MICHAEL SAVES RATING: 8.5/10
YouTube TV is the leading Cable 2.0 service for a few reasons. It has an excellent channel lineup, unlimited cloud DVR storage and lots of features. The biggest downside? The high monthly price.
|✅ Well-rounded channel lineup
✅ Unlimited cloud DVR storage included
✅ No contract or hidden fees
✅ Simple to use and plenty of ways to customize
|❌ High monthly price
❌ DVR functionality: No way to record or delete single episodes in a series
❌ Few regional sports networks offered
❌ Extra charge for 4K content
❌ Slow rollout for new features
YouTube TV is my #1 pick for most people who want to cut the cord and still watch their favorite cable and broadcast TV channels.
My recommendation is based on seven years of testing YouTube TV and its competitors.
YouTube TV Review From a Real Customer
YouTube TV has grown to eight million subscribers. The service has added new channels and features over the years. However, the monthly price has more than doubled.
YouTube TV launched at $35 per month back in 2017. Now, it starts at $73 per month.
YouTube TV Fast Facts:
- What Is YouTube TV?: YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service that lets you watch cable and broadcast TV networks using an internet connection and a supported device.
- How Much Is YouTube TV Per Month?: The YouTube TV base plan is $72.99 per month after a March 2023 price increase. In addition to that price, some states and cities require the service to collect taxes.
- What Channels Does YouTube TV Offer?: YouTube TV’s base plan includes more than 100 popular cable networks and your local broadcast TV stations. Regional sports networks are very limited. It is the exclusive home of NFL Sunday Ticket.
- Can You Record on YouTube TV?: Members get unlimited cloud DVR storage and recordings are saved for up to nine months.
- What Equipment Do I Need to Use YouTube TV?: You need a high-speed internet connection and a supported device. There is no special YouTube TV remote. Compatible devices include Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Chromecast with Google TV. Several smart TV brands like Samsung and LG are also supported.
- How Is YouTube TV Different From Cable?: Unlike many cable and satellite providers, YouTube TV has no hidden fees, annual contracts or installation appointments.
- How Is YouTube TV’s User Experience?: YouTube TV is easy to use, especially for those who are familiar with the main YouTube app. The interface is simple, but it still provides opportunities for customization.
After YouTube TV’s most recent price hike, many cord-cutters have told me they’re not sure the service is still worth it. In this article, I’ll share my experience to help you decide.
Here are seven things to know before you sign up for YouTube TV!
YouTube TV raised the base plan price to $72.99 per month in March 2023. That’s around the same price as other premium live TV services like Hulu Live, DIRECTV STREAM and Fubo.
It was the first price hike in nearly three years, according to my YouTube TV Price Tracker.
YouTube TV Price Tracker
|March 2023 (Current price)
YouTube TV Add-Ons
At the time of the March 2023 price increase for the base plan, YouTube TV lowered the price of its 4K Plus add-on by $10 per month. It’s now $9.99 per month.
New users can get that add-on for a discounted price of $4.99 per month for 12 months.
Many YouTube TV users will be fine with the base plan and no add-ons. However, the are a few popular ones like Sports Plus with NFL RedZone and Tennis Channel for $10.99 per month.
The YouTube TV Sports Plus add-on includes the following networks:
- NFL RedZone
- beIN SPORTS
- FOX Soccer Plus
- Outside TV+
- FanDuel TV
- Billiard TV
- Fight Network
- IMPACT Wrestling
- Tennis Channel
YouTube TV’s $72.99 per month base plan is required to sign up for Sports Plus. However, you can add or remove the add-on whenever you want.
For example, many YouTube TV subscribers only pay for Sports Plus during football season to get NFL RedZone.
NFL Sunday Ticket
NFL Sunday Ticket is a premium add-on available to YouTube TV subscribers. It offers access to all out-of-market Sunday afternoon games during the regular season.
NFL Sunday Ticket is also available through YouTube Primetime Channels, but YouTube TV subscribers get a lower price. You can pay for the season in full or four monthly payments.
A 7-day free trial is available, but only to subscribers who choose the single payment option.
YouTube TV offers a discount for those who sign up for NFL Sunday Ticket early. There are also discounts offered later in the season.
