Stay on target
YouTube is getting into the TV streaming game, though it’s less like Hulu or Netflix, and closer to Sling TV or Sony’s PlayStation Vue. YouTube TV launched on April 5, 2017, bringing live TV (legally) to the largest video hosting site on the internet. Right now, the service is available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and the Bay Area in California.
At this point, it’s on-demand offerings are a little more limited than Hulu’s but past episodes of certain shows appear to be on the way. Possibly after the next time, they air? That part is a little unclear. It’s live TV offerings are, depending on what you’re looking for, some of the best of any cable replacement service. At $35 a month it’s cheaper than any tier of PlayStation Vue, while offering a few channels, you can only get on that service’s more expensive tiers. In comparison with Sling TV, it’s comparable to their $40 tier, only with fewer basic cable channels, and more sports.
Everything that’s currently available on YouTube TV
That’s the one thing that appears to separate YouTube TV from its competitors. It comes with sports channels, including local ones, that cost extra on other services. That’s a serious point in its favor if you want to watch basically anything other than football. As a New Yorker though, the local sports selection isn’t so great. You get YES and… that’s it. SNY and MSG are still cable-only. That means you can’t watch most New York, teams. If you’re into New York hockey, this probably isn’t the cord-cutting solution for you. Both Rangers and Islanders games are on MSG. Soccer? In Baseball, you can watch the Yankees, but not the Mets. Basketball is the only area where the preferable team is available on YouTube TV. Brooklyn Nets games are on YES. While they’re statistically the worst team in the Eastern Conference, they aren’t stuck in an eternal downward spiral of sadness from which there is no escape like their Manhattan counterparts.
It’s possible the local sports options are better in other cities, but I don’t live in those places, so I can’t test it out. YouTube TV does include all of the ESPN and Fox Sports channels, which are usually good for a few Mets, Knicks, Rangers, and Islanders games each season. Oh, and USA Network is here too if you’re a wrestling fan.
The presentation is nice and clean, and with YouTube’s algorithms behind it, the service does a decent job of recommending new shows you’ll like. It’s cool to see someone doing that with live TV. The search function is also nice. You can search for a specific show, a genre, or an element like “aliens” or “politics” to find shows you’ll like. They’re trying to solve the problem that currently plagues Netflix and Hulu, where you have so many options you can’t figure out what to watch. It doesn’t completely make the problem go away, but it’s a step in the right direction. It will make it easier to find something you’ll be into.
YouTube TV also offers unlimited DVR space, which is a nice feature if you can’t watch your favorite show as it airs. And as you’d expect from any modern TV streaming service, you’re shows will be available wherever you are as long as you have an app. If you want to stream on your big TV though, you’ll have to have a Chromecast, or a TV with Chromecast support built in. Sorry, no Roku or Apple TV app yet. That’s OK though, as for right now, they’ll send one out for free as soon as you complete the 30-day trial and make your first payment. There’s no indication as to how long they’ll keep doing that other than “while supplies last.” Take that however you will.
Finally, it gives you access to all of YouTube Red’s shows, though not all the benefits of YouTube Red. You’ll still have ads on YouTube, but you’ll be able to watch shows like Bad Internet, Prank Academy, and Paranormal Action Squad. If nothing else, it’s a good opportunity to try out some shows you may not have heard of if you weren’t already a YouTube Red subscriber.
If you still haven’t cut cable because you need live TV, YouTube TV might be the service that pushes you over the edge. It’s cheaper than any cable package out there, and it costs less the comparable packages from Sony and Sling. Depending on what city you live in, it might solve the live sports problem too. YouTube says that AMC, ESPN 3 and Telemundo among other channels will be added soon too. Whether the channels offered now are worth $35 a month is up to you. Either way, YouTube TV is definitely worth keeping an eye on.