YouTube TV Review 2021: Is YouTube TV right for you?

What is YouTube TV?

YouTube TV is a video streaming service that lets viewers watch live TV and subscribe to on-demand channels. It is owned by YouTube — a subsidiary of Google, but it is technically a completely separate service from the popular video site. Instead, YouTube TV provides a cable-like experience with around 80 live channels — the exact number of offerings varies by location. It also has add-on products that enable subscribers to widen their viewing options.

The service launched in April 2017, broadcasting national networks and a variety of entertainment, news, and sports channels to people in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. As of March 2019, it is now available nationwide. The service currently has more than two million subscribers in the US.

YouTube TV plans and pricing

 YouTube TV
Monthly price$64.99
Free trial length7 days
Number of channels70+
Live sports streamingYes
Movie rentalsNo
Streaming quality1080p

The YouTube TV price is $64.99/mo. — significantly less than most people pay for cable TV. It does, however, come in above the price points of similar streaming services like Hulu + Live TV and fuboTV (both $54.99/mo.). Philo and Sling are also both cheaper at $20/mo., however have fewer channels and feature less storage time through their DVRs. With more than 70 channels and unlimited DVR storage for nine months, YouTube TV’s price is competitive among other streaming services, and they do offer a free trial. We also ranked YouTube TV the best live TV service for DVR storage.

YouTube TV interface

YouTube TV features a simple user interface that is broken into three central tabs: Library, Home, and Live. Recorded content is kept in the Library section, while Home provides an overview of YouTube TV’s featured content. It’s broken up into multiple sections, including a “Top picks for you” section at the top. Underneath the recommended options, tags used to curate the content are included for users to view. The Live tab contains a TV guide that lists currently playing shows in the center and upcoming shows to the right. Channel icons are featured to the left. Live also allows users to prioritize most frequented channels at the top for easy access. 

The interface also has a search bar at the top of every page, which makes it simple for viewers to find things to watch. Users can skip ads and commercials on recorded content, but not during live streams. The video progress bar for live streams uses a similar design as YouTube’s web-based platform.

youtube tv channel guide

YouTube TV supported devices

YouTube TV subscribers can watch the streaming service on any device that supports its app. Other viewing options include computer and laptop web browsers. YouTube TV is compatible with the following devices:

Learn more here about streaming YouTube TV in 4K.

What to watch on YouTube TV

YouTube TV channels provide subscribers with a wide range of programs to watch. It covers the following content categories:

  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Entertainment
  • Life + Style
  • News
  • Sports

YouTube TV has plenty of ways for subscribers to stay on top of the latest events with live streams of major channels and national networks such as ABC, BBC America, CNN, CNN International, FOX News, MSNBC, and NBC. Popular entertainment channels like AMC, Bravo, FX, and USA are also available.

It also has plenty of choices when it comes to sports. It even carries ESPN — an option not available with fuboTV. Other sports channels include CBS Sports, FOX Sports, and NBC Sports Network. The streaming service provides access to sports-specific channels like ACC Network, Big Ten Network, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, Olympic Channel, and Tennis Channel. More sports options are available by purchasing FOX Soccer Plus ($15/mo.) and NBA League Pass ($40/mo.) as add-ons. It was even ranked on our list of top sports streaming services.

The platform also offers several movie options through channels such as EPIX, TNT, and Turner Classic Movies. And there is plenty of entertainment viewing through Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, and Travel Channel.

YouTube TV subscribers can add extra entertainment viewing options by purchasing add-on channels Showtime ($7/mo.) and Starz ($9/mo). Further content add-ons include Acorn ($6/mo.), AMC Premiere ($5/mo.), CuriosityStream ($3/mo.), and Sundance Now ($7/mo.). The service began offering Cinemax and HBO as add-ons in February 2020. And HBO Max will be available when the new streaming service launches in Spring 2020.

YouTube TV channels and add ons

Overall, the YouTube TV live TV channel lineup is solid when compared to competitors like Hulu + Live TV and Sling. Plus, local channels are available based on the subscriber’s region in the US. There’s less original content available, but the price reflects this. For subscribers who want more content, there’s always the option to add on more channels. Potential subscribers can take advantage of YouTube TV’s trial period to decide if these channels are right for their homes. 

Here’s the complete list of all available channel add ons: 

  • Showtime: $7.00/mo.
  • Starz: $9.00/mo.
  • Acorn: $6.00/mo.
  • AMC Premiere: $5.00/mo.
  • CuriosityStream: $3.00/mo.
  • Sundance Now: $7.00/mo. 
  • Cinemax: $9.00/mo. 
  • FOX Soccer Plus: $15.00/mo.
  • NBA League Pass: $40.00/mo. 
  • Epix: $6.00/mo.
  • Shudder: $5.00/mo.
  • HBO MAX: $14.99/mo.

YouTube TV features

Cloud DVR

YouTube TV’s Cloud DVR service enables subscribers to store unlimited amounts of shows for up to nine months with no limits on simultaneous recordings. In comparison, Hulu + Live TV provides 50 hours of storage, which can be upgraded to 200 hours for an extra $9.99/mo. with Enhanced Cloud DVR

Users and Permissions

YouTube TV subscribers can create six user profiles per account, with each receiving personalized show recommendations and a customizable live guide. Each user profile also gets its own space for recording content, and YouTube TV enables users to watch on three simultaneous streams. 

Online movie stream with mobile device

Parental Controls

Users can place restrictions on who can watch what, such as limiting children’s viewing to content from the Kids Hub. They can also manage content access by turning on the “Allow TV-Y, TV-G, G, and PG only” setting. The service permits subscribers to block content and turn off search options.

Offline Viewing

The service does have a downside. Unlike YouTube Premium, it does not have offline viewing capabilities, although the YouTube TV app is supported on mobile devices. If subscribers are away from a Wi-Fi network, mobile data is needed to watch live streams.  

The final cut

YouTube TV is an appealing option for people looking to cut the cable cord. It offers a strong line-up of live TV channels and covers several programming bases with entertainment, lifestyle, news, and sports channels. It also gives subscribers the option of extending their streaming options by purchasing add-ons.

The service also provides a solid user experience. This includes unlimited cloud DVR storage for nine months — a perk no other live streaming service can match. Users can also personalize their account with up to six profiles, restrict the content that is available to specific individual viewers, and take advantage of three simultaneous streams. The YouTube TV trial offers 7 days free so potential subscribers can try before they buy. 

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