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YouTube TV has been expanding to more cities, now it's hitting more devices.

This week -- over the next few days -- the subscription streaming TV service will launch a new app and bring its broadband TV service to Xbox video game systems and Android TV devices including the Nvidia Shield device.

In the coming weeks, YouTube TV will be available also on smart TVs from LG, Samsung and Sony, as well as Apple TV and Roku, said YouTube TV product manager Okalo Ikhena in an online post on the YouTube blog Monday. Another upgrade already active: YouTube TV responds to voice commands when you use a Google Home device when streaming video on Chromecast.

Since launching in April in select cities, the service has expanded to the top 50 television markets in the U.S. That means two-thirds of U.S. households can get local broadcast signals on YouTube TV, says Christian Oestlien, YouTube TV's product management director. That achievement is "an exciting number for us, but it is by far not where we are going to stop," Oestlien said. "We want to go all of the way to nationwide."

The streaming service, which offers a one-week free trial then $35 monthly after that, has nearly 50 channels including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN. You can watch on Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as using this growing number of big-screen options. As for the video game systems, YouTube TV will be available on Xbox One, Xbox One S, and the new Xbox One X, coming Nov. 9.

In addition to viewing live TV, subscribers can use a cloud DVR to record shows and watch later. 

This new update to the app and addition of TV-connected devices represents YouTube TV's true move to the living room, Oestlien says. "When we came out in April we really tried to present the product as mobile first," he said. "That was intentional because we wanted to break the association with this legacy hardware in the living room, this idea that you need this big set-top box that somebody has to come and install for you to access and use our service."

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Launching YouTube TV with a mobile emphasis, "helped us anchor the consumer on the idea that they can take this anywhere," Oestlien said. "It’s TV. It’s your DVR. It’s everything right in your pocket on the go."

More: YouTube's answer to cable is here, and we tried it

More: How YouTube TV compares to rivals Sling, PlayStation, DirecTV

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YouTube's answer to cable is here, and we tried it

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — When I watched YouTube execs unveil the new YouTube TV service at a flashy press conference here a few weeks ago, I was skeptical.

 

How were young people, the folks who don’t pay for cable, going to be convinced to fork over $35 monthly to watch network TV, some cable and sports on YouTube?

 

Furthermore, for the ones who might be interested, would they put up with the absence of youth-oriented cable channels like MTV, Comedy Central and Adult Swim?

 

I still think YouTube has a major challenge ahead. But after a short test drive of YouTube TV, which launches today in select cities, I’m also quite impressed.

 

The service, which features shows from the major TV broadcast networks and select cable offerings, looks fabulous on the phone, which is where I saw it previewed, more like Netflix than Comcast, which is a good thing. (YouTube TV is also available for viewing on tablets and desktop computers, and on TVs via the $35 Google Chromecast dongle.)

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For $35 a month, users get a tailored version of their favorite channels, live events, and episodes with YouTube TV. USA TODAY

 

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — When I watched YouTube execs unveil the new YouTube TV service at a flashy press conference here a few weeks ago, I was skeptical.

 

How were young people, the folks who don’t pay for cable, going to be convinced to fork over $35 monthly to watch network TV, some cable and sports on YouTube?

 

Furthermore, for the ones who might be interested, would they put up with the absence of youth-oriented cable channels like MTV, Comedy Central and Adult Swim?

 

I still think YouTube has a major challenge ahead. But after a short test drive of YouTube TV, which launches today in select cities, I’m also quite impressed.

 

The service, which features shows from the major TV broadcast networks and select cable offerings, looks fabulous on the phone, which is where I saw it previewed, more like Netflix than Comcast, which is a good thing. (YouTube TV is also available for viewing on tablets and desktop computers, and on TVs via the $35 Google Chromecast dongle.)

YouTube TV logo

 

YouTube TV logo (Photo: YouTube)

 

After years of slogging through pages and pages of boring online text-based program guides looking for something—anything—to watch, YouTube’s guide is, like the video network, very visual, contemporary and inviting.

 

Click it open to see what’s on, and you get thumbnails and descriptions of the nearly 50 channels being offered. (This is an increase from the original 40 announced, which didn't include AMC, but now does.) As a YouTube user, the Google-owned network knows more about you than your family, i.e., what you like to watch, so like Netflix and Hulu and other online programming services, what you see displayed are YouTube’s take on your interests.

 

News junkie? You’ll find MSNBC and other news channels. Sports fan? Then it’s all about ESPN and local sports.

 

YouTube’s offering joins the so-called “skinny bundle” movement, offering fewer channels for less money. Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV are the leaders here, with just under 2 million combined subscribers, says James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research.

 

He thinks YouTube is in the driver’s seat to win the race for the “cord nevers,” the folks who never would have considered subscribing, based on heft. With 1 billion monthly visitors to YouTube, “it’s just so much bigger than the others. They already have you.”

 

It’s not that young people don’t want to pay for TV, says Christian Oestlien, a YouTube product manager. “It’s just that they wouldn’t be willing to pay for the TV experience that has existed to date. It’s an experience that hasn’t evolved in the last 25-30 years and hasn’t kept up with the Internet or mobile.”

