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YouTube TV Review: Is It Better Than Cable?

When it comes to online video, YouTube is king. Yet what about YouTube TV? Can it beat the competition? This YouTube TV review will examine the channel lineup, YouTube TV app, features, and cost so you will know if a subscription is really worth it. 

Shall I Stream It is a viewer-supported site that provides honest reviews. To support this work, some links may take you to affiliate partners where commission is earned if you make a purchase.

The Basics- YouTube TV Review

YouTube TV is a streaming service that gives you access to over 85 live channels.

These are the same channels you’d find through broadcast or cable. The difference is you won’t have to worry about equipment to install or expensive long-term contracts. 

Everything “streams” over the internet without the need for cable boxes or DVRs. Your membership is on a month-to-month plan without any commitment. 

You can watch YouTube TV on a variety of devices. These include smart TVs, streaming players (such as Amazon Fire TV or Roku), smartphones, tablets, computers, and game consoles. 

How Much Does YouTube TV Cost?

PlanMonthly Cost
Base Plan$64.99
Spanish Plan$34.99

The YouTube TV Base Plan costs $64.99 per month. If you’re a new customer, there is typically an introductory offer available. For example, at the time of publication, new members can get their first three months for $54.99 per month.

For a lineup of Spanish-language channels, the Spanish Plan costs $34.99/mo. You don't need to purchase the Base Plan to get the Spanish Plan.

YouTube TV renews each month until you cancel. There is no cancellation fee or penalty for cancelling.

There’s also no sneaky hidden fees or equipment rental charges. The pricing is straightforward and cheaper on average than cable.

Does YouTube TV Have a Free Trial?

Yes, YouTube TV offers a free trial. The length varies but can last up to 14 days. 

You will still need to enter credit card information to sign up, but won’t be charged anything until the free trial is over. Should you decide to not continue with YouTube TV, make sure to cancel early to avoid getting charged.

Is YouTube TV Available Outside the U.S.?

At the time of writing, YouTube TV is only available in the United States.

YouTube vs YouTube TV vs YouTube Premium

PlatformWhat You Can Do With ItCost
YouTubeWatch videos (w/ ads)Free
YouTube PremiumWatch videos & listen to music (w/out ads)$11.99/mo.
YouTube TVWatch live TV channels$64.99/mo (base plan)

YouTube is a video-sharing website where you can watch videos for free. Meanwhile, YouTube TV is a paid TV streaming service. 

YouTube and YouTube TV have separate websites and apps.

YouTube also offers a paid service called YouTube Premium. This allows you to watch YouTube videos without ads and get premium access to YouTube Music. A YouTube TV subscription does not give you access to YouTube Premium.

YouTube TV Channel Lineup

YouTube TV Review Channels

With some exceptions (see below), the YouTube TV channel lineup is excellent. It includes local channels from the Big Four broadcasters, as well as PBS. You'll gets tons of entertainment channels, and there’s a good selection of news and sports as well. 

Plus, if you want to get even more, YouTube TV has a large selection of add-ons. You can bundle together services like HBO Max, STARZ, MLB.TV, or CuriosityStream with your YouTube TV subscription.

Besides the live channels, there is a wide selection of on-demand content, available to watch with ads.

