It's been long rumoured that Google will use YouTube to introduce a live TV service. The company has now confirmed those suspicions.
Google officially launched its entry into the streaming of live TV, with YouTube TV. It lets you access live and recorded content from major networks typically found on cable. It is available alongside YouTube's existing content, and it works on practically every screen you can watch YouTube on, but it only costs $35 a month without a contract. Here's everything you need to know about it.
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What is YouTube TV?
When people watch TV, they tune into live sports, breaking news, sitcoms, dramas, and a number of other different types of programmes. Although there is a tonne of content to choose from, there are limitations to how you can watch it. You simply can't watch TV when you want and on any screen without a contract. And you certainly don't always have access to fancy TV features such as DVR.
YouTube TV is attempting to change that. It is described as "live TV designed for the YouTube generation - those who want to watch what they want, when they want, how they want, without commitments."
What channels are on YouTube TV?
Google said the initial lineup of "more than 40 networks" includes CBS, Fox, NBC, and CBS, as well as cable players USA and FX. There's a total of 10 sports networks available, including ESPN, Fox Sports, and NBCSN. Local affiliates will also be included, so you can watch news from the same channels you'd normally get over the air. You can even add Showtime for an additional price.
It's safe to say YouTube TV directly competes with existing services such as Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, both of which offer access to live TV from major networks, cable players, and sports networks. But there are some holes - like Viacom, Discovery, A&E, AMC, and Turner (with TBS and TNT). Sony's $35 plan for PlayStation Vue offers many of these networks and more, such as CNN.
You can see the channel lineup above. Note that YouTube TV added several other channels in May 2017, including AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, and WE TV. There's also a couple add-on packages you can buy: Showtime ($11/month) and Fox Soccer Plus ($15/ month).
What does YouTube TV feature?
Unlimited cloud DVR storage
Apart from live TV from major networks, YouTube TV includes unlimited cloud DVR storage. With that feature, you can even add a show or sports team to your favourites, and it'll automatically save them for you. Your cloud DVR records as many shows as you want, simultaneously, without using data or space on your phone (though you can stream recordings from any device at any time).
Google said it stores each of your recordings for nine months. And, yes, you can fast forward or rewind DVR content, so you can quickly pass right over all those annoying commercials.
Available across all your screens
YouTube TV works on both Android and iOS. That means you can watch YouTube TV on your phone, tablet, or computer. You can also stream to your TV with a Google Chromecast or Chromecast built-in TV. YouTube TV will even eventually work with Google Home, too, allowing you to ask Home to play a show on your Chromecast. Google said it'll "just work," according to Engadget.
How does YouTube TV work?
YouTube TV app
Now that YouTube TV has launched, you can access it from the new YouTube TV app for Android and iOS or from the web on your computer. Other devices (like Apple TV, Roku, the PS4, and Xbox One) don't have access to the new YouTube TV app at launch. However, the mobile app has a "cast" button available at the top throughout, so you can throw a video to your Chromecast or a compatible TV.
The mobile app features just three main screens: live, library and home. But it also has universal search (located at the top; can be accessed from most screens), allowing you to search for content by genre, network, and categories. You can search for something like "dogs" and get a list of programmes that feature dogs. If you choose to search a series, you will see a page with all the episodes.
Live shows what is currently being broadcasted by networks, with live previews of what's on each channel. Just tap to start playing. To record something to watch later, you can tap a plus icon on the preview. When watching in portrait mode, you'll see recommendations at the bottom, or you can flip the phone to landscape to enter full screen.
It's worth noting that because of Verizon's deal with the NFL, you can't watch NFL games on your phone. You'll be able to stream them on the desktop or a TV, but not on your mobile device.
Library shows everything you've recorded and everything scheduled to be recorded on your DVR.
Home is kind of like what you see on YouTube. It'll show what you've watched recently, as well as recommendations based on what you've watched so far, and you'll see things you may have stopped and might want to continue playing.
Google told Engadget that you can contact customer service through the YouTube TV app any time, either via text chat or voice chat.
Is this different from YouTube Red?
This is a separate product from YouTube Red, a service Google launched in 2015 as a way to give you an ad-free YouTube experience. YouTube Red does feature some original programming, but with a YouTube TV membership, you can watch YouTube Red Original series and movies via the new YouTube TV app. But, unfortunately, you won't get the full ad-free YouTube experience.
You can learn more about YouTube Red from Pocket-lint's guide.
When will YouTube TV be available?
The YouTube TV app is now available.
Where is YouTube TV available?
At launch, YouTube TV is only be available to customers in the US. It is limited to "the largest US markets" but will quickly expand to cover more cities across the country, Google said.
How much does YouTube TV cost?
YouTube TV costs customers $35 a month with no contract. You can cancel at any time. Up to six users can access content when they want - and they each have access to their own recommendations and personal cloud DVR storage.
Note: It’s $35 per month, but signing up from an iPhone or iPad makes the monthly bill jump up to $39.99 (plus taxes and fees). If you sign up from Android or the web, it’s $35 (plus taxes and fees).
Want to know more?
Visit tv.youtube.com learn more about YouTube TV and when it will launch in your market.