Take a tour of YouTube's live TV app

YouTube TV is now available, bringing live channels like ESPN, Fox and CBS to screens in select cities. Here's what the phone app looks like.

David Katzmaier
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
David Katzmaier
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YouTube TV is out now, streaming live TV channels like Fox and ESPN to select US cities for $35 per month. We got a chance to go hands-on with the app. Here's a tour.

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Home page

The first page you'll see is Home, which lists popular shows on now, complete with full-motion previews. It also suggests TV shows and movies in numerous categories.

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Live TV

YouTube TV's version of a channel guide is presented as a scrollable list with a fill-motion preview at the top.

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The channels included on YouTube TV are decent, but not as comprehensive as its competitors -- CNN and HGTV are among the missing channels. AMC networks are coming soon.

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Cloud DVR

The third major section is where you'll find your recorded shows and scheduled recordings. You get unlimited storage and can record any show, but they disappear after nine months.

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Landscape TV

To watch a show, just select it and turn your phone sideways.

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Scrub bar

To quickly move through a recorded show, to skip commercials for example, you can use the timeline at the bottom.

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Yes, you can skip ads

Ads are skippable on DVR shows, but if a video-on-demand version appears afterward, it will "replace" the recorded show in your library and disable ad skipping.

And in case you're curious, no, a YouTube TV subscription doesn't entitle you to skip ads on the main YouTube service. For that you'll need to subscribe separately to YouTube Red for $10 a month.

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Chromecast required

Want to watch on something besides your phone or computer? You'll need a Chromecast or similar device, because YouTube TV's app isn't yet available on TV devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or game consoles.

YouTube is giving away a $35 Chromecast when you pay for the first month of YouTube TV, "while supplies last."

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Cast away

The cast process is the same as with any other app, and in my tests the video quality on a TV was very good.

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Supported devices

Here's some of the devices that allow you to get YouTube TV on an actual TV, including the Chromecast, Chromecast Ultra and Nvidia Shield. The service also works with Android TVs from Sony.

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Cast devices

In my tests all of the cast-compatible devices worked well, with the exception of a Vizio SmartCast-enabled TV.

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An extra step

Cast worked, but I still prefer a standard app with an actual remote.

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Cast volume

As usual, you'll use your phone to control casting to a TV.

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Scrub a dub

One reason I prefer buttons to casting: it's a lot easier to skip commercials.

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Go big

YouTube says it will add more TV device support later this year, but for now you'll be using your phone if you want to put it on the TV.

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Follow your team

You can "follow" particular teams using the app, which shows their upcoming schedule, recent game results and other details. It also auto-records their games, if available on YouTube TV.

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Many games not available

Unfortunately, as with most internet TV services, regional sports network coverage is spotty at best, so you're lucky if your team's games (especially baseball and basketball) are available.

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Show page

Each show gets its own page, complete with episodes and the ability to hit that "+" button to set up a "season pass" and record every upcoming episode.

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Cloud DVR

Once you select a show, you'll get a notification adding it to your library.

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Related on YouTube

Each show page also has a section that surfaces videos from YouTube itself.

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The search page works with voice too, of course, and also provides a place for channel and genre browsing.

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The service does a great job of separating out different content by genre.

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Channel page

Each channel also gets a page listing shows.

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Channel scroll

There's no grid-style guide showing current and upcoming shows, but perhaps YouTube will add one on its forthcoming big-screen apps.

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To do list

Here's a look at the page listing all upcoming cloud DVR recordings.

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The Home page has plenty of ideas for what you can watch next.

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Red Originals included

A subscription to YouTube TV gives you full access to original shows on YouTube Red too.

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The full tour

Start up the app for the first time and you'll be greeted with a friendly tour.

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Sparse settings

Not much is available in the settings panel.

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It's interesting that you can volunteer to be included in Nielsen measurements.

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I appreciate the selection of opt-outs.

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And closed captions are also available.

Check out the video
Check out the video
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Check out the video

Looking for even more info? Here's our video tour.

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YouTube TV is available now in select cities for $35 per month, with a free 30-day trial.

For more, check out my in-depth YouTube TV hands-on.

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