If you‘re thinking about cutting the cord from cable TV, you may be overwhelmed by the choice between live TV streaming services like DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV. Both offer cable-like channel packages without contracts or equipment fees. With competitive pricing and features like unlimited DVR, it can be tough to pick which service is better suited for you.
In this comprehensive comparison, we‘ll analyze how DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV stack up across categories like channel lineups, features, sports offerings, and more. As experienced cord cutters ourselves, we aim to provide an unbiased expert breakdown to help you make the right choice for your household. Let‘s dive in!
A Brief History of DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV
First, some background on where each streaming service came from.
DirecTV Stream was born out of AT&T‘s acquistion of DirecTV and their subsequent attempts to get into live TV streaming. What was formerly known as AT&T TV Now (launched in 2016) and AT&T TV (launched 2020) became DirecTV Stream in 2022.
Throughout various rebrands and packages, AT&T has tried to leverage their satellite TV brand with newer streaming technology to attract cord cutters. Their latest iteration as DirecTV Stream represents a polished convergence of their streaming efforts thus far.
YouTube TV entered the scene in 2017 as Google‘s official foray into live TV streaming. As an established platform for on-demand video, YouTube already had the technical infrastructure and content connections to launch a competitive skinny bundle.
Over the years, YouTube TV has carved out a niche as tech-forward streaming TV with innovations like personalized user profiles. With Google‘s financial backing, it continues to be a major player in live TV streaming.
Now let‘s compare how these services stack up across the categories that matter most to cord cutters.
Channel Lineups: A Breakdown by Category
The channel selection is arguably the most important factor when choosing a streaming TV service. Here‘s a detailed breakdown of how DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV compare across popular categories:
YouTube TV offers 20+ top national sports channels like ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, NFL Network, NBA TV, MLB Network, and more. Local regional sports networks provide live games for pro, college, and local teams based on your zip code.
DirecTV Stream provides 25+ national sports channels across its plans like ESPN, NFL Network, NBC Sports Network, and more. Their entry-level package already includes SEC Network, MLB Network, CBS Sports Network and regional sports networks.
Advantage: DirecTV Stream for rounded sports coverage across levels
YouTube TV provides 120+ popular entertainment channels like HGTV, TBS, AMC, Bravo, FX, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, SYFY, TLC, and more.
DirecTV Stream offers just 75+ entertainment channels in its base plan. Notable exclusions are Hallmark, HGTV, Lifetime, Paramount Network, MTV2 that YouTube TV carries. Higher packages expand to 105+ entertainment options.
Advantage: YouTube TV for top entertainment breadth
YouTube TV offers 25+ major news channels like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, local news channels, Bloomberg, Cheddar News, and more.
DirecTV Stream provides 20+ news channels across plans including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox Business, and local news based on location.
Advantage: YouTube TV for more niche news diversity
Kids & Family
YouTube TV has 10+ top kids channels like Disney Channel, Disney Jr., Nickelodeon, Universal Kids, PBS Kids, plus family networks like Freeform and Hallmark Channel.
DirecTV Stream carries 15+ kids channels in its entry-level plan: Disney Channel, Disney Jr, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Universal Kids, Cartoon Network, plus family choices.
Advantage: DirecTV Stream with more kids content
Based on these popular categories, YouTube TV generally provides more breadth in entertainment, while DirecTV Stream edges out in sports and kids channels. But both cover major cable networks that cord cutters expect.
Features Face-Off: DVR, Streams, Profiles
Beyond just channels, here‘s how DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV compare across other features:
|Feature||DirecTV Stream||YouTube TV|
|Simultaneous Streams||Unlimited at home||3 streams|
|User Profiles||No||Yes, up to 6|
|Commercial Skip||Yes||Yes via DVR|
|Offline Viewing||No||Yes via mobile|
For capabilities like cloud DVR, pause/rewind, and next-day replays, the services are on par.
YouTube TV stands out with unlimited user profiles so each person can have their own library and recommendations. DirecTV Stream takes the lead for simultaneous streams – it places no limits at home.
YouTube TV also enables some offline viewing on mobile, while DirecTV Stream has no offline mode.
For core functionality, both provide robust DVR and streaming flexibility. But YouTube TV has the edge for personalization and mobile use.
Sports Coverage Compared: NFL, College, and More
Sports fans have special considerations when choosing a streaming TV provider. Here‘s how YouTube TV and DirecTV Stream compare for major sports:
- NFL Sunday Ticket – YouTube TV is now the exclusive home of the NFL Sunday Ticket in 2023 and beyond. This package was previously only available through DirecTV satellite. Big win for football fans.
- NFL RedZone – The popular RedZone channel is available as an add-on for both services.
- College sports – DirecTV Stream carries more college-focused channels like ACC Network, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, and Pac-12 regional networks.
- Regional sports – DirecTV Stream provides broader regional sports network access for MLB, NBA, NHL teams based on location.
- MLB Network – Available on DirecTV but notably dropped by YouTube TV in 2023.
Thanks to Sunday Ticket exclusivity, YouTube TV now leads for NFL coverage. But DirecTV Stream remains stronger for college sports diversity and regional MLB/NBA/NHL access. Both satisfy NFL, NBA, and NHL national game coverage.
Premium Channel Add-Ons: HBO, Showtime, and More
Looking for premium channels like HBO or Starz? Here are the add-on options for each service:
YouTube TV offers 40+ premium channel add-ons like HBO Max, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, Epix, Hallmark Movies, PBS Masterpiece, AMC+, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, IFC Films Unlimited, and more.
