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Not So Unlimited: YouTube TV Ads Could Be Its Fatal Flaw

Connected Theater
April 11, 2017

If you were excited about trying YouTube TV because of its unlimited cloud storage, we have some bad news for you. YouTube TV ads are a nasty surprise that could make the service a deal breaker for some, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For $35 per month, YouTube TV offers more than 50 live channels and unlimited digital recording via a cloud-based DVR. One of the advantages of viewing content from a DVR is the ability to skip through commercials.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible on YouTube TV thanks to a “tangle of contracts YouTube has with major media companies like Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal.”

When YouTube TV offers an on-demand version of content you’ve recorded, the former takes precedence. In other words, in those cases, you’re forced to sit through the ads.

Using ABC’s “Blackish” as an example, The Wall Street Journal explains:

If YouTube TV does have the on-demand version of Wednesday night’s “Blackish” available, then it won’t let its subscribers watch a recorded version that allows for ad-skipping. Instead, viewers will be forced to watch the on-demand episode and all of the ads, even though consumers thought they saved the show on their DVR.

When you record a show that doesn’t have an on-demand version, you can skip the ads as expected.

The YouTube TV arrangement is unique for (OTT) internet television services. Dish’s Sling TV, for example, won’t include that stipulation it launches its cloud DVR service.

As The Wall Street Journal concludes:

Part of what led to the unusual concession on YouTube’s part is that TV networks have been wary of doing deals with the Alphabet Inc. -owned entity, one person familiar with the matter said. YouTube has long had a contentious history with TV networks, many of whom think it hasn’t done enough to battle pirated content appearing on its platform.

While I like that YouTube TV offers unlimited cloud recording, this restriction sounds like a step too far. It will be interesting to see whether it survives in the coming weeks and months as other cloud-based DVRs go online.

YouTube TV is currently available in a handful of U.S. cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Will the rule on YouTube TV ads make the service a deal breaker? Leave your comments below.

YouTube TV - Watch & DVR Live Sports, Shows & News
YouTube TV - Watch & DVR Live Sports, Shows & News
Google, Inc.
Sling TV – Live and On Demand
Sling TV – Live and On Demand
Sling TV LLC