In a market populated with multiple streaming options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and SlingTV. Google has decided to test the waters with YouTube TV. YouTube TV is an effort to bring Live TV streaming to today’s mobile lifestyle. As many people who have cut the cord know, finding all of the programming you want to watch isn’t always easy in a fragmented pool of streaming choices. Cutting the cord can be a daunting task for many who just can’t find the right mix of streaming options to complete their wishlist and YouTube TV isn’t going to solve that problem. What follows is a quick review of Google’s new YouTube TV service. As with any sort of service of this nature, a lot of this will be subjective user to user. Hopefully, this can at least serve as a guide as to what to expect and whether or not you want to invest your time into trying it out. Read on for our quick review of YouTube TV.
Design is such a subjective thing but I do think most users will be pleased by the layout and look of the YouTube TV app. It’s a very clean interface with bold and easy to read fonts and no lag on either Android or iOS. The desktop design nearly mirrors the mobile app design. Everything is clean, well marked, and easy to navigate. I think as we get to using it more there will be some things we could think of to make it even better. Though I hope Google will be thinking of that ahead of us.
Software/Ease of Use
There are 3 tabs you can access on the YouTube TV mobile and desktop apps: Home, Library, and Live. Home is basically a collection of suggestions, popular TV shows, and your most recent watched programs. Live is where you can access actual live TV programs. The Live tab has a great and easy to use interface with all of your channels stacked on top of each other. When you scroll up through each channel a live preview is shown to you. The nice thing is there is no sound, which would have been annoying to me.
When you tap on a channel it will open in a small window which you can expand if you like. It’s much like the regular YouTube app but with different content. You can tap the triple dot menu (in the video) to access a variety of actions such as, go to, add, go to network, help, feedback, and cancel. You can also tap the + button which will add the program to your DVR and record any upcoming episodes of that program. The Library tab is where you’ll locate all of your DVR’ed programs as well as any of the same back episodes that are available on YouTube TV of that program.
Overall this interface is dead simple to use and fairly intuitive.
I’ve used the YouTube TV app on Android, iOS, and desktop all of which have performed really well with full HD clarity. Upon first launching, the video takes a few minutes to get a good clear stream but that’s just a minor annoyance. Right now the app only works on Android, iOS, and desktop. You can stream from your mobile device to a Chromecast if you’d like to watch on your HDTV. I was able to plug my Chromecast into my Xbox One and stream through the Xbox One TV app which worked perfectly fine. I’d hope that Google will be working on more apps for devices such as the Apple TV, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and the various smart tvs on the market.
Channel selection will vary from market to market. Currently, there are only six markets that you can use the service in: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Here in the Chicago area, I am able to get the following channels.
- ESPN SEC
- ESPN U
- FOX Sports 1
- FOX Sports 2
- NBC Sports
- CSN Plus
- ABC Sports
- NBC Golf
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- Free Form
- Universal TV
- USA Network
- National Geographic
- NatGeo Wild
- FOX News
- FOX Business
Again, this is purely subjective. YouTube TV is going to cost you $35USD per month without adding on Showtime or any extras. Like anyone who wants to cut the cord, I’ve found I’ve had to pay for multiple streaming options in order to find everything I want to view. I think the way YouTube TV sits currently in channel selection (for my use case), I would have been very happy paying $25USD per month. I’m probably sounding greedy but I think everyone has something they really want that won’t be included. I think the value would have been better priced lower and adding a $35USD tier once more channels were added. That’s not to say this isn’t going to be of value to others, this channel lineup may very well be great for many.
I think it’s worth checking out YouTube TV for the first month trial period to see if it’s going to offer you what you want. I do think the $35 price is steep but I do like that you can share with 5 other family members each with their own DVR options. Google will also gift you a free Chromecast once you pay for your first month, so that’s kind of like two months free. I think Google will eventually (if they can work it out with content providers) have more channels to offer, my only fear is, the price will then go up. As it sits now, if you’re in one of the six markets, you’ve got nothing to lose to try it out for a month.
*We reviewed the retail version of the YouTube TV service.
YouTube TV$35+ USD
- Nicely designed app
- Unlimited DVR
- Can share with up to 5 family members
- Channel selection may not offer what you're looking for
- Launching in only 6 markets
- Limited device options, Android, iOS, desktop only
- Pricey for what you get, $25 may have been a better target price but more programming is supposed to be coming