The prices shown below are for the full season of NFL Sunday Ticket.
|YouTube TV Member Pricing
|YouTube Primetime Channels Pricing
|NFL Sunday Ticket:
$349 for the season
4 payments of $87.25/month
|NFL Sunday Ticket:
$449 for the season
4 payments of $112.25/month
|NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone:
$389 for the season
4 payments of $97.25/month
|NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone:
$489 for the season
4 payments of $122.25/month
No Hidden Fees
With YouTube TV, there are no hidden fees for equipment, DVR or broadcast TV channels.
When you’re comparing the price of YouTube TV to a cable or satellite provider, make sure to factor in the hidden fees that other providers charge.
For example, I obtained the Xfinity cable bill shown below with nearly $50 in additional monthly charges.
Although there are no hidden fees, you may have to pay taxes. Depending on where you live, YouTube TV may be required to collect sales or communications taxes.
Free Trial or Free Preview
YouTube TV typically offers a free trial or at least a free preview period.
That should give you enough time to see if you can get the hang of the service. Also, use this free trial period to evaluate the sound and picture quality.
YouTube TV regularly offers new customers a discount such as $10 off per month for three months. However, there is no discount if you subscribe to both YouTube TV and YouTube Premium.
YouTube Premium is a separate service that removes the ads from regular YouTube videos.
No Annual Contract
YouTube TV has no contracts, so you never have to worry about an early termination fee.
With the service, you prepay for a month at a time. If you decide to cancel YouTube TV, you’ll continue to have access to the service until the end of the billing period.
The service typically doesn’t offer prorated refunds.
2. Channel Lineup
When YouTube TV raised its price in March 2023, the company said it was because of the rising cost of content.
In this section, I’ll cover what you get for your money.
YouTube TV is what I call a Cable 2.0 service. The base plan bundles more than 100 live TV channels, including cable networks and local stations. However, very few regional sports networks are offered.
Here’s a snapshot of the YouTube TV channel list:
- Local Stations: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, CW and more
- Sports: ESPN, SEC Network, FS1, Golf Channel and more
- Kids: Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and more
- Entertainment: AMC, Comedy Central, FX, Bravo, HGTV, TLC, USA and more
- News: CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, CNBC and more
The way I see it, YouTube TV only makes sense for people who watch a lot of live sports and cable news networks.
It may also be a solution for people who can’t pick up local stations with an antenna.
There are dozens of cable entertainment networks on YouTube TV, but many of them are full of reruns and low-budget reality TV shows.
In general, the best entertainment programming has moved to on-demand services like Netflix.
Ask yourself: Are you still enjoying the content on cable and broadcast TV? If so, YouTube TV may be a good value.
To see the full list of 100+ channels where you live, including local stations, go to YouTube TV’s website and enter your ZIP code.
YouTube TV Channels FAQ
YouTube TV doesn’t carry History Channel or any channels from A&E Networks such as A&E, Lifetime and LMN. These networks are included in Frndly TV’s affordable plans. Some YouTube TV subscribers sign up for Frndly TV to get History Channel and other missing channels owned by A&E Networks.
YouTube TV struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group that returned the Tennis Channel to its lineup as of June 1, 2023. It is available in the Sports Plus add-on package.
3. Cloud DVR
I mentioned earlier that YouTube TV has no DVR fees. That’s because you don’t use a physical DVR with the service. You still get a DVR – it’s just in the cloud.
YouTube TV’s base plan includes unlimited cloud DVR storage and recordings are saved for up to nine months. The service automatically extends the recording time for live events like sports.
With just a click, YouTube TV lets you record shows, movies, games and events to watch on your schedule.
If you set a recording for a series, YouTube TV is going to record all episodes — new episodes and reruns. There’s no way to record or delete a single episode if it’s a series.
This is one of the biggest complaints I hear from users who want more control over their DVR.
How to Record on YouTube TV
You can add shows, movies, sports teams or events to your library from the home screen or live guide. Simply click on the plus symbol to set a recording.
If you know exactly what you want to record, use the search feature to find it faster.
The best thing about adding shows to your DVR is that you can avoid commercials. With YouTube TV, you can typically fast-forward through the ads once a program is recorded.
Many of YouTube TV’s networks make content available on-demand, but those programs typically have ads.
