|✔ Delightful interface and navigation ✔ Unlimited DVR storage ✔ Three simultaneous streams ✔ Solid option for sports fans||✘ Missing A&E, History, Comedy Central, Lifetime, Nick and NFL Network||Other streaming services have better channel lineups, but YouTube TV closes the gap with its outstanding user experience.|
YouTube TV review: Channels, price & everything you need to know
- Only one plan: $50/mo. with no long-term contracts or equipment
- Requires at least 3 Mbps download speeds
- Great option for sports fans
YouTube TV channel selection
If you’re looking for a live TV streaming service that will replicate the breadth of a traditional cable or satellite package, YouTube TV has one of the largest and most well-rounded selections around.
|Locals||ABC CBS Fox NBC PBS The CW|
|Sports||ESPN ESPN2 FS1 NBC Sports MLB Network Big Ten Network SEC Network Golf Channel Tennis Channel Motortrend|
|Comedy||TBS Cartoon Network FXX IFC|
|Drama||FX TNT USA SyFy BBC America|
|Movies||AMC TCM Sundance TV|
|News||CNN Fox News MSNBC CNBC BBC World News Fox Business HLN|
|Family||Disney Channel Freeform Disney Jr. Universal Kids|
|Nature||Discovery Channel Animal Planet National Geographic|
|Lifestyle||Food Network TLC HGTV Bravo E! Travel Channel We TV OWN|
|True Crime||TruTV Investigation Discovery Oxygen|
You can find a complete channel listing for your area by entering your ZIP code on YouTube TV’s home page.
What channels is YouTube TV missing?
Unfortunately, YouTube TV is missing a number of popular channels.
Out of the top 25 channels that consumers said they wanted the most in a TV package, YouTube TV only has 17. That’s a fairly standard number for live TV streaming services — more on how it compares below — but chances are YouTube TV is missing a few channels you’ll want.
Here are some of the most popular channels YouTube TV is missing:
- Comedy Central
- Cooking Channel
- Hallmark Channel
- Music Choice
- NFL Network
- Nick Jr.
- Paramount Network
- TV Land
- Weather Channel
YouTube TV vs. other live TV streaming services
In terms of the number of sought-after channels it offers, YouTube TV is fairly middle of the road. It has a better channel selection than Sling and AT&T TV Now, but worse than AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV and fuboTV.
To evaluate each service’s channel offerings, we used TiVo’s quarterly Video Trends Report, which asked 3,330 respondents, “Which channels would you be interested in including in your TV package?” The more people wanted a channel included, the higher it ranked. Here’s how YouTube TV compares to its competition:
Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. As of 01/31/20.
Of course, it all depends on which channels are most important to you. Most live TV streaming services share many of the same channels, with a few key differences. Would you rather have ESPN and Disney Channel or A&E and History? Do you need the local channels or do you have a TV antenna or Locast for those?
Here’s how some of the most popular channels compare across the major streaming services:
|YouTube TV||Hulu + Live TV||Sling Orange + Blue||AT&T TV NOW||fuboTV||AT&T TV|
|Fox NBC TNT TBS USA SyFy Cartoon Network CNN||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Discovery Food Network TLC HGTV||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|A&E History Lifetime||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|ESPN FX Disney Channel Nat Geo Freeform||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
Is YouTube TV good for sports?
For the most part, YouTube TV is a great option for U.S. sports fans. There are a couple notable exceptions — primarily the NFL Network and NHL Network — but it generally has more sports channels than most cable and satellite packages.
Here are all the channels that air nationally televised games from each of the major leagues in the U.S.:
|League||What it has||What it’s missing|
|NFL||ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS||NFL Network|
|MLB||ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1, TBS, MLB Network|
|NBA||ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV|
|NHL||NBC, NBC Sports, USA, CNBC||NHL Network|
|NCAA Football||ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox, ABC, CBS, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, SEC Network||Pac-12 Network|
Of course, your local team’s games are a slightly different story, but YouTube TV excels here as well. MLB, NBA and NHL games air locally on regional sports networks (RSNs), and YouTube TV has more of them than any other service. It includes all of the RSNs for Fox Sports and NBC Sports, plus NESN for Boston fans and YES and SNY for New York.
YouTube TV does not have Spectrum SportsNet, which covers the Los Angeles Lakers, but that channel’s not available on any live TV streaming service. It’s also missing the MSG Network, which airs games for the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and New York Red Bulls. If this is a must-have for you, AT&T TV NOW and fuboTV are currently the only services that carry MSG Network.
Plenty of available add-ons
Like most live TV streaming services, YouTube TV lets you customize your plan by adding on premium channels to its $50/mo. base plan:
- Showtime: $7/mo.
- Starz: $9/mo.
- Curiosity Stream: $3/mo.
- Fox Soccer Plus: $15/mo.
- AMC Premiere: $5/mo.
- Shudder: $6/mo.
- Sundance Now: $7/mo.
- EPIX: $6/mo.
- NBA League Pass: $40/mo.
One of these actually represents a better price than you’ll find elsewhere. Showtime costs $11/mo. when you purchase it separately compared to only $7/mo. through YouTube TV. The rest are the same price you’d pay if you’d gone directly from the provider.
Will YouTube TV actually save you money?
