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YouTube TV Review: Is it Worth $65 A Month?

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YouTube TV is a terrific cable alternative, but it’s expensive. Read our review to see if it’s worth $65 per month, and discover cheaper alternatives.

How much do you pay for cable each month? Cable TV is a significant expense for many families, but streaming platforms make it possible to reduce that cost.

YouTube TV is one of the leaders in the cable replacement space. However, due to its recent increase to $65 per month, it may no longer be the value many people want. This review sheds light on if the service is still a good replacement to cable.

What Is YouTube TV?

 

YouTube TV is a video streaming service that lets users have a near-cable experience without a contract. It’s owned by YouTube, but is a separate service.

The platform launched to a few cities in mid-2017 and went nationwide in 2019. The provider is one of the best replacements to cable because it carries numerous sports channels, local networks, and plenty of entertainment, lifestyle, and news networks.

The service also boasts the best DVR capabilities. Unlimited DVR storage is included in the base cost.

Channel Lineup

 

Aside from the cost, which channels you receive is the most important part of choosing a cable alternative. There are 90 YouTube TV channels, which you can view below.

channel1channel2channel3
ABCFOX BusinessNickelodeon
ABC NewsFOX NewsOlympics Channel
ACCN ESPNFS1OWN
Adult SwimFS2Oxygen
AMCFXParamount Network
Animal PlanetFXMPBS
BBCFXXPBS Kids
BBC World NewsFood NetworkPOP
BETFOX SportsSEC ESPN
BravoFreeformSNY
BTNNBC GolfSmithsonian Channel
CBSHGTVStartTV
CBS SportsHLNSundanceTV
Cartoon NetworkIFCSyFy
CNBCInvestigation DiscoveryTBS
CNBC WorldLAFCTCM
CNNMLB Game of the WeekTLC
CheddarMLB NetworkTNT
CMTMSNBCTYT
Comedy CentralMotortrendTastemade
CometTVMTVTelemundo
Court TVMyNetworkTVTennis Channel
Cozi TVNBCThe CW
DiscoveryNBA TVTravel Channel
DisneyNBC SportsTru TV
Disney JrNBC UniversoTV Land
Disney XDNBC SNUSA
E!NBC LXUniversal Kids
ESPNNECNVH1
ESPN2NESNWE TV
ESPNUNat Geo WildYouTube Originals
ESPNewsNational Geographic
FOXNewsy

You’ll notice a few things as you look at the YouTube TV channel list, including:

  • A full suite of sports networks, including the family of ESPN channels, Fox Sports, and the MLB and NBA networks
  • Local channels and major news networks
  • Dozens of lifestyle and entertainment networks

The base channel package from YouTube TV competes well with Hulu Live channels since they both have similar offerings. Keep in mind that Hulu is $10 cheaper per month.

Add-Ons

 

Most streaming providers offer add-on channels to enhance your viewing experience. YouTube TV is no different.

Here are the add-ons you can couple with the YouTube TV channels:

ChannelCost/Mo.
Acorn TV$6
AMC Premiere$5
Cinemax$9.99
Curiosity Stream$3
EPIX$6
FOX Soccer Plus$15
HBO Max$14.99
NBA League Pass$6.99
Showtime$11
Shudder$6
Starz$9
Sundance Now$7
UMC$5

Depending on what you add to your package, it’s easy to spend roughly $100 per month on the streaming provider. This is close to the average cost of cable.

You might find some of the offerings for a lower cost elsewhere, but this would not allow you to view everything within the YouTube TV web interface.

Cost

 

On June 30, 2020, YouTube TV increased its monthly cost by $15 to $64.99 per month. This increase made the provider one of the most expensive platforms in the streaming space.

The higher price provides little in value. It’s important to point out you can find similar offerings that are more affordable. Hulu Live’s features are competitive to YouTube TV and cost $10 less per month.

Sling TV is another suitable alternative. It offers Blue and Orange plans for $30 per month each or $45 combined.

Like most other streaming options, YouTube TV offers a seven-day free trial.

Look And Feel

 

The YouTube TV web interface has a similar feel to the regular YouTube site. It’s clean and easy to use. You primarily navigate the platform through three main tabs at the top: Library, Home, and Live.Screen Shot 2020 08 17 at 8.32.55 AM

The Library section is where you can find all your DVR recordings. It’s intuitive to use and lets you sort by content type (for example sports or movies), alphabetically, and recency.

The Home section is where you go to find recommendations for content you should watch. These are based on shows you’ve viewed or searched for.

The Live section is where you go to find a guide of shows currently airing. YouTube TV even allows you to use the settings area to exclude channels you don’t want to see.

The platform also offers a helpful search function in the upper right corner of the interface. You can search by genre or channel.

You can fine-tune your search by using narrow searches, such as “romantic comedy + 2018” to find relevant movies or shows.

Features

 

The cable replacement space is a competitive market. Streaming platforms augment their offerings to add features users want.

