When I correctly forecast that YouTube TV would be a thing

Remember when you couldn’t watch videos over the internet? Oh those days. Back then we had to watch live cats doing cute things. My how the world has changed.

It was just 13 years ago…

…that a little site called YouTube was born. It was independent for its first year or so of life, and ever since 2006 it’s been part of the Google empire. It wasn’t the first video sharing site but it certainly grew to be the biggest. By letting users have virtually unlimited space to upload virtually anything they wanted (unless there was a copyright or human rights issue) it’s turned into the world’s video library. Want to learn how to fix something? There’s probably a YouTube video for that. Want to know all about those paintings where dogs play poker? There’s a YouTube video for that. Trust me there are some really weird YouTube videos out there.

By the way, there’s also a really cool channel where millions of people have learned how to use their home theater systems, and it has a really rockin’ intro video.

Yeah, but you couldn’t use it for live TV.

Live TV channels over the internet seemed like a pipe dream until just a few years ago. Several companies tried it but it was DISH and then DIRECTV who really cracked it. Along the way, the folks at Google must have realized that this was a burgeoning market, and so YouTube TV, a subscription service that gives you live TV, was born.

But did you know I talked about it four years before it happened?

Here’s the proof

In an article called Regular broadcast content on YouTube? Could happen, I talked about an obscure potential rule change that the FCC was considering. At the time, DIRECTV, DISH, and cable companies were regulated one way but streaming video providers were essentially unregulated. This rule change actually allowed streaming TV to happen, and I correctly guessed that YouTube would wander into that whole thing.

Of course, I don’t think YouTubeTV is terribly good, as I don’t like the channel selection. I think Sling and DIRECTV NOW are better choices, because they bring the power of existing pay-TV companies and their lawyers. Those lawyers have been working hard for years to get to the point where they could offer live TV over streaming. The result is that both services dominate in channel selection. Not only do they have the most national channels, but the most local affiliates as well. That’s important because the top 10 rated programs are always on live local TV. Netflix and HBO NOW may get the awards, but the dollars and eyeballs still stay on local channels.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.