YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now comparison: 7 things to consider before you sign up 

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YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now comparison: 7 things to consider before you sign up 
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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…

RELATED: Free Netflix alternatives! The best streaming services for movies and TV shows

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:

  1. Monthly price
  2. Channel lineup
  3. Cloud DVR
  4. Multiple streams
  5. Minimum internet speed
  6. Supported devices
  7. 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

YouTube TV logo DirecTV Now logo
  • $40/month for 60+ channels
  • Live a Little plan: $40/month for 65+ channels
  • Just Right plan: $55/month for 85+ channels
  • Go Big plan: $65/month for 105+ channels
  • Gotta Have It plan: $75/month for 125+ channels

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

YouTube TV logo DirecTV Now logo
A&E
ABC ABC
AMC AMC
Animal Planet
Audience
AXS TV
Baby First
BBC America BBC America
BBC World News
BET
Big Ten Network
Bloomberg
Bravo Bravo
C-SPAN
C-SPAN 2
Cartoon Network Cartoon Network
CBS CBS
CBS Sports Network
Cheddar
Cheddar Big News
CMT
CNBC CNBC
CNN CNN
Comedy Central
Comet
CW CW
Discovery
Disney Channel Disney Channel
Disney Junior Disney Junior
Disney XD Disney XD
E! E!
ESPN ESPN
ESPN2 ESPN2
ESPNews
ESPNU
Food Network
FOX FOX
Fox Business Network Fox Business Network
Fox News Channel Fox News Channel
Fox Sports 1 Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports 2
Freeform Freeform
FX FX
FXM
FXX FXX
Galavision
Golf Channel
Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
HGTV
History Channel
HLN HLN
IFC
Investigation Discovery
Lifetime
MLB Network
MSNBC MSNBC
MTV
MTV2
National Geographic National Geographic
Nat Geo Wild
NBA TV
NBC NBC
NBCSN NBCSN
Newsy
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon
Olympic Channel
One America News
Oxygen
Paramount Network
Pop
REELZ
RFD-TV
SEC Network
Smithsonian
Start TV
Sundance TV
SYFY SYFY
Tastemade
TBS TBS
TCM TCM
TeenNick
Telemundo Telemundo
Tennis Channel
TLC
TNT TNT
truTV truTV
TV Land
Univision
Universal Kids
Universo
USA USA
Velocity
VH1
Viceland
WE tv WE tv
WeatherNation

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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

YouTube TV logo DirecTV Now logo
  • Unlimited cloud DVR storage
  • Recordings kept for 9 months
  • 20 free hours of cloud DVR storage
  • Recordings kept for 30 days

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:

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

YouTube TV logo DirecTV Now logo
  •  Stream on up to three devices at the same time
  • Stream on up to two devices at the same time
  • $5/month for a third stream

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.

If you don’t know your download speed, you can test it for free at SpeedTest.net or SpeedOf.Me.

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.

Here’s a list of the minimum internet speeds for YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Sling TV and more!

Minimum internet download speed: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now

YouTube TV logo DirecTV Now logo
  • 13 Mbps or more: Reliably stream HD video, even with other devices using the same network
  • 7 Mbps: Stream one HD video; may experience buffering issues if using multiple devices
  • 3 Mbps: Stream standard definition video
  • Under 3 Mbps: YouTube TV may load slowly or rebuffer
  • 12 Mbps: Minimum recommended download speed for broadband connections to the home

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

YouTube TV logo DirecTV Now logo
  • Google Chromecast
  • Roku
  • Apple TV
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X
  • Google Chromecast
  • Roku
  • Apple TV
  • Amazon Fire TV

7. Overall performance and reliability 

Several members of Team Clark have extensively tested DirecTV Now and YouTube TV since the services first launched.

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.

Read more in Clark’s guide to the best live TV streaming plans and deals right now! 

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Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, MichaelSaves.com.
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