Why YouTube TV Is the Best Cable Replacement for Cord Cutters

Ryan Dube 02-11-2018

These days, most people are frustrated with their overpriced cable TV subscription. YouTube TV offers an alternative, since it now offers live TV from over 60 popular networks.


The price of YouTube TV is roughly half of a basic cable TV subscription. There are no bait and switch games, no cable box, and no hassle.

But does a YouTube TV subscription mean you can finally cut the cord? Let’s take a look at what you actually get when you sign up for YouTube TV and whether it’s worth it.

YouTube TV: What Do You Get?

youtube tv signup

Signing up for YouTube TV is as simple as visiting the YouTube TV Welcome page and clicking on Try It Free.

Before you sign up, make sure to scroll down the welcome page and type in your 5-digit ZIP code.


When you type in your ZIP code, you’ll see all of the networks that are available when you subscribe. These include local live television networks. Yes, you can watch local news coverage when you sign up with YouTube TV.

youtubetv networks

Here are a few things you should know before you sign up:

  • Every household subscription gets six accounts to use.
  • Each account has a personalized DVR feature so you never need to miss a favorite show.
  • The DVR library has unlimited storage and can record multiple shows simultaneously.
  • You can stream to Chromecast, Roku, smart TVs, and Android and iOS devices.
  • Premium networks like Starz, Showtime, and sports networks are also available at additional cost.

One other important thing to note is that YouTube TV has ads, just like regular television. However, if you also pay for YouTube Premium Is YouTube Premium Worth the Cost? 7 Things You Need to Consider Is YouTube Premium's cost worth it? We look into the pros and cons of YouTube's paid version. Read More (formerly YouTube Red), ads are removed from YouTube content. Unfortunately, you’ll still see them on live and recorded TV shows.


Watching Live Shows on YouTube TV

browsing live stations on youtubetv

Once you have an account, you can connect to tv.youtube.com to view live television.

The top ribbon is where you can see all live TV shows that are currently available. “Channel Surfing” on YouTube TV consists of scrolling left or right through this ribbon. Or if you prefer searching for shows by genre, then just click one of the tags under the live TV listings.

watching live shows


When you click on a live show to watch, it will default to full screen. To view controls or to switch back to browsing, just put your cursor at the bottom of the screen.

If you click one of these menu options, your show will continue playing but will shrink to the top of the screen as you browse other shows.

The channel schedule is a little buggy. A number of stations display “No broadcast is available—stay tuned” even though you can find the live show playing on that station in the Live TV ribbon.

channel schedule


Your YouTube TV Library

The YouTube TV DVR feature is pretty sweet.

If you have a favorite series where you don’t want to miss an episode, under Add To Your Library just press the plus icon and YouTube TV will record every upcoming episode for you.

show recording

If you open up a series page, toward the bottom you’ll see all of the individual episodes. These include both upcoming shows and those already aired.

Technically, you don’t need to “record” any episodes, because you can just go to the series page and watch all of the episodes you missed anyway.

watch past episodes

This turns YouTube TV into an interesting combination of Netflix and cable television. The main difference is that you’re not waiting around for the season to get published a year later. You can binge-watch every episode The Pros and Cons of Binge-Watching Television With streaming services so popular, most people now binge-watch TV shows. Learn more about the pros and cons of binge-watching. Read More the night they’re released. If you missed half of the current season, you can catch up by watching the entire season up to now.

Create a Family Group on YouTube TV

If you’re planning to use YouTube TV in a household with multiple people, you’ll need to create a Family Group.

To do this, just visit families.google.com/families. When you first visit the page, just click Get Started. On the next screen click Create Family Group. As the group creator, you’ll be the Family Group Manager.

add family members

Just search for the Google account for each of your family members, and click Send.

Once you’ve created the Google Family Group, you’ll need to open YouTube TV, click on your Profile, click Settings, and the select Family sharing.

enable family sharing

Click on the Set up link next to Family sharing.

Finally, just click the blue Share button.

sharing youtubetv with family

Now everyone in your Google Family Group will have access to the same YouTube TV account.

Other Useful YouTube TV Settings

There are few other features available in the Settings area that are worth mentioning.

Under Live guide, you can add or remove networks from your live guide listings. This can simplify your browsing if there are some stations that you never watch.

adjust live tv listings

Under Area, you can update either your Home area, or your Current playback area.

Adjust the Home area if your family moves to a new location. You can use Current playback area to temporarily change your listings if you’re on vacation and want to watch the local news.

set tv listings area

As you can see, YouTube TV is far more flexible than traditional cable TV.

