How To Decide if YouTube’s New TV Service Is Right For You

5 minute read

Google has already tried to replace your wireless carrier and Internet provider. Now it’s gunning for your cable subscription, too.

The company’s YouTube TV service, announced this week, offers a bundle of around 40 TV channels for $35 per month. There’s no precise launch date, but YouTube says it’ll be available later this year.

Google describes the service as “TV for the YouTube generation” — subscribers will be able to access it on mobile devices as well as gadgets that connect to their TV. One of YouTube TV’s biggest perks is its unlimited DVR feature, which lets users record an infinite amount of TV shows and store them in the cloud.

Read more: The best TVs you can buy right now

YouTube TV will debut into a crowded competitive landscape. Sony’s PlayStation Vue, Dish Network’s Sling TV, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now all offer similar services, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. While none of these services will totally replace what you’ll get with a traditional pay-TV package, they are compelling options in combination with streaming options like Netflix, Hulu or HBO Now.

Here’s a closer look at YouTube TV compares to the rest of the TV streaming packages out there:

YouTube TV

YouTube Unveils A Virtual Cable Subscription
Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer of YouTube Inc., introduces the company's new television subscription service at the YouTube Space LA venue in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Packages and Channel Selection

  • $35 per month for more than 40 networks
  • Optional Add-On Channels

  • $11 per month for Showtime
  • $15 per month for Fox Soccer Plus
  • Compatibility

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Google Chromecast
  • Will launch on TV-streaming devices, gaming consoles, and smart TVs in the coming months (specific models haven’t been revealed yet)
  • Special Features

  • Can store an unlimited amount of DVR content via the cloud
  • Supports up to six accounts with their own DVR
  • Up to three simultaneous streams allowed per membership
  • Includes access to YouTube Red original content
  • Drawbacks

  • Missing major channels such as CNN, Nickelodeon, Discovery, AMC, Comedy Central, TNT, Spike, and MTV
  • Fewer add-on options than competing services
  • No option to add HBO
  • PlayStation Vue

    PlayStation's E3 Press Conference: 2015
    ndrew House, President and Global CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., announces the launch of PlayStation Vue in the Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area TV markets, as well as a-la-carte offerings nationwide at PlayStation's E3 2015 Press Conference on Monday June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.Chris Weeks—Getty Images for Sony Computer A

    Packages and Channel Selection

  • Access Slim: $29.99 for 45+ channels
  • Core Slim: $34.99 for 60+ channels
  • Elite Slim: $44.99 for 90 channels
  • Ultra Slim: $64.99 for 90 channels plus HBO and Showtime
  • The following prices apply to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami, since these markets offer the most local broadcast stations.

  • Access: $39.99 for 45+ channels
  • Core: $44.99 for 60+ channels
  • Elite: $54.99 for 90 channels
  • Ultra: $74.99 for 90 channels plus HBO and Showtime
  • Optional Add-On Channels:

  • Epix: $3.99 per month/$2.99 for PlayStation Plus members (already included in Elite and Ultra packages)
  • Espanol Package: $4.99 per month/ $3.99 for Playstation Plus members (includes nine channels)
  • HBO: $15 per month
  • Showtime: $10.99 per month/$8.99 for Playstation Plus members
  • Cinemax: $15 per month
  • Machinima: $1.99 per month
  • Fox Soccer Plus: $14.99 per month/$12.99 for Playstation Plus members
  • Epix Hits and Showtime: $13.99 per month/$11.49 for Playstation Plus members
  • Polaris: $2.99 per month/ $1.99 for Playstation Plus members
  • Compatibility

  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • Amazon Fire TV devices
  • Apple TV 4th Gen
  • Roku
  • Android TV
  • Google Chromecast
  • Mobile app available for iOS, Android, and Fire TV tablets
  • Special Features

  • My Shows feature lets you store and save shows to the cloud for up to 28 days
  • Can store up to 500 shows in DVR, or thousands of hours of programming
  • Discounts on certain channels for PlayStation Plus members
  • Tag favorite channels to have them appear first in your TV guide
  • Navigation shortcuts available on PlayStation controller and Fire TV remote
  • Supports up to five streams at once
  • Can create up to five different profiles
  • Drawbacks

  • Missing Viacom-owned channels like MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central
  • DirecTV Now

    AT&T Celebrates the Launch of DIRECTV NOW
    CEO of [f500link]AT&T[/f500link] Entertainment Group John Stankey speaks onstage during AT&T's celebration of the Launch of DIRECTV NOW at Venue 57 on November 28, 2016 in New York City.Dave Kotinsky—Getty Images for DirecTV

    Packages and Channel Selection:

  • $35 for 60+ channels
  • $50 for 80+ channels
  • $60 for 100+ channels
  • $70 for 120+ channels
  • Optional Add-On Channels:

  • HBO: $5 per month
  • Cinemax: $5 per month
  • Starz and Starz Encore: $8 per month
  • Special Features:

  • $25 discount per month for those who subscribe to AT&T’s Unlimited Plus plan
  • Can save channels to favorites
  • Able to create a list of up to 100 titles to watch later
  • Can view shows that aired within the last 72 hours
  • Stream on two devices simultaneously
  • Drawbacks:

  • Currently no DVR capability (AT&T says it will be added later this year)
  • Can’t create multiple profiles
  • No CBS content at this time (AT&T also says it’s working with CBS to make a deal)
  • Sling TV

    Inside The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show
    Roger Lynch, chief executive officer of Sling TV LLC, pauses while speaking during an event at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Packages and Channel Selection:

  • $20 for 30+ channels
  • $25 for $40+ channels
  • $40 for 49 channels
  • Optional Add-On Channels:

  • Around 20 additional bundles available ranging from $5 to $15 per month, including kids-themed packages (Disney Junior, Nicktoons, etc.), comedy (MTV, Game Show Network, Spike), sports (NHL Network, NBA TV), HBO, Cinemax, and international channels, among others
  • 4 Extras Deal offers four packages for $10 including kids, comedy, news, and lifestyle bundles (more than 30 channels total)
  • Special Features:

  • Can replay content that has aired within the last three days for certain channels
  • Drawbacks:

  • Missing CBS
  • Channels like MTV, CNBC, and ABC are missing from base packages
  • Can only stream on one device at a time with cheapest package
  • DVR feature is in beta
  • No Showtime option
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