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YouTube TV Picture-in-Picture: How to Turn On (& Limitations)

YouTube TV comes with picture-in-picture support, but it has its limitations.

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YouTube TV picture-in-picture (PiP) support is available to subscribers, but there are some limitations to be aware of, including which devices support the feature and the content that can be used in PiP mode.

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YouTube TV has proven to be a popular option for consumers in the U.S. looking to cut the cord. While the price has continually increased over the years, so have the features and benefits included with the base plan. Picture-in-picture is one of the newer features to arrive, but it is still fairly limited.

Due to this, understanding how YouTube TV’s picture-in-picture mode works is important for all current subscribers and those considering signing up to the service for the first time. This is especially the case for sports fans who expect to be able to watch more than one game at the same time.

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YouTube TV PiP device support

The first thing to be aware of with YouTube TV’s PiP is that it’s not available on many devices. As of right now, PiP can only be enabled on Android smartphones and mobile devices. Not only does this rule out iPhone, iPad and Mac devices, but also laptops, desktops, streaming players, set-top boxes, and smart TVs, including any running on Android TV.

In other words, if not using an Android phone or tablet to access YouTube TV, then don’t expect to be able to use PiP mode. While Android TV is Android, YouTube TV currently only offers PiP to devices running the mobile version of the operating system.

This may change in the future with additional Android and other platform devices gaining support, but at the moment there’s no official word on when additional support will go live.

How to enable YouTube TV PiP

Providing the subscriber is using an Android mobile device, enabling picture-in-picture is fairly easy to do. This is an app-based benefit, so in addition to a supported device, subscribers will also need to have the YouTube TV app downloaded. From here, PiP mode can be switched on or off through the app’s settings menu.

Turning YouTube TV PiP on or off:

  1. Open YouTube TV app
  2. Tap profile icon (top-right corner)
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Select ‘Picture in Picture.’
  5. Turn on (or off) ‘Allow Picture in Picture’

Subscribers can’t stream two live TV channels

Besides the lack of platform and device support, there’s also the issue of stream support. While some might assume that PiP allows them to watch more then two channels at the same time, that’s not the case. Instead, Google and YouTube designed picture-in-picture to be a way for device owners to use a second app while continuing to watch live TV.

YouTube TV PiP Android
YouTube TV PiP is not for channels

When enabled, picture-in-picture reduces the YouTube TV app player down to a smaller window. This then allows the device user to continue watching a movie, show, or live event, while using their device for other things, including accessing other apps.

As a result, there are no options for using picture-in-picture to watch two YouTube TV videos at the same time. For example, the YouTube TV app cannot be opened in two different windows and any attempt to launch the app while PiP mode is enabled will return the user back to the video that’s currently playing.

In fact, PiP mode doesn’t even allow device users to watch videos in two different apps at the same time. For example, while Netflix, Hulu or any other streaming service app can be launched and navigated while using YouTube TV’s PiP, if they attempt to play a video in another app, the YouTube TV video will automatically stop playing. Likewise, hitting play again on the PiP video will cause the other app to pause the video.

YouTube TV picture-in-picture summary

YouTube TV subscribers can use a picture-in-picture mode to watch videos and live TV channels, but the function is severely limited both in terms of device support and usability. At present, picture-in-picture can only be officially enabled on smartphones and mobile devices running Android.

In addition, YouTube TV’s PiP is not for streaming two different live TV channels at the same time, but for accessing other apps on a mobile device while streaming live TV, on demand videos, or cloud DVR recordings. Even though PiP works while using other streaming apps, attempting to play another video at the same time will cause the YouTube TV video to stop playing.

Read more: YouTube TV Subscribers Can Access These Network Apps & Sites

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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