DirecTV Stream provides access to HBO Max, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, and Epix as add-ons. Fewer niche premium options compared to YouTube TV.
For premium channels, YouTube TV has greater depth with more choice of services beyond the majors like HBO and Showtime.
Breaking Down the Price: Plans and Add-Ons
On pricing, here‘s how the base packages shake out, not including add-ons or promotional offers:
- YouTube TV: $64.99 per month for over 100+ channels
- DirecTV Stream: Starts at $69.99 per month for 65+ channels and scales up to $149.99 per month for the 150+ channel Premier plan
|DirecTV Stream Entertainment||65+||$69.99/month|
|DirecTV Stream Choice||105+||$89.99/month|
|DirecTV Stream Ultimate||140+||$104.99/month|
|DirecTV Stream Premier||150+||$149.99/month|
YouTube TV offers the most affordable one-size-fits-all flat rate plan for 100+ channels. DirecTV Stream starts in the same range but scales higher for more robust packages.
Note premium channels, sports add-ons, and 4K service incur added fees for both services. Based just on base pricing, YouTube TV hits the sweet spot for value. But watch out for extra costs padding your bill.
Pro Tip: Know the Contract Commitments
A major perk of streaming TV is the flexibility to cancel anytime. Here are the contract terms:
YouTube TV – No long-term contracts or commitments. Cancel online anytime.
DirecTV Stream – No annual contracts. Pay month-to-month and cancel anytime without early termination fees.
This means you can switch between services or take breaks as needed. A major benefit over cable and satellite!
Who Has the Superior Viewing Experience?
Beyond just cost and channels, the actual watching experience matters too. Here‘s how DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV compare:
Video quality – Both stream in full high-definition when available from channel providers. YouTube TV also offers a 4K Plus add-on for select content in Ultra HD. Resolution is excellent on both services.
Ads – Limited advertising on each. YouTube TV runs a 15-30 second pre-roll ad before shows, while DirecTV inserts ads sparingly. Less ad frequency than regular cable.
Search and recommendations – YouTube TV uses Google‘s algorithm and watch history to provide personalized results and suggestions. DirecTV Stream has standard search without custom picks.
Mobile apps – Smooth, fully-featured apps for iOS and Android. YouTube TV lets you download shows for offline viewing.
Living room devices – Available on all major media players like Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, smart TVs, and game consoles. DirecTV Stream also offers its own dedicated streaming box.
Multiple device streaming– YouTube TV allows 3 simultaneous streams, DirecTV places no limits on in-home streams across your network.
Overall, streaming quality and performance is strong on both services. But YouTube TV stands out for smarter personalization and mobile flexibility.
Tech Specs: Internet Requirements and More
Here are key technical requirements to be aware of:
- Internet speed – Minimum 10-25Mbps recommended for HD on both services. Faster speeds like 50+ Mbps will provide best results.
- Mobile – Full apps for Android and iOS devices. Offline viewing only on YouTube TV.
–Living room devices – Compatible with Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, smart TVs, and game consoles.
- Web access – Can stream through internet browsers on laptops and PCs as well.
Make sure your home internet speeds can support smooth HD streaming, especially if multiple people are using at once. Wired connections are most reliable if possible.
Accessibility Features for All
Here are some ways each service accommodates people with disabilities:
- Closed captioning support
- Select shows offer descriptive audio tracks
- Screen reader support on mobile
- Closed captioning with adjustable text size and color
- Video description for visually impaired
- Select shows offer descriptive audio
- Compatible with hearing aid devices
Both services provide closed captions and audio accommodations like descriptive narration. Great to see streaming TV‘s inclusion for all.
Looking Ahead: Future Outlook
What potential changes lie ahead for each service?
- Continued growth expected under Google‘s leadership
- Ongoing negotiations with networks like Warner Discovery could lead to new channels or losses
- Further expansion into sports with rights deals
- AT&T aims to grow subscriber base after 2022 rebrand
- Could see more promotional bundles with AT&T wireless plans
- May overhaul channel packages and pricing
- Facing rising content costs from networks and leagues
We expect YouTube TV to be at the forefront of live TV streaming innovation thanks to Google‘s strong backing. DirecTV Stream may need to reinvent itself once again if they can‘t grow their subscriber base. But continued enhancements to features and channel lineups are ahead for both services.
The Bottom Line: Key Factors to Consider
Here are the most important considerations when choosing between DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV:
YouTube TV Pros
- Wider selection of entertainment & lifestyle channels
- Cheaper base package with 100+ channels
- More concurrent streams for larger families
- Unlimited personalized user profiles
- Exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket access
- More niche & premium add-on options
DirecTV Stream Pros
- More sports channels in base package
- Wider access to regional sports networks
- Unlimited streams at home
- Streamlined channel packages
- Dedicated streaming device included
- Access to MLB Network
For many cord cutters, YouTube TV represents the superior overall value thanks to its flat-rate single plan with a great channel selection. Limits on simultaneous streams can be a drawback for larger families.
But DirecTV Stream is better optimized for sports enthusiasts who want broader access to leagues like MLB and college football across its plans. Those seeking a cable-like tiered packaging structure may also appreciate DirecTV Stream‘s offerings.
There‘s no one-size-fits-all answer – it depends on your household‘s needs. But by weighing factors like price, channel lineup, features, and streaming experience, you can determine which service is the better fit.
We hope this detailed and extensive comparison helps explain the key differences between DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV. Let us know if you have any other questions as you explore cutting the cord from cable!