- Thomson Reuters
YouTube’s streaming alternative to cable TV has earned rave reviews since its launch nearly two years ago – but YouTube isn’t resting on its laurels.
On Thursday, YouTube TV introduced a bunch of new features that improve the user experience of the subscription streaming service and enhance its DVR capabilities.
The new features come as YouTube TV continues to expand its content menu beyond its existing selection of cable TV and traditional TV channels. Earlier this week, Cordcutters.com reported that the NBA League Pass would soon become available on YouTube for $40 a month or $249 for the entire 2018-19 season.
As a growing number of consumers look for ways to “cut the cord,” YouTube TV has emerged as one of the stronger alternatives to traditional cable TV. Here’s how AllianceBernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi Jr. put it in a May report:
“YouTube TV remains a shockingly good deal. And remember, this is with no yearly contract, and no hidden fees. The cost savings are only part of the story…the fact of the matter is that YouTube TV is not merely cheaper than cable TV, but it is also better.”
The newest YouTube TV features, most of which will automatically update for users, are another step forward.
Check out some of the coolest new features coming to YouTube TV:
You can now choose whether to watch a show, say, a sports event or your favorite series, via video-on-demand or a DVR version.
If you click on the DVR version, you get more playback flexibility.
YouTube’s DVR let you pause anytime, rewind, and fast forward-even past ads. (Update: The new DVR feature is available on all of YouTube TV’s channels except CBS. Thanks to reader Robert Nowicki for the heads-up.)
The service also offers unlimited storage space for cloud DVR, and that means nobody has to worry about exceeding limits. Users can load as many shows, games, and movies as they want into YouTube TV’s DVR.
YouTube TV added a dark theme to cut down on glare.
The dark theme darkens the background on your PC while you watch YouTube TV.
According to YouTube, not only does this reduce glare but it also lets viewers “take in the true colors of the videos.”
These are the kinds of user-experience bells and whistles that help YouTube stay ahead of the likes of Comcast and AT&T. And this might be a good place to explain the reasons Sacconaghi said he believes YouTube TV is better than traditional cable.
“Cable companies are not tech companies,” he wrote. “Their apps never work quite right. The user interfaces lag. The streams don’t buffer properly. Cloud recordings mysteriously fail to record.”
YouTube TV also tweaked its Live TV tab.
Subscribers can check out what’s showing at the more than 60 television networks that YouTube TV offers. To make surfing all those channels a breeze there’s a live preview (rather than just a thumbnail) that’s visible as you scroll down the list of channels. The Live tab can now also be customized, so you can reorder channels and networks in the guide while hiding others.
Sports fans can also shield themselves from spoilers.
One of the coolest and smartest new features is something called “Hide all scores for this team/league,” which enables sports fans to hide scores for specific sports teams and leagues. It prevents final scores or live previews from appearing before a viewer has had a chance to enjoy the game or match.
What upgrade would be complete without a tie-in to Google Home?
Subscribers can now program their Google Home to help them channel surf on YouTube TV. YouTube TV said in a statement that users could tell Google Home, “OK, Google – play MSNBC on YouTube TV” or “Hey, Google – fast-forward three minutes” or “Play the latest episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ on YouTube TV.”
You get the picture. YouTube and Google are helping to simplify and reinvent the TV-viewing experience. Bravo.