A first look at Google’s YouTube TV streaming service: slim pickings

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A first look at Google’s YouTube TV streaming service: slim pickings

CNBC: YouTube TV 11
CNBC: Todd Haselton

YouTube TV, Google's streaming TV service, went live in select markets today and we're going to walk you through it.

If you're unfamiliar with the service, YouTube TV allows customers to sign up to stream content from select partners for $35 a month. It's entering a crowded market already populated by Sony's PS Vue, AT&T's DirecTV Now, Dish's Sling TV and, soon, a new service from Hulu.

We've used every option out there, so let's take a look at what YouTube TV offer and how it works.


  • YouTube TV is only available in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York and the Bay Area right now. We’re in New York, so it works here! There’s a free one-month trial, which is nice.


    CNBC: YouTube TV 1
    CNBC: Todd Haselton
  • 39 channels are available to stream, including CNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC Sports, ESPN, FX, USA, ESPN U, Golf Channel and MSNBC. That's not a bad lineup, but it's slim pickings compared with similar-priced offerings from Sling TV (45+ channels), PS Vue (45+ channels) and DirecTV Now (60+ channels). Also, it's $39.99 if you sign up through iTunes because Apple takes a slice of Google's fee.


    CNBC: YouTube TV 2
    CNBC: Todd Haselton
  • You have to agree to pay $34.99 a month after the free trial expires. I’ll need to remember to cancel this, since I still pay for cable.


    CNBC: YouTube TV 4
    CNBC: Todd Haselton
  • This is the home screen. There are recommendations for TV shows to record, new movies to watch, live talk shows, upcoming sports games (and reminders) and even the latest episodes of shows like "The Simpsons."


    CNBC: YouTube TV 5
    CNBC: Todd Haselton
  • Here’s the live TV page. Hey look, I can tune in to The Masters!


    CNBC: YouTube TV 7
    CNBC: Todd Haselton
  • Or watch National Geographic’s “When Sharks Attack”


    CNBC: YouTube TV 8
    CNBC: Todd Haselton
  • I can pause and rewind, or choose to cast it to a TV if I've got one of Google's Chromecast devices.


    CNBC: YouTube TV 9
    CNBC: Todd Haselton
  • I can even record CNBC’s Power Lunch so I never miss an episode.

    CNBC: YouTube TV 10
    CNBC: Todd Haselton
  • The quality looked great, but that sort of thing can vary depending on the time of day and demand. Also, even though you're paying a monthly fee, you're still going to see ads (as the screenshot shows).

    Alphabet was probably wise to roll this out in select markets at first, so that YouTube TV can avoid some of the pitfalls that AT&T's DirecTV Now service faced. DirecTV Now frequently crashed when it launched, for example.

    YouTube TV is available for iOS, Android and the web. You can sign up now as long as you live in the aforementioned markets.


    CNBC: YouTube TV 12
    CNBC: Todd Haselton