I have been a ‘cable cutter’ for almost a decade now. A long time ago, my wife and I decided that our entertainment needs could be met at a much lower price point than what our TV provider could meet. Now that I’ve moved to a more remote market though, my over-the-air alternatives are much more limited. When the local station reconfigured their antenna pattern or lowered their output, I lost FOX a week or so before the Super Bowl. Desperate, I looked for ways to get a decent live show of the game.
This event caused me to give YouTube TV a serious look. It allows for up to 6 family members, on a range of devices, to share a subscription, at a fairly low rate. It supported most of the channels I was interested in (sorry no History Channel). YouTube TV had a 14-day free trial that I had up and running in minutes.
So far, I’ve programmed in the shows of interest and it seems to be working well. Now that I have the Big Ten Network, I can even watch Purdue Basketball again – its not like you’re going to find it shown on any regular basis around South Carolina.
It keeps a repository of shows, so if you missed recording some it may be already out there. There are also quite a selection of movies… that are there for the watching.
The unlimited recording options is great, and necessary since it can record many things that I am not interested in any longer – more on that in a moment.
The bad and ugly
The biggest issue I’ve run into is the user interface. It does have a list of recently recorded shows, but for shows that are in syndication, new shows and old shows are mixed. There is no ‘only first broadcast’ option. YouTube TV also has ‘mandatory’, non-local commercials for shows that are more than a few weeks old – you cannot fast forward through those.
It lets you record the shows broadcast locally, but those recordings will eventually be replaced with a generic version. There is a good side though, if the broadcast is broken into for a local event (e.g., storms) you can wait a while and see the generic version without the local content.
I swear the user interface for the show listing was designed and written by someone who didn’t actually watch much TV, since the filter options… are weak at best. I have yet to find options that will show me upcoming items further out than 24 hours – for example: show me all the science fiction movies on any of the channels I am signed up for, for the coming week. There is also no way to hide episodes that I am no longer interested in — at least that I have found.
YouTube TV doesn’t interface with show databases (e.g., TrakTV) that could have helped sort the wheat from the chaff being recorded, which is surprising for an information run company like Google. My hope is they will realize the revenue possibilities and address this lack of information/convenience.
We’re going to continue to use it. Hopefully, it will meet our needs going forward and doesn’t change direction like so many other subscription services, in hopes of dragging us and taking our money along the way.