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I Tested YouTube TV for 2 Years - Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Ben Bowman

When searching for the best live TV streaming service several years ago, I settled on PlayStation Vue. Its great channel lineup and rock-bottom price couldn’t be beat. But when Vue went out of business at the start of 2020, I needed a new solution. I settled on YouTube TV. Its been my go-to service since then, though I do consider other services from time to time. Here’s what I discovered during my lengthy experience with the service.

YouTube TV Summary

You’ll get for 32 of the top 35 cable channels for $72.99 / month. In all, YouTube TV can scale up to 113 channels. As long as you have an internet connection, you can watch TV.

Importantly, the service includes PBS, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telemundo, The CW, and Univision.

For sports fans, YouTube TV offers access to TNT, TBS, ESPN, FS1, NBA TV and NFL Network in its base package. You can add channels like NFL RedZone for an additional fee.

You’ll get an unlimited cloud DVR and you can save recordings up to nine months.

4K is not automatically included, but you can use your YouTube TV credentials to watch any 4K events from FOX via the FOX Sports app. If you’d like to add the full 4K package, that’s available as well.

If you’d like to be sure YouTube TV has the most important channels to you, consult our Service Matchmaker.

YouTube TV works with Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Android TV, iPhone/iPad, Android Phone/Tablet, Mac, Windows, PlayStation, Xbox, LG Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV, Sony Smart TV, and VIZIO Smart TV.

I chose YouTube TV because it offers a lot of value and an attractive channel lineup. It’s not for everybody, but it works well for my family.

The YouTube TV User Experience

As with most Google-owned products, YouTube TV is pretty intuitive to set up and use. Menus move smoothly from one function to another. The interface does change, depending on your device, but YouTube TV works equally well on smart TVs, streaming devices, tablets, and smartphones.

There are three primary screens: library, home, and live.

Library (DVR)

This is where all your DVR recordings live. You can store recordings up to nine months.

Adding new content to your DVR is a breeze, especially on the phone interface. Just search for the title with the magnifying glass icon, and hit the “plus” button. YouTube TV will record all future airings of that show or event. You can even set up a recording of a sport so you could get every NFL game, for example. You can also choose to record one specific team, and all available games will automatically record.

In the Library, your content is helpfully sorted by shows, movies, sports, events, purchased, and downloads.

YouTube TV is smart enough to add time to live events, so you don’t have to worry about overtime or awards shows that run long.

I’ve never had a problem with YouTube TV missing a scheduled recording, though you do need to be careful to get the right title for an event - some live events may require a few searches before you find the correct listing.

If you join an event mid-recording, you can choose to watch live or start from the beginning.


The more you use YouTube TV, the smarter this page becomes. It tees up shows you frequently watch and makes suggestions of what you may enjoy. You may end up using this section more than the Live page.


This is your standard cable-style channel lineup. Simply scroll up and down to see what’s available and make your choice.

YouTube TV helpfully lets you rearrange the channels or omit channels you don’t want to watch. This is easiest to accomplish on a desktop computer.

You can view channels alphabetically (A-Z or Z-A), with your custom lineup, or let YouTube TV stack them automatically with your most-watched channels on top.

YouTube TV’s Best Features

Honestly, YouTube TV gets points for having a fairly comprehensive channel lineup. Many live TV streaming services struggle to offer a good collection of channels, and the only major ones missing are A&E, History, and Lifetime.

Most of the time, YouTube TV is just plain easy to use. By now, the Home screen knows that I want to fire up NFL RedZone on Sunday afternoons. The phone interface makes it incredibly simple to add anything to my DVR.

When watching sports, the service has a “catch up through key plays” feature that will show you the most important moments of the game if you’re joining late. It’s not perfect, but it does offer a window into the game to that point.

When YouTube TV has unsold ad inventory during a commercial break, you’re sometimes treated to an “Enjoy the zen” screen featuring nature imagery. It’s soothing and superior to the often-repetitive commercials you may encounter (NBCUniversal-owned stations are notorious for running the same commercials over and over.)

The service has been reliable, and I haven’t experienced outages when I’m counting on it.

Also, in an era where most of its competitors have raised prices, I appreciate how YouTube TV has (mostly) avoided the jaw-dropping increases of the other services.

Where YouTube TV Struggles

The navigation of the DVR does leave something to be desired. In YouTube TV’s attempts to be helpful, it sometimes hides recordings of shows you haven’t watched recently. You’ll find them if you dig into the sub-sections (movies, shows, etc.).

While other services are innovating and adding new features, YouTube TV seems a bit stuck. The 4K add-on is ridiculously overpriced ($19.99/mo after the first year). You also won’t see multi-view or any exclusive content. It feels like it would be easy for Google to throw in a YouTube Premium subscription for free, but no dice.

You also won’t get a full lineup of regional sports networks, though you do get NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Northwest, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia+, NBC Sports Washington, and SportsNet NY.

How YouTube TV Stacks Up to the Competition

While YouTube TV is a great all-around performer, there are other streamers that have an edge, depending on your needs. Grossly simplified, the other services stack up like this:

  • DIRECTV STREAM is better if you need more channels, including the coveted Bally regional sports networks.
  • Hulu Live TV is a better value if you just want one entertainment solution. It automatically includes free Disney+, ESPN+, and the Hulu on demand library. The channel lineup is similar to YouTube TV, but you get unbeatable bonuses for kids (Disney+), sports fans (ESPN+), and adults (Hulu).
  • Philo is the best budget streamer. If you don’t need sports channels, Philo can help you save a fortune.
  • Sling TV is better if you want flexibility. The various channel packages allow you to stream top-notch channels without the top-tier price.
  • fuboTV is better if you watch a lot of international sports.
Service Base Price Top Cable Channels Total Channels DVR Full Comparison
YouTube TV $72.99 / month 32 113 Unlimited space, 9-month storage N/A
Sling TV $40 / month 27 53 50 hours+ YouTube TV vs. Sling TV
DIRECTV STREAM $74.99 / month 35 213 Unlimited space, 9-month storage YouTube TV vs. DIRECTV STREAM
fuboTV $85.98 / month 25 151 1,000 hours, unlimited time YouTube TV vs. fuboTV
Philo $25 / month 18 75 Unlimited space, 12-month storage YouTube TV vs. Philo
Hulu Live TV $69.99 / month 33 101 Unlimited space, 9-month storage YouTube TV vs. Hulu Live TV

Bottom Line

YouTube TV gives you a solid package of sports, entertainment, and the local channels most cord-cutters are looking to find. It’s fairly intuitive to use, and the price offers a decent value.

That said, if you don’t need to watch sports channels, a streamer like Philo or Sling TV will lower your costs significantly. With free services like Pluto TV and Tubi on the rise, it’s easy to find lots of entertainment without the need for a paid live TV solution.

I’ve been generally happy with YouTube TV, though I wish they’d include 4K without an additional fee, and I’d love a multi-view feature to keep tabs on multiple channels at once. (PlayStation Vue previously had that, and fuboTV offers it for Apple TV users.)

As an NFL fan, I love access to NFL RedZone, though the price means I may give up YouTube TV after the Super Bowl to lower my costs — I can rejoin in September. YouTube TV offers the ability to “pause” your subscription until a date in the future. If you do so, YouTube TV keeps your recordings, profiles, and any custom settings.

Most people transitioning from cable will find YouTube TV to be an easy solution, though your particular needs may be better served by a competitor.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for $72.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets. The service includes an unlimited DVR.

With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).

They recently added NFL Network and new Sports Plus add-on which include channels like NFL RedZone for $11 a month.

YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $9.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.

If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.


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