YouTube TV Is Accessible From Everywhere

Another way YouTube TV will transform how you watch television is all of the different devices you can access TV programming from.

If you’re sitting in the living room and are watching a great show on your laptop, you can quickly tap the “Cast” icon on the video screen to cast that video to your living room TV for everyone to watch.

cast youtubetv

If everyone isn’t in the living room and they want to watch shows on their own, they can access YouTube TV from their smartphone or tablet.

All of the same content is accessible from the YouTube TV app on mobile devices. That includes browsing networks, viewing shows, and enabling recordings.

The settings area from the app also includes a few extras as well.

These include enabling show recommendation notifications, managing content for younger viewers using that mobile device, and enabling or disabling captions for that device.

So long as you can log into your Google account from the device, you can access your YouTube TV content. That includes when you’re traveling and using someone else’s laptop or tablet. YouTube TV access is connected to your account, not your device.

Is YouTube TV Better Than Cable?

For about half the price of a basic cable TV package, YouTube TV blows cable TV out of the water. It’s better for all of the following reasons:

  • Access to more networks than a basic cable TV package
  • Free DVR style recording of unlimited shows and series
  • Free content filtering for children on the devices they use
  • The mobility of bringing your live TV subscription with you when you travel
  • Hassle-free location change when you move
  • The flexibility of watching TV on any television or device in your home

If you’ve had a cable TV package for years, this is a great opportunity to finally cut the cord and save yourself some money. If you have already cut the cord, this is an amazing way to get back to watching the latest shows you love when they are broadcast, rather than having to wait.

If you still can’t get yourself to pay for live TV, there are other ways to watch cable shows after cutting the cord How to Watch Cable TV Shows Online After Cutting the Cord You probably love to watch cable TV shows but hate paying for an expensive subscription. Fortunately, cordcutters have options for watching cable TV online. Read More .

Related topics: Cord Cutting, Media Streaming, YouTube Premium, YouTube TV.

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  1. Jeff
    November 6, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    I tried Hulu only to find out I could not get my local games and channels. I live in an area where my only internet option is LTE cellular. My IP address shows as coming from CA but [m in WA. Per the licensing agreements with their providers, Hulu cannot allow me to view local content from a locale that I'm not in. Reading the fine print on Youtube, they are subject to the same limitation.
    Only PS Vue allows me to state that I'm in my local area even though my IP says otherwise. Unfortunately, every time my IP changes, I have to get on chat with customer service and have them manually update my location.
    Cord cutting is not for the faint of heart.

  2. Chuckles
    November 3, 2018 at 2:41 am

    I agree with Michael. PS Vue is definitely better.
    Been using it for 3 years. With the amount of channels, DVR, and the ability to use up to 5 devices. It can't be beat.

  3. Michael
    November 2, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    PS Vue is better

  4. Michael
    November 2, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    PS Vue is better.

  5. Bardo
    November 2, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    This would be a really great option for most people if it weren't for the fact that more and more ISP's are beginning to enact relatively small data caps (some as small as 250GB) on their plans to try to stop people from moving to these streaming alternatives to cable TV. You've got to pay for much faster internet speeds than you actually need just to get a large enough data cap.
    It's an incredibly sneaky and disingenuous way for Telecom companies to advantage their own services. Of course, current FCC leadership isn't about to accuse them of doing anything wrong...

    • cute fuzzy bunny
      November 3, 2018 at 1:12 am

      I stream about everything I watch and hit about 300gb a month. My cap is 1tb. If your ISP wants to cap you, get another one.

      • Ba Ba Black Sheep
        November 8, 2018 at 10:38 am

        Please tell me how many other ISP's are in your area? Everywhere I've lived you had one choice maybe 2 but always not worth choosing i.e ATT 6 mbps. You must not live in the USA, a nation of sheep where our pols and corp's bend us over on a monthly basis.

  6. Finkle
    November 2, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    So why is YouTube TV the best cable replacement for cord cutters? If you make it the title, you really should support the claim.

    November 2, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    I had Sling and dumped it for YouTube TV because of sports. YouTube TV has all my local teams live and Sling did not. I love paying $40 plus $2.40 tax per month. I can watch on multiple TV and my phone and tablet without paying for a box... Cable got greedy. You sign up for $80 a month, they add taxes and fees an you are well over a hundred and then when you deal ends, they jack it up some more... Never again will I subscribe to cable TV....

