'What is YouTube TV?': Everything you need to know about YouTube's subscription streaming service

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  • YouTube TV is a live subscription streaming service that offers over 70 channels.
  • A YouTube TV subscription, which costs $49.99 per month, will provide access to major news and entertainment channels, live sporting events, and a selection of on-demand TV shows and movies.
  • YouTube Premium, which costs an additional $11.99 per month, provides ad-free access to YouTube original shows, documentaries, and movies from its celebrity creators.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As the days of traditional home cable connections fade into distant memory, it's likely that your home entertainment center is already decked out with subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and more.

But, it's possible that YouTube's competing live streaming and on-demand platform - YouTube TV - has flown under your radar.

What is YouTube TV?

Launched by the video hosting platform in 2017, YouTube TV is a live TV and on-demand streaming service aimed at cord cutters - people moving away from the traditional cable package towards streaming.

YouTube says the service offers users 70+ channels - including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, HGTV, and TNT - to stream local sports, news, and television.

Wells_YTTV_1.PNGYouTube TV offers over 70 channels for local news, sports, and entertainment.Sarah Wells/Business Insider

Exact lineups will vary area to area, and users can get a look ahead at their local lineup by entering their zip-code on YouTube TV's welcome page.

And if live TV isn't really your thing, YouTube TV also offers a large catalog of on-demand shows and movies to binge.

Wells_YTTV_5.PNGYouTube TV offers on-demand movies and shows.Sarah Wells/Business Insider

But, this part of the service might be best for catching up on the most recent episodes or seasons of a show, as the on-demand section doesn't have deep collections of old seasons.

How to watch YouTube TV

The streaming service supports up to six users, has unlimited cloud DVR storage, and is compatible with tons of devices: Android and iOS for mobile; Samsung, Sharp, Vizio, Hisense smart TVs; gaming systems like the Xbox One; Chrome and Firefox web browsers; and other streaming platforms like Chromecast, Roku, and Apple TV.

Wells_YTTV_9.PNGJust some of the possible options for streaming YouTube TV.Sarah Wells/Business Insider

YouTube TV was slow to extend its reach across the US, starting first with select services in Chicago, Los Angeles, the New York City area, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. But, YouTube says it now supports service in 99.5% of households in the United States.

How much is YouTube TV?

The service underwent a price hike in April 2019 and is currently priced at $49.99 per month - a bit pricier than similar competitors Sling TV and Hulu Live TV - but still cheaper than a traditional cable bill, which a study in 2018 found to be an average of $107 per month in the US.

For a fee, users can also add additional channels to their lineup, including AMC Premiere ($5 per month,) CuriosityStream ($3 per month), EPIX ($6 per month), Fox Soccer Plus ($15 per month), NBA League Pass ($39.99 per month), Showtime ($7 per month), Shudder ($6 per month), Starz ($9 per month) and Sundance Now ($7 per month.)

Wells_YTTV_2.PNGYou can add extra channels on YouTube TV.Sarah Wells/Business Insider

What makes YouTube TV special (for an added cost)

In addition to its lineup and storage capacity, another unique feature that YouTube TV offers is the incorporation of original content from its other subscription service, YouTube Premium.

Originally called YouTube Red, YouTube Premium is an ad-free experience that gives users access to exclusive YouTube original content (including original series, movies and documentaries) created by some of YouTube's celebrity creators.

Wells_YTTV_6.PNGYouTube Premium has special content from celebrity creators.Sarah Wells/Business Insider

But there's a catch: a YouTube TV subscription won't get you an ad-free YouTube experience the way YouTube Premium does - for that you'll have to pay for both services (and an extra $11.99 per month.)

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