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You Can Watch YouTube TV Away from Home (With Caveats)

YouTube TV is a pretty good service for watching live TV away from home. However, there are still some things to be aware of.

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You can watch YouTube TV away from home, making it ideal for those who travel frequently. However, access is not totally unrestricted and there are some caveats you will need to be aware of to ensure uninterrupted viewing.

In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what you need to know to watch YouTube TV away from home, and without having to worry about devices or accounts getting locked out.

Generally speaking, YouTube TV is pretty forgiving when it comes to accessing live TV in other places, and the restrictions are certainly lighter than some of the other services, including Hulu Live TV. The main point to be aware of is YouTube TV’s home area.

YouTube TV’s home area explained

Most live TV streaming services will ask you to confirm a home area, location or network. YouTube TV is no different, although new subscribers might be unaware this is happening. For example, Hulu Live TV specifically asks the user to confirm a network is the home network when setting up a device for the first time on a network. In YouTube TV’s case, the confirmation comes much earlier in the process.

New subscribers will most likely sign up to the live TV streaming service through the YouTube TV website. When attempting to sign up, Google will first ask the user to sign in with their Google account and if a home address is on file, Google will automatically display the city and zip code. If it is a new Google account or one where Google doesn’t have any linked information, YouTube TV will ask “where do you live?” and explain this is to ensure you get the right local channels.

YouTube TV location
When signing up, YouTube TV sets your home area

While this feature is used to determine local channels, it is also what YouTube TV uses to designate your home area going forward. From then on, subscribers have unrestricted access to the service while within the home area. This includes on any and all devices compatible with YouTube TV.

Accessing YouTube TV when away from home area

Where issues can arise is when accessing YouTube TV outside of the home area. Again, YouTube TV doesn’t prohibit the use, so subscribers will find they are able to access the service when traveling, at a second home, or even if they’ve shared the login details with someone else.

However, there’s a time limit in effect here and this is what will ultimately determine whether you can use YouTube TV away from home, on a permanent basis.

YouTube TV two homes
Watching on two homes is allowed but with caveats

YouTube TV requires accounts to log in through the home area at least once every 90 days. As long as this requirement is met, subscribers should not encounter any issues with using YouTube TV outside the home area, and irrespective of the device. The only exception to this rule is MLB fans who are required to log in through the home area once every 30 days, to ensure uninterrupted game coverage.

Can family members access YouTube TV away from home?

One of the main benefits of YouTube TV is that a single subscription can be shared with up to five other family members. However, family members are bound by the same restrictions and this is another area where some accounts might encounter an issue.

Some subscribers might assume they can share their YouTube TV subscription with family members who don’t live with them. For example, a son or daughter away at college, a brother who lives in another state, or their parents back home.

While this is technically possible, YouTube TV’s family account is designed to be for those who live in the same home. As a result, any family member a subscription is shared with, will also need to check in through the account holder’s (family manager) home area.

TV family account
Family members face same limitations

To explain, while YouTube TV requires a device to log in through the home area, the device itself doesn’t matter. If you have a TV in a second home in another state, but you sign in through the home area using a different TV, a mobile device, or a set-top box, the login will be successfully registered. It is the account that has to register, not the device.

It is also the accounts of family members that have to register a login through the home area as well, and every 90 days. Unless the family member comes to visit once every three months, YouTube TV is unlikely to work for those living-apart family members, on a permanent basis.

Other away from home caveats

Another issue to be aware of is that YouTube TV will determine channel and content based on both the user’s current location and their home area. This can mean some channels or content won’t be available at certain times.

For example, local channels are completely determined by the current location. When away from home, users should expect to be locked out from their usual local channels and locked in to the current location’s local channels. This can also affect nationwide channels – if there are location restrictions in place. However, it won’t impact on recordings.

YouTube TV recordings library
Locals and library could be affected

When traveling, users won’t be able to DVR the local channels and content they have access to at the time, but can still record local channels and content from their home area – even though they can’t watch them live at the same time. Once those recordings have finished, they will be accessible through the cloud DVR section, along with any other recorded videos, and regardless of whether at home or away from home.

YouTube TV away from home summary

Generally speaking, there are no major issues with accessing YouTube TV away from home, and this applies to all devices. However, YouTube TV subscribers will see local channels altered when traveling, and will be required to log in through the home area once every 90 days.

In addition, home area logins are determined by the account and not the device, and this applies to all family members with each one having to manually log in through the home area every 90 days.

Lastly, the information above only applies to domestic travel within the United States. YouTube TV subscribers cannot access any programs while traveling internationally.

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

33 replies on “You Can Watch YouTube TV Away from Home (With Caveats)”

So, if we subscribe to youtube tv in nebraska via a roku stick…we can access our youtube tv account at our 2nd home in AZ over the winter, thru a different roku stick? This will not require 2 youtube accounts? And we will receive local channels in NE, when in NE and local channels for AZ when in AZ?
1 account, 1 monthly payment, 2 locations when we are physically in whichever state at the time?
Is there a restriction as to how many times we are allowed to travel between the 2 states a year? And how many days the service must be on at each location?

