So you‘re looking to cut the cord but still want the flexibility of a traditional cable TV package. YouTube TV and Comcast Xfinity have emerged as two of the top contenders for replacing your old cable box with a more modern streaming experience.
But how do these internet TV services really stack up? With so many factors to weigh like channel selection, price, features, and streaming quality, it can get confusing.
That‘s why we put together this in-depth side-by-side comparison. Whether you‘re looking for the bigger channel lineup or the best user experience, read on to see which service is better for you as we pit YouTube TV vs Xfinity.
At a Glance: How YouTube TV and Xfinity Compare
Before we dive in, here‘s a high-level overview of how the two services match up:
- YouTube TV offers 100+ popular cable channels starting at $64.99/month. It provides an intuitive streaming interface and unlimited DVR but availability of local channels and sports networks varies by region.
- Xfinity Stream gives you access to over 260 total channels if you spring for their top package at $84.99/month. However, you‘ll also have to deal with cable boxes, contracts, and a more disjointed watching experience blending traditional TV and streaming.
- YouTube TV relies entirely on streaming over the internet while Xfinity leverages Comcast‘s traditional cable TV infrastructure. This means Xfinity provides broader access to regional sports and local channels.
- When it comes to base plans, YouTube TV gives you more bang for your buck. But Xfinity lets you customize your channel package more and bundles TV with internet and phone service.
Now let‘s get into the details on how these two cable heavyweights compare across different categories. We‘ll look at factors like channel selection, features, streaming quality, sports coverage, pricing, and more so you can determine which is better for your household.
A Brief History of YouTube TV and Xfinity as Cable Evolves
Before we compare their streaming TV offerings today, let‘s quickly recap the origins and evolution of YouTube TV and Xfinity:
- YouTube TV launched in 2017 as a cable TV replacement from the popular video platform, quickly growing to over 5 million subscribers nationwide as of 2022.
- Xfinity Stream launched in 2020, evolving out of Comcast Cable which dates back to 1963. While Xfinity video subscribers are declining, they still have over 16 million total.
- Comcast thrived as a traditional cable TV provider but is losing subscribers in the streaming era. YouTube TV was built specifically for streaming from the start.
So while Comcast has the longer history, YouTube TV was purpose-built for how people watch TV today. Now let‘s see how that impacts their streaming TV offerings.
Channel Lineups: YouTube TV Offers More Top Channels for the Price
The channel lineup should be one of your top considerations. YouTube TV and Xfinity both provide lots of choice, but YouTube TV generally gives you more of the most popular channels for the money.
For $64.99 a month, YouTube TV gives you over 100 channels in their base package spanning entertainment, news, and sports channels with offerings like:
- ESPN, TNT, TBS for sports
- Bravo, FX, Syfy, Paramount Network for entertainment
- CNN, MSNBC, Fox News for news
- Plus all the major broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox
YouTube TV also offers a Spanish language plan with 30+ channels for $34.99/month.
Xfinity technically starts lower at $30/month for a package with just 10+ channels. But step up to their 140+ channel plan for $59.99/month and you‘ll still get far fewer of the top stations than YouTube TV.
Only when you spring for Xfinity‘s top 260+ channel premium package at $84.99 do you get a comparable lineup, but now you‘re paying $20 more than YouTube TV.
The bottomline is YouTube TV offers more bang for your buck in terms of the number of popular channels you get for the base monthly price.
Features and Functionality Comparison
In addition to channel selection, you also need to weigh the various features and functionality that impact the viewing experience:
|Feature||YouTube TV||Xfinity Stream|
|Simultaneous Streams||3 (unlimited w/add-on)||3|
|DVR Storage||Unlimited||20 hours (more costs extra)|
|4K Streaming||No||Yes (select content)|
|Streaming Devices||Roku, Fire TV, Android, iOS, Web||Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, iOS, Web|
Some key things stand out here:
- YouTube TV delivers a purer streaming experience from mobile to TVs. Xfinity still relies on traditional cable boxes.
- YouTube TV gives you unlimited DVR space. Xfinity only provides 20 hours before you have to pay for more.
- YouTube TV allows up to 6 user profiles per account. Xfinity doesn‘t offer user profiles.
So if you want the most seamless and feature-rich streaming TV package, YouTube TV is superior overall to Xfinity.
Sports and Local Channel Coverage
Access to regional sports and local channels is crucial for many viewers. Here‘s how YouTube TV and Xfinity compare on that front:
- YouTube TV offers many regional Fox and NBC sports networks depending on your location. But coverage is not as comprehensive as Xfinity.
- Xfinity includes all regional sports channels based on your zip code, while YouTube TV is more limited. Big missing channels include NESN for Boston Red Sox fans.
- It‘s the same story with local affiliates. YouTube TV only covers select major markets while Xfinity automatically provides your local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox stations.
So Xfinity is the winner when it comes to complete sports and local channel coverage. The tradeoff is having to use their traditional cable TV service as opposed to YouTube TV‘s streaming-only approach.
Streaming Quality and Reliability
There are some key differences in streaming quality as well:
- YouTube TV tops out at 1080p HD resolution and 60fps frame rate across all channels and devices. Video is crisp and clear.
- Xfinity technically supports up to 4K resolution and HDR color on some content. But 4K channel selection is very limited for now.
However, many viewers report a better overall streaming experience with YouTube TV in terms of reliability. This makes sense given YouTube‘s expertise in serving up billions of streaming video views.
Xfinity can suffer from more compression artifacts and pixelation since it relies partly on converting traditional cable signals to streaming.
So while Xfinity offers the promise of higher quality streaming, YouTube TV is generally more consistent in terms of performance.
Pros and Cons of YouTube TV and Xfinity
Let‘s recap the key advantages and disadvantages of each service:
- 100+ top channels for $65/month
- Unlimited DVR space
- Intuitive streaming interface
- Works anywhere with internet
- No contracts
- Live local & regional sports coverage can be limited
- Lacks 4K streaming
- Price hikes over time
- Access to over 260 channel options
- Includes all local sports and channels
- Bundles with Xfinity Internet
- 4K streaming supported
- Confusing blend of cable boxes & streaming
- DVR capacity limited
- Significantly higher base prices
- Contracts and hidden fees
As you can see, YouTube TV excels when it comes to streaming experience while Xfinity offers greater channel options at higher prices.
The Bottom Line: YouTube TV Offers the Best Overall Value
While Xfinity lets you combine streaming video with Comcast‘s traditional cable TV service, YouTube TV provides a purer internet TV experience. And for most viewers, YouTube TV‘s combination of top channels, unlimited DVR, and intuitive interface at $65/month is extremely compelling.
YouTube TV is the clearer choice if you:
- Want to completely cut the cord with no cable box required
- Desire a simple, unified TV watching experience
- Are fine with only national sports and news channels
Xfinity gives you more channel choice and guaranteed access to regional sports and local stations. But the sacrifices are higher base prices along with the complexity of blending old-school cable and streaming.
So while it may lack some local options, YouTube TV offers a superior streaming experience and overall value. With over 5 million subscribers and counting, it‘s clear YouTube TV fills the cable TV void for the cord cutting generation.