When Google confirmed YouTube TV — its answer to live-TV streaming platforms like DirecTV Now, Sling, and PlayStation Vue — details were still sketchy. Today, the internet giant officially launched the service, showing potential viewers exactly what they’ll get for their $35/month.
We have yet to try YouTube TV, so we can’t recommend it (or tell you to avoid it), but there are some things you should know:
1. You may not be able to get YouTube TV
YouTube TV includes streaming access to all four major broadcast networks, along with The CW, which is great for people looking for a true cable replacement. Unfortunately, that also limits YouTube TV to launching in markets where the local network affiliates are actually owned and operated by the networks.
So for now, YouTube TV is only available in the following five markets: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Granted, those five metro areas account for a sizable chunk of the population, but it still leaves out the large majority of the country.
2. No HBO
If you want HBO, you’ll have to purchase it separately through HBO Now. The only premium movie channel available as an add-on for YouTube TV is Showtime. Shudder and Sundance will be added soon. Soccer fans can pay extra for Fox Soccer Plus.
The lack of HBO shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most cord-cutters, as HBO Now is readily available. It just means you have to make a separate purchase.
3. Up to 6 accounts
A bonus for families or groups of friends: Each YouTube TV account comes with up to six independent sub-accounts, each with its own virtual DVR, preferences, recommendations.
4. Unlimited-ish DVR storage
Speaking of the cloud-based DVR used for YouTube TV, Google says there’s no upper limit on how much you can store. However, you can only store recordings for up to nine months. So no saving an entire season of a TV show and binge-watching it a year later before the next season starts.
One nice feature — if it lives up to Google’s promise — of this DVR is that it’s accessible anywhere in the country. So while the YouTube TV service might currently be geographically limited, your recorded videos apparently are not.
5. Chromecast-only, for now
If you want to get YouTube TV on your actual TV, Google says you’ll either need a TV with built-in Chromecast or a Chromecast dongle. However, the company says the service will be available on additional connected TV devices in the future.
Google is also giving subscriber’s a free Chromecast after they pay for one month of service.
The mobile app for YouTube TV, which is separate from the YouTube app, is available for both iOS and Android devices.
You can read more about YouTube TV on the official blog, before deciding whether to sign up for the 1-week free trial.