YouTube TV review: Not a game-changer out of the gate, but it could be soon

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YouTube TV is now available in a couple of cities across the country, marking Google’s first push into the live-TV streaming market. Many cord-cutters’ ears perked up when the service was announced; it provides about 40 channels for $35 per month, including all major broadcast networks and a bunch of sports channels. But while the initial reaction was positive, we now have a clearer picture of what YouTube TV offers and the pros and cons of choosing it over another live-TV streaming service.

On mobile devices

The YouTube TV app for iOS and Android is where all the magic happens. It’s available for iOS devices running iOS 9.1 and up and Android phones running Android L (5.0) or newer, and you can get it on a Chromecast, Android TV, and any computer with a browser (YouTube recommends Chrome, of course). There are no Roku, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV apps, and according to a YouTube spokesperson, support for Android tablets is coming “soon.” For now, the app can’t be downloaded on Android tablets at all. For this review, I primarily used the iOS version.

The app itself is thoughtfully laid out. The homepage of the iOS app is a hodgepodge of content, with scrollable carousels filled with different livestreams and suggestions for new shows or sports to watch and record. This is the area that will change if you have more than one person using your YouTube TV membership. One $35-per-month membership allows up to six separate logins (but only three simultaneous streams), so the automated content recommendations will change from user to user based on what they watch. At the bottom of the homepage lies the menu with Library, Home, and Live options, and at the top is a magnifying-glass search button along with your personal Google account avatar.

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