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This long-awaited YouTube TV feature is a channel-flipper’s dream

The previous channel feature on YouTube TV on a TV.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

The move from cable to streaming for live TV changed a lot of things. Choice, for one. (We have more.) Price, for another. (You’re likely paying less.) But not all changes were great. If you’re of the channel-surfing variety — or love to flip back and forth between two channels — you’ve likely been missing that feature.

YouTube TV — the most popular streaming service in the U.S. with more than 8 million subscribers — has addressed the latter. After having been teased in some A/B testing for a while now (that is, some folks saw it, and most didn’t), it looks like the ability to hop back and forth between two channels is now rolling out more broadly.

This is hardly a new idea. Cable remotes long had a dedicated button for going to the previous channel. And the defunct streaming service PlayStation Vue also allowed for it in the same way that YouTube TV has implemented it. Hold down the OK or select button (it might vary slightly depending on the platform you’re using), and you’ll return to the last channel you watched. Hold it again, and you’ll go back to the first channel. A YouTube TV community manager on Reddit confirmed that it works on live content, recorded shows, and on-demand.

It’s the sort of thing that makes watching live events — especially sports — so much better, especially on smaller screens. Though YouTube TV’s multiview feature also can make it moot on larger televisions.

You don’t have to do anything to get the new feature, though you may want to ensure your YouTube TV app is updated on whatever you use it on. And it won’t cost you any extra, which is nice in an era in which streaming companies are nickeling and diming us to death.

YouTube TV is available on every major streaming platform, from Roku and Amazon Fire TV to Google TV and Apple TV and everything in between. It’s also available on phones and tablets, and in a web browser. (Though you won’t get the previous channel feature there.) YouTube TV costs $73 a month for the base service and has several optional add-ons, including the ability to watch some live and on-demand content in 4K resolution. It’s also where you’ll want to go to watch NFL Sunday Ticket.

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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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