YouTube TV is an alluring choice for consumers with its unlimited cloud-based DVR and low starting price of $35 a month. Unfortunately, as is often the case, there is another kind of cost for this low price service—your time. YouTube TV subscribers are going to be forced to watch commercials on shows you record on your DVR.
YouTube TV launched in select locations in early April 2017. The service offers more than 50 live channels and unlimited cloud DVR storage for $35 a month. If you think that sounds too good to be true, you’re right. There is a catch. Due to the different contracts YouTube has with major media companies like Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast subscribers are going to be seeing ads in expected places—like the DVR cloud.
Here’s how it works. If you record a show on your DVR that is also available on-demand, when you go to watch your recording the on-demand title will play, complete with the on-demand advertisements.
At first, this may not seem like a bad idea. After all, how many episodes of TV shows actually end up on-demand? As it turns out, a lot. Most cable shows offer the last five episodes of their show on-demand 24 hours after it initially airs. Meaning, that if you are DVRing shows that are currently airing, you are very likely to be watching an on-demand version of that show when you play the recording.
A YouTube spokeswoman confirmed this ad arrangement with the Wall Street Journal, saying that it is “…tied to deals,” with TV programmers. If the program you recorded is not available on-demand you will be able to watch your content on your DVR normally, with no additional commercials.
Arrangements like this are fairly new. Sling TV, a major competitor for YouTube TV since it also offers a cloud DVR service, allows users to skip through recorded content that is also available on demand. Allowing users to skip ads when it’s on a DVR is par for the course for the industry. While this does keep YouTube TV’s ad time at a higher value, it may have negative repercussions from a consumer standpoint. Time will tell.