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April 17, 2021

Dump your cable subscription for YouTube ... soon, that is

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

In this space last month, we wondered – with online video continuing to make leaps and bounds – if it might be possible to free yourself from that costly cable or satellite TV subscription sometime soon.

Don’t go telling Rogers to eat it just yet, but you might want to start warming to the idea.

YouTube has now cannonballed into the pool of mainstream online video, opting to splash the waters that other streaming video sites could only tread before.

The most popular online media site (by nine times the users), YouTube struck a deal this week with several major U.S. entertainment studios to – as the New York Times says – transform itself “from an online jumble of amateur videos to a destination for mainstream TV programs and movies.”

While the start-up programming will be pretty weak (only some CBS sitcoms and a classic library featuring movies like Carrie and episodes of The Addams Family will be initially available), you’ll be able to benefit from YouTube’s leap into high-quality, industry content in a few ways.

First, this brings another wave of network TV to Canadian Internet users. Hulu, the video site often credited as YouTube’s largest competition, is only available to American users signing in with an IP address identifiable to U.S. customers. Add to the mix access to the Global and CTV websites, which carry a good amount of popular programming, and you’ll be able to watch the bulk of HD-quality TV online, without a paid subscription.

Millions also fork over money to services like Netflix and pay-per-view each year for their movie fix, yet the new YouTube could keep you from that, too. And soon you won’t have to just watch Carrie over and over. With 90 million visitors each month, advertisers will continue to flock to the site, generating revenue that’ll draw more studios (Sony, Lions Gate and MGM are already in with YouTube) to offer their pictures for view.

Even if there’s talk of YouTube charging a small fee for premium content sometime in the future, it can’t possibly be more than you’re spending with Netflix or on premium cable or satellite packages. Consider, too, that just about every professional sports game is available to online users now, and streaming video certainly seems like the future.

Of course, again, all this is moot if you don’t want to watch TV huddled around a computer. But as we outlined last month, it’s pretty easy to hook a computer up to a TV now, streaming the video through your flat screen just as if it was coming through your DVR.

So, what’s left? Can cable and satellite providers really hold off online video as dominant market forces for much longer?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...