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YouTube TV Is the Best Cloud DVR Live TV Streaming Service

No need to read through a long comparison. If you want to know which live TV streaming service has the best cloud DVR, it’s YouTube TV.

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YouTube TV is the live TV streaming service with the best cloud DVR. It is not perfect, but a combination of a personalized and unlimited cloud DVR, along with the ability to keep recordings for up to nine months, makes it a winner. All things considered, YouTube TV offers a better cloud DVR experience than any other live TV streaming service.

Why a good cloud DVR experience is important

One of the major benefits of live TV streaming is the ability to access content on as many devices as you want, when you want. While there are limitations on how many simultaneous streams a service offers, this on demand access means consumers can watch their TV favorites wherever they are.

If it was not for cloud DVR, then live TV streaming subscribers would have no other option but to watch what was on at the time. In contrast, cloud recordings work just like traditional DVR recordings with the major difference being recorded movies and shows are stored in the cloud. In turn, this makes access to those movies and shows possible, wherever the user is, and on any device they want.

YouTube TV watch and cloud dvr multiple devices

In spite of its additional freedom, cloud DVR doesn’t include the option to download shows locally to a device. Therefore, accessing recorded content requires a user to be connected to the internet, and the content streamed to a device – just like non-recorded content.

In a similar way to how traditional recording devices gave TV viewers the freedom to watch when they want, cloud DVR improves on that by adding the option to watch where they want.

Do you have to pay extra for YouTube TV’s DVR?

One of the additional caveats with cloud recordings is that not all streaming services provide it as part of the base subscription. As a result, even if a service offers a great cloud DVR experience, there’s still a chance subscribers might have to pay more for it.

In addition, even those services that do include cloud DVR for free, sometimes they only include a basic version. In these instances, to get the very best cloud DVR the service has to offer, subscribers typically have to pay to upgrade.

YouTube TV has always been a very pro-cloud DVR service. Not only is the ability to record included in the $49.99 base subscription price, but YouTube also does not offer any option to upgrade. Instead, all YouTube TV subscribers get access to the same, premium cloud DVR.

Why YouTube TV’s cloud DVR is the best

Again, no live TV streaming service currently offers a perfect recording experience. As a result, the best cloud DVR mostly comes down to the one with the fewest limitations. That reason alone is exactly why YouTube TV offers the best cloud DVR. It is the recording experience overall that helps it stand out against the rest.

YouTube TV cloud dvr
Source: YouTube

There are many factors that come into play when looking at a cloud DVR service. Arguably, the most important aspects are:

  • How many movies and shows you can record
  • How long you can keep those recordings for

We’ll go over both separately to highlight exactly why YouTube TV offers the closest to a perfect cloud DVR consumers can currently get.

Read more: Cloud DVR comparison

YouTube TV DVR storage limit

What channels you can record, what quality you can record at, and how long you can keep recordings for, won’t matter if the storage limit to begin with is too low. This is arguably, the absolute most important factor to consider when choosing a live TV streaming service based on the cloud DVR.

YouTube TV offers an unlimited recording experience. In other words, it places absolutely zero restrictions on how much content you can record. YouTube TV subscribers are permitted to record as many movies and shows as they want.

What’s more, YouTube TV offers subscribers the option to share their account with up to five other family members.

TV family account

Not only does this mean those additional loved ones are also able to record as much content as they want as well, but what one family member records won’t fill up the cloud DVR of other family members.

In short, not only does YouTube TV offer an unlimited cloud DVR experience, but it’s an individual unlimited cloud DVR, personalized to every family member.

YouTube TV cloud DVR storage limit compared:

Live TV serviceStorage
(Hours)
YouTube TVUnlimited
AT&T TV
NOW
500
fuboTV30
Hulu + Live TV50
PhiloUnlimited
Sling TV10
VidgoX
WatchTVX

YouTube TV DVR time limit

While YouTube TV lets subscribers record as much content as they want, it won’t matter much if YouTube TV also does not provide users with enough time to watch all that content. Thankfully, that’s not a concern for subscribers.

YouTube TV allows subscribers to keep recorded content for nine months. While this is still an actual limit, it is a considerably more generous cap compared to other services. Yes, there are some live TV streaming services that let subscribers keep recorded content indefinitely, however, they are very few and far between.

In contrast, the majority of competing services have a shorter time limit in place and in some cases, the limit is as low as one month. With the best part of a year available, this allows YouTube TV subscribers plenty of time to watch what they want without having to worry about recordings being automatically deleted.

YouTube TV cloud DVR time limit compared:

Live TV serviceKeep for
(Days)
YouTube TV9 months
AT&T TV
NOW
90
fuboTVIndefinite
Hulu + Live TVIndefinite
Philo30
Sling TVNo limit
VidgoX
WatchTVX

YouTube TV cloud DVR comparison

The fact that YouTube TV’s DVR is free, unlimited, personalized, and content remains recorded for nine months, collectively explains exactly why YouTube TV offers the best cloud DVR experience.

However, they are not the only caveats or limitations that consumers will need to be aware of before signing up. As a result, the table below provides a good overview of many of the other limitations, and compared to rival services.

YouTube TV cloud DVR compares to other streaming services:

Live TV serviceFreeStorage
(Hours)
Keep for
(Days)
DevicesChannelsCan upgrade
YouTube TVUnlimited9 monthsNo limitNo limitX
AT&T TV
NOW
50090No limitNo limitX
fuboTV30IndefiniteNo limitNo limit✔ ($9.99 for 500)
Hulu + Live TV50IndefiniteTVs outside homeNo limit✔ ($9.99 for 200)
PhiloUnlimited30No limitNo limitX
Sling TV10No limitNo limitNo Disney
VidgoNo DVRXXXXX
WatchTVNo DVRXXXXX

YouTube TV recording limitations

When choosing a service based on the recording features, it is sometimes better to focus on the weakest points as they can often be more revealing. In some case, the weak points could even be deal-breakers, irrespective of what makes the service so good.

The first, and major YouTube TV recording limitation is the already-mentioned time limit. Again, while it is better than most other services, nine months is still not indefinite, and subscribers do need to be aware that they cannot keep recordings permanently.

If having the option to keep recordings on a permanent basis matters, then both fuboTV and Hulu Live TV are going to be better options. Although, while both offer indefinite storage of recordings, both do also have a soft and hard cap on storage.

Another limitation that is worth knowing about is sports coverage. While YouTube TV does allow subscribers to watch live sports events, the company also does not guarantee that all sporting events can be recorded. As a result, there may be times when an event cannot be recorded, due to location or broadcast rights.

Best cloud DVR summary

YouTube TV comparison

The reality is, if you want the best recording experience possible from a live TV streaming service, then YouTube TV is the best bet.

YouTube’s live TV streaming service does have some limitations, and they are more limiting than some other services. However, those other services are even more limiting in other recording areas. Therein, is YouTube TV’s secret recording formula.

YouTube TV offers the most cloud DVR freedom and considering that’s the purpose of a recording feature in the first place, it’s not hard to see why YouTube TV offers the best cloud DVR overall.

John Finn

By John Finn

John is the founder of Streaming Clarity and has been writing about smartphones and TV-related services and devices since 2014. John streams everything and genuinely believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between streaming services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingclarity.com or on Twitter

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