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YouTube TV, other subscription help earn Google parents $15 billion in 2023

An example of an overlay ad present across a video on YouTube. (Graphic by The Desk)

Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube, said subscriptions from its digital platforms helped bring in $15 billion in overall revenue last year.

The figure includes the sale of subscriptions to YouTube Premium, third-party subscriptions sold through YouTube’s streaming marketplace YouTube Primetime Channels, an uptake in the streaming cable TV replacement YouTube TV and various other subscriptions sold through the Google Play Store.

Executives revealed the data point during a conference call with investors and reporters on Tuesday after Alphabet said it earned $86.31 billion during Q4 2023, an increase of nearly 14 percent on a year-over basis and slightly higher than the $85.33 billion Wall Street analysts expected.

During the call, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai affirmed the bulk of Google subscription revenue came from YouTube, though he did not say which of YouTube’s various products brought in the most money.

Crucially, 2023 was the first year that Google began its partnership with the National Football League (NFL) to distribute its NFL Sunday Ticket package through YouTube Primetime Channels and YouTube TV. The package, which costs between $350 and $450 per season, offers access to games aired on CBS and Fox affiliates beyond a user’s home area. When coupled with a YouTube TV subscription, subscribers get access to most live NFL games aired during the season, and replays of all games when including Thursday night events that re-air on NFL Network a few hours after their live debut on Amazon’s Prime Video.

Speaking on the call, Pichai said the NFL Sunday Ticket “has found its perfect home on YouTube,” though, again, he did not say how sales of the package helped the overall business. Google is paying around $2 billion per year for the right to sell NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube streamers, according to CNBC; reports put the number of NFL Sunday Ticket sign-ups somewhere between 1.3 million and 1.5 million as of last October.

“NFL Sunday Ticket supports our long-term strategy and really helps solidify YouTube’s position as a must-have app on everyone’s TV set,” Phil Schindler, the Chief Business Officer at Google and YouTube, said on Tuesday, who added that Google is exploring ways to offer NFL Sunday Ticket to customers outside the United States.

After several quarters of declines, YouTube experienced a rebound in its advertising business during Q4, with the video streaming platform earning $9.2 billion in revenue, an increase of 15.5 percent.

The revenue increase appeared to coincide with a broader crackdown on streamers using browser-based plugins that block YouTube’s ability to serve short ad breaks before and within its video content. As part of the crackdown, YouTube informed streamers that they should purchase YouTube Premium for $13 per month or $130 per year if they wanted the ability to watch YouTube content without ads.

YouTube also began rolling out new forms of advertising within and alongside its video content, including new 30-second commercial breaks that replicate the ad experience found on traditional broadcast and cable television.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).