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YouTube TV’s DVR Needs A ‘Delete’ Or ‘Hide’ Recordings Option

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One of the big selling points with YouTube TV is the unlimited DVR, but without the option to manually delete or hide recordings, it falls significantly below the level many will expect from a recording experience. While this may sound like a minor issue compared to the price or the channel selection, long-term subscribers that have built up a substantial library of recordings know all too well how much of a problem the lack of a delete option can be.

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YouTube TV is one of the most popular live TV streaming services around, and for good reason. The channel lineup is pretty good, there are plenty of additional features to take advantage of, and subscribers are gifted with an unlimited cloud DVR. In fact, it is so unlimited that every member that shares a single YouTube TV subscription is gifted with their very own unlimited DVR. This makes it possible for each person to record as much as they want without their library being affected by the recordings made by others.

The problem is, the unlimited nature results in one very unwanted side effect. While subscribers can record as much as they want, as often as they want, they can’t delete saved recordings. Instead, the service places a time period on how long recordings are stored for. Once that period had ended, the recording is automatically deleted. Until then, however, the subscriber collects a variety of show episodes and movies they’ve already seen, and have little interest in watching again.

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A ‘hide’ option would be enough

From YouTube TV’s perspective, this approach makes perfect sense. There is no recording limit so it doesn’t matter how much a subscriber records. Furthermore, these recordings will eventually be deleted anyway. YouTube TV has created a system that totally removes the need for subscribers to worry about recordings, as the system will record everything and automatically delete everything… eventually

That’s the theory. In reality, YouTube TV has placed such a focus on managing recordings for subscribers that it leaves them with almost no control. While admirable, some subscribers will likely want the option to control the experience when needed and the option to manually remove a recording from their library is a prime example. With the ability to delete recordings, the subscriber would have the opportunity to clean up a library and this may help to make it easier to quickly find videos to watch.

At the very least, the option to hide recordings would be sufficient. Yes, YouTube TV does allow subscribers to filter recordings by most recently recorded, pushing older (read: watched) content down to the bottom and surfacing newer (read: unwatched) content to the top. However, that’s providing everything plays out as YouTube TV expects. The reality for many people is that some recordings will remain unwatched for long periods of time. This does not mean those recordings are not important or won’t be watched, it is just that they haven’t been viewed yet.

Giving subscribers the option to hide videos would make it possible for episodes and movies to be soft deleted from the library while they are waiting to actually be deleted by the system. At the same time, this would go a long way to cleaning up the library for subscribers. Arguably, this may even help them to actually get through some of the older unwatched recordings faster, considering they would be easier to find to begin with. While a hide option is not as useful as a delete option, it certainly would be an acceptable alternative, and likely one that many subscribers would appreciate.

YouTube TV hide recordings summary

YouTube TV does offer one of the better DVR experiences, but it is far from being perfect. One of the biggest issues facing subscribers is any real or obvious way to separate recorded content they no longer need from the rest of the library. While it is understandable that YouTube TV doesn’t feel the need to add an actual delete button to the DVR, a hide option would at least make it possible for subscribers to manually tell the service not to show certain episodes or movies in the library while they are waiting to be deleted.

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For those considering signing up to the service for the first time, the DVR is something to keep in mind. Although YouTube TV does make it possible to record everything you might want to watch, it might be worth taking a moment to decide whether you will actually watch something before hitting the ‘add to library’ button.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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