At first glance, it’s easy to think YouTube TV and YouTube Premium are two sides of the same coin. Realistically, the comparison between the two ends at the use of YouTube in their respective names. They absolutely cater to different interests and different consumers. Let’s walk through where each one excels and which one is ultimately right for you.
What Does YouTube TV Offer?
What is YouTube TV? As its name suggests, YouTube TV is a TV streaming service for “cord-cutters” in the United States. As of today, there are more than 85 channels available across news, sports, entertainment and more. That includes the usual channels, including:
- Comedy Central
- Disney and Disney Junior
- Food Network
- Travel Channel
On top of that, you can also include premium network add-ons for HBO, Showtime, EPIX, and a variety of sports packages, like NFL RedZone, Fox Soccer Plus and more. There is no cable box, no contract and no hidden fees – just pure entertainment. You can also receive access to YouTube originals, like documentaries, movies and TV shows.
You may want to consider YouTube TV if you’re also thinking of signing up for Hulu TV or Sling TV.
What Does YouTube Premium Offer?
YouTube Premium, on the other hand, is far more simplified in terms of content. This is basically a subscription service to the YouTube you already know – but ad-free. That means ad-free access to the entirety of the video library on YouTube, which would take many, many lifetimes to watch in its entirety. On top of that, you can also play videos in the background in Picture-in-Picture mode on mobile.
If you’re considering (or are already subscribed to) Spotify Premium or Apple Music, then you should also consider YouTube Premium. In addition to ad-free video streaming, YouTube Premium also offers access to YouTube’s Music Premium service, which is a direct competitor to Spotify (which can sometimes be problematic) and Apple Music.
How Much Is YouTube TV?
As of September 2021, YouTube TV is currently priced at $64.99/month ($54.99 for the first three months) for one membership (three total streams) that allows up to six different accounts. That includes unlimited cloud DVR storage, more than 85 channels (some listed above), and no hidden fees, equipment rentals, or installation. On top of that, there is no annual contract, so cancel at any time.
For the sports fan, NFL, NBA and MLB networks are included, so that’s a big bonus for YouTube TV. The only available add-in is “4K Plus,” which adds $10/month for the first year (then $19.99/month after that) and 4K quality video, offline DVR recordings and unlimited streams per household.
How Much Is YouTube Premium?
In the case of YouTube Premium, you pay $11.99/month for the ad-free and background listening experience. That also includes the ability to download videos for offline viewing.
Spotify Premium and Apple Music both cost $9.99, so for an extra $2 per month, YouTube Premium subscribers receive a similarly-sized music catalog plus the YouTube benefits themselves.
Who Should Sign Up for YouTube TV?
At the end of the day, “cord-cutters” is still something of a buzzword, but they are the intended audience for YouTube TV. This service and others like it are for people who are tired of traditional cable costs (Xfinity, AT&T, Spectrum, etc.) and want something less expensive. As mentioned, if you’re currently thinking of Hulu TV or Sling TV, then perhaps YouTube TV may be right for you.
YouTube TV is best-in-class right now for anyone who wants one of the more complete streaming TV lineups, strong DVR capabilities like unlimited storage, unlimited streams (with 4K Plus) and premium add-ons like HBO and Showtime. As long as you have a solid broadband connection, YouTube TV is an ideal choice for anyone looking to move into what is hopefully the future of streaming television.
Who Should Sign Up for YouTube Premium?
The intended audience for YouTube Premium is pretty much anyone who enjoys YouTube, loathes the pre-roll and mid-roll ad experience or just wants a bountiful music subscription service. Are you someone who spends hours a day on YouTube or likes to spend time listening to music throughout the day? Then YouTube Premium may be for you.
Does YouTube Premium offer enough over Spotify or Apple Music as a standalone music service? Probably not enough to make people switch en masse, but when you throw in the ad-free experience, it’s enough to get anyone’s attention.
YouTube Premium Student Discount
At this time, YouTube TV does not offer any student discount options or promo codes.
However, YouTube Premium does offer a student plan at $6.99/month and includes all of the same features as the regularly-priced option. That means ad-free and background play, offline downloads, etc. Students actually receive a two-month free trial as well, with a seven-day cancellation period. Students do have to verify their identity through SheerID, which validates that they are a current student at a higher education institution. Upon verification, the student plan is good for up to four years of membership with verification required every year.