Below are a few of the features that set YouTube live TV apart from the competition.

Cloud DVR

A DVR keeps many people tied to their cable contract because they fear streaming services won’t have the ability to record their favorite shows. While other companies lack this feature, YouTube TV’s DVR service shines.

The cloud DVR offers unlimited storage, enabling you to keep content for up to nine months. It also offers rewind, fast forward, and pause capabilities.

Hulu Live tries to compete with 50 hours of DVR included, but you must pay $9.99 per month if you want to upgrade to 200 hours.

Users And Permissions

If you have a large family, you know how difficult it is to manage what everyone likes to watch.

YouTube TV recognizes that and includes six accounts per household. The service also lets you simultaneously stream on three devices. Hulu Live comes closest to this with six and two, respectively.

Parental Controls

Many parents of younger children want to control what their children can watch. YouTube TV makes that simple to do.

Here is how you access the parental controls and settings:

  • Click the lock icon in the bottom corner of any page
  • Complete the multiplication problem or read and enter the numbers that appear
  • If you don’t want to do the second step, you can create a custom passcode

Once you complete the steps listed above, you can block content, establish settings of what your kids  can watch, turn search ability off, and more. This is somewhat standard across streaming providers.

Supported Devices

Cable replacement services know they need to allow their service to operate on multiple devices. You can access YouTube TV from a variety of devices, including:

  • Amazon Fire Stick or TV
  • Apple TV, Google Chromecast, PlayStation 3 and 4
  • Roku and Xbox One
  • Google Chrome and Firefox
  • Hisense, LG, Sharp, and Vizio Smartcast Smart TVs

You can also access the YouTube TV app on your smartphone or tablet aslong as it’s Android L or later or Apple iOS 11 or later.

Pros and Cons

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a streaming service like YouTube TV. Here are some things to think about.

Pros:

  • Robust cloud DVR
  • A full suite of sports channels, local networks, and lifestyle/entertainment channels
  • Intuitive interface and helpful search functions
  • More channels than most competitors
  • Can have up to six accounts

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Fox Regional Sports Networks is not available in all locations

There is a lot to like about YouTube TV. However,with the recent price increase, it’s tough to give them a winning edge. While the service is excellent, it’s easy to wipe out most of the savings you get by cutting the cord.

Alternatives To YouTube TV

 

Given the high cost, you may want to look elsewhere for your viewing needs. Here are some suitable alternatives that will save you money and let you watch your favorite shows.

ServiceCost/Mo.# ChannelsLocals?# Streams
YouTube TV$6585+Yes3
Hulu Live$5560+Yes2
Sling TV (O+B)$4550+NBC4
Philo TV$2050+No3

Philo TV

 

Philo is the cheapest alternative to YouTube TV. You receive 60 channels for just $20 per month.

How can Philo offer so many channels for a low monthly price? They do not offer sports or local channels which are options other platforms pay a lot to offer.

While this limitation will hold some people back, you can replace local coverage with an affordable digital antenna if you don’t watch sports.

Overall, the platform isn’t quite as robust as YouTube TV. But, if you’re only interested in entertainment and lifestyle channels with some news, it’s an excellent value.

Read our review of the Philo channels to learn more about the platform.

Sling TV

 

Sling TV is run by Dish TV. Like other cable alternatives, it does not have a contract. You choose between one of two package offerings with Sling: Blue and Orange.

They both cost $30 per month individually or $45 per month combined. The difference between the offerings is the sports channels you receive.

Orange has ESPN, whereas Blue carries Fox Sports. Depending on where you live, you will receive some local networks with Sling TV.

In select markets, NBC and Fox are included in Sling Blue. Additionally, depending on where you live, ABC and CBS are included in either package.

Similar to Philo, you can solve this issue with a cheap digital antenna.

Read our review of the Sling TV packages to learn more about the platform.

Hulu Live

 

Hulu with Live TV is the closest in offerings to YouTube TV. The service has nearly 70 channels for $54.99 per month.

This is $10 less per month than YouTube TV, but with about a dozen fewer channels. However, the channels added by YouTube TV in its price increase are not terribly popular ones, so the value add is minimal.

Hulu carries local networks in most markets and has a significant portfolio of original content. This includes shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, Castle Rock, and Letterkenny.

Read our review of the Hulu Live channels to learn more about the platform.

 

Summary

 

YouTube TV is an excellent streaming platform. It has robust offerings, making it one of the closest options to fully replacing cable.

Unfortunately, it comes with a substantial price tag. While it does not have a contract, it’s still $65 per month. You can try the free trial, however you should keep in mind that it will be an expensive monthly cost once the trial ends.

If you want a cheaper alternative, Hulu Live is just as good and saves you $10 each month. If you don’t watch sports, Philo is a third of the cost and competes quite well.

 

How much do you pay each month for cable? What networks are a must-have for you?

 

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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