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How to Get YouTube TV on Roku, Step-by-Step (With Photos)

As an experienced technology industry analyst who has covered streaming media developments for over a decade, I‘ve witnessed firsthand the rapid rise of internet-delivered live TV services like the aptly named YouTube TV.

The Accelerating Cord-Cutting Revolution

With traditional pay TV subscribers declining sharply in recent years, what was once a niche market of early adopters has grown into a mainstream phenomenon. According to Leichtman Research Group, over 6 million Americans cut the cord in 2018 alone.

While early cord-cutters were largely motivated by cost savings, the sheer quality and convenience of streaming has taken center stage. Services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime pioneered on-demand video delivered over the internet.

But for many viewers, live programming like sports, news and special events remained the biggest barrier to cancelling cable or satellite TV. That‘s the gap YouTube TV and competitors from Hulu, Sling TV, fuboTV and others are racing to fill.

Introducing YouTube TV

As internet speeds have accelerated to support live streaming, Google‘s YouTube arm officially entered the fray in 2017 with YouTube TV. Initially launched in select markets, coverage now extends across the entire US.

YouTube TV marries beloved elements of traditional pay TV like familiar channels, scheduled programing, and 24/7 live news with the flexibility of streaming delivery.

Some standout features include:

  • 85+ Major Cable Networks – Channels from Disney/ESPN, NBCU, Fox, AMC, Turner including locals
  • Unlimited Cloud DVR – Record an unlimited amount of programming to stream later
  • 6 User Profiles – Personalized watchlists, recommendations and recordings
  • 3 Concurrent Streams – Watch on multiple devices both in-home and mobile
  • No Long-Term Contracts – Pay month-to-month with no early termination fees

For cord-cutting consumers fundamentally shifting towards on-demand and time-shifted viewing, YouTube TV represents an exciting bridge to access coveted live content without the locks and penalties of traditional TV.

Pairing YouTube TV with Roku‘s Streaming Platform

While designed as a mobile-first cloud DVR service, YouTube TV truly shines when enjoyed on the big screen. And with over 50 million active user accounts globally, Roku has emerged as one of the most popular platforms for powering smart TVs and premium streaming.

Roku‘s intuitive software, breadth of apps, connectivity options and affordability has fueled impressive market share gains in recent years. Integrated directly into value-focused TV models from brands like TCL, Roku TVs now capture a leading position in US sales.

Pairing YouTube TV with Roku streaming players and Roku TVs combines acclaimed hardware, polished software, and coveted live programming into a compelling alternative for ditching cable entirely.

YouTube TV Availability on Roku Hardware

Roku Device Class Models Supported
Streaming Players Roku Express, Premiere, Streaming Stick, Ultra
Smart TVs TCL Roku TVs, Hisense Roku TVs, Most Insignia Roku TVs
Audio Roku Smart Soundbars, Wireless Speakers

See Roku‘s YouTube TV compatibility page for a detailed list of supported devices

Now let‘s walk through getting YouTube‘s live TV service up and running on your Roku step-by-step.

YouTube TV Roku Streaming

Step 1: Connect and Set Up Your Roku Hardware

The starting point is having your Roku player, stick or Roku TV connected to your television and home internet network.

  • For Roku streaming devices, connect the included HDMI cable between the Roku and open HDMI port on your TV
  • For Roku smart TVs, make sure both the TV and integrated Roku software are on
  • Use Roku‘s on-screen prompts to connect your device to your wifi router

Once connected, Roku will automatically update to the latest software. You can create your Roku account if haven‘t already or skip this step for now.

Ideal internet speeds: While YouTube TV requires only 5 Mbps connections, I recommend faster broadband speeds for the best experience:

  • 25+ Mbps for HD streaming
  • 50+ Mbps for 4K streaming
  • 100+ Mbps for multi-user households

With your Roku set up and online, let‘s find and install the YouTube TV app.

Step 2: Search for YouTube TV Channel

From Roku‘s home screen, select the "Streaming Channels" option to access Roku‘s Channel Store. Rather than endlessly scrolling, it‘s easiest to use the Search option.

  • Navigate to Streaming Channels > Search Channels
  • Use the on-screen keyboard to type "YouTube TV"
  • Hit enter and select from the search results

Pro Tip: Make sure you choose the channel named "YouTube TV" not YouTube or other YouTube related channels.

Searching for YouTube TV in Roku Channel Store

Step 3: Install YouTube TV Channel

With the correct YouTube TV channel page open, select "Add Channel" to begin installation. Within seconds, the YouTube TV app icon will populate on your Roku home screen.

Installation Tips:

  • Your Roku will automatically open YouTube TV once added
  • If installation is slow, try re-starting your Roku
  • Channel updates can require Roku/TV to be on latest firmware

And just like that, YouTube TV is ready to start streaming live TV to your Roku device!

YouTube TV Channel in Roku Channel Store

Step 4: Sign In and Start Watching

Opening the YouTube TV app brings you to the sign-in screen.

If you‘re an existing subscriber, simply enter your YouTube TV credentials to instantly access live channels.

Not subscribed yet? No problem. Select "Start Free Trial" to sample YouTube TV with a 7-day preview. You‘ll need to enter a credit card but can cancel anytime hassle-free.

Once signed in, you have full access to stream live TV from 85+ top cable channels along with YouTube TV‘s unlimited cloud DVR.

Youtube TV Sign In Screen on Roku

Use your Roku remote to browse the guide, jump to live channels, access recordings or search for programs. Or cast YouTube TV from your mobile device to effortlessly fling shows to the big screen.

