YouTube TV Review: The Future of Streaming?

If you are ready to ditch your satellite or cable TV subscription, then a streaming service like YouTube TV might be the right choice. Whether you’re looking to satisfy all your Vine needs or just want to watch regular TV channels, YouTube TV offers both.

The platform covers most network channels as well as some local ones. Moreover, Google announced this spring that it’s finally available all around the US, ending the two-year-long wait.

Much like other streaming services, for example, DIRECTV NOW, Sling TV, and Hulu Live, YouTube TV offers a great variety of popular channels, local channels, and cloud DVR. In addition, since you’re already familiar with YouTube, using YouTube TV’s interface will come naturally.

While the streaming service is fairly new, as it was launched in early 2017, it has managed to round up a lot of the best TV channels. Local channels are still a bit behind, but it’s certain that won’t be the case for much longer. A disadvantage is that not all devices support the app.

Here’s a list of all the devices you could use to watch YouTube TV:

  • Phone:  iPhone iOS 9.1 and Android L, as well as their later versions
  • Tablet: Android L or later versions and iPad iOS 9.1 or later versions. The company also promised availability on Pixel C devices very soon.
  • Computer: With the latest version of Chrome, you’ll have the best experience possible.
  • TV: stream with Google Chromecast or download the app on Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, and Xbox One/One S/One X. Supported TVs are LG and Samsung (only models after 2016).

Plans and Pricing — What You Get for Your Money

Unlike most streaming services on the market today, YouTube TV has only one plan and therefore just one price — $49.99/month. The plan includes over 70 networks, including local, sports, and lifestyle-based networks. This is pretty unusual since its competitors — SlingTV, PlayStation Vue, and DIRECTV NOW — have a tier-based package system and different pricing options.

The price of YouTube TV used to be lower, standing at $40/month. However, since the company has added a lot more channels, the increase in price isn’t really a surprise. Still, YouTube TV falls somewhere in the middle price-wise, compared to the competition on the market.

Additionally, if you switch to YouTube TV from regular cable/satellite TV, you won’t be restricted by any contracts. The platform clearly states that you can cancel anytime, no strings attached. They also provide a free 7-day trial, which is definitely enough time to find out whether this service suits you.

Another advantage is that you can share your subscription with up to six people! You get six different logins with just one subscription, which, in turn, means you won’t have any problems when it comes to suggestions. Also, you can simultaneously stream on up to three devices.

The Sports vs. Lifestyle Debate — Available Channels

In the past, YouTube TV focused more on acquiring sports channels. However, this isn’t the case anymore. The streaming service now offers a great variety of lifestyle channels, too. They recently added Food Network and HGTV, which were absolutely necessary!

On the other hand, sports channels are more popular than ever. YouTube TV offers regional channels like Fox Sports and bigger ones like ESPN. If you are a basketball fan, you’re in luck — it has NBA TV too! Baseball fan? No worries — MLB TV is on the channel list as well.

Another selling point is that YouTube TV offers additional networks for an extra monthly fee. For example, you can get Showtime for $11/month, Fox Soccer Plus for $15/month, and Starz for $9/month. Below is a full list of the add-on channels.

  • Starz — $9/mo
  • CuriosityStream — $3/mo
  • Fox Soccer Plus — $15/mo
  • AMC Premiere — $5/mo
  • Shudder — $5/mo
  • Showtime — $11/mo
  • Sundance Now — $7/mo
  • EPIX — $6/mo
  • NBA League Pass – $40/mo

*Check YouTube TV’s full channel list before subscribing.

YouTube TV From the Perspective Of a First-Time User

When you first log in to YouTube TV’s platform, whether through your browser, TV set, phone, or tablet, you’ll see the homepage. The concept of it is very similar to Netflix’s; you can see previews of the live channels without actually clicking on them.

This is very useful, as it gives you a general feel of the shows, without the actual commitment. You’ll also see the names of the shows and their release dates. Moreover, there are a few categories laid out, like recommendations and popular live TV.

The Easy-To-Use Interface

YouTube TV’s interface is rather easy to navigate. You have four main sections — Home, Library, Live, and Search. As the first one, Home, was already discussed, let’s look at the Library section.

The Library section is where you’ll find your cloud DVR recordings, both the previous and the scheduled ones.

The Live section speaks for itself — this is where you can find all channels that are streaming now, local and others. These sections cleverly separate which shows are on-demand and which ones are live.

Last but definitely not least is the Search section. It’s very impressive right off the bat. Since YouTube is owned by Google, it’s no surprise they have one of the best search engines. On this page, you’ll find neat show categories, suggestions, and channel buttons. Again, this is similar to Netflix’s homepage.

Bottom Line

YouTube TV’s best qualities are the smooth operation, its intuitive interface, channel previews, and the general lack of bugs. Everything works perfectly, even when you’re streaming on three different devices using the same subscription account. There’s no lagging or other related problems. Moreover, the streams play flawlessly on all devices — TV, mobile, and browser.

Thus, customers rarely complain. Most of the negative comments are about the lack of specific features. But YouTube TV has grown and evolved quite a bit, considering it’s been on the market for only two years. So far, it’s done a great job at providing versatile channels and a simple-to-use interface, which is more than enough for such a short amount of time.

