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YouTube TV Review 2020: Plans, Cost, and More

YouTube TV may have gotten more expansive, but it's still the best livestreaming TV service out there.

Best overall (livestreaming)

Price: $64.99/mo.

Channels: 85+

Editorial star rating: 4.50/5.00

Update 10/8/2020: New YouTube TV subscribers can get the new Chromecast with Google TV device ($49.99 value) upon making their first monthly payment of $64.99. Offer is good for a limited time, while supplies last.

Bottom line: Is YouTube TV good?

We think YouTube TV is an excellent livestreaming service—in fact, we’ve named it Cable TV.com’s Best Overall service for 2020. For $64.99 per month, you get 85+ cable and local channels plus an unlimited cloud DVR.

YouTube TV recently upped its price from $49.99 to $64.99 a month, but it also added over a dozen entertainment channels, giving it one of the fattest channel lineups in livestreaming. It’s more expensive now, but we say YouTube TV is worth it for the features and performance.

YouTube TV pros and cons

Pros

  • Simple, intuitive interface
  • 85+ channels
  • Unlimited DVR

Cons

  • More expensive
  • No NFL Network or NFL RedZone
  • No A&E, Lifetime, or Hallmark

What is YouTube TV?

YouTube is arguably the original internet streaming TV service, even though it’s never been officially classified as such. Until now.

YouTube TV is the video giant’s first toe into the cable-replacement waters, offering livestreaming TV channels in addition to its massive cache of user-generated clips. It might seem odd to get your CNN from the same place you get your cat videos, but livestreaming TV is a natural fit for YouTube.

YouTube TV’s biggest advantage over other streaming TV services is familiarity. It’s close to the same YouTube interface you’ve been using for years but with a few new twists and more popular channels than other livestreaming services. (It’s still the undisputed leader in cat videos, of course.)

YouTube TV free trials, promotions, and deals

New YouTube TV subscribers can get the new Chromecast with Google TV device ($49.99 value) upon making their first monthly payment of $64.99. Offer is good for a limited time, while supplies last.

You can get YouTube TV free for a month when you sign up for a Verizon Mobile or 5G Home Internet plan. It’s not much, but it’s more than the usual seven-day free trial.

YouTube TV plans and cost

Swipe Left to See All →
PlanPriceLive channelsCloud DVRStreams
YouTube TV
View Plan
$64.99/mo.85+Unlimited for 9 mos.3

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

YouTube TV, depending on your area, offers between 85 and 90 livestreaming channels, including cable favorites, local channels, and sports networks.

YouTube TV channels and shows

Live and on-demand shows and movies

YouTube TV’s mix of livestreaming entertainment, sports, and news channels doesn’t look much different than a basic cable package—until you notice the lack of filler.

There’s no cable-package bloat like music or shopping networks, just a tight lineup of popular channels like Comedy Central, Paramount Network, MTV, AMC, Cartoon Network, ESPN, Disney, FS1, FX, Syfy, TNT, USA, etc. YouTube TV trims the cable fat nicely.

YouTube TV also features local channels carrying ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, and its the only livestreaming TV service that has PBS and PBS Kids.

But watch out, cord-cutters: YouTube TV’s channel lineup is impressive, but it’s missing a few favorites. Networks like Lifetime, A&E, Hallmark, and Viceland aren’t on YouTube TV (but you can get them on Philo, another service we like here at CableTV.com).

Combo with Philo: To avoid missing out on your Lifetime stalker movies and Hallmark Christmas flicks, you could pair YouTube TV with Philo. The $20-a-month streaming TV service carries channels that YouTube TV lacks, like A&E, Lifetime, Hallmark, VICE, and a few others.

