If you’re looking to cut the cord and say goodbye to traditional cable without giving up live TV, YouTube TV is an option worth considering.
On-demand options like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu provide a ton of entertainment, but they’re no substitute for live television. If you want to watch news or sports in real-time or the original airing of your favorite shows, you need live TV.
YouTube TV offers a way to get rid of cable without sacrificing live programming. But is YouTube TV worth it? How does the cost compare to cable prices? We’ll tackle those questions and more.
What is YouTube TV?
YouTube TV is a video streaming service that lets users watch live TV, subscribe to premium channels, and record their favorite shows. The offerings and the user experience are similar to cable television. Unlike cable, there are no equipment rental fees, installation fees, or contracts required.
The YouTube subsidiary of Google owns the service, but it operates separately from the familiar YouTube video site. Service is available nationwide in the US.
How Much Does YouTube TV Cost?
YouTube TV’s base plan costs $64.99 per month. For comparison, that is the same price competitors Hulu + Live and FuboTV charge. YouTube TV pricing has increased steadily as the service has expanded since its launch in 2017.
YouTube TV Price History
|April 2017||$34.99 per month|
|March 2018||$39.99 per month|
|April 2019||$49.99 per month|
|June 2020||$64.99 per month|
YouTube TV Supported Devices
YouTube TV supports all major web browsers, streaming devices, and streaming platforms. You can watch on your TV, computer, phone, tablet, or gaming console. Cloud DVR enables you to watch your favorites on mobile devices when you’re away from home.
Here’s a sampling of the devices YouTube TV supports:
- Computers running the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari
- Android TV (May not support TVs running a mobile version of Android)
- All Vizio SmartCast TVs
- Samsung & LG smart TVs (2016 models and up)
- HiSense TVs
- Apple TV (4th generation) and Apple TV 4K
- Fire TV Stick
- Xbox: Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One X, Xbox One S, and Xbox One
- PS5 and PS4
- TiVo Stream 4K
- Xfinity Flex devices
Here is the complete list of supported devices and system requirements.
YouTube TV at a Glance
Here’s a quick overview of what YouTube TV offers with its base package:
|Free Trial||7 Days|
|Number of Channels||85+|
|Number of User Profiles||6|
|DVR||Unlimited cloud DVR storage|
|Streaming HD Quality||1080p with a 4k add-on available|
|Sound Quality||Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound|
When picking a cable or satellite TV replacement, the channel lineup is essential. You’ll probably want your favorite channels along with local programming, news, and possibly sports.
YouTube TV provides more than 85 channels on the base plan. That includes local stations, 24-hour cable news, live sports, and plenty of entertainment options, including on-demand content. With the base package, you get:
- Local Programming: Local affiliate channels for ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. Depending on where you live, other networks might be available, including The CW, PBS, Telemundo, and Univision.
- News Channels: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and more.
- Entertainment: AMC, Bravo, Comedy Central, Food Network, FX, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, National Geographic, SyFy, TLC, USA Network, and many more.
- Sports: ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network, SEC Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, and more.
- Kids: Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and more
To see the entire list of channels available, enter your ZIP code on the YouTube TV homepage like so:
You can add more channels and features by purchasing optional channel packages if you don’t mind spending more money:
- The Entertainment Plus bundle includes three premium networks (HBO Max, Showtime, and Starz) for $29.99 per month
- A Sports Plus add-on package that includes NFL RedZone, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox College Sports, and several other sports channels for $10.99 per month
- The 4K Plus add-on allows you to stream 4K content, download recorded programs for offline viewing, and watch unlimited streams at home
You can also sign up for premium subscription services directly through YouTube TV. Here are some of the premium channels and subscriptions available via YouTube TV:
- Fox Nation
- Hallmark Movies Now
- HBO Max
- MLB TV
- NBA League Pass
YouTube TV has a straightforward layout. The interface and viewing experience will seem familiar if you’ve ever used Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video.
There are three main tabs: Library, Home, and Live. The Library tab houses all of your recorded shows. Home displays featured content and multiple sections such as “Top Picks for You” and “On Now.” The Live tab features a channel guide with currently playing shows in the middle and upcoming programs to the right.
