Google TV vs YouTube TV: What's the Difference?

YouTube TV and Google TV are two very different services

Google TV is a service that merges the digital movie and TV store from Google Play with a dashboard that displays content from other streaming services. YouTube TV is a digital alternative to the traditional cable provider that offers many live TV channels and a cloud DVR feature for watching content later. We gave each service a look to make it easier to choose between the two and better understand how Google TV and YouTube TV work.  

Logos for Google TV and YouTube TV

Overall Findings

Google TV
  • The new place to buy or rent content from Google Play Movies and TV.

  • Dashboard also displays content from linked services.

  • Google TV app isn’t available on all platforms which can be confusing.

YouTube TV
  • Unlocks over 85 live TV channels.

  • Unlimited cloud DVR for recording content.

  • YouTube TV apps are available on almost every major platform.

  • Some limited on-demand content

Google TV and YouTube TV are both solid products offering very different services. YouTube TV is a competitive alternative to cable with over 85 live channels for one fixed monthly price. Additional channels are available as add-ons, and all can be, and you can record all of it with the cloud DVR feature that boasts unlimited storage. Those thinking about leaving their traditional cable provider should look at YouTube TV.

Google TV is a typical digital storefront that offers film and TV purchases and rentals. What sets it apart from its rivals is its ability to display content from connected services and offer suggestions powered by Google’s user data. However, what brings Google TV down is the limited availability of its apps, which restricts what features you may be able to use on your devices. 

Platform and App Availability: YouTube TV Is Everywhere, Google TV Isn’t

Google TV
  • Built into Chromecast with Google TV sticks and Google TV smart TVs.

  • Google TV app available on Android devices.

  • Purchased media watchable also via Google Play Movies and TV and YouTube.

  • Watchlist and media viewing functionality available on web.

YouTube TV
  • YouTube TV app available on a large number of Samsung, HiSense, Android TV, and Vizio smart TVs.

  • Xbox and PlayStation consoles support the YouTube TV app.

  • YouTube TV app available on Fire Stick, Chromecast with Google TV and Roku streaming sticks.

  • iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphone and tablet app support.

YouTube TV is the more consistent of the two regarding app and device support. You can find YouTube TV apps on many popular smart TVs, video game consoles, Roku, Fire TV Stick, and Chromecast with Google TV streaming sticks, iPhone and iPad, Apple TV, and Android tablet and smartphones. The experience is also reasonably consistent between each app version.

Google TV has an app for Android devices and has its functionality integrated heavily into the operating systems on Chromecast with Google TV sticks and smart TVs running Google TV. That’s about it. Media purchased or rented can be viewed on other devices via the regular YouTube app or the old Google Play Movies and TV app, but these don’t support Google TV’s Watchlist and dashboard.

Live and On Demand Content: One Is Not Like the Other

Google TV
  • Movies and TV series available to buy and rent from Google.

  • Integration with other services for more on-demand content.

  • No support for live TV or broadcasts in the Google TV app.

YouTube TV
  • Over 85 live channels with the main plan.

  • Additional premium channels available as add-ons.

  • Some on-demand content but limited and with some ads.

Content is where Google TV and YouTube TV differ. YouTube TV acts as a digital alternative to traditional cable services by offering over 85 channels streamed live from within its apps. All YouTube TV channels are live broadcasts, but a built-in DVR cloud service with unlimited storage does let you record programs for later, though. YouTube TV does offer some on-demand content from the various channels as part of your subscription, but many shows and films feature commercials, and the selection is limited.

Google TV is a dedicated digital storefront with on-demand films and episodes that users can rent or purchase. The main focus of Google TV is its digital store, which is a rebranding of Google Play Movies and TV. The Google TV apps, Chromecasts, and smart TVs can also display available content from other services you use, but you will need to subscribe to those services to view their content. For example, if you have an HBO Max subscription, you will see recommendations for its shows and films within Google TV amongst the native Google TV purchases and suggestions.

Cost: YouTube TV Is a Cable Cutter’s Dream

Google TV
  • Content needs to be purchased or unlocked via a separate service.

  • Movies cost around $5 to rent and $5-25 to buy directly from Google TV.

  • TV episodes average around $3 each. 

YouTube TV
  • $64.99 per month to access to over 85 channels.

  • $5-15 for premium channel add-ons.

  • YouTube TV is cheaper and easier to understand than regular cable plans. 

Comparing the cost of using Google TV and YouTube TV isn’t easy as each service works slightly differently than the other. The Google TV app and service are free to use on all of its supported devices, but you’ll need to purchase shows and films from Google within the app or connect to another service to stream additional content.

YouTube TV is much more straightforward than Google TV. A $64.99 monthly subscription unlocks over 85 channels. You can add additional premium channels with prices ranging from $5 per month for AMC premiere to $15 per month for HBO Max. A $25 bundle, called the Entertainment Plus package, is also available, including HBO Max, Showtime, and Starz.

Final Verdict: Are Google TV and YouTube TV the Same?

Google TV and YouTube TV are very different streaming services that don't compete with one another at all. At least not directly.

For the most part, Google TV is an upgrade of Google Play Movies and TV. People can use it to buy or rent on-demand content from Google directly or access content from other services they already subscribe to within one convenient dashboard.

YouTube TV is more of a solution for cable cutters looking to switch to a cheaper, more affordable cable solution. Its unlimited cloud DVR is a special bonus, and the number of channels included in the base plan is impressive. YouTube TV's on-demand content can be hit-or-miss, though, depending on what series or film you're looking to watch.

If you're after live TV channels, YouTube TV is for you. However, if you're looking for a place to buy or rent digital content, Google TV is a solid option.

Does Google TV Have YouTube TV?

The YouTube TV app is available to download for smart TVs powered by Google TV and Chromecast with Google TV streaming sticks. The app will likely come pre-installed on your Google TV hardware but, if it isn’t, you should be able to find it within the device’s app store.

  • Can YouTube TV be linked to Google Home?

    If you have a YouTube TV account that you stream on your television and have connected Google Home to your TV, you can control YouTube TV using Google Home voice commands. If you have a Google Home/Nest Hub or other Google-enabled smart display, you can say "Watch YouTube TV" to view it directly on the screen.

  • Can you pay for YouTube TV with Google Play?

    You can pay for YouTube TV with a credit card, PayPal, or Google Play balance. To change the payment method you are using, go to your profile picture > Settings > Billing and choose Update next to Payment Method. You can view your current form of payment, change your payment method, or add a new form of payment.

  • How do I update YouTube on my Google TV?

    To check for available updates, go to your profile icon on the Google TV home screen and select Settings > System > About > Software update > Check for update. Install any available updates. You may also need to restart the device by going to Settings > System > Restart.

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