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YouTube TV vs DIRECTV Stream

Last updated: November 3, 2021

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

When it comes to livestreaming TV programming, YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream are well-known names. These live TV streaming services offer alternatives to cable — but which one is better for cord cutters?

Similarities: Why YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream are Competitors

Both YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream have basic packages that are comparably priced. Both offer livestreaming and on-demand programming as well as DVR storage. Each service also offers up to three livestreams simultaneously. Both services offer local news and sports and can be also 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 can also start and stop each service as needed.

Though there are some key differences, both of these services are excellent live TV streaming options, and you’ll often find them on our always up-to-date list of the best live TV streaming services.

What’s the Difference Between YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream?

The main differences between YouTube TV and DIRECTV Stream have to do with each service’s 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 bundles starting at $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, a perk that we praised in our YouTube TV review. 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: DIRECTV Stream vs. YouTube TV Value

YouTube TV charges $64.99 a month for 85-plus livestreaming 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’s pricing scheme currently offers four options to choose from: Entertainment ($69.99 per month), Choice ($84.99 per month), Ultimate ($94.99 per month), and Premier ($139.99 per month).

Live TV: DIRECTV Stream vs. YouTube TV Channels

YouTube TV offers livestreaming of local programs from traditional networks, as well as cable channels from many of the most popular channels. YouTube TV's channel selection includes AMC, TNT, CNN, ESPN, and the Disney Channel.

DIRECTV Stream also 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.

DIRECTV Stream has the edge in total channel count, because it allows subscribers to opt for increasingly larger bundles — all the way up to the cable-esque mega-bundle “Premier” ($139.99 per month). DIRECTV Stream’s comprehensive channel list was something that really impressed us during our testing for our DIRECTV Stream review.

DIRECTV Stream has more regional sports networks (RSNs) than YouTube TV, but you’ll have to upgrade to the “Choice” package to get them. YouTube TV’s RSN selection, while not as impressive, is available in the base bundle.

DIRECTV Stream vs. YouTube TV: Our Verdict

YouTube TV is a better choice if you want a livestreaming 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.

29 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

      1. Jim Jablonski says:

        Fox Sports Detroit (and many other regions) was sold to Bally, and is only available on AT&T streaming. This means no local sports if you have YouTubeTV, as do we. Totally sucks!

    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.

      1. Anonymous says:

        you do a restart

    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. Jon V says:

      If you have buffering issues, that is either Internet or Wi-Fi related. I have Fiber internet and no streaming issues on multiple TVs playing at the same time using YouTube TV.

    7. Anonymous says:

      That is definitely NOT a YouTubeTV problem, but one with your internet service.

    8. Yadi says:

      We switched to Directv stream 5 weeks ago…hate it!!! It buffers every single day multiple times per day. Super slow and annoying. We’re dropping them!

    9. rw says:

      We cannot get our local abc, cbs, nbc, and pbs channels in HD because the stream would lock up. Have to dumb down our resolution to SD and we still have terrible problems especially when we try to forward. And we have high speed internet. And it doesn’t happen on Netflix, Disney+ or AppleTv apps on our LG. Fed up. Now that they lost espn we will probably switch. What good are channels if you can’t watch them?

    10. Djp says:

      It’s you not YouTube tv. Buffering is ALWAYS you

    11. Mark Pelski says:

      We had that issue and upgraded our router. That solved the problem.

  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

    1. Djp says:

      This is a user problem

  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.

  9. Deb Rufner says:

    Does anyone know what the article above means when they say “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.” ? I went to YouTube TV from cable for the cost (almost half of what I was paying for cable with the service + cable boxes, etc.), but I HATE having to push a button at least 5 times to get to the channel I want to watch! (Push power on + “home” + click on YouTubeTV + click on “Live” (then scrolling through the choices)+ the channel). Any suggestions?

    1. Brett J Higginbotham says:

      I think you just have to try each. My daughter is in another city and I know Directtv Stream will allow 3 devices away from your main home. So, thats no tv cost for her.
      YouTube may make you logout and all that jazz.

  10. Brett J Higginbotham says:

    YouTube is starting to push their weird shorts and that’s enough to make me drop their TV service.

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