  8. Victor Smith
    November 2, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    I have had Directv Now, Sling & Hulu with live TV. Directv Now was almost unwatchable, Sling charged extra for networks and Hulu would crash many times during the day.
    I went to Youtube TV, and haven't regretted it. Is it perfect? No, but even cable freezes up at times, However, most of the channels are at 60 fps. Most of the other companies don't offer that.
    I'll stay with Youtube TV, it can only get better.

  9. Severian
    November 2, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I don't entirely agree with this article.

    We've sampled three services extensively in the last two months: Hulu Live, YouTube TV and DirecTV Now - each as a possible replacement for a fairly minimal satellite package (DirecTV ). Of those three, YouTube TV has the best interface, the best DVR and the fewest quirks. Unfortunately, its channel selection does not match our viewing preferences very well - neither did Hulu Live.

    Specifically, the sports are of no interest to us. My wife is a big fan of ID and Lifetime and several other channels - none of which are offered on YouTube (yes, you can add those via Philo, but that's another service for $16 more and now you can't DVR those channels).

    The bandwidth consumed by streaming is more than you might guess. Comcast gave us streaming estimates for HD - they were too low by quite a bit - the streaming services use more bandwidth than the estimate. The problem wasn't one of buffering - everything played fine. The problem was with the total bytes consumed.

    Also, be very sure that the device you use has truly stopped streaming when you stopped watching! Be sure that you know what your internet provider considers "excessive" use. (In our area, Comcast allows you a terabyte of download per month. We exceeded that in our "testing" month - much to our surprise). If you are one to leave the TV on much of the day as background noise, you will be astounded how much data this consumes. Add in a device or two that is still streaming, even though you thought it was off and bang - your terabyte is gone.

    Finally, be very careful about when your "free 7 days" ends. YouTube TV charges your credit card for the next month service and you can *not* get a refund out of them even if you are cancelling just a few hours later than their cut off.

    Depending on how much you watch and what you watch, these services can be much better and much cheaper than Cable or Sat. But don't assume that is true for you - the channels you watch, the limitations of your internet provider and so forth determine whether it makes sense to do this or not.

    The DirecTV Now "beta" DVR is inferior to what they offer on satellite in every possible way. It is about one notch up from not having a DVR at all.

    By all means, give YouTube TV or the others a try, but you might - like us - find yourself going back to the Satellite because you can't get what you want as cheaply or as conveniently from any combination of streaming services - or at least not without incurring "bandwidth anxiety".

  10. David Martin
    November 2, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Very informative article. We enjoy Youtube TV as our cable replacement and found the user interface to be far superior to Hulu's. The primary downside of Youtube TV for us is that live programming is only broadcast in stereo and not in 5.1 surround sound.

  11. Gruntz
    November 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Yeah.... no its not! Plain and simple!! The best cord cutter's streaming service really depends on the streamers wants and needs. Bottom line, THERE ISN'T A "BEST" service.

    As of Nov 2018, ...
    ?SlingTV is still the best price per channel at $.43 vs youtube $.76 or DirectTV Now @ $.58
    ?Hulu has the most on-demand content followed by SlingTV
    ?DirectTV Now offers local sports networks for most areas along with local ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ...
    ?DirectTV NOW is $5 xtra for HBO/Cinemax and $8 for Showtime and Stars. The others are $10 to $15.

    Again, there really isn't a "best service". People need to do a little research to find what's best for them. Things like DVRs, number of streams, the price of premium networks, spanish networks, international networks, .... There is a lot to consider!

  12. Bob Mathews
    November 2, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    After using it for most of the year, here are the weaknesses:
    1. Although they're phasing this annoyance out, there are still some channels where they substitute on-demand version of a show in place of the recording, requiring you to watch ads, and preventing fast-forwarding over them.
    2. If you stop watching a show in the middle, it doesn't keep track of where you stopped so you can continue next time. You have to scrub thru the show and find where you left off.
    3. There are UI quirks. On Roku, fast-forwarding/rewinding while the video plays can sometimes skip back to where you started when you press play again. Fast-forward/rewind is slow on Roku. No way to specify to record only new episodes, etc.

      November 2, 2018 at 4:12 pm

      The Deal Killer: "Unfortunately, you’ll still see them (COMMERCIALS) on live and recorded TV shows."

    • Charlie
      November 2, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      Your points #1 and #2 are global and agreed these are issues google is buttoning up but still exist. Point #3 i believe is just for the Roku platform, which is not surprising since that's a recent port of the application.