YouTube Premium vs. YouTube TV: What's the Difference?

They are very different services that fill very different needs

On the surface, YouTube Premium and YouTube TV appear to be nearly identical offerings from YouTube. But the truth is, they are very different services for customers with very different needs. The cost and details of each service are also very different.

Logos of YouTube Premium and YouTube TV

Overall Findings

YouTube Premium
  • View videos without ads.

  • Listen to videos in the background.

  • Download videos for offline viewing.

  • Costs only $11.99/month.

YouTube TV
  • Watch over 85 TV channels.

  • Record shows without storage limits.

  • Includes popular sports networks.

  • Costs $64.99/month.

Both YouTube Premium and YouTube TV have a lot to offer, but what they offer is very different. Choosing the subscription for you boils down to how you typically like to watch videos and TV online.

If you prefer using YouTube only for watching videos and listening to music, YouTube Premium is the ideal choice for you. You'll have the ability to play a video in the background while you're using other apps, or download videos so you can view them even when you're off-the-grid with no internet access. This is also ideal if you already have some other TV subscription services like Roku TV or Hulu with Live TV, or Sling TV.

YouTube TV, on the other hand, is best if you don't already have access to streaming major TV networks. It's especially ideal for people looking for a good option as an alternative to paying for cable TV service.

Content: YouTube TV Isn't Really YouTube Content

YouTube Premium
  • Access YouTube videos without ads.

  • Does not include TV networks.

  • Includes YouTube Music premium.

YouTube TV
  • Access over 85 major TV network content.

  • View local news based on zip code.

  • Only includes YouTube Movies and Originals.

The key difference between these two services is the source of the content. When you sign up with YouTube Premium, you're simply getting better access to existing YouTube video content (including free access to YouTube Originals when they're released). It doesn't give you access to more content, but it will allow you to avoid annoying ads, and view YouTube videos offline (legally).

YouTube TV, on the other hand, doesn't change how you view normal YouTube videos. It simply gives you access to an entire new set of content. Namely, movies and TV shows from major TV networks like AMC, TLC, TBS, Discovery Channel, SyFy, and much more. You will still need an internet connection to view content on YouTube TV.

Features: Features Are Focused on Content Source

YouTube Premium
  • Removes ads from all YouTube videos.

  • Download YouTube videos to your devices.

  • Listen to videos in the background.

  • Access YouTube Music Premium.

YouTube TV
  • Unlimited DVR storage to record shows.

  • No contract; cancel at any time.

  • No cable box required.

  • Watch TV from any device.

You'll notice the features offered with each service are tailored to the kind of content you'll access with them.

In the case of YouTube Premium, you get features related to YouTube videos. This includes the removal of any ads from those videos and you can download any video to your device to watch them anywhere. On your mobile device, you'll be able to open other apps and use them without stopping the video from playing in the background. You can also install the YouTube Music Premium app on your mobile device and access YouTube Music.

On YouTube TV, all features are tailored for TV content. This means a free DVR feature that lets you record, rewind, fast-forward, or pause TV shows and movies. The service also includes 6 accounts that can access the service simultaneously.

Accessibility: The Same for Both Services

YouTube Premium
  • Mobile apps available for Android and iOS.

  • Desktop apps available for Windows and Mac.

  • YouTube Music app available for major devices.

YouTube TV
  • YouTube TV app available for Android and iOS.

  • Desktop apps available for Windows and Mac.

  • YouTube TV apps included on most streaming devices.

There aren't any differences between where you can access YouTube Premium vs. YouTube TV.

You access YouTube Premium when you install it on these platforms:

If you've signed up for YouTube Premium, those apps will give you access to all of the Premium features, like the ability to download and watch YouTube videos offline.

The same is true for YouTube TV. There are YouTube TV apps available for:

Major streaming devices like Roku, Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV sticks also include access to your YouTube or YouTube TV account so you can stream content from those premium services using those streaming devices.

Cost: YouTube TV Is Much More Expensive

YouTube Premium
  • $11.99/month.

  • Includes 3-month free trial.

  • Family and student plans available.

YouTube TV
  • $64.99/month.

  • Includes a 7 day free trial.

  • Include up to 6 YouTube accounts.

Since YouTube Premium is essentially an "add-on" to YouTube itself, the low price reflects this. You're basically paying a small monthly fee for the ability to avoid ads, play videos in the background, and watch YouTube videos offline.

YouTube TV on the other hand is an entire TV subscription service intended to replace your much more expensive cable TV package. For this reason, it costs much more than YouTube Premium, but likely much less than your current cable TV subscription.

Final Verdict: Both Services Fill Important Entertainment Needs

In the end, you may discover you want to subscribe to both services rather than choosing between the two. This is because they serve two entirely different purposes.

If you don't watch much TV and spend most of your time watching only YouTube videos, then the YouTube Premium plan is for you. The fact it also gives you free access to YouTube Music Premium is a nice added bonus.

However if you miss watching major TV network shows and movies, or you're looking to find a replacement for your expensive cable TV subscription, then YouTube TV is a perfect, affordable solution.

And if you enjoy both YouTube videos and TV network content, then both services will serve you well.