YouTube’s $35-a-month TV streaming service just launched — here’s what it’s like

 Steve Kovach 
Google's experiment to court cord-cutters begins now.

On Wednesday, Google launched YouTube TV, the live-TV video-streaming service it announced earlier this year, on iPhone and Android. It costs $35 a month, and up to six users can share an account. (However, you can stream on only three devices at the same time.) You also get a one-month free trial and can cancel whenever you want — no contracts.

YouTube TV includes over 40 channels with the option to buy premium networks like Showtime. There's also a virtual DVR service with unlimited storage so you can stream shows you've recorded to your device and skip past commercials.

Here's a quick overview of the channels you get with YouTube TV

I've been using YouTube TV for only a few days, so this isn't a full, in-depth review. I also haven't had a chance to test the service on Chromecast or use the voice-control features with the Google Home speaker. But overall, the video streams have been steady and reliable on YouTube TV, which has been a big challenge for competitors like DirecTV Now and Sling TV. We'll see how it holds up once the public gets to try it though.

Want to see it in action? Keep reading.

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YouTube TV is a separate app you download for iPhone or Android. It's not on devices like Roku or Apple TV yet.


If you want to watch YouTube TV on your television, you'll need Chromecast or a special TV with Google Cast.

Chromecast and Google Cast will let you beam YouTube TV from your phone to your television.The Home tab recommends live and recorded shows you might want to watch based on shows you've selected to record.

The Live tab shows you what's streaming now from about 40 channels. 

The user interface is nice here. You swipe up and down to channel-surf, and previews start streaming as soon as you scroll through. The Library tab displays the shows you've saved to your virtual DVR. You have "unlimited" DVR space, but shows disappear after nine months.

Clicking the + button next to a show will save it to your DVR. The show will automatically record the next time it airs. You can also fast-forward through commercials on shows stored in your DVR . There are also a lot of shows and movies available to watch on demand.

If you like sports, you can select your favorite teams, and YouTube TV will automatically record the games they play.  

You get access to YouTube's original programming. These shows also come with YouTube Red, its $10-a-month subscription service that doesn't include live TV.
You get access to YouTube's original programming. These shows also come with YouTube Red, its $10-a-month subscription service that doesn't include live TV.
YouTube original shows feature YouTube stars like Lily Singh and MatPat.

Although YouTube TV is a bundle with over 40 channels, you might have trouble finding what you want to watch.

There's no CNN, Discovery, HBO, TBS, Comedy Central, or a slew of other popular channels.

YouTube TV has all four major broadcast networks, though, which have been tough for competing services to provide. Still, channel availability can vary depending on where you live.

This is the biggest drawback to YouTube TV right now. While DirecTV Now offers packages with 120 channels or more, YouTube TV's selection feels limited in comparison.

There's some good news: AMC networks are coming soon.
AMC was one of the biggest networks missing from YouTube TV when the service was announced. But now YouTube says it's coming soon, along with IFC, Sundance TV, BBC America, and others. It won't cost extra.

You can add Showtime for another $11 a month.
Other premium services like Fox Soccer Plus ($15 a month), Shudder (coming soon), and Sundance Now (also coming soon) will be available as add-ons.

YouTube TV isn't a good option for most people.
Hollis Johnson
To borrow Google CEO Sundar Pichai's favorite phrase, it's clearly "early days" for YouTube TV and similar services.

As nice as it is to stream shows to your smartphone, it'd be better to have more options besides Chromecast to watch on TV. And YouTube seems so steadfast in keeping the price at $35 a month that it's willing to leave out a lot of cable channels people love.

The technology behind YouTube TV feels sound, but it'll need to grow up a lot before it becomes a viable cable replacement for most people.





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