Does YouTube TV or YouTube Premium Offer Family Sharing?
When it comes to family sharing, YouTube TV is actually built with families in mind right from the start. The default plan at $64.99 already includes three streams and six different accounts per household. The 4K Plus plan bumps that to unlimited streams per household. That should be good for most families, allowing multiple people to watch at once without any interruption.
YouTube Premium offers its own family plan membership for $17.99 per month. That’s good for up to five total family members ages 13 and up. The family membership includes the same benefits as individual accounts, meaning ad-free and background viewing for YouTube and the full music library. Each person has their own private account, so everyone makes their own playlists, separate offline downloads and more.
YouTube TV Free Trial
As it stands today, YouTube TV offers a 7-day free trial where you can try pretty much everything as if you were paying for it – that means the entirety of its channel lineup, unlimited DVR storage, etc. Seven days should be more than enough to figure out if YouTube TV is right for you. Note that you are required to provide a payment method during your trial, as you are automatically billed if you do not cancel.
YouTube Premium Free Trial
When it comes to free trial periods, YouTube Premium is a little more direct with its one-month free trial. There is a reminder seven days before the trial period ends.
YouTube TV Customer Service
YouTube TV has a dedicated help page for subscribers. The page includes a number of quick FAQs around billing, managing your account, fixing a problem, customizing what you watch, etc. Should you need more help, there is a “Contact Us” button where you can email, chat and call during limited business hours. The “Contact Us” step requires you to tell Google what type of support you are looking for, confirming the issue via pre-selected options based on your keywords, then confirming which contact option you would like to proceed with.
YouTube Premium Customer Service
Unfortunately for YouTube Premium customers, there is no dedicated support page, only answers to issues that impact Premium customers, like managing your plan, fixing membership issues, troubleshooting billing issues, etc. Again, like YouTube TV, there is a “Contact Us” page that walks you through multiple steps before being able to talk to someone via chat, email or on the phone. It’s definitely less than ideal if you want or need to talk to someone right away.
Sign Up For YouTube TV If …
- You live in the United States and want to ditch your cable subscription due to rising prices or are not using it enough to justify the cost.
- You want unlimited DVR storage with fast forward, rewind and pause capability.
- You want to have the NFL, NBA and MLB network channels at your fingertips.
- You want one of the largest selection of channels across any live streaming TV service.
- You want a simple and fair price that will be the same each month.
- You want to know for sure that everyone can catch what they want, on whatever device they want, whenever they want.
Pay for YouTube Premium If …
- You want to enjoy millions of YouTube videos without any ads.
- You want to watch YouTube videos in the background.
- You want to download YouTube videos offline for watching later.
- You want to combine your music subscription and video service into one low cost.
- You want to take advantage of a student or family rate that includes extra benefits.
- You want to get extra features over YouTube Music, like live performances, music videos and remixes.
- You want more than 60 million songs as part of your music subscription.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is YouTube Premium Lite?
Currently being trialed in Europe, “YouTube Premium Lite” is a less expensive option. It does include ad-free viewing but loses the YouTube Music benefit and background playback. In other words, it’s really just for those who want to say goodbye to ads forever. There is no timeline for rolling out to the rest of the world.
2. How does YouTube TV compare to the likes of Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, etc.?
Whereas YouTube TV is an actual live TV service, streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV+ and Disney+ are all “watch at your own pace” programming. New shows and movies are released monthly, but none of these services mix live programming and streaming content. In most cases, there is a likelihood that someone would subscribe to both YouTube TV and one or two of these other services to round out their programming options.
3. Is YouTube TV always cheaper than traditional cable services?
Definitely not. There are absolutely subscribers to traditional cable plans, where YouTube TV would increase their monthly costs. It’s definitely not for everyone, but for many people, switching makes economic sense and likely adds a little more flexibility as far as allowing more people to watch at once since they are not just limited to physical television sets.
4. Should I watch for a promotion before switching to either service?
For the most part, both services are pretty set in stone as far as ongoing pricing goes. YouTube TV is offering a three-month $10 discount right now at $54.99, so that’s pretty attractive as far as discounting. However, YouTube TV has actually increased in cost year over year (2020 through 2021), so best to sign up now. YouTube Premium rarely has any promotions so sign up whenever you are interested, as waiting won’t yield any big windfalls.