(Pocket-lint) - Google officially made its entry into the streaming of live TV, with the launch of YouTube TV, way back in 2017. The concept was simple: pay a fixed monthly price and get access to live streaming cable.
The service lets you access live and recorded content from all the major networks typically found on cable. It is available alongside YouTube's existing content, and it works on practically every screen - and without a contract, too. Here's what 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?
There are more than 85 channels available on YouTube TV. The list 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 Hulu, both of which offer access to live TV from major networks, cable players, and sports networks. But there are some holes - like Viacom, Discovery, and A&E.
You can see the lineup above. The list even includes AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, WE TV, TBS, TNT, CNN, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, NBA TV, and MLB Network.
Are there any add-ons available?
Yes. There are quite a few add-on packages you can buy:
- Acorn ($6)
- ALLBLK ($5)
- AMC + ($7)
- Cinemax ($10)
- CuriosityStream ($3)
- EPIX ($6)
- Hallmark Movies Now ($6)
- HBO ($15)
- HBO Max ($15)
- IFC Films Unlimited ($6)
- MLB.TV ($25 a month, or $130 for the season)
- Showtime ($11)
- Shudder ($6)
- Sports Plus ($10.99)
- STARZ ($9)
- Sundance Now ($7)
- Urban Movie Channel ($5)
- WE tv+ ($6)
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's mobile app works on both Android and iOS. With it, 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 works with Google Home, too, allowing you to ask Home to play a show on your Chromecast. And finally, there's the YouTube TV app for actual big-screen TVs.
How does YouTube TV mobile app work?
YouTube TV app
You can access YouTube TV from the new YouTube TV app for Android and iOS (or from the web on your computer). 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.
Can you watch YouTube TV from other devices?
Google has launched the YouTube TV app for most smart TVs and devices, including sets from LG, Samsung, and Sony. The YouTube TV app is also available for the Xbox One family (Xbox One, Xbox One S, and soon, Xbox One X), Roku and Apple TV. You can check the full list of devices from here.
Is this different from YouTube Premium?
YouTube TV is a separate product from YouTube Premium, a service Google launched in 2015 (originally as YouTube Red) as a way to give you an ad-free YouTube experience. YouTube Premium does feature some original programming. But, with a YouTube TV membership, you can watch YouTube Premium Original series and movies via the new YouTube TV app. Unfortunately, you don't get ad-free YouTube with YouTube TV.
You can learn more about YouTube Premium from Pocket-lint's guide.
When will YouTube TV be available?
The YouTube TV app for mobile devices, streaming media players, and set-top boxes is now available.
Where is YouTube TV available?
While it was limited at launch, the service is now available to 99.5 per cent of US households. So if you live in mainland US, there's a very good chance you'll be able to get it.
You can see the full list of available locations from here.
How much does YouTube TV cost?
YouTube TV costs customers $64.99 a month with no contract. That means you can cancel at any time. Google said up to six users can access content when they want - and they each have access to their own recommendations and personal cloud DVR storage.
The service originally had a $35-per-month cost, but pricing has been increased a couple of times since, alongside the addition of new channels.
Want to know more?
Visit tv.youtube.com learn more about YouTube TV.