YouTube TV live TV channels (partial list):

  • Local channels (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS)
  • AMC
  • Animal Planet
  • BBC America
  • Cartoon Network/Adult Swim
  • CNN
  • Cheddar News
  • Comedy Central
  • Disney
  • Disney XD
  • E!
  • Food Network
  • Fox News
  • Freeform
  • FX
  • FXX
  • Investigation Discovery
  • IFC
  • MSNBC
  • NatGeo
  • MTV
  • Paramount Network
  • Sundance
  • Syfy
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • TruTV
  • TLC
  • Turner Classic Movies
  • USA
  • VH1
  • Full YouTube TV channel list

YouTube TV original shows and movies

A challenger to Netflix and Hulu, this isn’t. YouTube’s in-house productions aren’t exactly setting the TV world on fire—there’s a steep critical drop-off after Cobra Kai (which YouTube recently sold to Netflix). Still, there are some interesting YouTube Originals, like sci-fi thriller Impulse and music doc Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert.

There won’t be any more originals going forward, though: YouTube TV recently bailed on the content creation game, choosing to concentrate on livestreaming domination.

Original TV shows:

  • Cobra Kai
  • Escape the Night
  • Liza on Demand
  • Impulse
  • Foursome
  • Sugar

Original movies:

  • Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert
  • Viper Club
  • Burn the Stage
  • Stalking Vampire
  • The Thinning
  • Museum

Live sports on YouTube TV

While it does carry live broadcast and cable football coverage, YouTube TV may disappoint gridiron fans with its lack of the NFL Network and NFL RedZone. The same goes for hockey buffs who won’t be able to get the NHL Network.

It’s not all bad news, though: you’ll get plenty of basketball (including NBA TV), baseball (including MLB Network), soccer, and college b-ball games. YouTube TV’s live sports experience is on par with most cable providers’ upper-tier packages—there’s little action you’d be missing out on.

Live sports channels:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPNU
  • ESPNews
  • FS1
  • FS2
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NBA TV
  • MLB Network
  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • Golf Channel
  • Olympic Channel
  • Tennis Channel

Local channels on YouTube TV

YouTube TV features as many local channels per region as Hulu + Live TV and far more than other services like Sling TV or fuboTV.

Depending on where you are, you’ll either receive local stations carrying ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, The CW, and Telemundo, or a combination of at least four of them.

The CW is the least-available broadcast channel on YouTube TV (and all livestreaming services), but all’s not lost in Riverdale. Any CW series can be called up on-demand in most cases, and The CW also offers its programming for free through its own streaming app. Both work similarly; it just depends on how much app-jumping you want to do.

Get local: YouTube TV features as many local channels per region as Hulu + Live TV and far more than other services like Sling TV or fuboTV.

YouTube TV channel add-ons

YouTube TV’s $64.99 a month plan can be fortified with several add-on packages from premium networks, like HBO Max, SHOWTIME and FOX Soccer Plus.

YouTube TV add-ons:

  • HBO ($14.99/mo.)
  • HBO Max ($14.99/mo.)
  • SHOWTIME ($7/mo.)
  • STARZ ($9/mo.)
  • AMC Premiere ($5/mo.)
  • Sundance Now ($7/mo.)
  • Shudder ($5/mo.)
  • EPIX ($6/mo.)
  • Curiosity Stream ($5/mo.)
  • FOX Soccer Plus ($15/mo.)
  • NBA League Pass ($40/mo.)
  • Urban Movie Channel ($5/mo.)
  • Acorn TV ($6/mo.)

Like most other streaming TV outlets, YouTube TV gives you a seven-day free test drive before kicking into billing mode. Be sure to make a note of the trial’s end date in your personal calendar, whether it’s Google-based or otherwise.

Combine YouTube TV with another streaming service

If YouTube TV doesn’t give you everything you want, try pairing it with another streaming service to fill in the blanks—you’ll probably still save money over a cable or satellite subscription.

Swipe Left to See All →
Philo TV
$20/mo.
fuboTV
$54.99/mo.
Netflix
$8.99/mo.
Fill in YouTube TV’s channel gaps, including A&E, Lifetime, Hallmark, and VICE.Satisfy your soccer appetite and pick up extra livestreaming entertainment channels.Get original entertainment programming, plus thousands of TV shows and movies.

YouTube TV specs and features

YouTube TV Cloud DVR

YouTube TV gives you unlimited—yes, unlimited—cloud DVR space. But not forever; YouTube will dump your saved recordings after nine months. Still, that’s a generous amount of space, and you’ll be able to stream your recorded programming from anywhere on your mobile device.

