YouTube TV

Last summer I threw out our twenty year old satellite dish and decided to finally go over the top. I put a bunch of video streaming apps on our AppleTV to replace the “linear television” that we had been getting with the dish.

Almost a year later, I’ve removed all but two of them and the clear winner has been YouTube TV.

YouTube TV is pretty much everything you’d want in a linear television service (except for one thing which I will get to) and the UI is more or less perfect.

The thing I like most about it is that I can run the app with my Google login on all of the AppleTVs in our house plus on our phones and we have the exact same experience, with the exact same library, on all of them.

That seems like a little thing, but after almost sixty years of living with set top boxes that are device specific, it is a big thing.

I’m writing this on my cell phone. Just before starting to write I was sitting in my office thinking that I want to watch the Sixers Raptors game this afternoon but we are going to be uptown at the TEFAF Art Fair.

No problem. I opened the YouTube TV app on my phone, searched for the Sixers Raptors game, and hit the plus sign.

When I turn on any of our TVs in our home, that game will be in the library waiting for me to watch it.

The one app, one subscription, any device thing is pretty cool too. We have a number of AppleTVs in our home but pay for only one subscription.

If you have a ski house, or a beach house, or some other form of second home, you can use your single YouTube TV subscription there too.

So what’s the one thing that’s not perfect about YouTube TV?

They don’t have the Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) on the service. If that Sixers Raptors game was being broadcast on CSN Philadelphia it would not have been on YouTube TV. Thankfully it is the playoffs and it is on ABC.

I talked to a friend of a friend who works at YouTube TV and the RSNs will not sell their content to YouTube TV on a subscriber by subscriber basis. If YouTube TV wants MSG Network on it’s service, it has to pay for it for everyone. And who other than die hard Knicks fans would want to pay to watch the Knicks this year?

So we also have a subscription to FuboTV which seems to have at least some of the RSNs including MSG Network. We have a family plan subscription to FuboTV which allows three of us (me and two of our kids) to have FuboTV in our homes which makes it a bit less expensive to have two streaming services.

I tried a bunch of other services over the last year but I found YouTube TV to be superior in almost every way.

Google did an amazing job with this product. If you put YouTube TV on your televisions (there are a bunch of ways you can do that), you can throw out that set-top box once and for all like we did.

And you will get a bunch of capabilities that you never had with cable. It’s great.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    I tried YouTube TV a few months ago, then didn’t stay with it. I will try again.The next Raptors-76ers game is an important one in this series. With Siakam placed as “doubtful”, I’m hoping the Raptors will prevail. I watch it with an NBA TV league pass on my iPhone using a VPN to bypass the blackout area, and link it to the big screen via AirPlay. A few hoops to go through for my Raptors.

    1. Mac

      Why did you not stay with YTTV then?

      1. William Mougayar

        I wasn’t sure it would work from Canada. Actually, I tried to activate my subscription now, but they detected the VPN and it’s not working.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Was a bit curious about that when you first posted today. VPN’s used to trick the system but now carriers figured out how to detect that workaround.

          1. Mac

            Even with premium/paid subscriptions, I suspect VPNs are always going to be an issue for carriers. Whenever I’ve accidentally left Torguard on, Spectrum stops me cold.

          2. William Mougayar

            Actually, I switched to another VPN and it’s working now . Shhhh 🙂 The irony is that YouTube TV will take your subscription money before checking where you are.

          3. William Mougayar

            it’s not the carriers that figure things out. it’s the apps and services that need to have the VPN detectors.

          4. Salt Shaker

            Depends how/where you’re accessing content, no? If you’re watching programming via a sports app (ESPN, FOX Sports) that requires a carrier subscription and authentication, then I believe the carrier authenticates a user’s subscription and location. If you’re accessing programming via a premium OTT app, which in your case is NBA League Pass, then the service does the vetting. I may be wrong on this, it’s a bit confusing, but that’s my perception. Is the game blacked out in Toronto?

          5. William Mougayar

            Got it. You’re referring to carriers when they are gatekeepers to their whole line-up of content. Yes, the black-out is often in effect due to TSN, ESPN having priority. But that’s pretty stupid, as you buy an NBA Pass which is advertised as “watch all season”, then in fine print “except blackout”, and reality is 50% of games end-up being blacked out.

  2. peteski

    I’ve been on board since day one. Zero complaints. LOVE the recording/dvr option. I record and then binge some of the few good shows on the Networks. I’m in Germany now and I can watch the Bundesliga live which would cost extra on cable here (not that I care about soccer but I got to watch Frankfurt, where I am, win the DFB-Pokal, the first time since the ’80s. They are very much the Mets of the Bundesliga.)

