Three of the four major live streaming services in the US have reported their earnings for the third quarter, and the results are pretty clear: YouTube TV (probably) still leads the pack — and by a healthy margin. We have to save it a bit because Google does not give regular updates on streaming statistics, unlike other parent companies operating here.
But that said, here’s how things break down:
- YouTube TV last reported having more than 5 million subscribers in mid-2022. Although it hasn’t provided an update since then, Google did say in its Q3 earnings call that “YouTube’s non-advertising revenue was driven by subscriber growth on YouTube.” TV ” is moving to the service behind NFL Sunday Ticket. So we know it’s increasing. We just don’t know how much.
- Hulu with Live TV remains firmly in second place with 4.6 million subscribers as of parent company Disney’s fiscal year-end. (Which ended Sept. 30.) That’s just 100,000 less than the fiscal year high, but it added sub 300,000 in the third quarter.
- Sling TV remains in third place with 2.12 million subscribers. The number of subscribers has basically stayed the same since the beginning of 2018, never exceeding 2.6 million subscribers in that time period. Since then it has been gradually trending downwards.
- Fubo is the dark horse in this conversation. Its numbers may fluctuate a bit depending on the quarter as a large part of its attraction is tied to sports, but it has essentially grown 5x since the end of 2019.
And here’s another mention: ESPN+. It is not in the same category as the services mentioned above. To multi-platform video distributors they’re known as MPVDs – basically the streaming version of what you’d get from a cable company. ESPN+ closed Disney’s fiscal year at 26 million subscribers, an increase of 5.7 million subscribers for the year, and an increase of nearly 8.9 million in two years. It’s packed with on-demand content, but also full of live sports that can’t be seen anywhere else.
What does all this mean? Not much really, except that the two services that are showing significant growth — YouTube TV and Fubo — add features and adjust their businesses as needed. Hulu with live TV is still growing overall, just at a very slow pace. And all services have one thing in common: prices go up. (Mostly. Fubo actually dropped the price of one of its tiers.)
None of this changes the only thing that matters: Does a service have the channels you want? And is there a price you are willing to pay? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you should try another service. And if none of them work for you? (Or if you can’t handle the occasional streaming hiccup?) There’s always a good, old-fashioned antenna.