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Best Cloud DVR Live TV Streaming Service: YouTube TV

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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The best live TV streaming service for cloud DVR is YouTube TV. Although not perfect, the combination of a personalized and unlimited cloud DVR, along with the ability to keep recordings for up to nine months, makes YouTube TV a cloud DVR winner.

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, on demand access means consumers can watch their TV favorites wherever and whenever they want.

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 or hope that it surfaces in the general on demand catalog. In contrast, cloud recordings work just like traditional DVR recordings with the major difference being recorded movies and shows are stored in the cloud for easy access.

YouTube TV watch and cloud dvr multiple devices

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

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

A cloud DVR caveat is that not all streaming services provide it as part of their 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 extra for it. 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 need to pay to upgrade.

YouTube TV has always been a very pro-cloud DVR service in this respect. Not only is the ability to record included in the $64.99 base subscription price, but YouTube TV also does not offer any option to upgrade. Instead, all subscribers gain 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. This reason alone is exactly why YouTube TV offers the best cloud DVR.

YouTube TV cloud dvr
Source: YouTube

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

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

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 is too low to begin with. This is probably the most important factor to consider when choosing a live TV streaming service, based on the cloud DVR.

YouTube TV offers an unlimited recording experience. and therefore, places absolutely zero restrictions on how much content a subscriber can record. Essentially, YouTube TV subscribers are permitted to record as many movies and shows as they want, and at no additional cost.

What’s more, YouTube TV offers subscribers the option to share their account with up to five other family members. Therefore, YouTube TV not only offer an unlimited cloud DVR experience, but an individual unlimited cloud DVR, personalized to every family member.

TV family account

The result, is that not only can those additional loved ones record as much content as they want as well, but what one family member records won’t show in the cloud DVR list for other family members. To put the cloud DVR into perspective, here’s how it compares to other main live TV streaming services.

YouTube TV cloud DVR storage limit compared:

Live TV serviceStorage
(Hours)
YouTube TVUnlimited
AT&T TV
NOW
500
fuboTV30/500
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 as much if YouTube TV also does not provide users with enough time to watch all that recorded content. Thankfully, that’s not a concern for subscribers.

YouTube TV allows subscribers to keep recorded content for up to nine months. While this is still an actual limit, it is considerably more generous than 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.

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
YouTube TV9 months
AT&T TV
NOW
90 days
fuboTVIndefinite
Hulu + Live TVIndefinite
Philo30 days
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 up to nine months, collectively explains exactly why YouTube TV offers the best cloud DVR experience overall. However, there are other considerations to keep in mind when comparing cloud DVR services, and the table below provides a good overview of many of the major limitations, compared to rival services.

YouTube TV cloud DVR comparison:

Live TV serviceFreeStorage
(Hours)
Keep forDevicesChannelsCan upgrade
YouTube TVUnlimited9 monthsNo limitNo limitX
AT&T TV
NOW
50090 daysNo limitNo limitX
fuboTV30IndefiniteNo limitNo limit✔ ($9.99 for 500 hours)
Hulu + Live TV50IndefiniteTVs outside homeNo limit✔ ($9.99 for 200 hours)
PhiloUnlimited30 daysNo 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 might even be deal-breakers, irrespective of what makes the service so good.

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

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. However, while both offer indefinite storage, both do also have a soft and hard cap on how many hours can be recorded.

Another limitation 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 while they can be more limiting than some other services in some respects, those other services tend to be 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 started Streaming Clarity to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingclarity.com or on Twitter

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