    1. William Mougayar

      Curious how are you able to watch YouTube Tv from Germany? Is it not detecting you’re outside the US and not allowing you? I signed-up but getting this from Canada: https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      1. peteski

        It’s a little complicated. I use VyprVPN (better, Chameleon option) and NordVPN (works sometimes) thru Cloudflare’s speedy DNS (thanks Fred!). I am registered in SF with YouTubeTV and use a mock location app on the phone to check in there thru the YouTubeTV mobile app when needed.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

        1. William Mougayar

          Yup. i’m learning what to do here. tell me about your Browser location settings and if they are affecting the detection. Do you turn that off too? (YouTube doesn’t like it- they ask you to turn it on)

          1. peteski

            My locations settings are off, I’m pretty sure. I verified my location using a mock location app with the YouTubeTV mobile app (uninstalled both apps afterward). If you do not verify your location and you are just locked out of the Networks’ live broadcasts, you can still record everything and watch later as long as you’re signed in from the US (or appear to be).

          2. William Mougayar

            I will verify my location as home location in nyc when I’m there soon.

    2. jason wright

      but can they beat Chelsea?

  3. awaldstein

    I’ll check it out.Not into sports so just Apple TV and apps for network stuff like HBO is all I need. Dunno if there is anything lacking that it can provide but with this post, i’ll give it a shot.

  4. Matt Zagaja

    I am moving in a month and am likely to switch entirely to OTT services as I move from Comcast to Verizon FiOS service. So far my favorite has been sharing my girlfriend’s Hulu subscription which is ad free. With HBO and Netflix most of my content needs for video are satiated. Other than having a 24/7 news network for background noise I probably won’t miss having regular TV.

  5. LCDShadrach

    YTV does have the Yes Network and SNY in the NY market, so that covers a lot of regional sports, but, yeah, no MSG. The one that’s missing that I really wish were on there is the regional Fox Sports (in addition to FS1 and FS2). They often carry the Yankees games when they are not on Yes.

  6. Mac

    Decided to cut cable two years ago. After researching the options, YouTube TV keeps coming up as a strong possibility. A year ago, CNET rated it below other services. At that time, it was:- only available in five cities- needed to use Chromecast to watch it on an actual TV- had fewer sports channels than satellite (tennis and soccer being a must for my wife)- fell short of the number of channels of other base packages- ‘Cast’ method instead of a standard on-screen menu- no Apple TV app.So, most of these issues have been resolved over the past year?

  7. Shaun Dakin

    I’ve been a YTTV subscriber from the start and agree with most of what you say. Unfortunately what was a reasonable $34 a month fee for enough channels is now becoming a $50 plus a month fee with endless channels. I’ll probably keep it, mostly for live TV but I feel like I’ve been scammed with a teaser price only to be hit with a 50 percent price increase once I’m locked in.

  8. Scott Barnett

    I used to agree with you, but there are 2 somewhat “fatal” flaws for me:1) Youtube TV does not allow sharing of accounts if you use a G-Suite email address vs. a Gmail address. I never understood this and they don’t appear to be budging on this restriction. So, I could never share my YouTube TV account with my family.2) The recent increase from $35 to $50 makes it highly unattractive – they are now almost as much as “regular” Cable, and are bundling a lot of new channels that I have no interest in. What started as a really cool way to choose a-la carte for channels you care about has become a traditional bundling land grab.I cancelled YTTV and am now using Philo for $16/mo. User interface isn’t as great but it’s good enough. This is the first time I can say I was highly disappointed by Google.

  9. Pointsandfigures

    Toying with this. My biggest gripe is MLB. The teams aren’t on one channel anymore, so I will check if carries my team. If so, I will subscribe. We have cable included in the HOA of our building so there is a part of me that is bugged by double paying….started streaming with Roku. I like streaming, but it is kind of a pain to channel switch and I have to re-log in every once and awhile.Maybe just get an old AM radio to listen to games instead of watch them since I can’t stream them on Alexa either.

    1. Elia Freedman

      That’s one advantage I have to living no where close to my home town team: I can watch almost all of their games with the MLB app.

  10. jamiew

    For local sports check out getting an HDTV digital antenna and something like the HDHomeRun, which acts like a DVR for the antenna

  11. Brandon G. Donnelly

    go raptors!

  12. Lou Pugliese

    Thanks Fred- this is incredibly helpful. I suspect there are a lot of people like you that have the same viewing pattern. So much confusion about cut the cord options out there. I’d love to find an at a glance matrix that would generate costs comparisons between a collection of streaming services vs. cable. This monopoly buster labyrinth is so confusing

    1. Stuart Rogel

      Lou, I have the same problem. I haven’t been able to figure out pricing to get all the channels we want to watch (Sports, HBO, Showtime, local news, etc.) Would love to see that matrix you mentioned. Please let us know if you find it.

  13. Salt Shaker

    Sinclair bought most of the RSN’s and maybe they’ll explore different biz models, though geo restrictions are an impediment. The notion that Amazon (who now owns a chunk of YES) was gonna partner w/ Sinclair on the remaining RSN’s was a bit amusing. No way that was gonna happen, even if imo it made biz sense (in driving Prime subscription). LOL, maybe ultra-conservative Sinclair will require their play-by-play announcers communicate subliminal messages that serve their political agenda.

