YouTube TV is coming, and you probably have questions.
It's always exciting to see a company like Google offer something new, but YouTube TV is not the first time this company has tried to do something innovative with streaming video. Here's what you need to know about Google's latest efforts to shake up television as we know it.
What is YouTube TV?
Think of YouTube TV as an internet-based cable television subscription. For a monthly fee, you can stream live television directly to your phone without needing an account through your local cable company. You can use this as a way to watch live television when you aren't at home, or you can completely replace your home cable service with YouTube TV.
Aren't there other apps that do this right already?
As a matter of fact, there are three rather popular services offering similar services. Sony's PlayStation Vue lets you watch and record live TV across many different screens, DirecTV Now is a satellite-free alternative to cable companies, and SlingTV exists as an alternative to watching your favorite shows with a cable box.
YouTube TV is looking to compete with these services by offering a price point in the middle of these services, with expanded features a promise of more consistent streaming video quality.
How does it compare to Apple's current and (rumored) future offerings?
Apple's current offerings center around an app on tvOS and iOS called TV. TV isn't, itself, a streaming media service, instead it acts as a central hub for all your streaming media services. You can link up supported streaming media apps — Hulu, HBO Now, NBC, ABC, and Comedy Central to name a few — and find content within those services.
In a nutshell: YouTube TV is a subscription streaming media service; Apple's TV app is a built-in app that pulls in content from various subscription streaming media services.
As for the future, it's long been rumored that Apple wants to release a streaming media service of its own. If Apple still plans to do that, the services would be similar: A subscription service filled with media from various content providers.
What channels do I get with YouTube TV?
Currently, YouTube TV is offering:
- Fox News
- Fox Business
- Local Now
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- The CW
- National Geographic
- Nat Geo Wild
- ESPN 2
- ESPN 3
- ESPN News
- ESPN U
- SEC ESPN
- Fox Sports
- NBC Golf
YouTube TV also includes YouTube Originals, which are shows and movies previously available only to YouTube Red subscribers.
There will also be the ability to add networks to your subscription for an additional fee. Currently, Fox Soccer Plus and Showtime are on the list of add-on networks to be available at launch.
Can I record shows with YouTube TV?
You can! YouTube TV includes a "Cloud DVR" service that allows you to record multiple shows simultaneously so you can watch them later. This feature includes a commercial skipping feature if you're watching a recorded show, available with a simple tap in the YouTube TV app.
This Cloud DVR service comes with unlimited storage, and videos you have recorded can only live on your account for nine months before they need to be erased.
How many people can use my account at the same time?
Each YouTube TV account allows you to connect up to six accounts in a family plan for no additional fee. Currently no other live TV streaming service supports six simultaneous users as part of the base price, and each of these connected accounts will get separate recommendations and offers based on their viewing habits. This means you kids can watch all the Pokemon they want and it won't interfere with reminders about Game of Thrones or Football.
So far, Google has not mentioned any need to prove those six people live in the same house or share any other Google services.
What do I need to use YouTube TV?
According to Google, YouTube TV will work on just about everything with a screen. Android and iOS apps will be available, as well as a website for watching and controlling your account.
If you have a TV with a Chromecast dongle or Google Cast service embedded, you will be able so stream anything from YouTube to your television easily.
How much does YouTube TV cost?
Right now Google is offering a flat rate of $35 per month for YouTube TV. There's currently no mention of the individual costs for the add-on networks.
This monthly plan does not include any contracts or commitments, so you can quickly cancel the service if you decide you are unhappy with it.
What about people outside of the US?
As is often the case with Google products and streaming TV services, YouTube TV is currently US only and will likely remain US only for quite a while.
In order to launch in other countries, Google needs to secure streaming rights in each country. That kind of thing takes a lot of time, so the current focus is delivering in the US for now.
Can I get YouTube TV now?
Not yet! YouTube TV is going to be available "soon" and when it is actually available it won't be available across the whole US all at once. Google's plan is to make the service available first in the largest US markets and expand rapidly after the launch. In case you are curious, the 10 largest media markets in the US are:
- 1 New York, NY
- 2 Los Angeles, CA
- 3 Chicago, IL
- 4 Philadelphia, PA
- 5 Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
- 6 San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA
- 7 Washington DC/Maryland
- 8 Boston MA/NH
- 9 Atlanta, GA
- 10 Houston, TX
To sign up so you can be notified of when this service is available in your area, head here and let Google know you're eager to try YouTube TV.
We'll be sure to update this FAQ as more information becomes available!