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YouTube TV vs DIRECTV Stream

Last updated: August 18, 2021

Starts at $64.99/mo
vs
Starts at $69.99/mo

When it comes to live streaming TV programming YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream are well-known names. YouTube has been around for years offering free streaming, on-demand videos. Its YouTube TV option allows you to live-stream your favorite television programming (both local and cable options) for a monthly fee. DIRECTV Stream is similar to cable, but doesn't require some of the in-home hardware or the long-term contracts. There are no contracts required with either service, and you can watch from any mobile device. You can watch your programs at any time and from any location that offers an internet/Wi-Fi connection.

Similarities

Both YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream have basic packages that are comparably priced. Both offer live streaming and on-demand programming as well as DVR storage. Each service also offers up to 3 live streams simultaneously. Local news and sports are also available with both services. Both services can be viewed on various types of devices ranging from cell phones to smart TVs. They are completely portable and can be viewed from any location as long as you can connect to an internet source. Premium sports and movie channels are available as add-ons for an additional monthly fee. You are able to start and stop your service as needed with each service.

Differences

The main differences between YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream have to do with each services' packages and pricing. YouTube TV only offers one package with the option to include add-on packages for an extra monthly charge. DIRECTV Stream offers a few different bundles $69.99 per month. Another major difference is the DVR capabilities for both services. YouTube TV allows you to store an unlimited number of videos for nine months. DIRECTV Stream only allows you to store 20 hours of video for 30 days — unless you pay an extra fee to unlock more space.

Costs & Monthly Plans

YouTube TV charges $65 a month for 85+ live streaming local and cable channels. Premium packages can be added for an additional fee. You do not have to lease any equipment and no professional installation is required.

DIRECTV Stream currently offers three options to choose from: Entertainment ($69.99 per month), Choice ($84.99 per month) and Ultimate ($94.99 per month).

Original Series

Neither of the two services offers any type of live programming at this time.

Live TV

YouTube TV offers live streaming for both local programs from traditional networks and cable channels from many of the most popular channels. This includes AMC, TNT, CNN, ESPN, and the Disney Channel.

DIRECTV Stream includes both local programming and cable channels. They offer all of the major networks, plus cable programs from channels like CMT, BBC, Discovery Channel, A&E, ESPN, HGTV, and Lifetime.

Summary

YouTube TV is a better choice if you want a live streaming service that is simple to understand and comparable in price to most mid-level package offerings. There are no hidden fees and offers multiple streams that work great for families.

For better or for worse, DIRECTV Stream does a better job of replicating the cable or satellite experience: It costs more, but it offers some truly comprehensive bundles and a very cable-like experience.

17 thoughts on “YouTube TV vs DIRECTV Stream

  1. Shari says:

    I got rid of my Dish Network cable because they kept raising their prices. I have had You Tube for only a few months and now they have raised their price $10 per month. Do all the streaming services keep increasing their prices without notice?

    1. David says:

      When I started YouTube TV it was $30 and had exactly what I needed with local channels and all the ESPN sports channels. They’ve added channels over time increasing their price each time to $35 then $50 and now $65. This last time I paused my subscription for six months to try other providers. I used Sling TV for two months and tried AT&T TV Now’s one week trial with HBO and HBO Max. Tomorrow I’m reactivating my YouTube TV. For me it’s the best value despite my disappointment with their price increases for the channels they added.

  2. Vicki says:

    We had Directv for many years, but finally decided to switch due to constant price increases (and the fact that Directv was in too much flux). Went to YouTube TV and really liked it. Even tolerated the price increase that happened shortly after we switched to it as the price remained below that of Directv. But then the hammer came down and the regional sports networks dropped off YouTube TV. That made us decide to try ATT TV as they have regional sports channels. We have had ATT TV for just a couple of days…not thrilled with it. Seens really cumbersome. Planning to keep ATT TV until the baseball season ends (7 months) and switch back to YouTube TV for the months of November through March (5 months). Sounds crazy, I know but since I don’t have contracts with either…It’s not that big of a deal.

    1. Robyn says:

      Hi Vicki, so AT & T allow you to see local sports? that is the same dilemma we have is being able to watch our local MLB and not being blacked out via YouTube TV. Thanks for the pointers

    2. Bob says:

      What do you mean by cumbersome? Thanks.

  3. Silvina says:

    You forgot to say that not every smart TV can get the AT&T TV app. We had to buy TVs that have a ROKU, or buy ROKU for the TVs that don’t have it. The only brand supported is Samsung, or other streaming devices like Amazon, Chromecast or Apple TV, etc.

    1. Trapp says:

      We just pay $5 extra a month for a box and remote and it programs to the TV, sound system ND other stuff. Haven’t had it but a week so no input on that yet

  4. Bill says:

    This doesn’t mention the audio format for each. Do both have Dolby 5.1 surround sound?
    Sound format is a big factor for me in choosing.

  5. Marria says:

    I tried YouTube TV and every other day it has buffering issues so bad that it will just get stuck there. When I called about it, they said they are aware and working on it. That was a month ago and it still does the same thing. One day it work, the next day it doesn’t. For $65/month you would think they could get it right! Am I the only one having this issue?!!?

    1. W Mains says:

      We have had YouTube TV for about 6 months and have had no problem….

    2. mike says:

      I do a system restart at least once per week.

    3. Anonymous says:

      I have buffering issues too.
      I also have the highest speed cable you can get..

    4. Sharon says:

      It could be your TV. They usually blame your wifi, but in my case an old small TV does this and I have to unplug it to “clear the memory” and then it is fine for awhile. The newer bigger TV (same brand) that is in the same room never has the problem so I don’t think it is the wifi or YouTube TV – I think it is the TV itself. If unplugging is a problem for you, sometimes I just switch to Netflix or some other streaming service, then back to YouTube TV and that will usually fix it.

    5. Hul says:

      I have the same issue on my fire sticks, I generally have to hold down the center button and play on the remote to reset the stick and I’m good

  6. W. Reese says:

    Well, we’re getting ready to drop YTTV and try ATTTV. The DVR that YTTV touts has failed to record the four shows in my library since May. Repeated emails to their “Customer Service” have not even been acknowledged. What good is all that extra storage if the DVR fails to record anything? Not happy with their buffering issues either

  7. Mark says:

    Given the recent spinoff of Directv by AT&T, maybe we can get this column updated with a new eval… I’d be interested in the reassessment…

  8. Glenn says:

    I have had Youtube TV for 8 months. The price of $71(includes taxes, etc.) is half of what my cable bill was and I get a few more sports channels. The picture is excellent on all my sets and I have only rarely had any buffering issues. People that do have such issues might want to check their internet or router connection and speed. That is more likely to cause buffering. It’s tough to beat what they offer with other streaming services especially the DVR that keeps your recorded programs for 9 months. Also, remember that no service will be 100% perfect for all people.

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