Cord Cutting with YouTube TV, part 2

YouTube TV offers a 14 day trial subscription. After that the monthly cost is $35.00 plus tax.

In my area of Connecticut (part of the greater NYC metro area) YouTube TV offers 47 channels—broadcast, cable and other. They offer the major broadcast networks except PBS. There are 13 sports channels, which my wife and I have no interest in. We had the same surfeit of sports channels from cable TV, which we never watched.

As far as I know, YouTube TV has no retention specialists like Whoreson who I encountered with Optimum. If I want to cancel YouTube TV, I can, just a few clicks away.

No pain, no gain

If you are unaware, YouTube is part of Google. I encountered an issue when I tried to sign up with my personal Gmail account. YouTube TV informed me that my Gmail account was a branded account, whatever that means. What it meant for me was that I had to un-brand the account before I could sign up. Un-branding my Gmail account cost me about half an hour of searching and trying different things. I was finally able to sign up, but at the cost of losing all my YouTube subscriptions. (This morning I tried to recreate them from memory. I am sure I forgot some of the channels that don’t post new videos frequently.)

After signing up, I spent a couple of hours fooling around with the app, the webpage and casting to a Chromecast Video device connected to my home theater.

Here are my initial impressions.

The Bad

  • An absolutely awful app—both Android and iOS— which runs on phone or tablet. The computer/web page UI is better, not great.
  • Only works on a TV with a Chromecast device, casting from the YouTube TV app or a Google Chrome browser page.
  • No remote control. You can only control YouTube TV from the app or webpage.
  • No Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV channels.

The Good

  • Price
  • Family sharing, no additional charge.
  • Easy to subscribe to shows or events.
  • Built-in unlimited DVR recording.
  • Lots of on-demand content.
  • Portable. All you need is a device and the internet.
  • Search is okay, not great.
  • No retention whoresons to deal with if you want to cancel.

For me, the app is the weakest link. It is poorly designed. In fact, it is without a doubt, the worst app I have seen in the last two years, perhaps longer. That goes for both the Android and iOS versions. I wonder if YouTube TV did any usability testing before releasing it. Seems unlikely. Beyond the awful UI/UX, the app is buggy and needs better quality control.

The app is illogical. AFAIK, there is no way to delete a specific episode of a subscribed program. For example, I subscribed to NCIS. Unfortunately, unlike TiVo, which allows you to choose which episodes of a series, new and/or reruns to record, YouTube TV records all episodes, both new and reruns. So on day two of my trial, I have several NCIS reruns from prior seasons, recorded from Oxygen. All I want are the CBS current season episodes. As times passes, this will be an unmitigated mess trying to find the new season episodes we haven’t watched.

There is a related problem with the app. You can’t hand over control to a standard, always ready, remote control, like on Roku or Amazon Fire TV. You can only control YouTube TV from the app/webpage. When you are watching YouTube TV on a TV, you have to have your smartphone or tablet at hand. Additionally, if the phone/tablet has gone to sleep, you need to get the screen on, unlock the device and then focus the device on the YouTube TV app. Once there you have to search for pause, stop, fast forward, etc. It is not a good experience. It makes navigating cable TV channels seem great by comparison.

I have 13 days to decide whether to keep it or not. I am ambivalent. I like the price, the content and some of the features. But using it seems too kludgy. I am optimistic that its issues can be fixed. I am uncertain whether YouTube TV has the ability to do this soon enough to keep me.