If you’re feeling stuck with a $100 a month cable package, YouTube TV and DirecTV Now are two streaming services that can cut your bill in half.
For $40 a month, the cable and satellite TV alternatives offer local news, sports and dozens of the most popular networks like ESPN, Disney, TBS, USA, CNN and more.
But before you sign up for either service, you need to know about some key differences…
YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now: Which live TV streaming service is best?
Clark.com has reviewed all of the leading live TV streaming services for cord-cutters right now. Through our research, we’ve identified seven deciding factors to help you choose between DirecTV Now and YouTube TV:
- Monthly price
- Channel lineup
- Cloud DVR
- Multiple streams
- Minimum internet speed
- Supported devices
- Overall performance and reliability
1. Monthly price
YouTube TV has only one streaming TV bundle that comes with more than 60 channels for $40 a month. DirecTV Now has four main packages, but its cheapest one is also $40 a month for about 65 channels.
Both of the providers offer free 7-day trials and there are no contracts or cancellation penalties.
Monthly price: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now
2. Channel lineup
DirecTV Now and YouTube TV have roughly the same number of channels for $40 a month, but their lineups are quite different.
The strength in YouTube TV’s channel lineup is with sports networks like ESPN, Fox Sports 1 & 2, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, MLB Network, NBCSN, SEC Network, NBA TV and more.
DirecTV’s $40/month bundle has several of those networks, but its channel lineup (see below) is more well-rounded.
For example, DirecTV Now has a number of entertainment cable channels that YouTube TV doesn’t, such as A&E, Animal Planet, Discovery, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, History, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon and TLC.
Channel lineup: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now’s “Live a Little” bundle
|BBC America||BBC America|
|BBC World News|
|Big Ten Network|
|Cartoon Network||Cartoon Network|
|CBS Sports Network|
|Cheddar Big News|
|Disney Channel||Disney Channel|
|Disney Junior||Disney Junior|
|Disney XD||Disney XD|
|Fox Business Network||Fox Business Network|
|Fox News Channel||Fox News Channel|
|Fox Sports 1||Fox Sports 1|
|Fox Sports 2|
|Hallmark Movies & Mysteries|
|National Geographic||National Geographic|
|Nat Geo Wild|
|One America News|
|WE tv||WE tv|
More Clark.com stories you may like:
- Streaming TV comparison: Which service has the best channel lineup?
- Cord-cutters are begging YouTube TV to add this network to its channel lineup
- Hulu with Live TV is adding 5 more channels that YouTube TV doesn’t offer
3. Cloud DVR
DirecTV Now only recently added 20 hours of free cloud DVR storage to its plans, while YouTube TV has offered unlimited cloud DVR storage from the very start.
Cloud DVR: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now
In October 2018, YouTube TV addressed one of the biggest complaints about its service, which involves the DVR.
When users went to view the content they recorded, they were sometimes forced to watch a video on-demand (VOD) version with unskippable advertisements — not the DVR version that lets you fast-forward through the ads.
In a tweet, YouTube TV announced a deal that makes a lot more content immediately available for DVR playback:
You asked, we listened. Enjoy more of your favorite recorded shows with full control to pause, rewind, & fast forward anytime during playback. Thanks to our partners @AMC_TV, @Disney, @FOXTV, @NBCUniversal & @Turner for making their content immediately available for DVR playback!
— YouTube TV (@YouTubeTV) October 4, 2018
4. Multiple streams
With most live TV streaming services, you can use the same account to stream on multiple devices at the same time.
For example, a service that allows two simultaneous streams would let you watch your favorite show on the living room TV and the kids can watch something else in the basement.
You can stream on two screens at once with DirecTV Now and three with YouTube TV.
Multiple streams: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now
5. Minimum internet speed
Like other live TV streaming services, a high-speed internet connection is required for YouTube TV and DirecTV Now. To avoid any buffering issues, most services recommend a minimum internet download speed of more than 10 Mbps.
Not getting what you’re paying for? When I called my internet service provider and gave them the results from SpeedTest.net, a technician came out to troubleshoot my internet problems free of charge.
Minimum internet download speed: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now
6. Supported devices
You can stream on your phone, computer or to your TV using a supported device. YouTube TV and DirecTV Now both support popular affordable streaming devices like Google Chromecast, Roku Express and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
If you’re a first-time streamer, you can pick up one of these devices at big-box stores like Best Buy for around $30 or less.
Supported devices: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now
7. Overall performance and reliability
YouTube TV has a stronger performance track record overall because DirecTV Now got off to a rough start, though it has made significant improvements to reduce buffering and error messages.
Money expert Clark Howard says that if YouTube TV’s channel lineup meets your needs, the choice is clear:
“My favorite of all the streaming products is YouTube TV. It has a pretty wide array of television programming, but what’s really neat is that multiple people could be watching different things at the same time and everybody has an unlimited DVR,” Clark says.
Of course, YouTube TV and DirecTV Now aren’t your only options to consider. Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue also have streaming plans for about $40 a month.