There is a search bar at the top of every page, so you should have no trouble finding something to watch, including on-demand movies and shows. You can skip commercials on recorded shows, but not during live broadcasts.
Your YouTube TV subscription allows you to create up to six user profiles. Each user gets personalized recommendations, their own space for recordings, and they can customize the live TV guide to their liking. YouTube TV allows up to three simultaneous streams.
You don’t have to share your Google account login information with family members. You can set up family sharing by going to the Families page. Once you set up your users, they can use YouTube TV with their own Google accounts.
YouTube TV includes a cloud DVR service with unlimited storage at no additional cost. You can store recordings for up to nine months, and there are no limits on simultaneous recordings.
Other live tv streaming services aren’t as generous. For example, Hulu + Live TV comes with 50 hours of storage. You can upgrade that to 200 hours with their Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on for an extra $9.99 per month.
YouTube TV includes parental controls you can use to limit programming and options for your children. You can block content, turn off the search feature, limit content by rating, and more. The parental controls are adequate for restricting what your kids can watch.
YouTube TV Pros and Cons
YouTube TV offers an experience similar to traditional cable without cable box rental fees, installation fees, or other hidden charges. It’s very appealing to cord-cutters, but it’s not perfect. Here are some pros and cons of YouTube TV:
|Solid channel lineup||Consistent price increases since launch|
|Local channels included||No A&E, Lifetime, or History Channel|
|Unlimited cloud DVR storage space||You might not save much over cable|
|Six users and three simultaneous streams||4K add-on is not worth it|
|Cancel anytime without penalty||Lack of regional sports networks|
The broadcast channel selection is the most extensive among streaming TV services. Most popular channels, news channels, and broadcast networks are available. The intuitive interface makes finding content simple.
Some individual channels you enjoy might be missing, however. YouTube TV doesn’t have A&E, Lifetime, History Channel, or The Weather Channel. The Weather Channel should be available sometime in 2022, though.
The 4K add-on for $19.99 a month probably won’t be worth it for most people. There’s not that much 4K content available, you need a solid high-speed internet connection, and you need a compatible device. The offline viewing and unlimited streams at home the add-on comes with will be tempting, but the 4K library needs more content.
Unlimited DVR and the ability to save DVR recordings for nine months set YouTube TV apart from competitors Sling TV, Fubo TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, and DirecTV Stream. You don’t pay extra for additional storage or for the privilege of skipping past commercials in recordings.
Sports fans might be disappointed by the lack of regional sports networks and games featuring their favorite local teams. That’s not an issue exclusive to YouTube TV, however. RSNs have been getting dropped by satellite providers, cable companies, and streaming services for some time now.
As YouTube TV’s service expanded and the channel count increased, price increases came with the growth. Their price increases came without grandfathering existing subscribers or the option to opt out of new offerings.
Another price hike and you could be paying as much or more for YouTube TV as you do for cable when you factor in the cost of your internet connection. Going from a bundle to getting just internet from your cable provider could cause a hefty increase in the price you pay for internet access. Cable bills come with equipment rental fees, broadcast fees, cancellation fees, and other hidden charges you won’t be paying with streaming services, though.
Do the math, sign up for the YouTube TV free trial, then decide which offers more value.
Is YouTube TV Really Worth It?
YouTube TV has the best selection of channels overall, unlimited DVR at no cost, and allows three simultaneous streams for a reasonable price. The experience is similar to cable without the contracts and hidden fees.
If monthly cost is not your biggest concern, YouTube TV is arguably the best option for cord-cutters. Weigh the pros and cons of YouTube TV. Take advantage of the free trial, then decide for yourself.
If your top priority is to save money over cable without giving up live TV, look into Sling TV Blue or Philo. Either might be a better bargain, but you won’t get as many channels, or the breadth of content YouTube TV provides. Your options for news, sports, and local stations are limited with a cheaper live tv streaming service, but the savings could be worth it to you.
Featured Image: Unsplash
Jerry is a personal finance enthusiast, side hustler, and freelance web developer who began his career in financial services. He co-founded KindaFrugal.com, a personal finance and frugal living blog. His insights have appeared on MSN, Newsweek.com, HerCampus.com, Mashed.com, and many others.