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Multiview almost fixes one of the biggest problems with YouTube TV

Three college football games (and one ad) seen on a large TV on YouTube TV.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Flipping through the myriad college football games on a recent weekend, I was struck by a revelation: Multiview on YouTube TV — even in its imperfect, inflexible form — nearly fixes one of my biggest gripes about the leading live streaming platform.

The “problem” really isn’t a problem insofar as anything is actually broken. It’s just the way YouTube TV works, and it’s almost certainly something done by design. If you’re a habitual channel-flipper, you already know full well how streaming services like YouTube TV, Hulu With Live TV, and other options aren’t exactly known for making it quick to fly through the channels, one after another.

On the other hand, channel-flipping may well be a bit of an outdated method, given that on-screen guides exist. And YouTube TV’s is excellent, showing you a clear view of what’s on the surrounding channels. (And on some platforms, it even shows a live preview of what’s on a channel right then, which is cool.)

In any event, Multiview — a feature that allows you to have multiple shows on the screen at one time — scratches that itch fairly well. It’s not a new feature. Apple TV has its own implementation for Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball. ESPN+ has its own version. Fubo TV has Multiview. And YouTube TV also allows it for some news channels.

And when it comes to watching college football on Saturdays, or the NFL on Sundays if you have NFL Season Pass, it’s been a bit of a godsend. Because by the time you’ve changed from one game on one channel to another game on another channel, the series might be over. Or you might just miss a big play.

You could maybe speed that up by grouping all the sports channels together in a custom channel list, which YouTube TV lets you do and which is one of my favorite features of the service.

But Multiview is king, especially if you’ve got a fairly large television. You can have up to four games on the screen at once, and then simply flip the audio from one game to another when things get boring in Tallahassee but look better in Omaha. Or you can click through to put Notre Dame on the full screen, then just hit the back button to go back to the four-game spread.

It’s not perfect. We still need the option to pick which channels (and thus which games) are available for Multiview. That’s something other Multiview implementations can do. (YouTube TV has said it’s “a very hard thing to do technically,” which almost certainly means that lawyers have something to do with it.)

But it’s better than having to watch one single channel at a time.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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