YouTube TV Review - Live TV Streaming Service
YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 50 channels for $40/month. This plan includes local channels, 18 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs).
YouTube TV is currently available in almost 100 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
Need A&E, AMC, BET, Discovery, Comedy Central, HGTV, or MTV?
7-Day Free Trial
YouTube TV offers a 7-day free trial. Your subscription is month-to-month and you can cancel at any time.
We tested YouTube TV and five other live TV streaming services for more than 100 hours. YouTube TV is compatible with Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku TV devices; Android, iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch mobile devices; and computer browsers. It does not work on Amazon Fire TV.
- Video player will feel very familiar to YouTube users.
- There is a standard channel guide with live previews, so you can see what’s playing before selecting a channel.
- Search is excellent and includes related YouTube clips.
The smartphones and tablets, the YouTube TV app’s home screen has a live preview of shows currently on live TV. The home screen also has a list of recently viewed shows and recorded DVR content.
As you scroll, the app suggests popular movies and TV shows, YouTube Premium Originals, and trending YouTube clips.
The YouTube TV channel guide lists available channels in a vertically scrolling list, with a live preview of what’s currently airing. When your device is in a landscape orientation, the guide will also show what is scheduled to air next.
As you would likely expect, YouTube TV has excellent search capabilities. The search tab suggests genres, channels, and trending shows before you begin searching.
As you type to search, the results area will suggest shows, channels, people, and sports teams. When you tap on a result, the app shows episodes and related and related clips.
The show listing page is very clean, making it easy to find live, recorded, and on demand episodes; the page also shows related YouTube clips.
On most channels, YouTube TV allows you to pause, skip forward and backwards, and jump to what’s currently live.
When you exit a live broadcast, a floating PIP displays while you browse through app.
Unlimited Cloud DVR
YouTube TV has unlimited DVR storage, allowing you to keep shows for up to 9 months. You cannot record individual episodes, only entire series, sports teams, or major events.
If you start recording after you tune into a channel, the recording will start from when you first started watching. You can watch the recording from the beginning while it is still recording.
Unfortunately, you cannot skip commercials on shows that are also available on demand.
3 streams Simultaneous Viewing
This service allows for three simultaneous streams (among smartphones, tablets, and computers).
Good Selection On Demand
A majority of channels offer on demand content, but you cannot skip or fast-forward through the content.
YouTube TV subscribers also have access to original content from YouTube Premium, like Cobra Kai, Buddy System, The Lazer Team, and Mind Field.
35 apps TV Everywhere
Similar to traditional cable and satellite subscriptions, YouTube TV includes “TV Everywhere” logins for various channels’ apps (including ABC, AMC, Bravo, Disney, and ESPN).
Mind the Kids No Parental Controls
YouTube TV offers 2 unique features: “Family Sharing” and “YouTube Premium.”
Family Sharing allows you to create profiles for up to 5 additional people at no cost, allowing family members to log in with their own Google account to access live TV.
Your YouTube TV subscription also gives you access to YouTube Premium Originals, but—unlike an actual YouTube Premium subscription—you will still get commercials while watching YouTube.
- High definition video is similar to other streaming services, but mostly in 30fps.
- Live streaming is very stable, except when streaming to older Chromecast or Apple TV devices.
- Very fast channel switching, so you can actually channel surf.
720p / 30/60 FPS HD Video
Video stream resolution is 720p at 30 fps for most channels. They have a handful of national and regional sports channels in 60 fps. Those channels only at 30 fps may cause fast-moving sports to appear slightly blurry.
To reduce playback interruptions, YouTube TV will adapt the stream quality to match your network connection.
Great Connection Reliability
We rarely had issues with YouTube TV video playback freezing, pausing, or hiccups changing channels.
However, when using older Chromcast or Apple TV devices, we had issues with video buffering.
All live TV content has standard stereo audio.
25 SECS Live Delay
Live content is about 25 seconds behind cable TV, which is slightly better than average.
1.5 SECS Channel Switching
It takes about 1.5 seconds to switch between channels, which is the fast of any streaming service.
Devices and Apps
YouTube TV is compatible with Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Android TV, Android Phone/Tablet, iPhone/iPad, Web Browser, and Xbox One.
All Compatible Devices
YouTube TV is not compatible with Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Switch.
YouTube TV recently added support for Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and some Android TV devices like NVIDIA Shield. The interface is the most elegant of the services we reviewed.
Phone & Tablet Apps
YouTube TV has the best smartphone and tablet apps of any of the live TV streaming providers.
The mobile apps have various tabs:
- Home: a live preview of shows currently on live TV. The home screen also has a list of recently viewed shows and recorded DVR content.
- Library: your recorded DVR content and a list of scheduled recordings.
- Live: a channel guide, showing what is currently airing on channels.
While you browse through the YouTube TV app, a live thumbnail of your most recently watched channel appears so you won’t miss anything.
You can watch YouTube TV on Mac and Windows computers with Chrome.
Unlike some of the other services, YouTube TV is only available in select markets. Fortunately they’ve expanded to nearly 100 markets over the last year.
Champaign & Springfield-Decatur
Ft. Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers (Arkansas)
Greenville (North Carolina)
Greenville (South Carolina)
Mobile-Pensacola (Ft Walt)
New York City
Rochester (New York)
Salt Lake City
San Francisco Bay Area
South Bend-Elkhart (Indiana)
West Palm Beach
YouTube TV offers local channels, including ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, NBC, and Telemundo.
In most cases, you will have access to live (in major markets) and on demand content every. However, some channels only have on demand content in certain locations (e.g.: ABC in Dallas; The CW in New York and Los Angeles).
To see the live local channels available in your area, check the YouTube TV Channel Lookup tool.
Local Channel Restrictions
You can only access live local channels while you are in a market that YouTube TV is available.
If you are traveling, you will see the local channels of the market you are currently in (not your home market). If you are outside of a coverage area, you will only have access to national on demand content and your recordings.
Popular Local Markets
These popular markets have live local channels on YouTube TV.
For complete local availability, check the YouTube TV Channel Lookup tool.
Top Cable Channels
The top 35 cable channels are listed below. For a list of all channels, look at YouTube TV’s full channel lineup.
|Fox Sports 1||•|
View the YouTube TV full channel lineup for a list of all channels.
National Sports Channels
YouTube TV includes national sports channels, such as ESPN, FS1, FS2 and NBCSN.
|Fox Sports 1||•|
|Fox Sports 2||•|
|NBC Sports Network||•|
Regional Sports Networks (RSNs)
YouTube TV gives access to regional sports networks (RSNs), which are generally from Fox and NBC/Comcast.
You should check the YouTube TV RSN channel list before subscribing, to make sure it has the regional networks you need.
Professional sports league channels (NFL Network, and NHL Network) are not available on YouTube TV. They have announced that they will be adding NBA TV and MLB Network in the near future.
YouTube TV has one of the best services for college sports fans; it includes Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPNU, and SEC Network.
|ACC Network Extra||•|
|Big Ten Network||•|
|CBS Sports Network||•|
|Fox College Sports||-|
Other Sports Channels
ESPNEWS, Golf Channel, and Olympic Channel are available on YouTube TV.
Fox Soccer Plus can be added for $15/month.
|Fox Soccer Plus||^ $15|
You can add Showtime $11 or Fox Soccer Plus $15 to your YouTube TV account.