Is YouTube TV Worth It?

Find out if YouTube’s cable replacement meets your needs

YouTube TV lets you watch live television, record your favorite shows for later, and stream on-demand content. It’s a direct replacement for cable and satellite television, with the added benefit of being able to watch on your phone, tablet, and other devices. This guide will help you determine whether or not you should subscribe to YouTube TV based on many factors related to your specific budget, viewing habits, and lifestyle.

What Is YouTube TV?

YouTube TV is a streaming service from YouTube, but it isn’t the same as YouTube. It’s similar to cable and satellite television, but you stream it over the internet. You can use a streaming device like Fire TV or Roku to watch it on your TV, an app on your phone or tablet, or go to the website to watch on your computer or laptop.

Most popular cable channels, like AMC, TBS, and Discovery, provide live television. Where available, you can also get live streams of your local channels. In addition to the live streams, you can also record shows to watch later, and various movies and TV shows are available to stream on-demand at any time.

A woman watches YouTube TV on her television.

Kanawa_Studio / iStock / Getty Images

Who Should Get YouTube TV?

Lots of people enjoy YouTube TV every day. Consider subscribing if you:

  • Need to watch your favorite shows when they air or at least DVR them for later
  • Love live sports and other events
  • Can’t access your local channels with an antenna
  • Cut the cord but miss live television

Who Shouldn't Get YouTube TV?

Not everyone needs a live TV streaming service. You might not if you:

  • Never watch live TV and don’t want to
  • Aren’t interested in live sports and other events 
  • Already have cable and don’t want to cut the cord

Why You Should Get YouTube TV

YouTube TV provides live access to the same channels as cable and satellite services but more flexibility regarding where and how you watch. It comes with many benefits you can't get from cable TV. Here are some of the main reasons to get YouTube TV:

You’re a Cord-Cutter and Miss Live TV

You cut the cord, but you’ve found you miss being able to tune in to live TV. Whether you miss watching with your friends and family or are tired of waiting for your favorite shows to appear on other streaming services, YouTube TV provides a similar experience to cable television with some added benefits.

The Live listings on YouTube TV

You’re a Serious Binge-Watcher and Need a lot of DVR Storage

You follow a lot of shows and don’t want to constantly delete some from your DVR to make room for more. Cable and satellite TV limit the number of shows (typically by space) you can DVR, as do most TV streaming services. YouTube TV is different because it offers unlimited DVR storage. You’ll never have to miss a show again, and even if you forget to DVR something, it may be available on demand anyway.

You Don’t Want to Be Tied to your TV

You have a streaming device and like watching on the big screen, but you're always on the move. You need to be able to stream live and on-demand TV to your phone, tablet, and laptop, wherever you are, whenever you want, without restrictions. It’s a beautiful day outside, but you don’t want to miss your favorite show? No problem, load up the YouTube TV app on your tablet and soak in the sun. 

You Have Multiple TV-Watchers in Your House

You love watching live TV, and so do several other people in your house, but that doesn’t mean you want to watch the same thing. YouTube TV lets you connect six user accounts, and up to three people can stream different shows at any time.

You Can’t Watch Local TV With an Antenna

You cut the cord but found out you can't view local TV with an antenna or that you'd need to buy an expensive roof-mounted antenna. You don't have to miss out on local news and programming with YouTube TV. It includes local ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox stations in most locations. If you travel within the United States, you can even view local stations for the area you visit.

When You Shouldn’t Get YouTube TV

While YouTube TV provides many viewing options, it isn't for everyone. Some people won't use the services provided by YouTube TV enough to justify the cost (other streaming services that don't include live TV are far less expensive). Many cord-cutters have left the idea of live television behind, in which case there are better options.

You Never Watch Live TV

If you stopped watching live TV before you cut the cord, then a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV probably isn’t worthwhile. You could sign up for Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Paramount+, and HBO Max, and the combined bill would be less than what YouTube TV costs, so that would be the better option if you don’t care about live TV and sports.

You Spend a Lot of Time Outside the United States

YouTube TV works fine when you travel within the United States, but it doesn’t work outside the United States. If you spend much of your time outside the United States, a monthly subscription to YouTube TV may not be the best investment.

You Watch Lots of Regional Sports

YouTube TV includes many live sports but doesn’t have the best regional sports network (RSN) coverage. That means you may miss some regular season MLB, NBA, and NHL games if it doesn’t have contracts with the regional sports networks in your area. If that’s a big concern, then make sure to check which channel airs your favorite team’s home games and see if YouTube TV carries that channel.

Do You Want to Stream Live TV and Sports?

After cutting the cord, many viewers miss live TV, and YouTube TV satisfies that itch. It provides the same television watching experience you’re used to from cable or satellite providers, but with some added benefits. You can watch on various devices, not just your TV, and you can record an unlimited number of programs to your DVD. The DVR is cloud-based, which means you can access your recorded shows wherever you can access the internet.

If you’ve been using streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video, and you’re tired of waiting a year or more for the latest seasons of your favorite shows to appear, YouTube TV is the solution. It’s also great if you travel a lot, as long as you travel within the United States, as you only need to connect from your home area about once every three months. You can continue to enjoy live streaming television wherever you go.

Is Hulu or YouTube TV Better?

Hulu With Live TV is Hulu’s version of YouTube TV. They offer very similar services, but some factors differentiate them. YouTube TV offers a few more channels, including local PBS stations, that Hulu doesn’t have. It also allows three simultaneous streams, compared to two concurrent streams from Hulu. Despite having fewer overall channels, Hulu has some channels YouTube TV lacks, so it’s essential to check which service has your favorites before choosing.

Which Is Better: Netflix or YouTube TV?

Netflix and YouTube TV are completely different services, so it isn’t easy to compare them. Netflix has more content for significantly less money if you’re looking for TV shows, movies, and documentaries to stream. However, Netflix doesn’t offer live TV. If you want to watch live TV, then Netflix isn’t for you.

FAQ
  • How do I get YouTube TV on Roku?

    Roku streaming boxes and sticks have a YouTube TV app separate from the regular YouTube one. Once you download it, you'll need to sign in with or create a YouTube account and set up a payment option to use the service.

  • What channels are on YouTube TV?

    The exact channel lineup of YouTube TV depends on your location. You can watch your local ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS affiliates and public TV. The platform also has sports stations like NFL Network and ESPN. The basic level without add-ons will have local, sports, news, lifestyle, and family channels; you can pay extra for options like HBO and Showtime.

Was this page helpful?