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YouTube TV add-on brings 4K streaming, offline DVR downloads for $20 extra

The live TV streaming service also adds 5.1 surround sound and better sports searches to its basic $65 price.

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YouTube TV, Google's live TV streaming service designed to replace cable, is getting more pixels. Starting Monday, subscribers can add an upgrade package, called 4K Plus, which delivers TV programming in 4K resolution and HDR, including live sports like the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the MLB All-Star Game.

Basic YouTube TV service costs $65 per month and adding 4K Plus increases the price another $20, to $85 per month total. New users get a price break, however. YouTube is offering a one-month free trial of 4K Plus and a price increase of $10 per month for the first year, bringing the total down to $75 per month.

In addition to 4K, the add-on lets subscribers download shows from the service's cloud DVR to watch offline on phones and tablets. A third benefit is unlimited simultaneous streams at home. Without the add-on, YouTube TV subscribers can only watch three different streams at the same time.

Two other new features are also available to all YouTube TV subscribers, whether or not they buy the add-on. The first, rolling out to select devices in the coming weeks, is surround sound audio. YouTube says 5.1-channel Dolby Audio has been one of its most requested features. Though most other live TV streaming services offer on-demand content in surround sound, they will only play stereo sound on live TV. 

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Google has beefed up DVR search to make it more useful to sports fans.

Google

The second is beefed-up DVR capabilities for sports broadcasts like the Olympics, offering the ability to search for and jump to specific sports within a recording, in addition to a medal counter for each country.

FuboTV is the only other service with 4K sports, and it does have a couple of events coming up, but it hasn't yet confirmed if the Olympics will be broadcast in 4K. Unlike YouTube TV, Fubo doesn't charge extra for 4K broadcasts, but if it was a choice between the two competing services, we like the basic YouTube TV package better overall.

Unlike 4K movies and TV from on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, live 4K TV programming is still rare. The biggest upcoming live 4K event is the Olympics. 4K Plus on YouTube TV will include live primetime Olympics 4K coverage from NBC, including the opening ceremonies and live events, according to people familiar with the matter.

Other sporting events in 4K on YouTube TV include the upcoming MLB All Star Game on Fox and college football on ESPN. 

4K Plus also offers some on-demand 4K content, including shows like Make this Tonight from Tastemade and Misfit Garage from Discovery, as well as content from FX.

To watch 4K Plus requires a compatible 4K smart TV or 4K streaming device connected to a 4K TV. Despite the fact that the YouTube TV app is no longer available on the Roku Channel store, Roku users will be able to watch in 4K on an existing app or inside the main YouTube app

Here's some other features of 4K Plus:

  • It supports High Dynamic Range in HDR10 and HLG formats
  • YouTube TV recommends an Internet speed of at least 25Mbps
  • There is no limit, beyond device storage capacity, for mobile downloads
  • Downloads take up about 2GB per hour of 720p/60fps video

Look for an updated YouTube TV review on CNET soon.