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Picture it: You’ve just poured yourself a (generous) glass of wine and are slowly sinking into the cushions of your couch. Maybe there’s a popcorn bowl on the coffee table begging to be emptied. No matter what snack sits at the ready, you know that the simple act of pressing your TV remote’s power button is enough to dissolve the stresses of the day. Now, for the big question… What will you be watching?
Netflix or Hulu may seem like the obvious answers, but have you ever considered YouTube TV? The service offers live TV, sports coverage, and on-demand TV shows and movies from over 85 channels — at a rate that’s much more affordable than many traditional cable TV packages, I might add.
Given the amount of streaming services available right now, it’s understandable if you’re hesitant to sign up for another one. But as I discovered when testing the streamer (which involved hours of binge-watching all sorts of programming), YouTube TV has a little something for everyone, and it may just become your go-to entertainment hub after reading this review.
YouTube TV vs. competitors
$54.99/month for first 3 months
No. of concurrent streams
3 (unlimited screens is an add-on option)
2 (unlimited screens is an add-on option)
On-demand TV shows & movies?
pros and cons
What I like about YouTube TV
- 85+ channels included in the Base plan
- free trials available
- $30 off your first three months
- Unlimited cloud-based DVR space
- Live and on-demand TV and movies
- Mobile app for on-the-go streaming
What I don’t like about YouTube TV
- No ad-free package (and ads tend to last longer than on other platforms)
- Only one English-language plan
YouTube TV channels: What can you watch?
YouTube TV offers more than 85 channels, ranging from traditional broadcast networks like ABC and CBS to kid-friendly offerings (Disney, Nickelodeon, etc.) and sports options (including four ESPN channels). There’s a mix of live and on-demand programming from each network — the service even provided me with movie suggestions based on my interests and shared upcoming air times so that I could record the films to watch later.
When you sign up for YouTube TV, the service prompts you to select some of your favorite shows, which will be added to your library and set to record future episodes. I appreciated this feature because it immediately made me feel like I was getting a tailored experience. Being a huge reality TV fan, I chose programs like The Bachelorette, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and Below Deck Sailing Yacht to record automatically.
I also found it super easy to navigate through the wide range of content. Users are able to filter by dozens of genres, search for specific titles, and toggle between the platform’s home screen, live channels, and their personal library.
Despite my initial disappointment that there isn’t an ad-free version of YouTube TV, I discovered that if you really want to skip commercials, you can pause the stream for a few minutes, then fast-forward through the ads in order to catch up to the live broadcast.
YouTube TV sports coverage
The Base plan includes broadcast network-affiliated sports channels like CBS Sports and NBC Sports, along with TNT and TBS for select NBA, NHL, and MLB games. Subscribers also have access to ESPN’s family of channels, the Olympic channel, and the Fight Network.
Avid sports fans can opt to purchase the Sports Plus add-on for an extra $10.99 per month, which unlocks more than a dozen additional channels, including NFL RedZone, Fox Soccer Plus, and beIN SPORTS, a channel that covers international sports. For users particularly interested in Latin American leagues, the Spanish Plus add-on ($14.99 per month) also offers live sports.
However, if you’re looking for local sports coverage, YouTube TV isn’t the platform to use. Depending on your zip code, you may have access to some of NBC Sports’ regional networks, but it’s not guaranteed.
Does YouTube TV offer a free trial?
YouTube TV does offer a free trial, but it only lasts for five days (note: The time frame may differ during promotional periods). I felt like it wasn’t enough time to fully experience all of the features, but the platform still has a leg up on Hulu + Live TV, which doesn’t allow users to test out the service before they commit to a full month.
Overall, I was impressed with YouTube TV’s layout, which is similar to Netflix’s in how the content is sorted. As someone who has tried a lot of different streaming platforms, I found YouTube TV to be more user-friendly than Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Though I opted for the free trial, I was still able to personalize my dashboard by sharing the types of shows and movies I like.
Ultimately, you should use the free trial to determine whether YouTube TV’s offerings suit your needs. Everything I watch on a regular basis is available on the platform, making the cost worth it to me. But everyone’s preferences are different, so start your free trial during a week where you can really dig into the full slate of programming available.
How much does YouTube TV cost?
YouTube TV’s Base plan costs $64.99 per month, but new subscribers get a total of $30 off for the first three months, bringing the cost down to $54.99 per month. New users who sign up for the Spanish plan, which is different from the Spanish Plus add-on, also get a discount, paying $24.99 per month for the first six months before the price increases to $34.99 per month.
