.S.

Hulu + Live TV lost another 100,000 subscribers during the second quarter and brought its total down to 3.7 million. According to an estimate from MoffettNathanson, YouTube TV added another 200,000 subscribers during the same quarter.

The newest YouTube TV subscriber total comes from Lightshed analyst Rich Greenfield, who broke down the implications for YouTube TV’s standoff with NBCUniversal that could result in the programmer’s broadcast channels, regional sports networks and cable channels being dropped from the service at midnight on Thursday if no new agreement is reached.

Greenfield suspects that the impasse comes down to Peacock, NBC’s direct-to-consumer streaming service, and most-favored nations clauses, which requires a supplier to treat customers no worse than all other customers. He said NBCU is trying to get YouTube TV to bundle and pay for Peacock Premium as part of a new affiliation agreement for the NBCU channels.

RELATED: YouTube TV pledges price drop if NBCU channels are dropped

“So, the question becomes why is NBCU trying to do this? We sense the leading reason is that Peacock has been underwhelming to-date beyond usage on Comcast/Cox set-top boxes, where it effectively functions as an updated version of on-demand programming for cable subscribers…With NBCU struggling with marketing Peacock direct-to-consumer (evidenced by their talking about ‘registrations’ vs. ‘paying subscribers,’ they are falling back on their legacy business model of wholesale bundling to drive distribution. If they can force YouTube TV to carry Peacock, we suspect they will try to force other vMVPDs and MVPDs to do the same…,” wrote Greenfield in a research note.

In July, Comcast said Peacock now has 54 million sign-ups and more than 20 million monthly active accounts.

YouTube TV doesn’t appear to be budging on the Peacock issue, instead promising to knock $10 off its monthly rate—which is how much Peacock Premium costs—if the NBCU channels end up being dropped.