Hi Susie,

Yes, in principle, your situation should be fine and you won’t require two separate YouTube TV accounts. However, that’s as long as the account ‘checks in’ with the home network once every ninety days. As long as you are not away longer than three months at a time, there shouldn’t be an issue. The different device does not make any difference.

Again, there’s no restriction on how many times you can travel, it is just the account needs to be accessed at home once every three months.

And yes, you will see local programs/channels depending on whether in NE or AZ.

Hope that helps,
John.

So by “checking in” couldn’t I just sign into their Gmail on my computer in the home network? For example if I live on the east coast and my parents live in the Midwest, can I log into my mom’s email on my computer at my house and that counts as “checking in”?

Hi Jennifer,

Haven’t checked this personally, but it might work if you use their credentials to log into YouTube TV (not into their email account). Of course, you won’t know if it works until the three months have expired, but let us know if you try and if it works.

Hi so I go to school in San Francisco and parents live near Sacramento. The Area will be registered for my parents Area code. So if they watch something every couple days I should have no problem with YouTube Tv or if we use multiple google accounts they just need to log in with my account at their place every couple of days

Why not just have one google account for the tv aspect only and log that into all the devices you want? then as long as you have one on the home network none could ever ben kicked off…

That works, but then everyone shares settings. Live channel lineup modifications affect everyone. Everyone can manage and see all recordings and DVR settings.

I live in Bay Area and that is our home area. We have a vacation house in Oregon, and I want to be able to record PBS shows from the Bay Area . I know I can’t watch them live, but how can I schedule the Bay Area recordings from the Oregon house, to watch later?

The easiest way is probably to set up the recordings while still in Bay Area. DVR is unaffected in the home area with YouTube TV, so they should continue to record as scheduled. If it’s an individual program (not a series) then there isn’t any real way to do this when away from the main home, as the channel options switch over.

From what I’ve read, YouTube TV allows you to change your home area. I think the limit is twice per year. This is mostly for snowbirds who spend the winter in a warmer climate.

So what happens if I don’t log in from my home area? Will my channels change?

I live in Chicago and share with a friend in Detroit. If I don’t log in from Detroit, will my channels change to Chicago local? Or will I just lose all access to local channels? Honestly it would be preferable if it changed to Chicago so I can watch local sports, but it isn’t clear to me what the consequences are if you don’t log in within 90 days

If you don’t log in within the time frame, you may lose access completely on that device – until it reconnects again at “home.” Some readers have suggested this didn’t happen to them at the cut-off point, so your miles may vary, but the general idea is those devices becomes locked out of YouTube TV.

Recently added to a family account but residing in another state in subscriber’s second home. Setting up all went well but we are receiving the primary subscriber’s local channels, not our local ones. Can these channels be “localized” without disrupting the primary subscriber’s settings?

Answered my own question. Could not be done from my desktop. Had to set up app on smartphone and then reset the primary TV which then picked up the changes made on the smartphone app. A touch complex but it works.

Are you accessing on your own account? You shouldn’t be getting access to the old locals. If using a separate Google account (but linked as a family member) then you should see locals where you are.

I’m confused … let’s say my sister who lives in FL is sharing with me in PA. If the device you sign in on doesn’t matter, can’t she just periodically sign in as me on any device, say, her phone?

In principle, yes. Of course, you’ll be logging in in PA as well, so one or both of you may encounter issues if Google detects weird simultaneous activity – for example, Google may not let your sister log into your account on a device that’s not already linked to your account. But in theory, yes, the account, not the device needs to check in.

If it’s the same property, then there shouldn’t be any major issues as they’ll be sharing the same ZIP etc.

So if I live in Portland, OR and my mother lives in Eugene, OR can she use it from her house or would us logging in simultaneously mess it up?

My wife is in Denver in our 2nd home and is getting our local Cincinnati stations while I’m still at home in Cincy.
How can she get the local Denver stations?

Can i watch channels in a certain zip code away from my home? If my brother lives in Green Bay and I live in FL. Can I see his channels? Could I change my home zip code to Green Bay so I can see Packer games???

What if I share with a family member in another city but the same local market (we have the same local networks)? Would that work?

I understand that if you want HBO, STARZ or other premium channels you need to pay extra. It also seems as if the history channel is not available at all. Does this still make you tube the best choice.

My sister and I are sharing YouTube tv. My location is in one city, and she lives in another. So she would have to check into my city every 90 days so her access wouldn’t become interrupted? How does she check into my home base ?

My sister has me as family member on her account and we live in different cities. If I log out on all my devices and have her log in as me on one of her devices every 90 days, will that keep me from being locked out?

Hi there. Thank you for sharing this info as it has been very informative. My question pertains to simultaneous live viewing. If I share my login with my friends and we want to watch the same live program at the same time, can we do this without one of us being kicked off or delayed? Do you know if only one person can watch a live showing and the others must watch the program on-demand or on DVR? Thank you!

I travel for work and I find myself in a new rv park every few months with a different IP address and WiFi. I tried Hulu live and it would only allow so many switches a year. Can I maintain my YouTube tv account while traveling like I do

I live 6 months per year in Orlando, and 6 months per year in Canada. Using a VPN service, will I be able to access YouTube TV, record, and watch Orlando content while in Canada? If so, I’ll be signing up soon!

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