Is YouTube TV Really Worth The Price?

Whether you want to catch the big game, or maybe take in an annual awards ceremony, finding a way to watch regular network TV these days can be more complicated than you think. While digital antennas should, technically, allow you access to local TV stations, reception issues are a common problem for many would-be users. Plus, for those who might live further away from stronger city signals, in a building with thicker concrete, or in a home that happens to face the opposite direction of the signal you want, picking up channels might not even be possible. Further, all of this is to say that, in the era of streaming, relying on an antenna can feel antiquated and downright frustrating.

While streaming has fundamentally changed the way we view television and movies today, it has also created certain problems (hello multiple subscription services). Since many network channels will only allow you to stream them if you provide your cable provider, those who may have moved to a streaming-only lifestyle can be left out of live TV events. In such cases, enter YouTube TV, a streaming service that allows you to watch live (and on-demand TV) from all of the major broadcast networks as well as select cable channels. The app boasts more than 100 channels and also includes add-on options for premium channels at an added cost. While all of this sounds great, the price tag might not be viable for many people, especially if expense was a contributing factor to cutting ties with cable in the first place.

YouTube TV pros and cons

YouTube TV starts at $72.99 a month for its basic plan. In addition to your local network affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, the basic plan gives you access to cable channels like ESPN, CNN, BBC World News, Comedy Central, AMC, Disney, and Discovery. The streaming service also offers a cloud-based DVR service for subscribers, with unlimited hours, and keeps those recordings for up to nine months. Plus, you can access your recordings from anywhere in the United States so it's not location-dependent to a specific household. Subscribers can also stream on three devices at a time, which can be great for a smaller family with differing TV tastes.

The list of things YouTube TV doesn't offer will largely depend on what you are looking for from your streaming and network preferences. The basic plan doesn't include premium channel add-ons, like Max, Showtime, Starz, or many upgraded NFL-related viewing options. Plus, while the service does provide popular cable channels, if you're already a subscriber to other streaming apps (like, say, Disney+), you might already have access to some or all of the cable channels and programming that you're most interested in. Keep in mind that, depending on the specific add-ons you decide on (and just how many you might want/need), your monthly price for YouTube TV could become quite high, and very quickly. Also, even with the high price tag, you will still have to watch ads since you are accessing live TV rather than a streaming app.

Its streaming competition

U.S. News & World Report ranked YouTube TV as tied with Fubo ($79.99 per month) for the Best Live TV Streaming Service of 2024. Similarly, Hulu + Live TV ($76.99 per month), Sling TV ($40 per month), and DirecTV Stream ($75 per month) are all also ranked highly among reviewers. While most of the basic package pricing is similar among these streaming apps, the features, channels, and streaming experience options that come with basic packages vary quite a bit from service to service. Not to mention, add-on channels and streaming features can further inflate your bill. Depending on your family size and just how frequently you watch live TV, you might prefer sticking to a-la-carte streaming apps.

If you're someone who's looking to cut the cable cord and move into the more flexible world of streaming, then YouTube TV can be an option. However, whether YouTube TV can fully replace your cable experience depends entirely on what kind of programming you prefer. For instance, the chances are good you won't have access to the same sports programming you might have had with your cable provider. The same can be true of premium cable channels, 4K streaming options, DVR capabilities (and recordable hour limits), as well as available screens for simultaneous viewing so make sure you look into the available YouTube TV add-on options and carefully price-compare those with your existing cable bundle bill before going all-in with the app.