What are YouTube Premium (previously YouTube Red) and YouTube TV, and are they worth your money? It depends on if you want to ditch ads, cut the cord, or both.
YouTube has expanded to offer so many different premium subscription services that it can be hard to tell them all apart.
If you like the basic YouTube platform but wished it featured fewer ads, YouTube Premium (previously YouTube Red) offers an ad-free YouTube experience. YouTube TV, on the other hand, offers live streaming television to compete with the likes of Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV. The two services are fundamentally different, but are either of them worth your money?
Premium is $11.99 per month after a 30-day free trial, and allows members to watch their favorite videos without ads. You can also download videos for offline viewing, listen to audio in the background with the YouTube Music app, and access exclusive content on YouTube and YouTube Music.
The original content you get with YouTube Premium includes scripted, reality, documentary, and animated programming, as well as content featuring some of YouTube's most popular personalities. Additional television and film content is set for release in 2019, and many other projects are still in development.
If you upgrade to YouTube Premium, your new features will work across the family of YouTube services, including YouTube Kids, YouTube Music, and YouTube videos on YouTube TV. While Premium can be accessed through the web and the app, features like offline playback and background play are limited to the YouTube apps.
Rented or purchased movies/TV shows, paid channel subscriptions, and related bonus material are not compatible with YouTube Premium, so if you buy or rent movies through YouTube, you might still see ads or promotions.
At $40 per month, YouTube TV is a robust streaming service aimed at cord cutters. The service includes cable network streaming and live broadcast television from local affiliates, along with YouTube original content. There is no original content exclusive to YouTube TV at this time.
The network availability is on par with other streaming services. You'll get live programming from the four major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox), plus popular sports, news, and entertainment networks based on your location, such as AMC, BBC America, BBC World News, Bravo, The Disney Channel, ESPN, FX, MSNBC, Telemundo, and others. AMC Premiere, Showtime, Starz, and NBA League Pass can be added at additional charges. And most networks offer some on-demand content.
YouTube TV also boasts the ability to share the service with six users at once and unlimited cloud DVR functionality. You can view YouTube TV on your Android and iOS devices, Google Chromecast, and via Apple AirPlay. The service is also compatible with Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One, and many different smart TV brands.
After launching in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, YouTube TV has gone nationwide in the US. Enter your ZIP code on the website to see which stations are available in your area. At this time, YouTube TV still does not work internationally.
Despite the service's wide reach, it still has a few shortcomings. YouTube TV isn't available on Amazon Fire TV thanks to an ongoing battle between Google and Amazon. It's also notably missing TBS and Viacom cable networks, such as MTV and Comedy Central, plus CW on demand is only available in certain markets.
How Do Other Streaming Services Stack Up?
While YouTube Premium is mostly meant to be an ad-free version of the free YouTube platform, the original content puts it up against other video-streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu. However, since YouTube Premium does not include access to network content, it doesn't stack up extraordinarily well.
Still, YouTube has its own universe of stars, so if you have tweens or teens who spend hours with their favorite YouTube personalities, YouTube Premium might appeal to them more than the latest Netflix original. And the ability to download "Baby Shark" to your smartphone for car rides could also save the sanity of toddler parents. (Just make sure to snag one of our picks for best kids' headphones.)
YouTube TV, on the other hand, is intended for those who want to stop handing over $200 per month to their cable provider while still tuning into certain pay TV favorites.
Sling TV offers two packages at $25 apiece: Sling Orange includes Disney and ESPN, while Sling Blue includes Fox and NBC. But extras will add to the price.
FuboTV has several different packages to choose from based on the amount of channels provided. Pay $44.99 for 90 channels, $49.99 for 105 channels, or take on one of Fubo's international packages.
Hulu with Live TV is in a unique position to offer both streaming and television services in one package. While the basic Hulu package costs a mere $5.99, live TV is $39.99 a month ($45, starting on Feb. 26). Subscribers have access to all the content on Hulu, plus live and on-mand television from over 50 channels, including local broadcast stations.
Can I Bundle YouTube Premium and YouTube TV?
YouTube Premium and YouTube TV are separate services and not bundled together. However, YouTube TV subscribers do get access to YouTube originals.
YouTube TV does not offer ad-free YouTube, but if you subscribe to YouTube TV and YouTube Premium, YouTube videos you watch on YouTube TV will be ad-free.
Which YouTube Is Right for You?
So are they worth it? YouTube Premium is still the YouTube you know. It doesn't have the content volume of a Netflix or Hulu basic package, but at $11.99 per month, it's a convenient, flexible option for those who want to nix ads in YouTube, listen to YouTube Music's library of music, or access content while using other apps. Plus, if you're already a fan of YouTube stars and eager to seek out new programming, you'll have that, too.
If you're in the market to replace your current cable bill and want local news coverage, YouTube TV is just as good a selection as some of the other services out there. It's certainly worth the free trial if you want to give it a shot.
Any video and music can be downloaded by the application.