YouTube TV—the cordcutting service Google teased six weeks ago—is now available in five cities. If you live in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, Philadelphia, or Chicago, you can sign-up for the $35 a month live TV bundle right now.
YouTube TV follows in the footsteps of other so-called “skinny bundles”—bundles that let you watch live TV from a phone, tablet, web browser, or set-top box without a cable box or subscription—from Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now. Hulu will be launching its own live TV product later this year. The online TV space is quickly becoming crowded, with even traditional cable providers preparing to launch their own streaming plans.
That means YouTube TV will need a way to stand out amongst the competition, either by offering better service (something we’ve had problems with with other providers), better pricing, or better channel selections.
Notably, Turner properties, including TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and CNN, are not available on the service. Getting networks on board is a challenge everyone in the online streaming space will face, and if YouTube can’t secure the big networks, it won’t matter how much name recognition it has.
Right now, YouTube Live subscribers will get access to about 40 channels, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN, FX, USA, Bravo, and Disney. YouTube says that AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance, and Telemundo will be available soon. The service also includes an unlimited “cloud DVR” so that you can record your programs to watch at a later date.
You can use YouTube TV on the web or in an app for iOS or Android. For now, if you want to watch shows on your TV, you’ll need a Chromecast or a TV with Chromecast built-in. That’s a bit of a bummer, especially for anyone who already has a Roku or Apple TV that they use to access Netflix, Hulu, or regular YouTube.
We’ll have more first impressions of YouTube TV, including how it stacks up next to the services from the other guys, soon.