Plus you can create up to 6 personalized profiles for each household member with individual watch history, recordings and recommendations.

YouTube TV Live Guide on Roku Ultra

And as a broadband-delivered service, YouTube TV allows you to stream on up to 3 devices simultaneously. So everyone can independently watch football, cartoons and news as concurrently as traditional television.

Even with a growing array of choices, I consider YouTube TV one of the most compelling live TV services available today thanks to unrivaled breadth of content, unlimited DVR storage, and best-in-class breadth of device support.

Let‘s see how YouTube TV compares to other popular options vying to replace your cable box:

Live TV Service Price Channels DVR Storage Streams Top Devices
YouTube TV $64.99 85+ Unlimited 3 Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV
Hulu Live TV $69.99 75+ 50 hours 2 Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast
fuboTV $69.99 125+ 250 hours Unlimited Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast
Sling TV $35+ 30+ 50 hours 1-4 Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast

Beyond the major services, I‘m also keeping an eye on sports-focused alternatives like ESPN+ and niche OTT providers combining streaming flexibility with bespoke channel bundles.

But for most mainstream viewers wanting an all-around cable replacement, YouTube TV covers must-have programming across entertainment, news, and sports fandoms.

When it comes to supported devices, YouTube TV stands above particularly for Roku integration and breadth across mobile platforms. Compared to rivals, I‘ve found YouTube TV‘s apps to be highly polished providing a unified experience across screens.

And their network support means streaming even data-heavy live sports is reliably smooth. I break down technical recommendations later for optimizing streaming quality.

While YouTube TV replicates much of the traditional cable bundle, there is still great programming found exclusively on premium streaming platforms. Luckily nothing prevents mixing and matching services tailored to your interests.

In fact, I encourage pairing YouTube TV with 1-2 on-demand options to replicate the complete channel selection once tied to your local cable monopoly.

Here are some of my favorite services to complement YouTube TV:

Netflix – Industry leading force in originals from Stranger Things to The Crown plus catalog of movies and throwback series

HBO Max – Prestigious HBO programming expanded with hits like Friends, South Park plus new Max Originals

ESPN+ – Deep bench of live sports outside YouTube TV like UFC, PGA Golf, MLB, and NHL

Disney+ – Can‘t miss Disney animation, Pixar faves, Star Wars, and the Marvel Universe

Apple TV+ – Premium shows and movies from world‘s most valuable company like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show and CODA

Bundling a few of these streaming services can still add up significantly cheaper than a loaded cable package filled with channels you never watch. And thanks to YouTube TV‘s cloud DVR, you can record cable content without scheduling conflicts.

Let‘s next walk through recommendations for optimizing YouTube TV playback on your Roku.

Youtube TV playback on Roku

While the technical foundations supporting live internet TV has improved by leaps and bounds, streaming introduces variables beyond channel availability.

Network conditions, hardware performance, video protocols and optimization settings all impact playback quality.

Here are my tips for tuning your setup for the best YouTube TV viewing experience:

Internet Bandwidth – I suggest minimum 25 Mbps connections for smooth HD streaming with 50+ Mbps ideally. Faster is better especially for 4K and multi-user households. Connect devices via Ethernet if possible.

WiFi Performance – Position Roku close to your wireless router and minimize interference from other electronics. Dual-band WiFi helps. Or invest in mesh systems like Google WiFi and Eero to blanket homes.

HDMI Cables – Use Premium Certified HDMI cables supporting 18 Gpbs speeds, HDR and 4K. Monoprice and AmazonBasics make affordable options. Replace cables older than a few years.

Roku Media Playback Settings – Navigate to Settings > Display > Expert Picture Settings on Roku devices to calibrate and match your TV capabilities.

YouTube TV Playback Settings – In account settings, YouTube TV allows customizing video resolution between Auto, 720p, 1080p and 4K. Set based on your TV resolution and internet speeds.

Future Proofing – Look for devices supporting next-generation AV1 video compression for improved efficiency along with HDMI 2.1 specs for 8K and high frame rate playback.

With broadband speeds scaling exponentially alongside rapid advances in video encoding, streaming TV still remains in its infancy.

While forecasting innovation is inherently challenging, I see tremendous headroom for YouTube TV and competitors to enhance traditional television.

On the business side, I expect on-going consolidation between content creators, aggregators and distributors. Google clearly holds pole position thanks to their prime positioning in digital video and advertising combined with vast resources to license programming.

And their technical DNA places them at the forefront of streaming delivery benefiting YouTube TV. Efforts like vendor-neutral AI-enhanced AV1 video developed by Google, Amazon, Netflix and others point to a future of ultra efficient streaming.

On the user front, I think the ultimate vision is complete blurring between types of content – traditional linear, scheduled cable vs purely on-demand platforms. YouTube TV embraces this with unified access to live, recorded and VOD programming in one experience.

And while the current model remains rooted in familiar cable bundles, I foresee fully customizable a la carte channels, shows and integrations tailored to individual interests. Voice control and personalization will remove remaining friction in content discovery.

As living rooms give way to personalized viewing across a multitude of devices, Roku stands ready to enable the future of TV as the dominant streaming platform available everywhere. And with YouTube TV available front and center on Roku, the next generation of television shines brighter than ever.

I hope this comprehensive guide helps explain exactly how to setup YouTube TV on your Roku for a superior cord-cutting experience. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Youtube TV and Roku