YouTube TV subscribers can download videos and watch them without an internet connection, but there are some caveats. Firstly, the ability to download for offline viewing is only available to those also subscribed to the 4K Plus add-on. Secondly, there are additional limits on how many videos can be downloaded, how long they remain downloaded for, and which devices can access recorded content once downloaded.
Most live TV streaming services now offer a cloud DVR of some kind. While they tend to vary on the content that can be recorded and how many hours are available to record, they all still require an internet connection. This is because, unlike a traditional DVR, nothing is being recorded to the device itself. Instead, the recordings remain stored in the cloud requiring an internet connection to access.
YouTube TV has actually removed this limitation by offering subscribers what is akin to a physical DVR. Not only do they have the option to save recordings using the cloud DVR, but they can also move those recordings from the internet to their device. This can be a good way to watch videos when there’s no internet connection at all, or at times when consuming mobile data might be costly.
How to download YouTube TV videos
As this is an app-based feature, the YouTube TV app will need to be downloaded on an eligible device. The YouTube TV app is available to download on Android from the Google Play Store and on iPhone or iPad from the App Store. Providing a YouTube TV subscriber is also signed up to the 4K Plus add-on, then downloading content to watch offline is available through the app’s Library tab.
To download videos for offline viewing:
- Open the YouTube TV app.
- Tap on the Library tab
- Find the recording to download.
- Tap the download button (arrow facing down)
To watch downloaded videos offline:
- Open the YouTube TV app.
- If offline, tap on “Go to downloads”
- Select a downloaded video
- Tap play
For reference, YouTube TV’s download feature is specifically designed for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Due to this, subscribers won’t find an option to download videos on a smart TV or streaming player app. Essentially, if there is no download button then the subscriber can assume the device they are using doesn’t support downloads.
YouTube TV download limitations
Although downloading recorded shows to a device for watching offline improves the overall experience, there are some limitations to be aware of. The main one is that downloads use storage space on the device. Unlike streaming, where content is delivered over the internet, downloaded YouTube TV videos take up the same space on a device used for storing apps, music, photos and more. Therefore, how many videos can be downloaded on a device will depend on how much space is available on the device at the time.
Another limitation is that YouTube TV currently only allows one video to be downloaded at a time. Therefore, if planning to watch multiple videos during a trip, subscribers will need to wait until one download finishes before starting the next and continuing the cycle until all videos have been downloaded. Downloading a video will also temporarily cause the video to become unavailable on other devices linked to the same YouTube TV account. The video will only become available on other devices again once the download has been deleted.
In addition, there may actually be times when a certain video cannot be downloaded at all. YouTube TV does not provide any examples of these instances, but does explain that the download button will be grayed out when a video is unavailable to download for offline viewing.
There are two final caveats to be aware of. The first is that YouTube TV recommends the device with downloaded videos connects to the internet at least once every thirty days to ensure continued access to the downloaded content. Regardless of anything else, downloads will automatically expire after 9 months, similar to YouTube TV’s general cloud DVR policy.
YouTube TV downloads summary
YouTube TV makes it quick and easy to download videos to watch later and even without an internet connection. However, the option to do so is not available to all subscribers, as it does require the $20 per month 4K Plus add-on to be bundled with the base subscription. If signed up to both, subscribers will see a download button on show episodes and movies that they’ve already recorded using the cloud DVR. If no button is shown, then the device is incapable of downloading videos. If the button is grayed out, then it means that the specific video is unavailable to download.
Besides the device and video restrictions, YouTube TV also places some additional limitations on downloading. The main ones being, only one video is available to download at a time, downloaded videos become unavailable to access on other devices until deleted, and downloads are automatically deleted after nine months. However, YouTube TV subscribers might find videos are automatically deleted sooner, and especially if the device remains disconnected from the internet for a prolonged period.