YouTube’s live TV service is now on Apple TV and Roku. It means most streaming TV devices now support the ‘cord cutting’ service, though still with some key exceptions.
YouTube TV costs $35 a month and combines live streams of 40 stations, along with a virtual DVR where you can ‘record’ a show and watch it back at any point in the next nine months. The line-up includes most of the major networks and the type of stations you’d get in cheaper cable packages, along with sports stations such as the ESPN and Fox ranges. There’s no HBO, while Showtime is an optional extra at $11 a month.
The networks work on a local market basis (complete with sports blackouts where relevant.) Originally availability was limited, but YouTube says it’s now in 80 markets that cover a total of 80 percent of the US population.
The service was already available on Chromecast, Xbox One and directly on some newer smart TVs. As with these devices, the Roku coverage comes via a dedicated app. Right now, Apple TV only supports it via AirPlay but an app is coming.
That means the big gap right now is the Amazon Fire TV range, which may have less to do with technical issues and more about ongoing Amazon-Google bickering that at one point threatened to mean even regular YouTube wasn’t available on the devices.
Meanwhile the big problem with the service remains. In principle, $35 to get a decent range of key stations including sports seems like a good alternative to paying a cable company for a TV cable package. In practice, the economics isn’t always so simple if said cable company is your main or only option for getting high-speed internet service.