YouTube TV has been around for a couple of years now, but as of January 23, the service is now available nationwide.
The service expanded into 95 new markets, meaning there are bound to be a whole lot of beginners looking into the site’s potential as a cable replacement. While there are some limits when it comes to channels and compatible devices, YouTube’s streaming service proves to be a strong competitor to Hulu Live, Sling TV, and other cable TV replacements.
Here’s a look at what you need to know about YouTube TV before you sign up for an account:
What is YouTube TV?
YouTube TV is a $40/month service in the same vein as Hulu Live, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue. It’s compatible with all of the usual streaming devices: Xbox One, iOS, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku and provides a mix of live TV, free movies, and a few premium upgrades.
Additionally, YouTube TV comes with a cloud-based DVR, which lets you record all your shows with no storage limits. Recordings do have a 9-month shelf life, so you don’t get to keep them forever.
For a quick explainer, take a look at YouTube’s video explanation:
Is YouTube TV different than YouTube Premium?
Yes, YouTube TV is live TV and on-demand viewing, similar to what you’d get from a cable provider. YouTube Premium is a paid version of YouTube, with some additional features. YouTube Premium includes music streaming, YouTube Originals, and ad-free streaming.
What channels are offered on YouTube TV?
YouTube TV comes with a range of familiar channels like NBC, CBS, Fox, and ABC. Cable channels like FX, ESPN, AMC, Disney, and more are also available, as well as YouTube Originals and local TV stations.
Add-on channels like AMC Premiere, Showtime, and Starz are an additional few bucks a month, though we should note that YouTube doesn’t offer HBO or NFL RedZone, which might keep some people away.
Still, this is one of the more straightforward alternatives to “regular” TV. The benefit of using YouTube’s option over traditional cable is, your subscription is portable — log into your account as you would any other app and start watching. Oh, and it’s a lot cheaper.
How to get started with YouTube TV?
You can sign up either on the YouTube TV website or the YouTube TV app. YouTube TV must be available in your current location to sign up. The good news is, roughly 98% of the U.S. has access, so unless you live in a super-remote area, you should be good.
Can you get YouTube TV on Firestick?
Compared to other streaming apps like Sling TV, YouTube TV doesn’t work on every device you can think of. Unfortunately, because YouTube is owned by Google, you won’t be able to stream through the Firestick or the Fire TV Cube.
It’s also worth pointing out that YouTube TV won’t be the best choice for PlayStation owners, either. Sony offers live TV through the PlayStation Vue service and has opted to make that service the only streaming option for PS4 users.
How many people can use the account?
Another perk of being a YouTube TV customer is you’ll get six accounts per household, each with their own log-in credential and personalized cloud DVR. So, for 40 bucks, it’s a pretty good deal.
How does YouTube TV compare to Sling or Hulu Live?
Where YouTube TV really shines is the cloud DVR. There were some kinks with the last iteration of the DVR, as it gave preference to on-demand versions of shows rather than those you recorded, thus making it impossible to skip commercials. As of October 2018, YouTube changed it up, announcing that users would now have full control over the DVR feature.
Another highlight is the fact that YouTube TV allows you to give six family members their own account. The downside is, where other streaming services come with upgrades, YouTube does not — so if you want to add more accounts, you can’t.
It mostly comes down to the channel lineup and how it fills in the blanks with your existing subscriptions. Pricing is comparable, but the main advantage of YouTube TV is access to YouTube Originals like Jordan Peele’s “Weird City.”
DirecTV Now, Vue, and Sling TV all offer various channel packages, while YouTube TV does not. Still, for only $40, you get quite a few channels, plus a handful of add-ons if you want to pay a bit more.
In the end, if you’re on the fence, take advantage of the free seven-day trial to give it a try.