YouTube TV review: The best premium live TV streaming service

Sarah Tew/CNET

You’ve most likely heard the saying, “change is the only constant.” It refers to life itself, however it may apply to live TV streaming services too. Prices on the high-end have been vacillating a lot up to now 12 months, for instance, that it has brought on CNET’s Editor’s Choice to alter twice. For a quick interval in 2020 the cheaper Hulu Plus Live TV snatched the title from YouTube TV. Inevitably although, Hulu raised its price to match YouTube TV’s ($65) making Google’s service our favourite higher-end TV service for cord cutters as soon as once more. The cause why it is so good? YouTube TV has essentially the most channels, the best options, and even presents the option of 4K streaming, simply in time for the Olympics!


  • More channels than any competitor, and consists of PBS
  • Superb cloud DVR
  • Excellent on-screen interface and useful search bar

Don’t Like

  • Expensive
  • 4K content material provides $20 to the worth
  • Roku customers must entry by way of YouTube correct

YouTube TV just lately added extra channels equivalent to Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon that means it now presents 79 of the top 100 channels, handily beating Hulu, AT&T TV and Fubo TV. Its channel choice consists of numerous cable staples and all 4 native networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — in most markets nationwide. YouTube TV can also be the one multichannel streaming service with local PBS stations. In brief, you may not even miss cable.

Beyond channels, YouTube TV is straightforward to make use of, slick and speedy on a wide range of TV and cell gadgets. Its cloud DVR is the best within the enterprise, with limitless storage and just about all of the capabilities of a hardware DVR such as TiVo and much more. 

The huge snag is the worth. Especially when you pony up the additional $20 for 4K. For folks used to the myriad channels and simple DVR of cable or satellite tv for pc, YouTube TV’s base bundle is price the additional expense over an entry-level streaming service. For cord cutters who want more savings, nevertheless, Sling TV Blue at $35 a month continues to be fairly nice and particularly suited to folks on tighter budgets.

What do you get?

YouTube TV is totally different from YouTube, the free video service with more than 2 billion users a month. YouTube TV presents an expertise just like cable TV, with live channels and on-demand content material obtainable on a wide range of gadgets. It works with Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, ChromecastAmazon Fire TV together with quite a few smart TVsphones, tablets and net browsers. 

The service operates in a lot the identical method as rivals — there is a program information, a DVR and dozens of channels. But what actually separates YouTube TV from different premium ($60-plus a month) providers equivalent to AT&T TV, Hulu Plus Live TV and FuboTV? Let’s have a look.

Premium providers in contrast

Premium providers YouTube TV AT&T TV Hulu Plus Live TV FuboTV
Base value $65/month $70/month $65/month $65/month
Total variety of high 100 channels 79 60 71 65
ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels Yes Yes Yes Yes
Record reveals for later (cloud DVR) Yes (preserve for 9 months) Yes (20 hours, limitless hours for $10/mo.) Yes (50 hours, 200 hours plus business skip for $10/mo.) Yes (250 hours)
Step-up packages with extra channels No ($20 for 4K solely)  Yes Yes Yes
Simultaneous streams per account 3 20  2 ($10 possibility for limitless) 3

YouTube TV’s channel choice is great, with extra from our list of 100 top channels than another competitor. That stated, extra channels would not essentially imply extra of what you need: Some providers equivalent to FuboTV lean closely on sports activities whereas others are more and more wide-ranging. It’s best to test the listing on the finish of this text, which compares particular person channels throughout providers, to ensure you’re getting the channels you need.

Previously, YouTube TV did not provide any add-on channel packages, as a substitute counting on a handful of single-channel add-ons like Showtime, Epix, HBO and HBO Max. The service now consists of the $20 4K Plus improve which presents a number of advantages together with 4K sports activities just like the Olympics and MLB plus on-demand content material. It additionally ups the variety of simultaneous streams to limitless, which is nice for soccer groups or one thing. I have not had an opportunity to check 4K Plus but so it is laborious to say if it is definitely worth the cash or not, however I’m hesitant about it. Especially since FuboTV consists of 4K for no additional change.