List of YouTube TV Channels- Base Plan

  • Local Channels (may vary by zipcode): NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, The CW, Univision, Telemundo, UniMás
  • Sports: Big Ten Network. ESPN, ESPN2 CBS Sports, ACCN, ESPN News, SEC Network, ESPNU, FS1, FS2, Galavisión, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, Olympic Channel, some Regional Sports Networks (or RSNs) including local NBC Sports affiliates*
  • News: ABC News Live, BBC World News, CNBC, CNN, Cheddar News, Fox Business, Fox News, HLN, LiveNOW from Fox, Local Now, MSNBC, NBC News Now, NBCLX, NewsNation, TYT Network
  • Entertainment/Lifestyle: AMC, Animal Planet, BET, BET Her, Bravo, CMT, Comedy Central, Comedy.TV, Comet, COZI TV, Dabl, Discovery, E!, Fox Soul, FX, FXX, FXM, Food Network, getTV, G4, Game Show Network, HGTV, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Drama, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, IFC, ID, MTV, MTV2, MTV Classic, MotorTrend, Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, OWN, Oxygen, Pop, Paramount, QVC, Recipe.TV, SYFY, Start TV, SundanceTV, TBS, Turner Classic Movies, TLC, TNT, TV Land, Tastemade, Travel Channel, Universo, USA, VH1, WE tv, truTV
  • Family/Kids: Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Freeform, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, Smithsonian Channel, TeeNick, Universal Kids
  • Other: Court TV, FOX Weather, Justice Central.TV, MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube, The Weather Channel, YouTube Movies (VOD), YouTube Originals (VOD)

*See “What Channels is YouTube TV Missing?” for more on Regional Sports Networks.

List of YouTube TV Channels- Spanish Plan

  • All Channels: beIN SPORTS en Español, Antena 3, NTN 24, Nuestra Tele,TyC Sports, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familia, Baby TV Español, ESPN Deportes, Estrella TV, Fox Deportes, Cinelatino, Pasiones, WAPA América, Cine Mexicano, Cine Sony, Tastemade en Español, CNN en Español, Bandamax, De Película, De Película Clásico, FOROtv, Galavisión, Telehit, Telehit Música, tlnovelas, UniMás, Univision, The Weather Channel en Español

How are Local Channels Determined?

When you sign up for YouTube TV, the zip code you enter determines your “home area.” This is the basis for the local channels available to you. You might also have to verify your location by signing into your Google account with your smartphone. 

You can only change your home area twice per year. For more on how this works, check out YouTube TV’s help document here. Plus here’s one on what to know if you use YouTube TV while traveling.

What Add-ons are Available with YouTube TV?

In short, quite a few. Here’s some of the main packages and features offered:

  • Spanish Plus: $9.99/mo for 6 months, then $14.99/mo w/ 7-day free trial. Includes 25+ channels. Go here for full list.
  • 4K Plus: $19.99/mo w/ 30 day free trial. Allows you to stream in 4K, download for offline viewing, and get unlimited streams at home.
  • Sports Plus: $10.99/mo or $79.99/year w/ 7-day free trial. Includes channels such as NFL RedZone, beIN SPORTS, and Stadium. Go here for full list.
  • Entertainment Plus: $29.99/mo. Includes HBO Max, Showtime, and STARZ.
  • STARZ & EPIX: $11.99/mo.

The following are also available: HBO Max, NBA League Pass, MLB.TV, Showtime, STARZ, Hallmark Movies Now, Cinemax, EPIX, Pantaya, FOX Nation, ScreenPix, CuriosityStream, AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now, Acorn TV, IFC Films Unlimited, ALLBLK, Docurama, CONtv, Dove, Law & Crime, UP Faith & Family, Fandor, Screambox, Comedy Dynamics, VSiN, Outside TV Features, The Great Courses, HBO.

What Channels is YouTube TV Missing?

Although YouTube TV’s channel lineup covers a lot of territory, there are two omissions to take note of. They are:

  • A&E Networks: A&E, Crime & Investigation, FYI, History, History en Español, Military History, Lifetime, LMN, Lifetime Real Women, VICE
  • Regional Sports Networks: YouTube TV does not include RSNs from Bally Sports, AT&T SportsNet, Yes Network, Longhorn Network, NESN, MSG, Altitude, Marquee Sports Network, or MASN.
    • The RSNs that are included, however, include NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports, California, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Northwest, NBC Sports Washington, SportsNet New York, and LA FC Sports Network.
    • If the missing RSNs are a dealbreaker, fuboTV or DIRECTV Stream might be a better option for you.

