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YouTube TV and DirecTV Now too expensive. Look to Sling or Philo to save

Two years ago, YouTube introduced a revolutionary new video service, offering a cable TV like experience with just the channels you might care about, for $35 monthly. 

It was a great deal, costing about one third the price of the average cable bill. 

That was then, this is now. 

YouTube this week jacked up the monthly rate to $50, following in the footsteps of DirectTV Now and Hulu with Live TV, which also increased pricing ($50 and $44.95, respectively) this year.

At the same time, Disney told the world that its new streaming service, Disney+, would cost half the price of Netflix, at a consumer-friendly price of $6.99 monthly. 

 

The price hikes of YouTube and company beg the question of just how affordable these cutting the cord deals still are. Still better than cable?

In raising the rates, both DirecTV and YouTube said they were adding additional channels to sweeten the pot.

But it’s all those forced channels that made people cut the cord in the first place. Consumers wanted to spend fewer dollars on fewer networks.

“The dream is a la carte,” says Luke Bouma, the editor of CordCuttersNews. “Just pay for the channels we want to watch. It will happen, but it’s going to take some time.”

A la carte for many people could mean a combo of Netflix, Amazon and Disney, or some other variety of streamers. Because cable doesn’t make it easy. 

There’s still no way to select, say, CNN, F/X and Nickelodeon, pay for them individually and watch, without going through a cable provider. 

But there are two affordable multi-channel streaming alternatives to pricey YouTubeTV,Hulu, DirectTV Now, Fubo and Sony Playstation VUE.

Consider Sling TV or Philo. 

Philo is the best deal, with a monthly $16 charge. But while it has an impressive roster of channels – including AMC, A&E, Comedy Central, Discovery, Nickelodeon and TV Land and unlimited DVR – if you’re a news fan, this isn’t the service for you. 

No CNN, MSNBC or Fox News. And it doesn’t have the broadcast channels either. It can charge $16 because it doesn’t have expensive sports fees to contend with. 

But if you do like sports, a combination of an antenna to bring in local channels and Sling TV (which starts at $25 but is currently on a $15 monthly promotion) could be an attractive alternative. Sling is missing CBS and ABC, but it does have some cable news channels. At least CNN, CNBC and MSNBC. Fox News is missing. 

What it does have, though, are 49 channels, from A&E to National Geographic Wild, and many sporting options, including  ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, TBS and TNT. And the NFL Network. The $25 pricing tacks on an additional $5 monthly for DVR service, which covers 50 hours of programming.

Meanwhile, how close is the $50 monthly from YouTube and friends to what cable customers are paying? 

Cable is still more expensive, but the gap isn’t as wide as it once was. For instance, in Los Angeles, the cable company Spectrum is offering TV service (without internet) for $81.97 monthly. This includes two set-top boxes with DVR service, which includes a hefty $12 broadcast fee. 

But, as Bouma notes, the cable alternatives are still lower priced than cable, and even with the $10 price hikes this year, “you’re paying less than cable, which also raised their rates by $10.” 

 

In other tech news this week

The Walt Disney Co. said it’s Disney+ streaming service will launch in November and be priced at $6.99 monthly, or about half the price of Netflix. This will put pressure on Apple, which has a similar entertainment service planned, to keep the pricing competitive.  

Samsung started accepting orders for that new $1,980 foldable phone. The company said it would send out invitations to those who have signed up on its website expressing interest in the phone, called the Fold. After receiving the invitations, those interested in purchasing one of the foldable phones will be able to reserve their place in a virtual line, granting them the ability to be one of the first to buy the phone/tablet hybrid. Pre-orders begin April 15th, but buyers need to sign up in advance for the invite. 

Sonos and Ikea teamed up for a new line of speakers, a new $99 Wi-Fi bookshelf speaker and a $179 Wi-Fi table lamp speaker. Symfonisk, which translates to “symphonic” in Swedish, looks to bring Sonos’ sound to Ikea’s smart home plans.

Want to change that old PlayStation Network username? Sony said it will start allowing gamers to change their usernames, also known as PSN ID. The first change is free, with subsequent changes costing $9.99 per change.

 

This week’s Talking Tech podcasts

My favorite iOS Photo trick

How Amazon snatched the Ring

Nope, the iPhone isn’t the best smartphone camera. 

Debate: Galaxy vs. iPhone

Disney+: the lowdown

 

Listen to the daily Talking Tech podcast wherever you listen to online audio, and follow me (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2019/04/13/youtube-tv-and-directv-now-too-expensive-look-sling-philo-save/3454882002/


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