  14. Mike Lee

    How is the delay on the sports broadcasts? Nothing worse than seeing the updates on twitter and push notifications before it happens on my screen

  15. David Lee

    As we’ve experienced, the one thing that makes this a non-starter for me right now is the delay – ie, watching live sports is a bit off from broadcast version

    1. JamesHRH

      David, we literally only have cable b:c I watch live sports.Apples to apples, would I miss cable?What’s the geek factor re: set up?

  16. Shiny

    I agree with you on YouTube TVs ease of use. Being able to watch it anywhere on any screen, pause and rewind live shows and the dvr options are great. My beef with the service is that there’s a mega price-hike coming (from $35 to 50) and it’s mostly for channels I don’t watch. It’s a sports-heavy service and I understand why. I wish there was an option for those of us who don’t watch sports, a no frills non-sports package. Also it seems based on your device’s IP address. So if you travel for work you may not be able to watch it in places where YouTube doesn’t have the rights to show that content. It’s still much superior to cable but I’ve started looking around for other digital streaming live tv alternatives.

    1. creative group

      Shiny:It is called VPN. Read our post in this thread.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  17. Tom Labus

    We need to get to the point when all this stuff just works when you buy and plug in a TV.

  18. jason wright

    Life is linear. This technology seems to encourage us to believe that this is not true. It is true. It is immutable. Being in two places at the same time is neither one thing nor the other.

  19. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:With any VPN service you can direct your country location. We know you knew that.Ultrasurf, TURBOVPN, SUPERVPN, or other combinations. That is the simplest of the issues of what is encountered using these services.Does chord cutting start to defeat the purpose when you begin to add up all the other combined services you need to cut the chord.Fast Internet $45—$65 per monthVPN $15 per monthYouTubeTV $40 per monthNetflix $12. 99 per monthHulu VOD $11.99 per monthTotal for chord cutting $125.00Premuim cable with fast internetHBO, STARZ $160.00Saving $40-$65 averageCaptain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  20. kenberger

    Google vs Apple, re hardware:it’s interesting that you’re raving about a Google software/app product (Youtube owned by G), but speaking about AppleTV for hardware.I wonder how much more robust the usage would be if you tried using Google adapters on the TV’s/devices instead of ATV (Chromecast, basically, Google Home apps, etc). It is almost always the case that Google apps are slightly to critically more robust on Google hardware (android phones) then on Apple/iphone products.

  21. sigmaalgebra

    Uh, maybe more interesting than TV, what data rates is Google seeing and how did they engineer their server farm for such data rates?

  22. rbrke

    I also switched from satellite to YoutubeTV and agree overall experience is so much better. I have the big Lenovo Smart Display in my kitchen and it is a perfect companion for voice control. I also throw programs onto my bedroom TV with the Google Home. Wish HBO Now was integrated (like Showtime) and they had Bloomberg TV (why not?) but for sure not going back.

  23. LissIsMore

    We have been using YouTubeTV for over a year now. While not perfect, we have been very satisfied with the service.One thing I miss from my old cable TV service is the BACK button. I tend to surf through channels – especially during commercials – and a one-click way to get back to what I was watching before surfing would be a welcome addition.Also, I will second the frustration that I can’t set up family accounts, nor re-order the lineup, because we are signed up using a G-Suite account. D’oh!YTTV is great when traveling, though. Two thumbs up on that.

  24. Patrick

    I use YTTV as well and love it.One of the major things I like is not having to have set top boxes anymore. Apart from the cost, the extra device and wires was an eyesore. Now it’s built into my wall mounted Samsung tv.They just raised the price, which makes it less compelling as a cost saving measure, but I’d actually pay a premium for YTTV over traditional cable.

  25. bfeld

    But what if your Internet is your cable (e.g. Comcast). Still worth it?

    1. atmssg

      Yes, for me at least.1. Continuing movies/games on my phone while brushing my teeth and in bed is a big feature. 2. The cable price was always rising and annoying. Just paying comcast for internet seems more direct and stable.3. The search, scroll and DVR features are smoother – to agree with Fred.4. I’ve been trying to find ways to give google more of my data.

    2. Frank Traylor

      Just going through this. My TV/Internet/Phone bundle bill (after intro price expired, 3 box rentals) was ~$210. Internet only $83. Both w/ 150 Mbps. Leaves ample room for adding services. We don’t watch a lot of sports so Netflix and YouTube TV suffice for us.

  26. atmssg

    It seems like the RSNs would be good candidates to go OTT and build their own subscription apps, no? The teams could package player & coach hosted shows, archives, news and of course games. I would gladly pay for my team’s channel rather than get direct TV and the NFL package.This seems like the definition of differentiated content that would work going direct to consumer. What do you think?

  27. S.F.

    YouTube TV might not have the rich content catalogue like Disney nor does it have those so-called premium content controlled mostly by the “old TV” – broadcast and network . But the single account, device agnostic, unified user experience and synergy with other Google offerings makes YouTube a clear leader in this crowded eMVPD space. But the competition just start to heating up with NLFX DIS ATT all jump in to play. The jury still out.

  28. Will Luttrell

    Hulu with Live TV does the trick for me. And it includes regional sports, like my hometown sixers. Just ask Joel “Hulu Has Live Sports” Embiid.