The YouTube TV App & Features

Video QualityMaxes out in 720p or 1080p depending on channel
(4K if you pay for the add-on)
Sound 5.1 surround sound on certain devices
Simultaneous Streams3
(Unlimited w/ add-on)
Profiles6 per account
DVRUnlimited recordings
Can keep for 9 months
Offline DownloadsAvailable w/ 4K Plus add-on
Availability99.5% of U.S.

When you open the app you’ll see three options: 

  • Library- where your DVR recordings are located. 
  • Home– where most of the on-demand offerings can be found. 
  • Live– the channel guide. 

The YouTube TV app allows you to watch TV either at home or on the go with a mobile device. It can stream from three devices at a time per account, although the 4K Plus add-on allows for unlimited streams. 

YouTube TV allows for six “family members” per account, but they must all live within the same household

The Family Sharing system is a bit more complex than some of YouTube TV’s competitors. It’s not as simple as clicking a “+” sign and typing someone’s name. Each person in the family group must have a Google account, with a designated Family Manager sending invitations to join by email or text message.

Like most other data-driven products from Google (YouTube's parent company), YouTube TV will show you personalized ads based on your search history. You can disable Google from using your personal data in the settings on your Google account.

Video playback on most devices tested for this review worked without any issue.

What Devices is YouTube TV Available On?

YouTube TV Review

YouTube TV is available on a very wide range of devices.

  • Smart TVs: Android TV (select models), Samsung 2016+ models), LG (2016+), Vizio (select Vizio SmartCast models), Hisense (select models), Sony (select models), Sharp (select models)
  • Streaming Players: Chromecast with Google TV, Roku, Apple TV (4th gen & 4K), Amazon Fire TV (Fire Sticks 2nd gen+, Fire TV Cube, elect Fire TV Edition smart TVs), Tivo Stream 4K, Xfinity Flex,
  • Game Consoles: Xbox (Series X, Series S Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X), Playstation (PS5, PS4, & PS4 Pro)
  • Smartphones & Tablets: Android running 5.0 Lollipop and above, iOS running 11 or later
  • Smart Displays: Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max
  • Wireless Streaming: Google Chromecast or Apple Airplay

YouTube TV Unlimited DVR: How It Works

The Unlimited DVR is one of the most widely promoted features of a YouTube TV membership. This allows you to “record” as many shows, movies, and live broadcasts as you want. There is unlimited space for DVR storage and no limit on simultaneous recordings.

Take note, though, that after nine months the recordings will automatically disappear. 

To add something to the DVR, highlight the time slot in the guide and click “Add to Library.” This will create a page for that show in your Library tab that aggregates any on-demand episodes as well as DVR-recorded ones. 

There is no option to record single episodes of a show. Once you select it, any future airings will be added to the library. Thankfully there’s no limit to simultaneous recordings as these can easily add up. 

Likewise with sports you must select a team or a league to add to your library. You cannot record a single game unless it’s a special event like the Pro Bowl or Super Bowl.

YouTube TV Review Final Thoughts: Is It Worth It?

YouTube TV Review
ProsCons
-$5/mo cheaper than competition
-Very good channel lineup
-Unlimited DVR storage
-Wide selection of add-ons
-Free trial & intro offers
-Cumbersome process to add profiles
-Missing Regional Sports Networks
-DVR recordings delete after 9 months
-Can't record individual episodes

The channel lineup on YouTube TV’s Base Plan resembles the channels you’d get with cable perhaps more than any of its competitors. 

While the interface isn’t perfect, and lacks some of the features of fuboTV, it’s nice to be able to record as much as you want without worrying about storage space. 

Factoring in the free trial, discounts for new members, and monthly price, YouTube TV is a good deal. For cordcutters, YouTube TV provides a great alternative to cable. 

To try it out, click the button below!

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Matt Davis
Matt Davishttp://shallistreamit.com
Matt Davis is a freelance writer, blogger, and YouTuber from the Kansas City area. As the creator and editor-in-chief of Shall I Stream It, he subscribes to more streaming services than his budget can technically handle. He is a fan of Star Wars, musical theater, and the Oxford comma.
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