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YouTube TV Family Sharing: Benefits & Limitations

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YouTube TV family sharing allows subscribers to share their subscription with family members and friends. Although family groups can be beneficial in terms of sharing the cost of a live TV subscription, there are also limitations subscribers and family members should be aware of before sharing a YouTube TV account.

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YouTube TV continues to be a popular choice for consumers looking to stream live TV over the internet. After launching nationwide in early 2019, YouTube TV now boasts millions of subscribers, making it one of the most popular live TV streaming services along with Sling TV and Hulu Live TV. As the channel lineup has also consistently expanded at the same time, YouTube TV now caters to multiple family members better than ever before.

With an unlimited cloud DVR, a varied selection of channels, and additional premium features, YouTube TV is a good option for live TV streaming. However, at $64.99 per month, YouTube TV is not the cheapest service around. This is where family sharing can be useful and, arguably, the main benefit.

Family sharing benefits

YouTube TV allows subscribers to share a single subscription with five other people, resulting in a total of six users per account. By sharing a subscription with others, a subscriber can split the cost of a subscription by reducing the contribution each individual member pays for live TV. In fact, split between the maximum six people and the cost of a subscription can be reduced dramatically.

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Another benefit of family sharing is the user experience in general. While many services allow different profiles to be set up, YouTube TV takes the experience to another level. Each family member not only gets their own profile, but also their own settings, preferences, and even their own unlimited cloud DVR. As a result, what one family member records won’t be visible to other family members, creating an experience that’s almost indistinguishable from each family member having their own live TV subscription.

While a subscription is shared between different people, that’s not to say each account is equal. A family manager needs to be designated when setting up family sharing and this is not just a status either, as that member is ultimately responsibility for the subscription, including the monthly payment. This is where the first limitation comes in, as the cost of a shared YouTube TV subscription cannot be split between family members at the YouTube TV level. Instead, the family manager will need to make the payment and collect the other member contributions separately.

Family sharing limitations

Besides the fact a family manager is ultimately responsible for a YouTube TV subscription, and additional family members have limited control, there are some other limitations to be aware of. The first is simultaneous streams. In spite of the ability to share an account with five other people, YouTube TV only allows subscribers to stream on three devices at the same time.

Considering this is half the number of total family members (including the family manager) there are likely to be instances where certain members are unable to watch live TV. In fact, this simultaneous streams policy not only affects live TV channels, but on demand and recorded content as well. In these instances, family members will have to wait until those already streaming stop watching. Adding to the multiple devices issue, YouTube TV also places some restrictions on the location as well.

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Technically, YouTube TV is meant to be a single-home service and this can result in problems when attempting to stream while away from home. Generally speaking, YouTube TV has no issue with subscribers streaming outside the home, but the service does require them to check in every so often. Failure to do so can result in the individual members losing access to YouTube TV until they connect to the home network again. What’s more, YouTube TV’s home area is based on the family manager’s home location. Due to this, YouTube TV’s family sharing is not an ideal solution for sharing an account with people living in different homes.

A final limitation to be aware of is the number of family groups a member can be part of. YouTube TV only allows an individual to join one family group at a time. Anyone wanting to join another group will first need to remove themselves from the current one or ask the family manager to remove them. In addition, individuals can only switch families once in a twelve-month period.

YouTube TV family sharing summary

Family sharing can be a great option for families and households looking to share the cost of a subscription. Not only can six people share an account, but they also get access to a highly individual streaming experience, including their own cloud DVR. However, family sharing does require a designated manager who is solely responsible for managing and paying for the subscription.

Another family sharing limitation is the number of devices that can access the service at the same time is lower than the maximum number of family members. In addition, YouTube TV’s home area restrictions can further limit the ability for family members to access live TV, on demand and recorded videos.

Read more: YouTube TV: Entertainment Plus Benefits & Limitations

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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

6 replies on “YouTube TV Family Sharing: Benefits & Limitations”

I was informed during trial that each shared family member could stream three devices at a time. This article seems to contradict that. Could you clarify.

If you paid for unlimited screens (an additional $19.99 per month) wouldn’t you overcome the issue of just 3 screens per account? Divided by three households (as it would be with my family) It would still be very affordable at $30.31 per household (added the tax for my state).

“Due to this, YouTube TV’s family sharing is not an ideal solution for sharing an account with people living in different homes.”

Regarding the above:
1) Does one receive the locals outside home area?
2) Can one record locals outside home area?
3) Can one record anything outside home area?

Thanks.

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