Today Google officially launched YouTube TV, a premium cable bundle with companion Android and iOS apps. Google first announced YouTube TV back in January. Now people can take it for a one-month free trial before the $35 ($39.99 on iOS) monthly subscription price kicks in.
Out of the box, the app lets you stream shows on ABC, Bravo, CBS, Comcast SportsNet, Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox, Fox News, Fox Sports Networks, Fx, MSNBC, NBC, and USA. You’ll be able to watch YouTube Red Originals as well. In the future Google will add AMC, BBC America, BBC World News, IFC, SundanceTV, Telemundo, and WE tv, YouTube TV head engineer Andrew Jeon wrote in a blog post.
I happen to live in San Francisco, one of YouTube TV’s five launch markets, and I’ve been able to try out the new app.
And I like it. It’s an easy way in to what normally is kept behind cable companies’ paywalls. It feels great on mobile, and it has no trouble pushing up content to bigger screens with the help of Google Cast.
From the app’s Live tab, if you want to channel-surf, you can, in a way. When you flip over to a channel and whatever show is currently airing, you can peek in after a few seconds of hovering over it. For better or worse, the app doesn’t play audio of a show that’s being previewed.
Once you’ve dropped into a channel and started streaming, you can tap on the channel’s icon and see the shows coming up, organized into various categories for more intuitive browsing, and you can “add” shows whose episodes will automatically be recorded for you to watch later. For each show you can check out episodes, a summary, the cast, and related and similar shows.
The app’s Home tab surfaces individual live and ongoing shows, episodes that you can resume watching, movies, sports teams to follow, and even videos from YouTube.
The Library tab collects your scheduled recordings, most watched shows, and shows, movies, and other videos that you’ve added, so it’s easy to find what you want and start watching. Naturally there is a search function that you can get to from all three tabs.
This is the latest app Google is releasing under the iconic YouTube name, following YouTube Gaming, YouTube Kids, YouTube Music, and YouTube VR. But YouTube TV is different because the new app primarily gives you content that isn’t available from the classic YouTube. And so far, it does look appealing when you consider how easy it is to get to some of cable’s basics.
Apple has been looking for years to provide cable services to consumers. The recently released TV app is a start, but it has hurdles — you have to connect “participating apps” from individual channels to see what you can watch now, and you can buy individual shows and movies from iTunes and other services, like Netflix. With YouTube TV, it’s much more of a no-brainer — it’s all there.