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YouTube TV: How Many Devices & Streams at the Same Time?

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Updated: June 28th, 2021 at 07:56 pm

YouTube TV subscribers can stream on up to three devices at the same time. This is irrespective of whether watching live TV or recorded content. Although YouTube TV allows up to six household members to share a single subscription, the number of simultaneous streams is not affected by the number of users. Whether one or six accounts are linked to a YouTube TV membership, there are still only three same-time streams available. However, there is the option to upgrade to more simultaneous streams through the 4K Plus add-on.

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The number of streams a service like YouTube TV offers can directly impact the overall experience, and almost as much as the channels or even the price. After all, if everyone in a busy household expects to be able to watch live TV when they want, and on the devices they want, then they might find streaming services are not quite as helpful as they first thought.

Understanding just how many streams YouTube TV offers before signing up can go a long way to making sure the streaming service is actually the right one for your individual or household’s live TV needs.

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Three YouTube TV streams at once

YouTube TV provides subscribers with a maximum of three streams at the same time. This is irrespective of the device being used, so it does not matter whether the channels are being streamed on a computer, smartphone, or living room device. YouTube TV treats all devices equally and this is also irrespective of whether the three devices are connected to the same home network or not.

This device limitation can become a real issue for busier households or for those individuals who share a YouTube TV subscription with family or friends. While the option to share a single monthly payment with others is a major selling point for YouTube TV, accounts and streams are not the same thing, and don’t have a direct effect on each other.

TV family account
YouTube TV accounts unrelated to number of streams

Yes, each time someone connects to YouTube TV, the number of streams is reduced. However, one person alone could eat up most or all of the streams by watching on different devices. For example, sports on a smartphone while watching something else on a smart TV. Therefore, streams are not directly linked to the number of people sharing an account. By the same token, this also means that, if six people are sharing the same YouTube TV subscription, the number of streams does not automatically increase or adjust to match the number of users.

Adding more streams with 4K Plus

While all services tend to place a cap on how many streams they offer, some are willing to negotiate more than others. For example, some services allow subscribers to pay more each month and get access to additional streams. YouTube TV is now one of those services.

In June of 2021, YouTube TV launched a new 4K Plus add-on priced at $20 per month (on top of the current subscription price). The 4K Plus add-on not only adds 4K playback and the ability to download videos for offline viewing, but it also increases the number of simultaneous streams to unlimited. However, there is a major caveat here, and that’s the additional streams are only available when connected to the home network.

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To be clear, paying an extra $20 per month will allow a YouTube TV account to be streamed on as many devices as needed when at home. However, and regardless of how many streams are being used in the home at the time, the limit for streaming YouTube TV when away from home remains at three.

YouTube TV streams and DVR recordings

Besides the ability to share an account with others, another major streaming service benefit is the option to record content to a cloud DVR. In fact, this is one of the primary benefits of YouTube TV specifically, considering it offers the best cloud DVR experience overall.

YouTube TV not only provides unlimited cloud DVR, but it is also customized to each account member, with each receiving their own unlimited recording space. Furthermore, this really is unlimited, in the sense that each account can record as much as they want and as often as they way.

However, that generosity is only with recording videos as when it comes to playing back those same recordings, YouTube TV’s leniency disappears. From YouTube TV’s perspective, it makes no difference whether an account is streaming live TV or recorded content. As they are streaming in both instances, they are using up a stream. Therefore, watching recorded content also impacts on the number of simultaneous streams available at the time.

YouTube TV simultaneous streams summary

YouTube TV subscribers can watch on up to three devices at the same time, regardless of how many people share an account, and whether accessing the live TV streaming service at home or away from home. This is also irrespective of the device being used to stream.

For individuals or households that require more than three streams at one, there is the option of upgrading a YouTube TV package with the 4K Plus add-on. Priced at $20 per month, this add-on increases the number of at-home streams to unlimited. When streaming YouTube TV away from home, the number of available streams is three, even if subscribed to 4K Plus.

If the number of streams is still not enough, consumers may find that YouTube TV is simply not the right live TV streaming service for them. However, they also might find that switching to another live TV service does not necessarily improve the situation much, considering the others also place a cap on how many devices can stream at the same time.

Read more: How to Manage a YouTube TV Subscription & Make Changes

Updated: June, 2021

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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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