Young people subscribe to Spotify, Netflix and other services, he notes, so there’s no reason that if TV is presented to young people in way they understand, that they wouldn’t buy.

 

One feature YouTube heavily touts is its DVR service, offering to record as many shows as you can click on, with no storage limits or expiration dates.

 

Open up YouTubeTV, and you’ll see the current live offerings from the 40 channels, and go to a specific show page, and depending upon the program, you’ll see at least five episodes available for viewing. So do we really need to “tape” shows? (Yes, because if you’re slow to view, this will ensure you’ll have them available when you’re ready to watch.)

 

Advertising alert: unlike YouTube's Red subscription service, which offers originals from homegrown YouTube stars and all YouTube programming ad-free, the separate YouTube TV service will be chock full of ads. However, the ads will all be sold by the TV networks—YouTube won't be placing its own ads during the shows yet. (The network has been in hot water with major advertisers about the YouTube algorithm's placement of their ads on or near video content from extremists, and many have halted campaigns on the network.)

 

Bottom line: I still think convincing young folks to part with over $400 yearly to watch TV from YouTube is going to be a big challenge for the company because that crowd may be willing to pay $10 monthly for Netflix, but $35 is a much harder sell.

 

But creatively, YouTube has done a stellar job of showcasing TV in a new way, for the mobile generation. I look forward to spending more time with the app over the next weeks and will be back with a more in-depth review.

 

Follow USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham on twitter, @jeffersongraham and subscribe to the daily #TalkingTech podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

How YouTube TV comYou've cut the cord — but you're missing out watching  "The Voice" on NBC. Is YouTube TV for you?

 

YouTube's massive audience will likely help it draw subscribers to the $35 monthly service. Viewers on the Google-owned site already watch 1 billion hours daily, YouTube said recently.

 

That puts it in direct competition with other pay-for-broadband TV services like Sling TV and DirecTV Now.

 

But the fledgling service's programming holes have been duly noted. Missing on its 40-plus channels: AMC, CNN, TBS and TNT.

 

We also don't know when YouTube TV will become operational and where. YouTube said it would be available soon in the largest markets with channels from local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC stations, with expanded availability soon after.

 

Such to-be-ironed out details raise some concerns. "We remain uncertain about the extent to which (YouTube TV's) streaming deals have been reached with various TV Station affiliates" said Vijay Jayant, an analyst with Evercore ISI in a note to investors this week.

 

There's plenty of room for growth as only about 2 million total have subscribed to current entrants Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, he estimates. Streaming site Hulu plans to enter the competition soon, too, with its own live broadband TV service.

 

Currently, with only 10 of the top 25 primetime networks in its lineup, Jayant foresees YouTube TV as "a niche offering with a number of programming ‘voids’ ... that should lead to limited mass appeal."pares to rivals Sling, PlayStation, DirecTV

Low price, no contract

 

However, the price is right for YouTube TV. It fits within what has become the $35-$40 monthly range for basic programming packages on competing so-called "broadband pay-TV" offerings, says analyst Joel Espelien of The Diffusion Group in a blog post on the research firm's site. That price window represents a significant cost savings over the typical $80-$100 pay TV bill.

 

In addition to a lower price, neither YouTube TV nor any of its broadband TV competitors — Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now — require a contract. They compete by being on the most popular devices — among them Amazon Fire, Apple TV and Roku — and "on lining up (all) the traditional broadcasters followed by as much news and sports as content costs allow," Espelien said.

 

Here's how YouTube TV and the competition compare on price, content and features:

 

-- Sling TV ($20-$40, on Android mobile and iOS devices, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox One). The Dish Network-run service, which debuted two years ago, has a basic $20 Sling Orange package with more than 30 channels including CNN, ESPN and ESPN 2.

 

Sling Blue ($25 monthly) drops the ESPN channels, but has 40-plus others such as Fox Sports 1 and FS2, NFL Network, NBCSN and Tru TV. That Turner network, along with TBS and TNT (included on both Sling packages) will carry NCAA men's basketball tournament games beginning March 14. Sling Blue also has local Fox and NBC channels in some markets. For $40 monthly, you can get all 49 of Sling's channels plus ABC in some local markets (available to Orange subscribers $5) and add extra programming including NFL RedZone in the Sports Extra package to get the NFL RedZone channel (an additional $5 monthly). You can also stream up on up to four devices simultaneously (one with Orange and three with Blue).

 

Pros: 30,000 hours of on demand content, plus NBC's regional sports networks land in selected markets before Major League Baseball's opening day April 3.

 

Cons: No CBS and no widely available cloud DVR (currently in beta testing).

