YouTube TV is Google’s live TV streaming service, available across the US as of March 27, 2019. It is a serious rival to platforms like Sling TV, Hulu plus Live TV, and DirecTV Now. It differs from these services because it does not come from a company with a history in the television business, and the definition of “service” fits better than any other. But do you know everything about YouTube TV? What is it and what does it offer? How is it different from other live TV streaming services?
YouTube TV launched in 2017, and was initially available only in limited areas. After a major expansion in January 2019, Google has said that the service now covers more than 98 percent of households in the United States, so unless you live in the middle of nowhere, chances are good that is available to you. Many of the features you’ll find on other streaming services are here too, but the service has a somewhat limited channel menu compared to some competitors. Unlike Hulu with Live TV – which combines a live TV streaming service with its standard Hulu experience – YouTube TV is a separate product. You can’t just go to the YouTube website and start watching it, as you’ll need to install YouTube and YouTube TV apps separately on mobile and streaming devices.
Compared to other streaming services – like Sling TV, which seems to be available on almost everything – YouTube TV is somewhat limited in terms of device compatibility. You’ll find it on Android TV and Chrome cast devices, of course, as well as the fourth generation Apple TV and Apple TV 4K. All Roku TVs and the vast majority of Roku streaming media players, including the new Roku Premiere +, are also supported. Samsung and LG smart TVs from 2016 onwards are supported. You can also watch it online through the YouTube TV website, using Chrome or Firefox. Due to the ongoing dispute between Google and Amazon, you will not be able to watch YouTube TV on Amazon’s Fire TV devices such as the Fire TV Cube or Fire TV Stick 4K. Because Sony offers its own Live TV with PlayStation VUE, you won’t be able to use YouTube TV (or any other non-Sony live TV service) on PlayStation 4 consoles either.
Features of you tube TV
Any live TV streaming service worth its salt has one these days, but on YouTube it’s much less restrictive than DVRs used by other services. While others limit the number of hours of content you can store, or automatically delete recordings after a month, YouTube TV lets you keep them for up to nine months. An initial problem with the YouTube TV DVR is that it used to prefer on-demand versions of shows over the ones you recorded. That wouldn’t be a big deal, except you can’t skip the banner ads in those on-demand versions.
Fortunately, the service announced that (in October 2018) it was opening up full DVR control. Some will still encounter this problem, but it is something that has clearly been improving. YouTube TV allows you to have up to six members of your family sharing the service, with three being able to watch it at the same time. Unlike many other services, YouTube does not offer any updates, so this will be the maximum number of people who will be able to view the service at one time, although three individual streams should be more than enough for most families.