YouTube TV Touts 5 Million Current Subscribers Is It True?

People are continuing to cancel traditional pay-TV services and while there is hardly a one-to-one ratio for it, some of those previous cable and satellite customers are jumping in with streaming services that promise access to the most popular cable channels on the market for far less money than they were paying after being long time customers. It appears that YouTube TVs efforts in the space have paid off this year.

In a blog post YouTube TV’s Christian Oestlien said that YouTube TV now has 5 million subscribers (including people who are currently in a free trial period). The announcement was not part of an official earnings report nor was it accompanied by any official numbers breakdown. Therefore, other than the idea that we are pretty sure Google would not outright lie about its numbers, because of the lack of true verification, we can’t report it as an outright fact either. YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan confirmed, speaking on a panel at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference, also said that YouTube TV had surpassed 5 million paid subscribers and “trialers” in just five years, he said.

We have no doubt that the service is doing well. Just a pulse check of social media, observations of how many mentions it gets and so on, shows that it is popular. It had been widely reported that the service had 4 million or more subscribers in 2021. But to crown YouTube TV as the top cable replacement without real numbers would not be responsible journalism. YouTube TV has not actually officially reported subscriber numbers since the third quarter of 2020. Its top competitor, Hulu With Live TV does not count those who are on free trials in its total, instead only counting paid monthly subscribers when posting statistics and financial reports. It would be very interesting to know just how many people are trying out the service for free at the moment or if YouTube TV has statistics that show which percentage of people who tried the service over the past 5 years have kept it. In the industry that is called churn.

So we have no doubt that YouTube TV is doing well. But without further evidence we will not crown it the top live TV streaming service in the market.