To get around this, set as many recordings as possible. If you see two versions of a program available in your library – DVR and VOD – always select the DVR version.
That way, you’ll be able to fast-forward through the commercials.
4. Required Equipment
A lot of first-time streamers worry that they won’t be able to figure out YouTube TV because it’s not exactly like their cable provider.
However, it’s pretty easy to get started with equipment you may already own.
Like all streaming services, YouTube TV requires a high-speed internet connection and a supported device to stream on mobile devices, your computer or a TV set.
I use a Roku device to stream YouTube TV to a TV set, but that’s not a requirement.
In addition to Roku, YouTube TV supports Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick and Apple TV. The YouTube TV app is also available on newer smart TVs from Samsung, LG and more.
For streaming on the go, Android and Apple devices are supported. See the full list of devices here.
5. User Experience
Check out what YouTube TV looks like from a TV set. There are only three main sections: the home screen, live guide and cloud DVR library.
Most users agree that the live guide has a cable-like look and feel.
From a computer or mobile device, you can edit the list of networks shown in the live guide so that you only see your favorites.
YouTube TV has added a few features that really improve the viewing experience, like multiview to watch up to four channels on a single screen.
This feature alone has kept some sports fans from canceling after the price hike.
While YouTube TV has a lot of features and opportunities for personalization, the service has a habit of announcing product updates and then making users wait months for them.
This has happened with changes to the live guide, library and the rollout of multiview.
6. Family Sharing
You only need one YouTube TV account for your entire household. With the base plan, you get three simultaneous streams and up to six user accounts.
That means you can have any three devices using the service at the same time.
The family manager can add up to five people to YouTube TV. That way, everyone will get their own login, recommendations and cloud DVR library.
To join a family group, you must primarily live in the same household as the family manager.
The family manager sets a home area for the service. While family members can stream from different locations, they’ll need to periodically use YouTube TV from the home location.
You can stream YouTube TV while traveling within the United States — not internationally.
Larger households may require more than three simultaneous streams. The 4K Plus add-on gets you unlimited in-home streams and three streams outside of the home.
7. Best YouTube TV Alternatives
By now, I hope you understand why I’ve recommended YouTube TV to people who are new to cutting the cable TV cord.
But if the high monthly price is a concern, I have a few ideas.
Switch to a Cheaper Live TV Service
Sling TV is a good live TV streaming option for people on a budget.
The service has two base plans: Sling Orange and Sling Blue. They’re $40 per month each, but you can combine them and pay $55 per month.
Like YouTube TV, Sling TV’s bundles include cable networks. However, Sling doesn’t offer complete coverage for locals. That’s the primary reason why it’s cheaper.
Philo is $25 per month, while Frndly TV has a plan starting at $7 per month.
Pause or Cancel YouTube TV for a Few Months
For a few years, I’ve paid for YouTube TV during the winter and then switched to Sling TV for the summer when I watch less TV.
That’s one way to put more money back in your pocket.
Remember that live TV streaming services don’t have contracts. Use that flexibility to your advantage. If you’re not watching the service regularly, pause or cancel it.
Drop Live TV Altogether
If you find yourself spending more time with services like Netflix and less time with services like YouTube TV, think about dropping live TV altogether.
This strategy will save you money, even if you apply it for only a month or two out of the year.
Plenty of people are perfectly happy hooking up an antenna for local stations, downloading free streaming apps and paying only for on-demand services like Netflix.
YouTube TV has the best overall channel lineup among cable TV replacements, plus unlimited DVR and an easy-to-use interface.
That’s why it’s my #1 pick!
Many people seem to agree. YouTube TV was the top-ranked live TV streaming service for customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power’s 2023 rankings.
When a customer leaves their cable or satellite provider for a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV, they typically save money because they no longer pay hidden fees.
However, YouTube TV is still a bundle. You will pay for some channels that you never watch.
Many people I’ve talked to stuck with YouTube TV after the price hike, particularly sports fans. But it doesn’t hurt to explore your options and shop around.
REVIEW METHODOLOGY: When I test a streaming service, I pay for it with my own money and use it for at least 30 days. During that time, I evaluate the service’s content, app performance, features and user experience across multiple compatible devices. This helps me assess the overall value of the service compared to other available streaming options that I’ve tested. None of the content on my website and YouTube channel is sponsored.