It depends. Unlike with Sling TV ($30/mo.) or Philo ($20/mo.), YouTube TV’s $50 monthly bill probably won’t shave much off of your TV spending. Because most cable providers offer a hefty discount when you bundle with internet service, you might actually pay more for a combination of internet and YouTube TV. Here’s how YouTube TV compares to a few common TV packages.
|YouTube TV||Sling Orange||XFINITY (Starter Pro Double Play)||Spectrum (TV Select + Internet)||AT&T Internet + DIRECTV|
|Monthly TV + internet cost||$50 (TV) + $60* (internet)||$30 (TV) + $60* (internet)||$90||$90||$75 year one, $121 year two|
|Installation fee||None||None||Up to $60||Up to $200||Up to $99|
|Equipment rental fee||None||None||$13/mo.||$5/mo.||None|
|Contract length||One month||One month||One year||One year||Two years|
|Number of channels||91||33||140+||125+||155+|
|Estimated year one costs||$1,320||$1,080||$1,296||$1,340||$999 ($1,452 year two)|
Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. As of 11/21/19.
*Average price of broadband internet in U.S.
That’s not to say YouTube TV isn’t worth paying a little more for. It might have a better channel selection than your traditional TV provider, and it has a number of perks like unlimited DVR storage, three simultaneous streams and easy-to-use mobile apps that you won’t find through cable or satellite TV. But if you’re strictly looking to save money while hanging on to live TV, skinny bundles like Sling, Philo and AT&T Watch TV are all better bets for $15-$30/mo.
Best-in-class interface and navigation
Where YouTube TV really shines is its delightful user interface. While most live TV streaming services seem to just copy-paste the look of cable and satellite TV and call it a day, YouTube TV actually takes advantage of the freedom afforded it by streaming.
We tested it out on a Roku Streaming Stick and MacBook Pro. In both cases, YouTube TV was a joy to look at and use. While most streaming services opt for a dark background with light text, YouTube TV’s interface is refreshingly clean, with easy-to-read black lettering over a white background.
Instead of simply showing a logo or still from the program, YouTube TV actually gives you a preview of what’s on at that exact moment. If you see that it’s halftime of the game you want to watch, for instance, you can skip it without actually clicking the channel to check. This sounds like a small detail, but as we used YouTube TV over the course of a week, we were surprised to find how much of a timesaver this actually was.
YouTube TV also employs a traditional guide interface, but again, it makes some upgrades that significantly improved the experience. Like the homepage, it shows you a preview of what’s playing when you rest on a channel with your remote, and you can easily scroll to earlier or later time slots to see what else is on that channel.
We also loved YouTube TV’s search function, which worked better than any other service we tested — not surprising considering this company’s history with videos on the internet. The tags on the homepage were surprisingly useful.
When we clicked “adventure,” it took us to a page with a relevant mix of live and on-demand videos. When we tried searching “adventure” on services like Sling TV, the results were limited to shows and movies that contained the word in their titles, a much less helpful list.
YouTube TV app
YouTube TV is as enjoyable to use as a mobile app as it is on a streaming device. It currently has a stellar 4.0 rating on 32K reviews on the App Store and an even more impressive 4.4 on 72K reviews from Google Play.
This was largely the experience we had, too. The app was simple to sign in to and use, with the same clean interface we appreciated on the streaming device and desktop apps. The mobile app allows you to preview each channel in the same way, too.
On top of its unparalleled design and navigation, YouTube TV is also more generous with its perks than any of its competitors.
Unlimited DVR storage
There’s no limit to the amount of shows and movies you can keep in your YouTube TV DVR. They’ll store for nine months, too, so you don’t have to make any hard TV decisions any time soon. The only other service that offers unlimited DVR storage is Philo.
Three simultaneous streams
YouTube TV also lets you stream on three devices at the same time, a tremendous kindness for families with diverse viewing habits. If you need even more than that, while Sling’s Orange + Blue package is the only service with more streams allowed at four.
YouTube TV FAQs
Which streaming devices work with YouTube TV?
YouTube TV is compatible with every major streaming device, gaming console and smart TV, with one exception: PlayStation 4. But that might be changing soon, as Sony recently pulled the plug on its own live TV streaming service.
Here’s the full list of YouTube TV’s compatible devices:
- Google Chromecast
- Apple TV
- Xbox One
- Android TVs
- Samsung smart TVs (2016 and newer)
- LG smart TVs (2016 and newer)
- Vizio smart TVs (select models)
- Hisense smart TVs (select models)
- Sharp smart TVs (select models)
What internet speed do I need for YouTube TV?
YouTube TV recommends at least 3 Mbps download speeds, but that’s on the low side. Netflix, for instance, says you should have at least 5 Mbps for HD streaming. For more information, check out our guide to internet speeds. If you’re not sure what you’re currently getting, you can also use our speed test below.
Can you fast forward through commercials on YouTube TV?
Unfortunately, YouTube TV broadcasts the same live TV channels as a cable or satellite provider, and that means you can’t skip through commercials. However, if you pause a live show, you are able to fast forward through commercials to catch up to the live feed. On-demand content generally has short ads you have to sit through, too. That said, you are able to fast forward commercials on any programs you’ve recorded in your DVR.
Our other live TV streaming service reviews
We’ve written extensively about every live TV streaming service around. For more detailed information, you can check out our full reviews below:
- AT&T Watch TV ($15/mo.)
- Philo TV ($20/mo.)
- Sling TV ($30/mo.)
- fuboTV ($55/mo.)
- Hulu + Live TV ($55/mo.)
- AT&T TV NOW ($65/mo.)
- AT&T TV ($60/mo. in year one, $93/mo. in year two)
- Best live TV streaming services
The bottom line
Whether YouTube TV is worth it for you comes down to a few personal preferences. Would you rather have ESPN or HBO? How about A&E or ABC? There are a cluster of live TV streaming services around the $50/mo. range, and they all share about 90% of the same channels.
If none of them really stand out to you, go with YouTube TV. It has the best user experience and mobile app by a mile, plus you’ll get unlimited DVR storage and three simultaneous streams — the most generous extra perks that any service offers. Best of all? If you decide you don’t like it, you’re only locked in to one month at a time.