-- PlayStation Vue ($29.99-$64.99; Android and iOS devices, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, PlayStation 3 and PS4). Launched soon after Sling TV by Sony, Vue's Access Slim package ($29.99) has 45-plus channels including CNN, Fox Business Network, ESPN, ESPN 2, Fox Sports 1 and FS2, AMC and MSNBC -- and at least one local affiliate (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) in 153 markets. The Core Slim ($34.99) adds more than 15 channels including Comcast regional sports networks, ESPNews, ESPN U, NBA TV, Golf Network and NFL Network. Subscribers can stream on up to five devices at once including one PS3 and one PS4 -- no more than three devices using the PS Vue Mobile app.

 

Pros: Has some on-demand and cloud DVR capabilities.

 

Cons: Recently lost Viacom networks such as BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.

-- DirecTV Now ($35-$70; on Android and iOS devices, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast). DirecTV Now is an off-shoot of the AT&T-owned satellite network. The basic package has more than 60 channels including CNBC, CNN, ESPN and ESPN 2, Fox News, MSNBC, Nickelodeon, TBS and TNT (local ABC, Fox and NBC channels vary by market availability). At the $50 level, you gain ESPNews, ESPNU, NBC Sports and MLB Network, as well as some regional sports networks (at the $50 monthly level). Subscribers can stream on two devices simultaneously.

 

Pros: Free streaming for AT&T wireless customers and new Unlimited Plus plan includes $25 video credit toward DirecTV Now.

 

Cons: No CBS or DVR recording capability; Roku compatibility in the works.

-- YouTube TV ($35; on Android and iOS, Chromecast). More than 40 channels including CNBC, E!, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNU, Fox News, Fox Business Network, Fox Sports 1 and FS2, regional sports networks and local channels. Each membership comes with six accounts, each with its own DVR capabilities.

 

Pros: Unlimited cloud DVR and YouTube Red content.

 

Con: So far, Chromecast is only way to watch on TV.

 

YouTube TV's cloud DVR will appeal to millennials, who want "the content they want on their time," said Molly Schweickert, head of digital at analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. However, YouTube will want to be nimble and be ready to add more channels because, she said, "the cost of YouTube TV may make it difficult to justify if some of the missing options are particularly key to (millennials') interests."

 

For the foreseeable future, expect each broadband TV service to have some programming holes, because "networks are intentionally withholding content," said Sean Cullen, executive vice president of product and technology at digital marketing and data firm Fluent.

 

"The larger media companies aren’t just worried about upsetting cable providers, but they are also trying to avoid the emergence of a single dominant service," he said. "All of these companies took note of how Apple was able to take over the music industry and want to avoid a similar situation."

 

More:

 

YouTube's cord-cutting bundle is really skinny

 

Sling TV ramps up offensive against pay TV

 

AT&T's DirecTV Now is newest streaming video option for cord cutters

 

Hulu offers a sneak peek at its new live service

 

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

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DIRECT TV NOW

 

 1. How much does it cost?

DirecTV Now's entry-level tier, called "Live a Little," costs $35 a month. A larger "Just Right" tier then costs $50 a month. Next, a "Go Big" tier costs $60 a month. Finally, a "Gotta Have It" tier goes for $70 a month.

2. How many channels does it have?

The base tier includes a little over 60 channels. The Just Right tier raises that to about 80 channels. Then the Go Big tier brings it to about 100 channels. Then the final tier includes about 120 channels. Purely on a cost-per-channel basis, this makes DirecTV Now the densest service of the bunch.

You can also add HBO, Cinemax, and Starz for separate monthly fees.

3. Which major channels are not included?

CBS, again, is absent. (This is a good time to note that CBS wants you to pay $6 a month for its CBS All Access service.) There's no option for Showtime or the NFL Network, either.

SLING TV

1. How much does it cost?

$20 a month for the base Sling Orange package, or $25 a month for a Sling Blue package with more channels.

For $40  month, you can buy the Orange and Blue packages together, but the two do not totally overlap in terms of channel selection. (Hold that thought.)

From there, you can tack on a bunch of smaller specialized bundles of channels for between $5 and $15 a month per bundle. There are way too many to list here, so you should have a look at Sling’s service page.

2. How many channels does it have?

Sling Orange has 30 channels. Sling Blue has a little more than 40 channels depending on where you live, but its lineup doesn't include everything in Sling Orange.

The add-on bundles can incorporate a few dozen more channels, but those vary wildly in terms of popularity. The likes of MTV, Starz, and Showtime are very much popular; other networks, like the Outdoor Channel, are more niche.

 

YOUTUBE TV

 

1. How much does it cost?

$35 a month. You can add Showtime for another $11 a month, or Fox Soccer Plus for another $15 a month.

2. How many channels does it have?

About 50, plus the original (and youth-focused) original shows that come with a YouTube Red subscription.

3. Which major channels are not included?

For now, there are no Viacom channels (Comedy Central, MTV, Spike, Nickelodeon), no Turner channels (TNT, TBS, CNN), no Discovery channels, and no A&E.

YouTube did recently fill in a few gaps, though, adding AMC (and thus "The Walking Dead"), along with BBC America, IFC, and other smaller channels.

Notably, YouTube does have all four of the major networks. They’re all available to stream live, too. In general, though, the channel selection here is more likely to be seen as lacking than the others.

 

 

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