YouTube TV vs Netflix
Last updated: April 6, 2023
There are a lot of options for streaming video out there, including some services you’ve probably never heard of. The companies behind the two we’ll be looking at today, however, are household names.
If you’ve ever streamed a movie — or, if you’re old enough, received a DVD in the mail — then you’ve likely heard of Netflix. And if you used a search engine to find this article (or have searched online for anything at all recently), then you are almost certainly familiar with Google.
Netflix is the king of subscription video services. It bundles a variety of on-demand TV shows and movies into a relatively cheap monthly fee, and it’s been around for a very long time. YouTube TV is one of Google’s streaming offerings, and it’s a skinny bundle subscription that enables you to stream live cable TV channels.
Here’s our comparison of these two services, and our take on which one is going to give you the most value.
The original on-demand subscription streaming service.
- Popular original programming
- No ads
- Wide assortment of movies
- No live programming
Live television channels online for less than the cost of cable.
- Live TV, including sports
- Unlimited DVR
- Has ads, just like cable
- No on-demand movies
What You Can Watch on Netflix vs. YouTube TV
When it comes to TV shows, you’re going to need to ask yourself one question: which programs do you like to watch? Are you dying to watch the next season of The Witcher? Are you okay with being a year or two behind on other TV shows? If so, you could end up being totally happy with a Netflix subscription.
If you need to see your favorite network TV show as it airs, or at least shortly thereafter, then YouTube TV might be the better option for you. There’s no guarantee that Netflix will have a deal to stream your preferred shows at all, and even if it does, you’ll have to wait for each season to reach Netflix after it finishes airing. With YouTube TV, you can watch new episodes of network TV shows right as they air.
Netflix has a collection of exclusive TV shows and past seasons of other programs. YouTube TV is essentially cable TV but in a streaming “skinny bundle” form. With Netflix, you’re limited to what Netflix has on offer. With YouTube TV, you have whatever’s showing on typical cable TV channels, plus the option to pay extra for services like HBO and other premium networks.
What Netflix lacks in live TV programming, it makes up in movies. Netflix has a massive amount of movies available to stream, including some exclusives produced by Netflix itself. The library is constantly changing, giving you fresh new options to check out if you’ve previously watched everything you cared to before. And Netflix pulls in some big name flicks from time to time, too.
YouTube TV, unfortunately, doesn’t handle movies quite as well. Because you’re subscribing to a skinny bundle TV service, YouTube TV acts much as a cable TV service does. For the most part, you’ll be catching movies on channels like AMC and FX (which means they’ll be edited for TV). YouTube TV makes recently aired films available on-demand, but the library is a bit limited, and you’ll always be dealing with the edited-for-TV versions of films. You can also create your own on-demand content using the cloud DVR to record movies and watch them later.
Advertising on Netflix vs. YouTube TV
Yeah, we know — advertisements are annoying. We don’t enjoy sitting through them either, which is why ads got an entire section in this article.
On one hand, we understand why ads exist — they (supposedly) subsidize the cost of broadcasting a TV show or a movie, so that your cable TV or streaming television bill isn’t as expensive as it could be. In some situations, we really don’t mind them! On the other hand, brands are inviting themselves into your living room to try and sell you things, and you don’t really have a say in the matter. How much is it worth to you to avoid ads?
Netflix is entirely free and clear of ads, which is going to make your viewing experience a lot more pleasurable. All you have to do is fire up Netflix on your TV, smartphone, tablet, or what-have-you and watch away without a rude interruption in sight. This goes for all of Netflix’s programming, too — regardless of whether you choose a movie or a TV show, there are no ads.
YouTube TV has ads, though there are some ways to avoid them if you really want to. If you’re watching a live TV show or movie, they’ll be pretty much unavoidable. Almost every cable TV channel takes commercial breaks, and because YouTube TV is a skinny bundle full of cable TV channels, it will have those breaks and fill them with ads. If you watch a DVR recording later, however, you can skip past those ads and get back to your entertainment. But that’s only if you timeshift your viewing.
Added Perks of Netflix vs. YouTube TV
As strange as it seems, Netflix doesn’t really have any added perks on top of its core offering. But there’s a chance that’s going to be enough for you. If you want a service that lets you stream a library of movies and TV shows, Netflix is going to get the job done.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that YouTube TV does have one very important perk that may sell its offering to you: unlimited DVR. You can set as many movies and TV shows to record as you want, and they’ll all be waiting for you when you want to watch them. No storage limits or added fees. YouTube TV does wipe out your DVR recordings after nine months, however, so that’s something to keep in mind.
How Much You Will Spend on Netflix vs. YouTube TV
If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money for streaming video, Netflix is going to run away with this category. Netflix has three different subscription tiers available. Depending on whether or not you want HD video and how many people you think will use your account at once, you could pay $9.99 for the Basic tier (SD video, one stream), $15.49 for the Standard tier (HD video, two simultaneous streams), or $19.99 for the Premium tier (4K UHD video, four simultaneous streams). How much you spend on Netflix is totally under your control — well, as long as it’s one of those three numbers, anyway.
YouTube TV is, quite frankly, a lot more expensive. This shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve ever paid for cable TV service before, because, as it turns out, those channels aren’t cheap! The good news, though, is that YouTube TV is still cheaper than typical cable and satellite options.
YouTube TV only offers one package, and that package will cost you $64.99. It’s certainly cheaper than cable TV, but if you just want a TV show or movie for a night of entertainment every once in a while, YouTube TV might not be as good of a deal for you as Netflix is. If live TV is a must-have for you, then you’d be better off comparing YouTube TV to competitors like DIRECTV, fuboTV, Philo, and Sling TV.
Netflix vs. YouTube TV: Which Should You Choose?
As we stated earlier, this contest is really going to come down to what you want to watch. If you’re in love with the exclusives Netflix offers, or if you’re a more casual viewer of TVs and movies, Netflix is going to give you the most bang for your buck.
If you’re someone who needs live programming — whether that’s because Netflix doesn’t have the shows you want, because you’re trying to avoid spoilers, or because you love live sports — you’re likely going to lean in the direction of YouTube TV, despite the cost.
Live TV doesn’t come cheap. In terms of sheer value for your dollar, Netflix is probably the better deal. But if you’re after live TV, a service like YouTube TV could be worth the extra cost. Consider giving both services trial runs before you decide where you’re going to land.