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YouTube TV vs DirecTV Stream: What’s The Difference & Which Is Best


YouTube TV vs DirecTV Stream

YouTube TV and DirecTV Stream are two very different live TV streaming services. By weighing up the differences in price, channels, DVR, and device support, it is possible to decide which of these subscription TV services is best for an individual or household.

YouTube TV first launched in 2017 and has already established itself as one of the most popular live TV services around. Reasons for its popularity include the selection of channels, premium features, and more recently, an increased focused on live sports. However, YouTube TV has also encountered multiple prices increases over the years, making it one of the more expensive live TV options around.

DirecTV Stream has gone through a number of its own changes and adjustments over the years. After starting out as DirecTV Now, the service was first rebranded as AT&T TV Now, then AT&T TV, and most recently DirecTV Stream. In addition to the various name changes, the plans and prices have also changed greatly over time as well.

Below is a closer look at how the two live TV streaming services compare on some of the most important features.

YouTube TV vs DirecTV StreamYouTube TV live streamingDirecTV Stream logo
Price (p/m)$65$75+
Simultaneous Streams3Unlimited (at home)
DVR (Hours)UnlimitedUnlimited
TV EverywhereYesYes
Free Trial7 days5 days
YouTube TVDirecTV Stream

As the table above highlights, YouTube TV is the better deal overall. It is cheaper and offers more channels than the base plan from DirecTV Stream. However, DirecTV Stream offers more simultaneous streams and more choice in general.

YouTube TV is cheaper, but offers less choice

One of the major differences between YouTube TV and DirecTV Stream is choice. YouTube TV only offers one plan, priced at $64.99 per month. Even though there are some additional add-ons that can be used to slightly improve the channel lineup or add more features, the selection of channels is mostly the same for all subscribers.

In contrast, DirecTV Stream offers multiple plans for consumers to choose from. While the plan that’s most similar to YouTube TV’s base package is the entry-level Entertainment plan, DirecTV Stream subscribers can easily upgrade to Choice, Ultimate or Premier if they find their current package is too limiting or not quite what they were looking for. In comparison, YouTube TV subscribers don’t have any real choice other than changing services.

YouTube TV live TV guide with clock
YouTube TV’s live guide

This leads to another major difference between the two – the price. While the $74.99 cost of the Entertainment plan is only slightly higher than YouTube TV’s $64.99 monthly price, the cost of DirecTV Stream can increase quickly.

For example, Choice costs a minimum of $99.99 per month, Ultimate raises the price to a minimum of $109.99, and Premier increases the cost to a minimum of $154.99 per month. Even though the Premier plan come with significantly more channels than YouTube TV’s base package, it costs more than twice as much each month.

One last point to note about the price of Premier is that this plan does also include Cinemax, HBO Max, Showtime and Starz at no additional cost. Any homes that are already subscribing to these premium streaming services may find that DirecTV Stream is not quite as expensive as it first seems.

DirecTV Stream has more streams, but worse DVR

At these prices, both services position themselves as premium options. However, there are some areas where each service is a little weaker than the other. Device support, for example, is one of the areas where YouTube TV is slightly stronger than DirecTV Stream.

Even though most Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku device owners might not notice the difference, many with a smart TV will. While DirecTV Stream is mostly limited to Samsung TVs, YouTube TV also supports LG and Vizio smart TVs as well. In general, YouTube TV is likely to be a better solution when it comes to device support.

Simultaneous streams is an area that often gets overlooked even though it directly impacts on how many people can watch at the same time on different devices. Technically, DirecTV Stream offers support for an unlimited number of streams. However, this is dependent on those devices being connected to the home network.

DirecTV Stream Multiple devices
DirecTV offers more streams

In contrast, YouTube TV limits the number of streams to just three. YouTube TV does also offer a 4K Plus upgrade which boosts the number of same-time streams to unlimited, but the add-on adds to the monthly cost. Not to mention, YouTube TV’s interpretation of unlimited is also based on devices being connected to a home area. When away from home, both YouTube TV and DirecTV Stream limit the number of devices that can access the service at the same time to three.

Cloud DVR is another area of difference, albeit less different than in the past now that DirecTV Stream has matched YouTube TV’s unlimited DVR. Still, YouTube TV’s cloud DVR has fewer limitations overall and is likely to be viewed as a richer recording experience in general, and especially in homes where a subscription is being shared between multiple people.

YouTube TV vs DirecTV Stream: summary

YouTube TV and DirecTV Stream are very different services which should make choosing between them easier. YouTube TV offers a single $64.99 per month plan which unlocks access to more than 100 channels. Even though there is the ability to make slight adjustments through add-ons, DirecTV Stream offers more choice thanks to four base packages that vary between $74.99 and $154.99 per month, and unlock access to between 75+ and 150+ channels.

For those that want a straightforward subscription, a decent selection of channels, an unlimited cloud DVR, and more varied device support, YouTube TV is likely to be the better option.

For those that want greater flexibility in the number of channels and don’t mind paying a higher monthly price, then DirecTV Stream will be worth checking out.

If neither of these options sound right, or the entry price for these two services is just too high, there are other live TV streaming services available. While another live TV service will come with its own selling points and limitations, one of them may prove to be a better match than YouTube TV or DirecTV Stream.

John Finn


4 responses to “YouTube TV vs DirecTV Stream: What’s The Difference & Which Is Best”

  1. NBCSN is no more and it is in the list still.

    1. Thanks Bob, updated and removed.

  2. John, looks like DTVS added Unlimited Hours with 90 day duration for all new customers.

    1. Thanks J, the article has been updated to reflect new customers do get unlimited.

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