Another couple of different modifications got here with the 4K Plus replace together with 5.1 encompass to all subscribers — most rivals solely embody stereo sound.  The different is that DVR recordings can now be looked for particular sports activities which might be useful for occasions like the large seize bag of the Summer Olympics.

What’s it like to make use of?

YouTube TV’s consumer interface is pretty easy. There are three top-level tabs damaged into Library, Home and Live. Library is the place your DVR content material lives. Home is the place each featured and live thumbnails seem. The Live tab is a familiar-looking program grid which shows presently taking part in and upcoming reveals. You can seek for content material from the highest of any web page, which makes it comparatively straightforward to leap straight to the programming you need. You also can carry out searches with a appropriate voice distant or Google Assistant. While that is simpler when you have an Android TV streamer you may also carry out searches in your Google Home and play it on a Roku.

Be conscious that Roku and Google are currently in negotiations, and new Roku customers might want to entry YouTube TV from the YouTube app, which is slightly clunky. People who’ve the YouTube TV app preloaded or utilizing different platforms like Fire TV are unaffected. 


You can hook up with YouTube to look at associated clips.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The service’s tie-in to YouTube correct is welcome — with YouTube originals included within the TV app — although it could possibly be extra tightly built-in, particularly on TV gadgets. For instance, a content material web page seems once you press the Go To button on a present, and a Related on YouTube merchandise seems on the backside. It could be useful to have thumbnails of associated interviews and trailers seem extra prominently on this web page with out having to delve into menus.

The DVR works properly and consists of the flexibility to rewind and fast-forward freely by means of recordings, even ones that are not but accomplished. The Roku interface presents a 15-second skip by default whereas the Apple TV’s management system is even higher. You can use the contact pad to scroll by means of movies — and it is superb! It’s a lot enjoyable and the looks of thumbnails make it comparatively straightforward to get to the half you need.


The DVR lets you fast-forward and rewind, whereas Apple TV lets you scrub by means of the timeline.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In the previous, when a present appeared in a community’s on-demand library, it could robotically substitute the model in your cloud DVR. That means you’d lose the flexibility to fast-forward by means of commercials. YouTube TV says it got rid of that restriction in October 2018, however some CNET readers have complained that it nonetheless happens at instances. Additionally, YouTube TV’s DVR is just not actually limitless. The reveals will expire after 9 months, however that is nonetheless lots longer than the 30 days you get with most rivals.

YouTube TV will not prevent as a lot cash

When it solely price $50 YouTube TV was very enticing, however because the service has added extra channels it has additionally added additional prices. When you add that $65 month-to-month payment to the $50 you are already paying for web, it means you are paying over $110 a month. Many cable TV suppliers provides you with a TV-and-internet bundle for across the identical cash.

Prices fluctuate lots, after all, and with cable you most likely should pay rental gear charges, taxes and different extras. And cable suppliers often reserve the best bundle pricing for individuals who signal a contract. The identical goes for brand spanking new “streaming” choices equivalent to Comcast’s Infinity Flex.

Like Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and others, YouTube TV is contract-free, so you may cancel at any time. Streaming providers additionally produce other benefits over cable. They’re simpler to look at on telephones and tablets, for instance. At $65 monthly, nevertheless, you may should be coming from a comparatively costly cable invoice to understand substantial financial savings with YouTube TV. 


The service comes with a complete program information.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Should you get YouTube TV?

If value isn’t any object, YouTube TV is my favourite live streaming service, with an entire swathe of leisure choices and one of many best DVR and search combos in the marketplace. It presents extra channels than anybody else and the inclusion of 5.1 encompass is nice for sports activities and film followers alikeIf you do not need to be beholden to a standard cable firm it is an amazing various. 

That stated, $65 a month could possibly be robust for some folks, however with no contract to fret about you might be free to leap ship to a greater deal at any time. If you are a hardcore wire cutter and decided to economize, Sling TV Blue presents a compelling various particularly when paired with an antenna or an AirTV 2

Below you may discover a comparability of the highest 100 channels provided by just a few of YouTube TV’s rivals. For extra info and comparisons with further providers, check out the full article.

