• YouTube TV is Owning the World Series

    Have you watched any of the first two games of the World Series? If you have, then you’ll undoubtedly agree that YouTube TV, the fledgling skinny bundle, is owning the games so far. Their branding is everywhere - behind home plate, on dugout walls and rails, on the outfield wall, on the end-of-inning scoreboard, on Fox’s “presented by” branding graphic, etc.

    And all of that is on top of a 2-minute ad that played immediately prior to the first pitch in game 1, which cleverly started and ended with a live feed of the pre-game action on a mock living room TV (oddly, that 2 minute ad isn’t available in YouTube TV’s own YouTube channel). However a separate 30-second ad YouTube TV has also been running is (see below).


    All of this is part of the presenting sponsorship deal that YouTube TV and Major League Baseball announced on October 3rd. It is literally impossible to watch a game for more than just a few minutes and not be exposed to a YouTube TV logo.

    As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the idea that a skinny bundle could be the presenting sponsor of the iconic World Series is a bit mind-boggling as we’re all accustomed to seeing brands like Budweiser, AT&T or Chevy, for example, in this role.

    No doubt millions of viewers are being exposed to YouTube TV for the first time and wondering what it is compared to the short-clip dominated, on-demand YouTube service that is familiar to just about everyone. The TV ads are extremely explicit in explaining the YouTube TV value proposition, with pain points of traditional pay-TV (“clunky cable boxes,” “year-long contracts,” “triple digit price”) successively displayed on screen and then crossed off, with the rejoinder “And only $35 bucks a month.” then shown. The tag line “Cable-free live TV is here” says it all.

    The fact that YouTube has stepped up for the massive World Series commitment shows how serious they are about YouTube TV and differentiating it in the already crowded skinny bundle category which includes Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue.

    Two weeks ago, in my original post, I noted that YouTube TV ’s availability and access to Fox were issues that could limit the ad campaign’s impact. However, YouTube TV has updated its web site and it now appears that it is available in all top 50 U.S. DMAs except New Orleans and that the Fox live feed is carried in all of the 49 except Raleigh where on-demand only is available (note there are 22 markets where YouTube TV says Fox’s NFL broadcasts are not included).

    All of this means that a large percentage of Americans watching the games and being exposed to the YouTube TV ads could actually watch the games on Fox if they were to switch to YouTube TV. There are plenty of other networks available on YouTube TV, but still plenty missing, notably from Turner, Viacom, Discovery, Scripps and others.  

    The YouTube TV World Series sponsorship is a milestone for skinny bundles and if it’s successful for the company then no doubt we’ll see more high profile campaigns like it from both YouTube TV and other skinny bundles. It’s still an open question how much demand there actually is for skinny bundles and whether they can be profitable, which YouTube TV at this point surely isn’t given its programming costs. It’s a category worth keeping a close eye on.