Thursday, June 30

YouTube TV review: a reasonably priced cable TV alternative

Note: This YouTube TV review has been updated with new information.

Cable cutters have never had it easier, thanks to an increasing number of live TV streaming services like YouTube TV. It’s one of the strongest options, offering more than 70 channels, including local broadcast networks (depending on your region). Because of that breadth of content, it’s also one of the most expensive live TV services at $ 64.99 a month.

Recently, YouTube TV’s programming became even more complete with the addition of Viacom channels such as MTV and VH1. And it will become a great option for sports fans as the service added NFL Network for all subscribers and a Sports Plus package with NFL RedZone, Fox College Sports, GOLTV, MAVTV, Stadium, and TVG.

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YouTube TV has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface and is available on all major platforms, including iOS, Android, Xbox, Playstation 4, and some smart TVs. What really sets it apart from the competition is unlimited DVR storage – there are no limits to simultaneous recordings and you can keep recordings for nine months.

The subscription also includes access to YouTube Originals, such as the Karate Kid series Cobra Kai, as well as the option to add premium channels, including Showtime. In that category, YouTube TV lags behind its biggest competitor, Hulu with Live TV, which comes with award-winning shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Ramy.

But if all you’re looking for is access to local channels and major cable networks, plus unlimited DVR storage, YouTube TV is a great alternative to cable TV.

Editor’s note: YouTube TV won a Highly Recommended award at the 2021 Tom’s Guide Awards for Best Live TV Streaming Service.

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(Image credit: future)

YouTube TV pricing and availability

To sign up for YouTube TV, you need a Google account. The streaming service offers a free two-week trial. After that, YouTube TV costs $ 64.99 per month to access 70+ channels. That’s the new price as of June 30, 2020 (previously $ 49).

That is in line with its main competitors. Hulu with Live TV is also $ 65, as is the FuboTV family plan. Sling TV It costs $ 45 per month for 53 channels, but to get all the streaming networks you need an antenna (they include one with the $ 99 Cord Cutter Bundle package, which also comes with Air TV devices to integrate the channels into the Sling TV app ). Philo TV is a very low cost live TV streaming service at $ 20 per month, but the channel lineup is somewhat mediocre.

Your exact channel list on YouTube TV will depend on where you live, so enter your zip code to see what local networks you get. YouTube TV also offers additional premium packages and channels, which you can read more about below.

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YouTube TV is available to cast to your TV with Chromecast devices (or on a Chromecast TV), via Apple AirPlay or Google Smart Display. You can also look in a web browser on Mac and Windows computers.

The YouTube TV app is available for download at:

Each subscription comes with up to six accounts and three simultaneous streams, so different family members can customize their libraries.

YouTube TV interface

The YouTube TV interface will be familiar to anyone who has used YouTube. The utilitarian design is simple, intuitive, and extremely easy to use. It’s not pretty (the interface of the Philo streaming service is much more elegant) but it does what it should do. Finding shows and movies is a breeze, as is browsing what’s going live right now.

The interface alternates between three screens: Home, Library, and Live. At the top of Start is a selection of the best options, essentially a combination of shows you’ve saved, shows you’ve watched, and related shows based on your favorites. Below that is a section full of tips to add to your library, serving as a helpful reminder of upcoming shows and movies you may want to record.

(Image credit: future)

Further down on the home page are the Sports, News, and Movies categories, as well as YouTube Originals.

The library is home to your DVR, displaying your saved shows, movies, other programming and upcoming recordings.

The live screen is a cable TV-like grid on some devices (such as web browsers, game stations, and smart TVs). On smaller devices, such as phones, Live lists what is broadcast on all the channels it receives.

Each platform also has a search tool in the navigation bar, which takes you to an intuitive search page. YouTube TV shines here, not surprising since it is owned by Google. You can search for a show or movie title, a person, or even topics and genres (for example, “Oscar-winning movies”). Searching is lightning fast, and results start to appear as you type. They are broken down by live and upcoming broadcasts, recordings from your library, and what’s on demand.

The show and movie profile pages are well designed and extremely robust. A show profile page displays available and upcoming episodes, cast members, and related YouTube videos. In the case of Friends, these include clips of Jennifer Aniston on late-night shows. There is also a section that promotes similar programs.

YouTube TV content and channels

YouTube TV’s channel lineup is excellent and on par with what is available from competitors like Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV. YouTube TV recently added the Viacom family of cable channels, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon, as well as the premium network Showtime. And soccer fans will be happy that the service adds the NFL Network. The new additions have made the YouTube TV channel list one of the most comprehensive among the cable television alternatives.

Cable networks include ESPN, CNN, AMC, HGTV, TBS, TNT, Disney Channel, and the US But the lineup is missing Viacom networks like MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. The only live TV services that these networks have are FuboTV and Philo.

YouTube TV offers local broadcasts from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, depending on your region. The service says it has full local network coverage in more than 98% of US TV households.

(Image credit: future)

There are also several additional premium channels that you can include in your plan, each with a separate monthly fee. YouTube TV is also adding a new Sports Plus add-on with NFL RedZone, Fox College Sports, GOLTV, MAVTV, Stadium, and TVG.

Note that there are a lot of ads, although that’s not YouTube’s fault as the ads are pre-programmed by the networks.

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As for the content, YouTube Originals is nice to have access to, but the offers are pretty slim. YouTube is not trying to compete with Hulu or Netflix on original programming. Plus, YouTube TV is cheaper than Hulu with Live TV, so you’re paying less for less content.

DVR de YouTube TV

The best feature of YouTube TV is its unlimited DVR. You can save as many recordings as you like for nine months. There is no limit for simultaneous recordings.

That’s better than Hulu with Live TV, which limits you to 50 hours of recordings unless you pay $ 15 more a month to get 200 hours with the Enhanced Cloud DVR plug-in. Sling offers even less DVR storage, just 10 hours on the cloud DVR with the option to get 50 hours for $ 5 more.

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Saving shows and movies is extremely easy – just click the plus sign on a show’s page or next to its title when you’re watching it. YouTube TV will then record all episodes on any channel (or just once for movies).

Since the DVR is unlimited, all recordings are kept for nine months, so you cannot delete a recording after you have viewed it. This is pretty standard for streaming services; only Sling gives you the option to delete saved recordings.

YouTube TV video quality

YouTube TV supports up to 1080p, depending on the channel and program. Most of the content I saw played at 720p.

Still, even by offering some channels at 1080p, YouTube TV outperforms its competitors. Hulu with Live TV has just started streaming some channels at 1080p. Sling doesn’t have detailed information on its streaming resolution, while Philo streams TV live at 720p and on-demand at 1080p.

(Image credit: future)

Regarding how quickly the shows achieved HD resolution, it was fast, usually around 5 seconds. That’s the standard for live streaming services.

On a fast home connection, programs were stable after stabilizing, but on slower networks, there was some fluctuation in HD quality during playback.

Bottom line

YouTube TV is one of the best options for cable cutters looking for a live TV streaming service to replace their cable TV package. For $ 49.99 a month, you get plenty: a solid channel lineup, unlimited DVR, and an easy-to-use app available on all major platforms. Service doesn’t have it all, but none have it. You can get Sling for less than YouTube TV, but you get a smaller channel lineup. You can pay even less than that, just $ 20, for Philo, but you won’t get local channels or major cable networks.

If you want live TV at a reasonable price, YouTube TV may be your best option.

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