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YouTube TV: Mobile TV with a Familiar Interface

Even though it is so unlike your cable interface, yet still feels familiar.

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Let me start out by saying that I have never been a huge fan of Google’s streaming strategy with the Chromecast. I don’t want to have a phone or tablet occupied to stream my content, which is a total pain. Having a dongle to stream with a remote control built for it is how I have come to consume my TV content. I want to turn on the TV, grab a remote and pick a show. I have not wanted to whip out my phone and start browsing there.

Which is why when I took my 7 day trial of YouTube TV, I let it go after the trial was up because it didn’t work with my Roku or FireTV (which I understand that because of the rivalry between Amazon and Google that is brewing, but that is another post for another day.). I did like some of the features of it, including the great performance on mobile and the DVR feature to record shows, but at the end of the day, it needs to work on a smart TV or smart device for me to like it. Which is why when they announced earlier this year that they had designed a Roku app, I jumped back on it and have been subscribed to it since.

Let’s start with channel selection: everybody has a preferred category of channels. A lot of people are looking for sports, but you may want the most local channels, all-news channels, cooking/home channels, educational/history channels, movie channels or kids channels. Each of these categories are represented in YouTube TV to varying degrees. Let’s take a glance at a quick overview:

  • Sports: Excellent. I am assuming that Google was the number one thing that most guys are looking for and all of the big ones are represented here. Disney-owned ESPN Networks are all here, as well as the Fox-owned national and regional networks and the NBC-owned NBCSN, Golf and Olympic Channels. There is even the little CBS Sports Network, plus the NBA, MLB and Tennis Channels.
  • News: Excellent. All of the major US news outlets. Plus, BBC World News, Newsy (local news from around the US) and a new brand called Cheddar that I am eager to watch a bit more.
  • Local channels: Depends. Each of the US markets has to be individually negotiated. This all depends on where you are, but here in the Phoenix, AZ market we have all 4 networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) as well as the 2 largest independent channels as well.
  • Kids: Decent. If you like Disney Channels, plus there is Universal Kids and Cartoon Network, but no Viacom-owned Nickelodeon family of channels.
  • Home/Food/Educational/Lifestyle Networks: Poor. There are the NBC-owned E!, Bravo and Oxygen as well as the WE Network, but outside of that you are out of luck. No Food Network, HGTV, Discovery, MTV, Comedy Central or any of it’s sister networks. There is a solution to this that I will take a look at soon.
  • Commercial Movies/Drama channels: Great. I think this is pretty much covered by having AMC, FX, FXM and TNT, but their sister networks are covered and there is good coverage if you are craving a movie.

Finally, the recent addition that Google Home and the Chromecast integrate with each other, it will be interesting to see how voice-activation will be able to control the interface of YouTube TV. But, the physical interface is great and the app works great during my commute on the bus each day. While this is not a standalone solution, it is darn close and my main choice at the moment. Again, the nice thing about these services is that you are not stuck with them long-term and you can change next month if it is not working for you.

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