YouTube is new to the television streaming game but the company is already adding seven new networks—AMC, BBC America, Sundance TV, Telemundo, Universo, We TV and IFC—to their basic $35/month package. So you can now get more for your money when you subscribe to YouTube TV—but there are some limitations to know about before deciding if it’s the right service for you.
It’s not available for everyone yet
The biggest drawback of the TV service provided by YouTube is that it’s not available for all users in the country.
Currently, YouTube TV has launched in five metro areas: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area. While there are plans to expand, thus far only people living in those five areas can subscribe to the service. If you’re around those hubs, you can always get your location checked out to see if you qualify.
Aside from initial geographic restraint, once you’re signed up YouTube TV it’s accessible from everywhere in the country courtesy of its remote DVR (more on that below). You can watch local networks in areas where the service has launched — so you can get local coverage from New York or Chicago but can’t view live local networks from a city where the service had not made its debut.
You’ll still have to subscribe to some content separately
With platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime producing high-quality fan-favorite original content, you’ll still need to subscribe to these streaming services separately to access their respective content. The same applies to premium cable content like HBO and Showtime — the latter can be added on YouTube TV for $11/month. This is an additional cost that should be factored in when deciding the right combination of entertainment packages.
Channels that come with YouTube TV’s basic package
A subscription to YouTube TV comes with the following channels, aside from the seven new aforementioned networks:
How does it compare to other à la carte services?
YouTube TV can be compared to streaming TV services like Sling and DirecTV Now. When it comes to price, YouTube TV falls somewhere in the middle—more expensive than Sling but cheaper than DirecTV.
Sling — Sling’s basic package (Sling Orange) is $20/month. But Sling only has 30 channels, which is 16 less than what YouTube TV currently offers. Some channels offered by Sling that are not available on YouTube TV are: Viceland, Bloomberg Television, Travel Channel, AXS TV, Flama, Cartoon Network and Comedy Central.
DirecTV — DirecTV’s cheapest package (DirecTV Select) is $50/month plus taxes. The steeper price also comes with more channels: the service offers 150 channels, which can be worth the money for a household with higher television consumption and diverse preferences.
If you weigh the value of every channel the same, then the “per channel cost” for Sling, DirecTV and YouTube TV are roughly $0.66, $0.33, and $0.73, respectively. A simplified breakdown would suggest DirecTV is the best bang for your buck.
But ultimately the value of each channel varies based on what you want to watch. Plus, YouTube TV offers something its competitors don’t that may be worth the splurge, depending on your viewing habits.
YouTube TV offers unlimited downloads
What really separates YouTube TV from its competitors is the unlimited cloud DVR storage. This means you can record any program that airs on YouTube TV, without any kind of data cap—live TV recordings can be saved for up to nine months—and for no extra added cost. YouTube TV also allows for simultaneous recordings so multiple channels can be recorded at the same time.
Other services have a data cap and some even charge an additional fee on top of the subscription fee. Sling TV, for instance, offers 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage to subscribers who use specific Sling TV-supported gadgets. DirecTV is compatible with 8 receivers and charges a DVR service fee of $6 a month for 50 hours of HD programming or up to 200 hours of SD programming.
And if you’re traveling anywhere within the country, you can watch any content saved to your YouTube TV DVR account.
What’s the best option out there?
This ultimately depends on you: budget, channel and content preferences, and DVR habits are all variables that factor in when selecting the right plan. If you don’t use DVR services, you may not need YouTube TV’s unlimited download feature. If you devotedly watch two cable channels, you might be better off independently subscribing to those channels if available — AMC, for example, is slated to come out with its own subscription plan.
But if you’re one to record shows and movies to watch later, YouTube TV offers the most flexibility. Not only is this option included in the basic package—no extra fees!—but the “all-you-can-download” approach can make your life easier by letting you save all the media you intend to view and consume it at your leisure.