Top 100 channels in contrast

Channel Sling Blue ($35) Fubo TV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($65) YouTube TV ($65) AT&T TV ($70)
Total channels: 38 65 71 79 60
ABC No Yes Yes Yes Yes
CBS No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
PBS No No No Yes No
CW No Yes Yes Yes Yes
MyNetworkTV No No Yes Yes Yes
Channel Sling Blue ($35) Fubo TV ($65) YouTube TV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($65) AT&T TV ($70)
A&E Yes Yes Yes No Yes
ACC Network No $ Yes Yes $
AMC Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Animal Planet No Yes Yes Yes Yes
BBC America Yes Yes No Yes Yes
BBC World News $ $ No Yes $
BET Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Big Ten Network $ Yes Yes Yes $
Bloomberg TV Yes No Yes No Yes
Boomerang $ No Yes No Yes
Bravo Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Channel Sling Blue ($35) Fubo TV ($65) YouTube TV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($65) AT&T TV ($70)
Cartoon Network Yes No Yes Yes Yes
CBS Sports Network No Yes Yes Yes $
Cheddar Yes Yes Yes Yes $
Cinemax No No $ $ $
CMT $ Yes No Yes Yes
CNBC $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
CNN Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cooking Channel $ $ $ No $
Destination America $ $ $ No $
Discovery Channel Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney Channel No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney Junior No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disney XD No Yes Yes Yes Yes
DIY $ $ $ No $
E! Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
EPIX $ $ No $ $
ESPN No Yes Yes Yes Yes
ESPN 2 No Yes Yes Yes Yes
ESPNEWS No $ Yes Yes $
ESPNU No $ Yes Yes $
Channel Sling Blue ($35) Fubo TV ($65) YouTube TV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($65) AT&T TV ($70)
Food Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Business $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox News Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Sports 1 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Sports 2 $ Yes Yes Yes $
Freeform No Yes Yes Yes Yes
FX Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FX Movies $ $ Yes Yes $
FXX $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
FYI $ Yes Yes No $
Golf Channel $ Yes Yes Yes $
Hallmark $ Yes No No Yes
HBO/HBO Max No No $ $ $
HGTV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
History Yes Yes Yes No Yes
HLN Yes No Yes Yes Yes
IFC Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Investigation Discovery Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lifetime Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Lifetime Movie Network $ Yes Yes No $
Channel Sling Blue ($35) Fubo TV ($65) YouTube TV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($65) AT&T TV ($70)
MLB Network $ $ No Yes $
Motor Trend No Yes Yes Yes Yes
MSNBC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV2 $ $ No Yes Yes
National Geographic Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nat Geo Wild $ $ Yes Yes $
NBA TV $ $ No Yes $
NBC Sports Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Newsy Yes $ No Yes No
NFL Network Yes Yes No Yes No
NFL Red Zone $ $ No $ No
NHL Network $ $ No No $
Nickelodeon No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nick Jr. Yes Yes Yes Yes $
Nicktoons $ $ No Yes $
Olympic Channel $ Yes Yes Yes $
OWN No Yes No Yes $
Oxygen $ Yes Yes Yes $
Paramount Network $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Channel Sling Blue ($35) Fubo TV ($65) YouTube TV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($65) AT&T TV ($70)
Science $ $ $ No $
SEC Network No $ Yes Yes $
Showtime $ $ $ $ $
Smithsonian No Yes Yes Yes $
Starz $ $ $ $ $
Sundance TV $ Yes No Yes Yes
Syfy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tastemade $ Yes No Yes $
TBS Yes No Yes Yes Yes
TCM $ No Yes Yes Yes
Telemundo No Yes Yes Yes $
Tennis Channel $ $ No No $
TLC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
TNT Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Travel Channel Yes Yes Yes Yes $
TruTV Yes No Yes Yes Yes
TV Land $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
USA Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
VH1 $ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vice Yes Yes Yes No Yes
WE television $ Yes No Yes Yes
Channel Sling Blue ($35) Fubo TV ($65) YouTube TV ($65) Hulu with Live TV ($65) AT&T TV ($70)

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