Unlimited DVR; limited time: YouTube will dump your saved recordings after nine months.

Fast-forwarding through commercials in recorded shows is quick and intuitive, but there’s no skipping ads with some of YouTube TV’s on-demand programming. Even in the brave new world of streaming TV, you still can’t escape Swiffer spots.

Multiple streams on YouTube TV

YouTube TV gives you three simultaneous streams across streaming TV devices, computers, tablets, and phones. Conveniently, this counts within the same home network and outside of it, even while traveling throughout the US.

Unfortunately, YouTube TV can’t be accessed internationally—you’ll just have to go enjoy the beach or the museum, instead. Sorry.

Stream away: YouTube TV gives you three simultaneous streams across streaming TV devices, computers, tablets, and phones.

A useful feature of YouTube TV is the ability to set up individual Family Sharing profiles. In addition to the original profile (which is set up through a Google account), Family Sharing lets five more people establish their own customizable profiles through their own Google accounts. Viewing preferences, DVR, and watch history are unique, and visible only to each account.

Those five accounts will still have to share just three streams, though. Bummer.

Compatible streaming devices with YouTube TV

Despite the universality of YouTube, YouTube TV isn’t available on some devices—namely, PlayStation and Nintendo.

YouTube TV is supported on these devices:

  • Roku, Roku Stick, Roku TV
  • Amazon Fire TV Cube, Stick
  • Apple TV, iPhone, iPad
  • Android TV, phones, tablets
  • Google Chromecast
  • Xbox One
  • NVIDIA SHIELD
  • Select Samsung, LG, Vizio, Sharp, and Hisense smart TVs
  • PC, Mac web browsers

YouTube TV video and audio quality

YouTube TV streams in 720p at 60 fps (frames per second), the same HD quality as cable/satellite providers and most of the other streaming TV services you’re accustomed to.

Unlike other services, YouTube TV doesn’t currently stream any content in 4K HD or HDR (high dynamic range) quality. Don’t worry; the cat videos we talked about earlier still look as cute as ever.

YouTube TV’s content streams with standard 2.0 stereo audio, but Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (the audio quality you get with Blu-ray discs) isn’t yet available with the service.

Check your Mbps: With a solid internet connection, YouTube TV streams with little buffering or dropping out. We recommend DSL, cable, or fiber internet rated at 25 Mbps (megabytes per second) or faster.

Here’s a cool YouTube TV customization feature: You can arrange channels however you like. What? Brace yourselves, television traditionalists: YouTube TV, like other streaming TV services, doesn’t assign numbers to its channels. You can, however, bring order to this anarchy by stacking your preferred channels to the top of the grid for quick access.

YouTube TV also comes with killer search capabilities, thanks to its association with a plucky little startup called Google. You’ve probably heard of it.

Final take: YouTube TV does TV right, for a price

With only a few shortcomings, YouTube TV is the service to beat in the streaming wars (despite the sting of that price hike). It doesn’t carry a handful of popular live entertainment or sports channels, but the unlimited DVR, customizable features, and smooth performance will do right by first-time cord-cutters.

Plus, you already know how to use it—it may be live TV, but it’s also still YouTube.

YouTube TV FAQ

How much does YouTube TV cost?

YouTube TV costs $64.99 per month. When you consider that you get 85+ cable and local channels with no contract and unlimited cloud DVR storage, it’s still a decent deal compared to cable or satellite TV.

How does YouTube TV work?

YouTube TV works by streaming live TV through your web browser, mobile device apps, or streaming devices.

Even though it has a similar interface, it’s different from YouTube because it doesn’t limit your viewing to uploaded videos, and it’s a paid service (85+ live channels for $64.99 per month).

Does YouTube TV have PBS?

Yes, YouTube TV now has PBS, as well as PBS Kids. Before you blow this off, you should know that PBS isn’t currently available on any other livestreaming service. What are you waiting for? Get the Antiques Roadshow on the road.

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