Is YouTube TV Really $600 Less Than Cable?
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Originally hailed as a wallet-friendly substitute for high-priced cable TV, YouTube TV's rising price tag has cast doubts on its cost advantage. Now, Google is under scrutiny for promoting YouTube TV as significantly more affordable than cable.
The National Advertising Division (or NAD, an entity of the BBB National Programs focusing on honest advertising) has formally advised Google to cease claiming that YouTube TV is "$600 less than cable." These ads juxtapose YouTube TV’s price, $64.99/month as of January 2023 (which has since surged to $72.99/month), with comparable standalone cable services equipped with two set-top boxes.
Charter Communications, Spectrum's parent company, challenged Google's assertions. They pointed out that many cable providers, including Spectrum, often provide streaming-based access to live TV channels at no additional charge for secondary TVs and mobile devices.
While the NAD advised Google to discontinue the "$600 less than cable" statement, Google can still provide factual and non-deceptive claims about YouTube TV's cost in comparison to conventional cable services.
An instance of the contentious tagline was observed in a June advertisement. A recent analysis, after YouTube TV's price escalated to $72.99/month, confirmed that while it's cheaper than cable, the difference isn't substantial. Annually, YouTube TV costs approximately $875 without add-ons. In contrast, Spectrum's standard rate with two set-top boxes exceeds $1,400, excluding fees. DirecTV, Comcast, and other conventional TV options also proved costlier than YouTube TV. However, Google's "$600 less" proclamation seems overly optimistic given the recent rate surge and updates from other service providers.
However, Google contested the NAD's verdict, stating it "firmly disagrees" and plans to appeal. Google argues that consumers clearly discern the distinction between traditional cable and streaming and don't confuse "cable" or "standalone cable" delivered via a "cable box" with streaming services, regardless of the provider.
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