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

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YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now: 7 things to consider before you sign up 
Image Credit: Clark.com
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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 $50 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: How to cut the cord and never pay for cable TV again

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 increased the price of its 70+ channel streaming TV bundle to $50/month in April 2019.

After revising its plans in March 2019, DirecTV Now’s most affordable plan has more than 40 channels for $50 a month. However, its bundles now come with HBO included.

Both of the providers offer free trials and there are no contracts or cancellation penalties.

Monthly price: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now

YouTube TV logo DirecTV Now logo
  • $50/month for 70+ channels
  • DirecTV Now Plus: $50/month for 40+ channels
  • DirecTV Now Max: $70/month for 50+ channels

2. Channel lineup

Before DirecTV Now changed up its plans, many people thought it had the best channel lineup of the major streaming TV services.

The new $50 per month DirecTV Now Plus package has only 40+ channels, including local stations. Many popular entertainment networks that were in its previous bundles are no longer available.

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The addition of HBO is really what makes DirecTV Now different from its streaming competitors.

Meanwhile, 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 Now Plus has only a few of those networks, but you can get more of them with its $70/month Max plan.

Channel lineups: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now Plus

YouTube TV: $50/monthDirecTV Now: "Plus" plan, $50/month
ABCABC
AccuWeather
AMC
Animal Planet
Audience
BBC America
BBC World News
BET
Big Ten Network (BTN)
Boomerang
BravoBravo
Cartoon NetworkCartoon Network
CBSCBS
CBS Sports Network
CheddarCheddar
Cheddar Big News
CNBCCNBC
CNBC World CNBC World
CNNCNN
Comedy Central
Comet
Cozi TV
CWCW
Discovery Channel
Disney ChannelDisney Channel
Disney JuniorDisney Junior
Disney XDDisney XD
E!E!
ESPNESPN
ESPN2ESPN2
ESPNews
ESPNU
Food Network
FOXFOX
Fox Business NetworkFox Business Network
Fox News ChannelFox News Channel
Fox Sports 1 (FS1)Fox Sports 1 (FS1)
Fox Sports 2 (FS2)
FreeformFreeform
FXFX
FXMFXM
FXXFXX
Golf Channel
Hallmark Channel
HBO
HBO Family
HBO Latino
HGTV
HLNHLN
IFC
Investigation Discovery (ID)
Local Now
MLB Network
MotorTrend
MSNBCMSNBC
MTV
National GeographicNational Geographic
Nat Geo WildNat Geo Wild
NBA TV
NBCNBC
NBCSNNBCSN
Newsy
Nickelodeon
Nick Jr.
Olympic Channel
Ovation
OxygenOxygen
Pop
Revolt
SEC Network
Smithsonian Channel
Start TV
Sundance TV
SYFYSYFY
Tastemade
TBSTBS
TCM (Turner Classic Movies)TCM (Turner Classic Movies)
TelemundoTelemundo
Tennis Channel
TLC
TNTTNT
Travel Channel
truTVtruTV
Universal KidsUniversal Kids
Universo
USAUSA
WE tv

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.

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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 and Roku Express.

However, you should know that Amazon Fire TV is NOT an option if you decide to go with YouTube TV.

Supported devices: YouTube TV vs. DirecTV Now

YouTube TV logo DirecTV Now logo
  • Google Chromecast
  • Roku
  • Apple TV
  • Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X
  • Select smart TVs
  • Google Chromecast
  • Roku
  • Apple TV
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Samsung Smart TV (2017 and 2018 models)

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:

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“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 $50 a month.

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

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