TV Answer Man, YouTube TV’s 4K plan is $20 a month, but it seems like it doesn’t have very much in 4K to make that worth my money. There are a few NBA games, the occasional football game and not much else. I know there’s more out there in 4K because I see people talk about it on DIRECTV. So why doesn’t YouTube TV have more in 4K? I would think that would get more people to subscribe, right? — Penn, Fredericksburg, Virginia. 

Penn, YouTube TV’s 4K add-on plan, which also includes offline viewing of recordings and streaming on unlimited devices, costs $19.99 a month, although it has offered it for $10 a month in promotions. At $19.99 a month, that brings the base YouTube TV price to roughly $85 a month, which, in some cases, is more than you would pay for a cable or satellite plan!

The streamer’s 4K lineup has included NBA TV games, Fox NFL football and MLB baseball games, NASCAR races, among other sporting events. But I would agree that the 4K offering is relatively thin with absolutely nothing in the format on most days.

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So why doesn’t YouTube TV have more in 4K to justify that add-on price? Two reasons:

1. YouTube TV can only stream a sporting event (or any other 4K program) in 4K if the channel produces it in 4K. For instance, if ABC or ESPN doesn’t produce a NBA playoff game in 4K, YouTube TV can’t offer it in 4K. (And ABC and ESPN have never done a single NBA game in 4K, regular season or playoff.) The streamer is at the mercy of the channel and many channels have yet to see the wisdom of doing their shows or sporting events in 4K.

2. Even if the channel produces the event in 4K, YouTube TV has to have a carriage deal with the channel to provide the 4K feed. For instance, DIRECTV regularly shows the home games of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 4K, but that’s because it carries SportsNet LA which does the games. YouTube TV does not carry SportsNet LA so it can’t show the HD or 4K feed. This also applies to other 4K games on DIRECTV, such as Altitude’s 4K broadcasts of Denver Nuggets games. DIRECTV has a carriage deal with Altitude while YouTube TV does not.

Penn, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann