YouTube TV: What You Need to Know

All about YouTube's television streaming service for cord cutters

YouTube TV is an online streaming service that allows subscribers to watch live television on computers, phones, and other compatible devices. It requires a high-speed internet connection, and it's a convenient replacement for cable television for people looking to cut the cord.

You can buy or rent select movies using the YouTube TV app, and you can also rent and buy movies on YouTube using the same login and payment information.

How to Sign Up for YouTube TV

Signing up for YouTube TV is straightforward, and there's a free trial, so you can check it out before committing to a monthly charge.

Here's how to sign up for the free trial of YouTube TV.

  1. Navigate to

  2. Select Try it Free.

    YouTube TV site with Try It Free highlighted
  3. Choose the Google account you want to use for YouTube TV, and sign in.

    If you only have one Google account, you won't receive this prompt.

  4. You'll see a notice explaining that you can search for content before starting your free trial. To continue with signup, select Start Free Trial.

    YouTube TV free trial signup with Start Free Trial highlighted
  5. You'll see a list of included networks for your area along with the Base Plan, how long your free trial will last (it varies), and any current deals. Select Next: Add Ons to continue.

    YouTube TV sign up page with Next: Add Ons highlighted
  6. Choose any add-ons to your base plan. Add-ons include extra channels; an Entertainment Plus package that combines HBO Max, STARZ, and SHOWTIME; and a 4K Plus option for $19.99 per month that offers 4K support, offline playback, and unlimited streams.

    Select Next: Checkout when done.

    YouTube TV signup page with Next Checkout highlighted
  7. Enter your credit card and billing information, then follow the prompts to complete your free trial signup.

    YouTube TV determines your location based on your IP address during this step. If it thinks you live in an area where the service isn't available, select, I Don't Live Here. Doing this allows you to check if the service is available where you live, but you can't sign up until you're at home.

  8. Be sure to cancel during the trial period if you don't want to continue with the service. You will be billed otherwise.

YouTube TV Plans and Availability

YouTube TV packages are fairly straightforward. There is one base subscription package, and it includes more than 85 channels for $64.99 monthly. Add-on channels and packages are available for various prices (see below).

When you sign up, you see a list of the channels included in the subscription. If you don't see a certain channel, that means it either isn't available in your area or isn't included in the basic package.

The most significant difference between YouTube TV and cable television is that it is less complicated in terms of subscription plans. The single YouTube TV subscription option comes with a selection of network and basic cable channels, and then you can pay extra for additional ones on an a la carte basis.

YouTube TV is available in most major metropolitan areas in the United States. However, the availability of broadcast networks like Fox and ABC is limited based on geographical location. You can watch your favorite local channels on YouTube TV. However, those channels become unavailable if you travel outside the area.

How Many Shows Can You Watch at Once With YouTube TV?

Streaming services like YouTube TV limit the number of shows, or streams, that you can watch at the same time. Some services limit you to one show unless you pay for a subscription package.

YouTube TV lets you stream to multiple devices at once. With the Base Plan, you're limited to three streams per account. However, if you opt for the 4K Plus add-on, you'll get unlimited simultaneous streaming over your home Wi-Fi.

What Internet Speed Is Required to Watch YouTube TV?

YouTube TV requires a high-speed internet connection, but the specifics are a little more complicated. For instance, a slower speed results in lower picture quality, and you may experience buffering where the stream stops for a while intermittently.

According to YouTube, you need:

  • 3+ Mbps for standard definition video.
  • 7+ Mbps to stream a single high definition show if no other devices are using the network.
  • 13+ Mbps to stream shows in high definition if other devices are using the same network.

If you aren't sure how fast your connection is, check out our guide to testing your internet speed.

YouTube TV Add-Ons and Special Features

Like other live television streaming services, YouTube TV offers many add-ons. Most add-ons are single channels, but there are also some packages.

For example, the Entertainment Plus package combines HBO Max, STARZ, and SHOWTIME for an additional $29.99. This price is less expensive than adding these channels individually.

There is also a 4K Plus subscription add-on for an additional $19.99 per month that brings 4K support, offline playback, and unlimited streams over your home Wi-Fi (normally capped at three streams per account).

The 4K support will come mainly from content broadcast by ESPN, FOX Sports, FX, NBC Sports, and more. The offline playback feature allows users to download DVR recordings, though you'll need the YouTube TV app to take advantage of this feature.

You can go to your account and add additional channels and other add-ons to your subscription at any time.

YouTube TV, unlike many of its competitors, doesn't offer original content. YouTube does, however, and these shows are also available with YouTube Premium, a different subscription service that allows you to remove ads from YouTube videos.

While all YouTube Premium original shows and movies are available on YouTube TV, signing up for YouTube TV differs from signing up for YouTube Premium.

YouTube TV subscribers see ads on regular YouTube videos, YouTube Music videos, and YouTube Gaming videos.

How to Watch Live Television on YouTube TV

YouTube TV allows you to watch live television without a cable subscription or an antenna. It lets you do so on a computer, TV, phone, or other compatible devices.

If you have a compatible smart TV, you can watch YouTube TV directly on your television. You can also cast to your TV from a mobile device if you have the right equipment.

With that in mind, watching live television on YouTube TV is extremely easy:

  1. From the YouTube TV home screen, go to the Live tab.

    The Live tab on YouTube TV
  2. Highlight the channel you want to watch. You'll see more information about the show that is currently on and what will come on next.

    Channel info on YouTube TV
  3. Select the title you want to watch.

Since YouTube TV allows you to watch live television, expect to watch the same commercials you would see if you watched on broadcast or cable television. However, you can pause live television on YouTube TV, and there's also a digital video recorder (DVR) feature. This feature is great for watching live sports, like streaming NFL games, since it allows you to pause and re-watch the action. YouTube TV also includes on-demand content.

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