I tried YouTube TV – here’s what I found

YouTubeTV is the latest entry into the streaming TV field. I’ve been an early adopter here; I signed up for Sling on day one (ESPN streaming? Finally!) and moved to Hulu Live TV last fall to get access to the Big Ten Network as well. YouTubeTV rolled out in my area last fall, but I held off trying it until they had applications that supported the devices I have at home. Google had promised apps for Apple TV and Roku, and it took them a while but they finally rolled out a few weeks ago, so this week I signed up for the one week free trial.

The Good

  • Roku, Apple TV, and iOS apps are good
  • Video streams load smoothly, don’t often buffer
  • YouTubeTV includes streams of local TV channels, which is awesome since a couple of our local channels have weak over-the-air signals
  • very intuitive live TV guide grid (this is notably missing from Hulu)
  • Cloud DVR function is intuitive and feels like you’d expect a DVR to behave (mostly. we’ll get to that)
  • Cost is similar to Hulu and Sling

This is all good stuff. No real complaints here.

The Bad

  • Cloud DVR doesn’t seem to differentiate between new episodes and re-runs. This is such an obvious oversight I can’t really believe they shipped it this way. If I’m interested in The Big Bang Theory, I want to record and watch the new episodes, but not the re-runs that are in syndication. YouTubeTV DVR doesn’t have a way to say “new episodes only”. That’s pretty much a dealbreaker.
  • No Food Network or HGTV. Apparently Google doesn’t have a contract with Scripps yet for those channels. For my family, that’s a dealbreaker.

I only have a couple things listed here, but they’re biggies. I assume Google is working to fix those, but until they are corrected, YouTubeTV is really a non-starter for me.

Conclusion

For the moment I’m sticking with Hulu Live. Their stream quality has been good, they have all the channels we want, and the DVR-type function is sufficient. They have promised that they have a major app update coming that’ll help navigate the live TV. If they implement a grid-type guide system and keep or improve their DVR function, they’re the right choice for me right now. But YouTubeTV is close enough that with a few improvements they could jump up to the top of the list.

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