Until now, YouTube (News - Alert) has always been on the edge of usefulness. It’s great for providing random cat videos and makeup tutorials, and it’s a great way for marketers and influencers to catch people’s attention. However, I’ve never really felt like I needed YouTube in the same way I wanted to be able to access Facebook or Twitter (News - Alert). Well, that perception of YouTube’s usefulness changed drastically today when it launched YouTube TV.
In late February, YouTube announced that it would be launching its new streaming service “in the coming months.” It turns out that the company decided not to make us wait too long, because YouTube TV launched today in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The service is set to be available all across the U.S. soon, and features local stations as well as the same big-name TV networks that most people pay for via cable or satellite—AMC, ESPN (News - Alert), ABC, USA, etc. For now, it doesn’t offer any premium stations like HBO, but that might become possible depending on how popular the service becomes.
On the surface, YouTube TV might seem like just another DirecTV (News - Alert) Now, Sling TV or PlayStation Vue. However, it has so much more to offer than all of those services combined. First of all, YouTube is offering a free 30-day trial (which, if you ask me, is a great deal) and will give a free Chromecast TV streaming device to subscribers after their first paid month (the service costs $35 per month, which isn’t bad compared to what people pay for cable). Much like Apple (News - Alert) TV, the Chromecast device allows users to transfer the live show from their phones to their TVs.
Being able to watch live TV on your phone or your TV set is just the beginning of the perks YouTube TV is rolling out. Most notably, the service allows for six accounts and up to three simultaneous streams. This feature blows services like Netflix and Xfinity out of the water, because they limit how many people can use the same account at once. So, in this aspect, YouTube TV easily gains the upper hand by enabling multiple family members to watch different shows at once, thus diffusing many sibling arguments before they even start.
Additionally, the new service also takes on the DVR challenge many binge-watchers face on a daily basis. Any self-respecting TV-lover knows how difficult it is to allocate DVR recording slots. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve recorded a show, only to realize that it didn’t actually record because your DVR was full. And let’s not talk about how horrible it is when a show saved in your DVR expires before you have a chance to watch it. YouTube TV takes care of that little problem by offering a cloud-based DVR. This lets users record as much live TV as they want—the limit literally does not exist—and only erases shows after nine months. This, again, is a vastly better offering than some of YouTube TV’s competitors—I’m looking at you, Xfinity.
Essentially, YouTube TV has the potential to completely revolutionize how we watch TV. I know a number of people who would happily pay $35 per month for unlimited DVR storage and the opportunity to have live TV both on their phones and TVs. Hypothetically, this could completely replace traditional TV for some people. The service already sounds like a dream come true for binge-watchers and casual TV fans alike, and the more popular it becomes, the more features, capabilities, and compatibility we’re likely to see.
This is a service you’re going to want to keep an eye on.