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YouTube TV Review: Worth $65, But It’s Not Perfect

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Updated: July 5th, 2022 at 02:18 pm

YouTube TV is worth paying $65 for live TV streaming, but that doesn’t mean you automatically should. Google’s live TV service offers a lot for the money and a strong argument can be made that it’s the best option on the market right now. However, it is not the only good option available and it’s certainly not the cheapest either.

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YouTube TV might be a newer live TV streaming service compared to some others, but that hasn’t slowed the service down. Originally only available in beta and in select locations, it wasn’t until early in 2019 when the service confirmed it was available nationwide. Since then, it has gone on to become an extremely popular option with more than four million subscribers.

YouTube TV $64.99
  • Experience
  • Channels
  • Content
  • DVR
  • Price
3.9

Our opinion

YouTube TV is a hugely popular live TV streaming service and for good reason, it is a good live TV service. In fact, it is one of the best options around and will suit many households looking for access to entertainment, news and sports channels. At the same time, it is not a cheap live TV service.

Pros

Large channel selection
Good on demand options
Great for DVR
Good for families
Emphasis on sports

Cons

Cheaper options available
Locals might be an issue
Interface won’t suit everyone
DVR has some limitations

With the cheapest — and only — plan currently sitting at $64.99 per month, YouTube TV is far from the most affordable option. This review will look to provide some clarity on both the pros and cons of a YouTube TV subscription, starting with the general user experience, before discussing the channel selection, cloud DVR, and finishing up by addressing the price-to-value ratio.

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Experience and ease of use

Google has a habit of trying to make its services super user-friendly and this is most often through the use of AI and Google Assistant. However, YouTube TV is not quite as easy to use as it could be, although this will most likely come down to how tech-savvy the user is to begin with.

For those familiar with live TV streaming services, YouTube TV will feel more intuitive and easier to use than many others. Content the viewer most likely wants to watch, especially sports fans, will surface at the top and is quickly accessible when opening the app.

YouTube TV sports
YouTube TV home screen

YouTube TV is very good at recommending interesting content so, in this sense, it’s easy enough to use. Not to mention, the only main tabs on the home screen are Library (recordings, saved content, and so on), Home (where you start, recommendations, etc.), and Live for direct access to what’s on now and the live TV guide.

YouTube TV Live Guide
YouTube TV live TV guide

What’s more, the interface is nicely integrated, making it super easy to navigate any of these sections. At the same time, whatever was playing continues to play in the background – though this can be disabled through the settings if wanted. For experienced users, it just works and works well.

However, for those new to streaming, YouTube TV might feel overly complicated and this is mostly the result of the Home screen. YouTube TV tries to fit as many keywords/links as possible, making it quick and easy to jump to very specific types of content, such as “sports games” or “animated comedy.” This all results in the Home screen becoming very busy and far removed from a typical TV guide. Furthermore, clicking on a keyword often loads more granular links. Resulting in an interface that almost places more of a focus on keywords than actual content.

YouTube TV links
YouTube TV focuses on links

In this sense, one of YouTube TV’s best features might also be one of its worst, depending on the user. Those migrating from cable may find YouTube TV is a very busy interface, while those who are more tuned in to the interface will likely benefit from the depth and granularity of tags and categories.

To be fair, this complaint is not exactly a massive one, but that’s the point. YouTube TV works great for those who are on top of the service and know what they are doing and/or want to watch with the option to really focus in on content. For others, the design might prove overwhelming, and this is especially true for younger and older viewers.

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Channels and live TV content

Channels have become quite the YouTube TV hot topic of late, which makes this section s lot harder to review equally for everyone. Officially, YouTube TV provides access to more than 85 channels. While not to the same level as traditional cable and satellite, the selection is likely to cater to most subscribers. Many of the channels and networks consumers view as important are included. In this respect, it offers a better overall channel lineup than many other services right now.

YouTube TV channels
Popular YouTube TV channels

Recently, YouTube TV greatly expanded its sports coverage through the inclusion of NFL Network in the base package. This is in addition to the Sports Plus add-on which provides even more sports content, including NFL RedZone. Along with this expansion came improvements to the sports streaming experience in general, with key plays and many in-game features easily accessible through the interface. For sports fans specifically, YouTube TV’s channel selection and features make it a great option

YouTube TV sports features
YouTube TV key plays

However, as existing YouTube TV subscribers know well, that’s not quite the whole story, due to local channels and sports. YouTube TV currently doesn’t include any Sinclair-owned channels, such as Tennis Channel and and some Fox RSNs. If access to locals and regional sports networks is important, then YouTube TV might not be the right service.

YouTube TV on demand content

One of the consistent key elements of YouTube TV has been an emphasis on a rich product and that extends to the on demand section. YouTube TV offers plenty of non-live content to watch and the interface does a good job of making these accessible on the Home screen. Whether it’s individual show episodes, entire seasons, or movies, there’s plenty to choose from.

YouTube TV movies
YouTube TV on demand movies

In addition, YouTube TV comes with fairly decent TV everywhere support, allowing subscribers to sign in to third-party network apps using their YouTube TV credentials. This option can be a great way to expand the amount of on demand content that’s available with a subscription.

For times when the on demand and third-party app content is not quite enough, YouTube TV does also provide an option to choose from a selection of premium networks. These can be added to a subscription for an additional monthly cost and include popular options, such as HBO Max and Starz. Although adding a premium network does not necessarily make it any cheaper, some of the main benefits include the single interface for both services and the lack of a need to sign up (and pay) for the additional network separately.

