- Like many millennials out there, I don’t have cable TV.
- My bases are pretty much covered when it comes streaming content with Netflix, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime Video, except for one glaring exception – sports.
- That’s why I was so excited to try out YouTube’s live streaming service known as YouTube TV.
- And after trying it out for one month, I’ll likely keep YouTube TV because the sports coverage is just that good.
- Below is my experience trying out YouTube TV for the first time.
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Like many millennials out there, I don’t have cable TV.
Instead, I watch a mash-up of Netflix Originals, HBO documentaries, and Amazon Prime Video when it feels like a random-movie night. I’ve also taken full advantage of my (and my wife’s) free Hulu trial to watch nothing other than Seinfeld re-runs.
My bases, you see, are pretty much covered when it comes streaming content, minus one glaring exception – sports.
Growing up, I loved watching sports on TV. But since leaving for college (over a decade ago), my sports consumption has relied mostly on friends who still have their parents Xfinity logins, as well as bars showing the game.
That’s why I was so excited to try out YouTube’s live streaming service known as YouTube TV, which has been touted as one of the best cable alternatives on the market.
Announced at the beginning of 2017, YouTube TV is now available nationwide and offers viewers in most local markets access to the major networks like NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox. That means you can watch live sports, as well as live news and cable shows via the streaming service. YouTube TV also offers access to movies, YouTube Originals, and a DVR feature that allows you to easily record shows and live sports to watch at a later time.
I tried YouTube TV for one month to see if it would be added to my repertoire of streaming services.
Here’s what I found when trying out YouTube TV for the first time:
Sign up is simple: just download the YouTube TV app on your phone and click the “Try it now” button to get started.
YouTube TV offers five days for free, but after that, it’s $US40 per month. You can also add on premium channels à la carte, like NBA League Pass, Showtime, and Starz, for an additional monthly fee.
The $US40 per month base price is pretty steep compared to other streaming services, like Netflix and HBO Now. YouTube TV does let you share your account login with six other people, though, which can help drop the cost that each person pays.
There are limitations to sharing your YouTube TV credentials, however.
The people on your account must “periodically” login to YouTube TV from the location you’ve established as your “home” to keep access on their end. YouTube TV doesn’t specify how long that time frame is, exactly, but having that limitation won’t allow you to share your login with family members or friends across the country, for instance – unless they visit you often.
As I expected, the vast majority of my time on YouTube TV was spent watching live sporting events, and I found the coverage incredible. Every time I logged on to the app to watch sports, the game I wanted to watch was available.
Not long after I signed up, YouTube TV learned my favourite teams and would surface their games right at the top of the app when they were playing.
For instance, any time my hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, had a game, it would be playing in the first visible box when I opened the app.
YouTube TV has an easy way to set up push notification alerts any time your favourite teams are playing. It also has a DVR-like feature that automatically records games for the teams you follow.
The recording feature is incredibly simple to use. Just click on the “plus” sign, and all future games for that team will be saved and added to your library.
Still, I never ended up using the record feature. I’m a Lakers fan, but not that die-hard (especially the way their current season has turned out). If I missed watching a game live, I didn’t feel the need to go back and watch a recorded version.
You can easily record TV shows the same way as sports.
This feature might be more useful for shows than it is for sports. If you’re really into a CBS show, for instance, and know you’re going to miss an episode, having it automatically recorded is an awesome feature.
I guess my problem is that I’ve been gone from cable for so long that I don’t really have “a show” that still runs on one of the major networks. Perhaps I should have gotten back into “Survivor” or checked out which city “CSI” is in now.
(Sadly, I just Googled this, and it looks like “CSI” is no longer. Sigh.)
Did I mention how amazing the sports coverage was? It was especially great having access during March Madness when there were a ton of games going on at once.
I did notice that with so many games, I wanted a better way to switch between channels. Even a “previous channel” button would have helped.
Unfortunately, that was not an option, and I was forced to go back to the home screen each time I wanted to watch a different game.
Beyond live sports and TV shows, there’s also live news from stations like ABC, Fox News, and MSNBC.
Other content is available too, like movies, kids shows, and YouTube Originals.
The movie selection is limited and a bit random. I never watched a movie during the month that I tried out the service.
As for YouTube Originals, I didn’t go there either.
Navigating the app was reasonably intuitive. The home screen of the app is where I found most of the games I wanted to watch, but the “search screen” may have a more organised layout. Here, it’s easier to browse by category, like sports and news, and by networks like CBS or AMC.
As for where I actually watched the content, the YouTube TV app allows you to watch games and programming right from your smartphone, though I mostly streamed to my TV at home. I used the built-in Chromecast on my TV to connect YouTube TV.
Beyond Chromecast, you can also stream to your TV by downloading the YouTube TV app on Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, and more.
You can also watch on your tablet or computer.
I did watch some March Madness games directly from my phone when I was away from my TV, and having that option was nice and convenient. The video quality was impressive on mobile and with an LTE connection, I didn’t notice any issues with lag times.
So will I continue to use YouTube TV?
When I spoke to YouTube TV’s Vice President of Product Management Christian Oestlien earlier this year, he told me that “sports help bring people in” but that it’s the shows, like “Big Bang Theory” and “The Voice,” that keep people coming back.
For me, I didn’t find myself watching the network shows at all. I’ve become so accustomed to binging on Netflix that I’ve lost touch with what’s on cable these days.
Still, for the time being, at least, I’ll likely keep using YouTube TV for the sports alone.
Perhaps when March Madness cools off, I will reconsider. But having such easy access to sports – without mooching off friends or figuring out which bar is playing the game – has been such an enjoyable experience.
When it comes to sports coverage, YouTube TV nailed it.
When it comes to everything else – well, if you have cable today and you’re looking for a replacement, I’d recommend giving YouTube TV a go.
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