I’m paying more for YouTube TV, and that’s alright with me

On Tuesday, YouTube announced that YouTube TV, one of the most popular options for streaming live TV, would be getting a price hike to $65 a month, up from $50.

The increase was met with angry tweets from customers and led to some questioning why YouTube TV is even necessary considering there are more affordable options, like Sling, FuboTV and Hulu with live options that all come in for less than YouTube TV now does.

I’m planning on sticking with YouTube TV, despite the rate hike, because it’s simply the best live TV streaming service around. Here’s why:

The interface

YouTube TV has the best interface for live TV. Sling’s is fine, but it’s not fun or pleasing to use. YouTube’s design not only runs extremely smoothly on Android TV, iOS, Roku, or browser, it also does so in a visually engaging way.

When browsing a network, for example, it shows a very relevant thumbnail on Roku that is specific to not only that show, but to the individual episode. On browser and mobile, those thumbnails animate with a live feed of the channel which helps you decide if it’s worth playing before you have to take any action. And unlike Netflix, these previews are blissfully silent.

YouTube TV
YouTube

The best part about YouTube TV’s interface is how synchronized it is on all possible devices. The Roku experience looks just like the iOS experience, so it’s a seamless process to jump to a new device when watching.

YouTube TV’s Home screen is also highly useful. It analyzes over time what shows you enjoy watching and provides you a mix of your favorite shows that might be live, shows you might want to watch that you may have missed and are available as part of its cloud DVR/on-demand service, and new shows you may not have even realized you wanted to see. The system is unobtrusive as well, and I find it to be highly accurate and tailored to my watching habits. I enjoy browsing for content almost as much as I like watching shows.

The experience

When someone asks me why I bother paying for YouTube TV when I also have a Hulu and Netflix subscription (as well as Disney+ and HBO Max), I find myself having to explain that I don’t want to always pick what I want to watch. Most of the time, I want a passive watching experience.

Sometimes, I just want some pleasant background noise provided by HGTV or Food Network. Throwing one of them on is so much easier than selecting a specific episode of The Office or futilely browsing Netflix’s library for anything new.

I find myself filled with joy when I see there is a huge Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives marathon because that means it’s Friday. I have become accustomed to the network’s show schedule, and I like having it.

I don’t even dislike commercials. They give me a chance to use the bathroom, make a snack, or find out about new products. Sure, some are very annoying, but others actually do provide value to my everyday life (the new Arby’s commercials have been particularly entertaining).

I want the option to have television playing in the background without having to find something to watch or having to pay attention to. When someone asks me if I’ve seen Ozark or Chernobyl, I have to honestly answer “no,” because that requires that I find a time to sit and specifically watch those shows. Having to do that stresses me out.

After a long day at work, what I really want to do is unwind, and having to make decisions and focus my attention is the opposite of that.

Unlimited DVR

YouTube TV has an unlimited DVR, which I’ve used to amass the entire collection of Food Network’s Good Eats at one point and am also currently having it run in the background to grab all of Beat Bobby Flay and Bravo’s Below Deck. Many of the shows I watch using our limitless DVR are available on some streaming services, like Amazon Prime, but at an additional cost and often don’t include the most recent season. So when I do feel like specifically selecting a show to watch, I can do so without having to pay more for it.

Services like Sling have DVR features, but they are limited. I don’t like the idea of having to manage yet another piece of technology storage, and as such YouTube TV gives me all the advantages I’m looking for with none of the drawbacks.

Maybe I just miss cable

Up until about 2017, I was a happy Comcast Xfinity cable customer, despite its awful customer service and jack-in-the-box-style billing. I never had a particular problem with the actual product. It was only after my X1 cable box started releasing a high-pitched squeal that multiple replacement boxes wouldn’t fix and that aforementioned “excellent” customer service gave up on helping me rectify that I searched for a valid replacement. At the time, PlayStation Vue was the most cable-like experience and so I went with that. After it shut down, YouTube TV was the next best option.

Given what I am looking for in a viewing experience, I guess I just miss cable. YouTube TV gives me everything I love about cable, but with a better interface, unlimited DVR, no squealing cable box, and compatibility across all my devices. For $65, that’s still a steal.

I’m not excited about the YouTube TV’s price hike, but I’ll happily pay more in order to continue to have access to an experience I value. It is the best service that checks all my boxes and feels like a real natural evolution of how cable should work in modern times. So I’m going to stick with it.

That is, until someone does it better.

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