Overall, YouTube TV is not short on content. Along with the wide selection of channels, subscribers have access to plenty of on demand content, premium networks (if they’re willing to pay more each month) and access to third-party network apps.

Cloud DVR and recordings

YouTube TV’s cloud DVD is great. First off, it is unlimited so subscribers are free to record as much as they want and as often as they want. Those who want to record every NFL or Premier League game, or every episode of all of their favorite TV shows, can. What’s more, the cloud DVR is not only unlimited, but also personal.

YouTube TV allows an account holder to share a subscription with up to five other people. Each of them get their own account and are granted the same unlimited recordings benefit. Therefore, not only can up to six people record as much as they want, but what one person records does not impact on the DVR of others. As each account is treated like its own subscription, YouTube TV is all the more valuable to larger and busier households.

YouTube TV recordings
YouTube TV cloud DVR recordings

That said, the cloud DVR is not without its issues. The major one is that most recordings only stay recorded for nine months. While subscribers are free to record as much as they want, unless they have the time to watch all those recordings, then they will find many of their saved episodes and movies are deleted.

The unlimited nature of the cloud DVR also comes with some additional and annoying side effects. The most obvious is that, as subscribers have no need to delete recordings, YouTube TV does not provide the option to delete. Instead, subscribers will find that they cannot manually delete and clean up their recordings library. They simply have to just wait until the time has elapsed and YouTube TV gets around to removing them automatically.

To be clear, there is an option to remove a program from the library, but this simply means that new recording of that program will not be made. The videos already recorded continue to remain available until their expiry date.

YouTube TV price and value

YouTube TV started off at $35 per month and since those early days the channel lineup has expanded considerably. At the same time, the price has almost doubled with a subscription currently costing $65 per month. As a result, this is not simply a matter of the service continually offering more value. Pretty much every batch of added channels can be directly linked to a prior price increase.

YouTube TV Price increase
YouTube TV price increases history

To some, that’s likely to be fine as they are getting more content, even if they are also paying more each month. For others, it does raise the question of when will YouTube TV come to the conclusion that there are enough channels? YouTube TV has expressed interest in launching a cheaper plan, although it remains to be seen when that will arrive or what it will look like when it does become available.

Sling TV launched at just $20 per month. In spite of being a much older service than YouTube TV, and also encountering multiple price increases over the years, Sling TV currently costs $35 per month. Even at almost twice the price of Sling TV, there’s always going to be the fear that the next YouTube TV price increase is just around the corner, even if it does result in more channels as well.

Yes, Sling TV has not gained the same number of channels and does not offer the same benefits to begin with, but the service also provides so many upgrade options that a subscriber can create a package that’s relatively similar to what YouTube TV offers. Therein lies YouTube TV’s main value problem. As it currently stands, YouTube TV is worth the $65 per month, but without any options to lower the price, it is not going to be a live TV service that suits everyone.

For those that can afford, or want to pay $65 per month, YouTube TV offers a solid product, a fairly reliable experience, and features that do add value. For those that have abandoned cable for streaming and want to save as much as possible, it is worth considering some of the other options.

YouTube TV review summary

At $65 per month, YouTube TV is a great option for live TV streaming. It offers a wide selection of channels, a (mostly) great cloud DVR product, and an interface that’s almost purpose-built for streamers. However, it is not without problems in the channels, DVR, and interface departments. How many of those issues matter, along with how much an individual is happy to pay, will likely determine whether this is the right service for them.

In reality, those that just want access to certain channels, YouTube TV might not the best option. Sling TV and Philo are both much cheaper services and if they have enough of the channels a consumer is looking for, then they’ll likely be a better choice. For anyone looking for a rich and robust alternative to cable or satellite (and looking to avoid going the AT&T route), then YouTube TV is probably the best live TV streaming service around right now.

YouTube TV additional info

For those new to streaming, there are some additional points to be aware of before signing up to YouTube TV. Many of these issues not only apply to YouTube TV, but live TV streaming in general. However, to ensure the best experience possible, consumers will want to make sure the rest of their existing setup is as optimized as possible for YouTube TV.

As YouTube TV is a service that delivers live TV channels and content over the internet, ensuring the quality of the internet connection is good enough is important. Officially, YouTube TV suggests a 13 Mbps speed for the most reliable connection.

YouTube TV minimum internet speeds:

SpeedWhat to expect
3Mbps+standard definition (SD) video streaming
7Mbps+HD video streaming on one device at a time
13Mbps+HD video streaming on multiple devices at the same time

In addition to the internet speed, consumers will want to make sure they have a device that’s compatible with YouTube TV. Technically, YouTube TV is a better device-supported service than others, but there are still going to be occasions when consumers find they are unable to watch YouTube TV on their preferred devices.

Popular platforms currently supported:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Roku

Read this guide for a full breakdown of YouTube TV’s device support.

Additional resources

The channel selection, price, and general experience are all important aspects when choosing a live TV streaming service, although they are not the only ones to consider. Below is a selection of additional resources that may help when deciding whether YouTube TV is the right live TV streaming service for you.

Read more YouTube TV:

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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

5 replies on “YouTube TV Review: Worth $65, But It’s Not Perfect”

I am 74 years young! Disabled!
Fixed income! I want live sports and local channels!
What is my best options PLEASE!

I am being charged twice a month for the You Tube TV service. I am unable to find a way to contact anyone to help me resolve this issue. Any ideas?

Utube tv has been charging my sons account and mine every month. I have been charged $68.89 from August 2020 to November 2021. How do I get reimbursed and how did you get my payment information? This is fraud and I am 74 years old on a fixed income.

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