The add-ons are priced as follows:
- SportsPlus: $10.99/month
- Spanish Plus: $14.99/month
- Entertainment Plus: $29.99/month
- 4K Plus: $14.99/month (for the first 12 months)
The best part? YouTube doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract, so you can change or cancel your subscription at any time without penalty.
What is YouTube TV’s 4K Plus add-on?
The platform’s popular 4K Plus add-on enhances your viewing experience of certain live and on-demand programs with 4K Ultra High Definition playback. Subscribers also gain unlimited simultaneous streams at home and can use the mobile app to view recordings offline on a phone or tablet.
Though I didn’t test this add-on, it’s clear that the feature is aimed at families who want the ability to watch different shows on multiple devices at the same time. The Base plan does allow for three simultaneous streams, so if the 4K aspect isn’t that important to you, you may not even need the add-on.
4K Plus comes with a 30-day free trial and costs $14.99 per month for the first 12 months (note: Prices may vary during promotional periods). After a year, the price increases to $19.99 per month.
YouTube TV app
I’m happy to report that the YouTube TV app, which is free to download, also offers a great viewing experience. Similar to other streaming platforms, YouTube syncs all of your devices, so if you pause a show on your TV, you can pick up where you left off on your phone or tablet. The app highlights upcoming recordings and has a curated “Top Picks For You” section at the top of the home screen where you can browse live options.
I didn’t have any issues using the app during my free trial, but some App Store reviewers complained about the functionality, including audio troubles, spontaneous freezes, and problems with the tracking feature. The app currently has 3.8 stars out of 5 on the App Store and 4 stars out of 5 on Google Play.
YouTube TV customer service
As a first line of defense, YouTube TV supplies customers with an online database that’s chock-full of resources for commonly asked questions, such as “How do I change my settings?” If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the hub, support team members are available 24/7 via phone, email, and online chat. Here’s hoping you never miss seeing who got the Final Rose on The Bachelorette, if the Hail Mary pass was caught, or whether a beloved doctor on Grey’s Anatomy made it through surgery.
YouTube TV vs. Hulu + LiveTV
YouTube TV is often compared to Hulu + Live TV since both platforms offer live TV options. And while they share some similar features, there are a few key differences to consider when you’re deciding which service to spend money on each month.
First, let’s talk price. Hulu’s cheapest live TV plan is $68.99 per month, $4 more than YouTube TV’s Base plan ($14 more if you count YouTube’s three-month discount). Unlike YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV doesn’t offer a free trial, so along with spending more, you’re also committing to paying for at least one full month. For $1 more, Hulu bundles its live TV services with Disney+ and ESPN+, which is no doubt appealing to families and sports fans. Here’s a breakdown of each streamers’ live TV plans and add-ons.
Plans and pricing for YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV
When it comes to channels, YouTube TV has 85+ (which you can view here) while Hulu + Live TV offers 75+, including a handful of local channels. Both platforms boast unlimited DVR space and neither one requires an annual contract — you can cancel at any time.
Hulu + Live TV offers two simultaneous streams on its basic plan while YouTube TV offers three, but an unlimited screens add-on costs less with Hulu + Live TV, making it a better value for families wanting to stream on multiple devices.
If you’re looking for a more affordable live TV plan, YouTube TV is a great option. However, whether or not the streaming service is right for you comes down to the type of content you want.
Personally, I enjoyed YouTube TV’s wide variety of channels for both live and on-demand programming, and I appreciated the tailored recommendations. But one thing I really disliked was the lack of an ad-free option. As someone with a packed schedule, I hate sitting through ads, so if you feel the same way, the “no ads” version of Hulu + Live TV might be worth the extra money. I also found myself missing the original content that Hulu and Netflix frequently produce.
Ultimately, YouTube TV is a reasonably priced platform that allows for a decent amount of customization through add-ons.
In order to provide comprehensive and unbiased reviews, our writers test each of the streaming services highlighted. When possible, we try out the platforms using a free trial, but will pay for a subscription if a trial period is not offered.
Comparing each service to its competitors is an important part of the research process so that we can help readers make the smartest buying decisions. Our research team collected data on more than 40 different streamers, allowing us to compare and contrast platform features, price, available channels, and more.