YouTube TV — The Champion of the Cloud DVR

Now, the feature that should impress you the most is YouTube TV’s cloud storage. Unlike most other streaming services that offer around 50 hours of DVR cloud space, YouTube TV provides unlimited cloud storage.

So, you won’t have to worry whether adding another show to your list will delete previous recordings. This is the best deal on the market. YouTube TV will store your recordings for nine months.

That being said, one of the main reasons people get DVRs is to be able to fast-forward through commercials. Well, you might not get that luxury with YouTube TV. While there are actual recordings, YouTube TV also has on-demand versions of some shows. This means that you’ll be watching a stream rather than a recording, so you won’t be able to skip the ads.

This is due to YouTube TV’s agreements with network providers. However, if you want to try and avoid as many commercials as possible, try looking for your show in the Recent Recordings section. If it’s there, great — you can enjoy it without the ads. If the show isn’t there, though, you’ll have to suffer through them.

Another useful tip — streaming is similar to “regular” TV, in the sense that you can only watch live local channels in your own area. So, if you’re planning to travel, but you still want to watch your local channels, you can watch the recording after the live version has finished airing.

How YouTube TV Compares to Other Streaming Services

YouTube TV has amazing potential for growth, and it’s taken great leaps forward since its launch. Its star features are definitely the unlimited DVR storage space and easy-to-use interface. However, it’s still kind of new, and if you are looking to pay a little less or if it’s just not your cup of tea, there are other streaming options.

Quantity vs. Quality — YouTube TV vs. Sling TV

Sling TV is the first TV streaming service to come out, and it’s the cheapest. Just like YouTube TV, it offers cloud storage. However, Sling provides only 50 hours, which cannot compare with YouTube TV’s unlimited storage. Moreover, Sling TV offers these 50 hours for an additional $5/month payment, while YouTube TV’s unlimited storage is included in the price.

Be that as it may, Sling TV has a multitude of packages, and they are cheaper compared to YouTube TV’s one plan. Sling TV also has some major channels that are still missing from YouTube TV’s lineup, even with its cheapest option.

Overall, you have to give credit where credit is due — Sling TV is the cheaper alternative, and it does provide a great variety of popular channels. However, the platform can lag and glitch sometimes. So, YouTube TV is the winner of this battle, simply because it offers a much better experience. When it comes to DVR, user-friendly interface, and the overall number of channels, YouTube TV is the obvious choice.

The Battle of Sports Channels — YouTube TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

While DIRECTV NOW dominates the market when it comes to the number of channels it offers, it’s also one of the most expensive streaming services. However, unlike YouTube TV, it has a fair amount of plans to choose from.

On the other hand, even its cheapest package has some of the best channels, like HBO and ESPN. Speaking of ESPN, DIRECTV NOW offers a wide variety of sports channels, so if you are a fan of sports, it’s your best bet.

On a different note, DIRECTV NOW’s app seems quite inept compared to YouTube TV’s. The latter provides an unmatched user experience. Coupled with a great selection of channels for its price, YouTube TV is the overall winner.

Affordability vs. Variety — YouTube TV vs. PlayStation Vue

The two most expensive PlayStation Vue packages offer more channels than YouTube TV’s only one. However, the huge channel lineup will cost you either a whopping $84.99, or $64.99 if you go for the cheaper option. So, you decide if it’s worth it.

On the other hand, if you have a big family, and you enjoy streaming simultaneously from different devices, PlayStation Vue might be the right choice for you. It offers more streams — five — compared to YouTube TV’s three.

If you are looking for a platform that allows you to share with more people, PlayStation Vue is a great option. Still, YouTube TV ultimately wins the battle against PlayStation Vue because its pricing is a lot better, and it provides everything you need for a truly satisfying streaming experience.

You Get What You Pay For (Or Do You?) — YouTube TV vs. Hulu with Live TV

Price-wise, YouTube TV and Hulu Live cost the same. Still, YouTube TV offers almost 20 channels more. Its interface is much more advanced than Hulu’s frustratingly difficult one. What’s more, with Hulu Live’s subscription, you can only stream on two devices simultaneously. If you want more, you’ll have to pay an extra $15 to watch simultaneously from five different devices.

In terms of original content, Hulu takes the lead. However, if original content does not concern you, YouTube TV’s overall user experience is way better. Another advantage that YouTube has over Hulu is that Hulu Live provides only 50 hours of DVR space. YouTube’s unlimited DVR storage cannot be ignored.

In Conclusion

YouTube TV definitely deserves a lot more praise than it has been receiving so far. It has gotten better with time, which hasn’t happened for many platforms. Its channel list is steadily growing, and with it — the number of subscribers.

While YouTube TV was somewhat limited in the past, that’s not the case anymore. If it keeps expanding and adding new features, which the company is actually doing, YouTube TV is sure to become one of the best streaming services there is.

What will win you over is that YouTube TV offers unmatched cloud storage and an extremely user-friendly interface. Yes, it is a bit more expensive than Sling TV, but it’s definitely worth it. YouTube TV will surely get even better with time, but even now, it’s a great option for someone who wants to cut ties with standard cable/satellite TV.

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