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YouTube TV ‘This Program Is Unavailable for Streaming’ Explained

YouTube TV subscribers may occasionally encounter a ‘program is unavailable for streaming’ warning message. Here’s why.

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This program is unavailable for streaming is a warning YouTube TV subscribers might occasionally encounter. There are multiple reasons why YouTube TV shows this message although, in most cases, it will either be the result of the location attempting to stream from, the device being used for streaming, or more simply, a blackout decision by the broadcast network.

Ultimately, all three outcomes just mentioned are likely to be the result of a broadcast network decision, but the first two are also partly the result of an environmental factor. In other words, unlike the third reason, the other two can sometimes be overcome.

In this guide, we’ll look to explain each situation in slightly more detail with examples, along with fixes if any are possible. To begin with, we’ll start with the most likely outcome – location.

Unavailable to stream, due to location

One of the major live TV streaming selling points is equipment (and the service) is not technically bound by a location. Instead, YouTube TV subscribers can watch live TV, on demand content, and even cloud DVR recordings whenever and wherever they are. However, that’s only most of the time as there are situations where live TV channels and even on demand or recorded content will be unavailable.

YouTube TV will occasionally prohibit subscribers from watching live TV or non-live videos due to the current location of the subscriber. For example, if attempting to watch YouTube TV while away from the subscriber’s home area and the ‘this program is unavailable for streaming’ warning appears, then it is highly likely the broadcast network does not allow streaming of the video in the current location. In this scenario, the obvious fix is to return to an eligible location, such as the home area.

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

If already in the home area when the unavailable for streaming warning is encountered, then the issue is far more fundamental. Once again, the reason is the broadcast network forbids the streaming of content in the current location. However, as this is the subscriber’s home area, there’s not a lot they can do remedy the situation.

YouTube TV home
Location can result in unavailable streams

Both of these location-based restrictions will be most commonly encountered with live sports. Although there may also be other live (and non-live) events where the warning is shown. Depending on the device being used to attempt to stream the unavailable content, the user may see one of two warning icons.

  • Eye icon
  • Luggage icon

These are specifically added by YouTube TV to provide some clarity on the reason why the content is unavailable, and are fairly self-explanatory. The eye icon simply means the broadcast network does not allow streaming at the current location (usually home and for live sports), while the luggage icon is used when the subscriber is away from their home area.

Unavailable to stream, due to device

The second possible reason a YouTube TV subscriber is likely to see a ‘this program is unavailable for streaming’ warning is the device they are watching on.

While YouTube TV supports a number of platforms and devices, there will be occasions when certain devices are prohibited from streaming select content. This restriction will almost always be related to mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Devices can result in unavailable streams

Mobile devices as often categorized differently to ‘living room’ devices. Due to their roaming nature, and the fact that broadcast networks often lock subscribers out of content when away from home, this restriction can automatically apply to mobile devices, regardless of their actual location.

In this instance, the obvious fix is to simply watch on another device. If, for whatever reason, YouTube TV is unavailable on other nearby devices, then one possible workaround is to cast from the mobile device to a nearby living room device.

Read more: YouTube TV: How Many Devices Can Stream at the Same Time

While watching directly on a mobile device can generate this warning, if the same live TV program or recorded video is streamed from the smartphone or tablet to a non-restricted device like a TV, the content is often unlocked again. Likewise, a laptop or computer can also be a way to circumvent this issue.

Similar to the location-based restrictions, YouTube TV subscribers encountering a device-based restriction may be presented with a warning icon. In this case, the icon will be a smartphone confirming the device is the issue.

Unavailable to stream, due to broadcast network

Again, both the previous restrictions are nearly always decided by the broadcast network and not YouTube TV. Although they are situations that are also affected by the subscriber’s location and/or device, there are occasions where the content will simply be blocked, period.

In these instances, the location of the subscriber or the device being used makes no difference and attempting to change either of these factors won’t fix the ‘this program is unavailable for streaming’ warning. In fact, if this is the reason for the warning, then there’s nothing the subscriber can do, as this is the result of the most fundamental restriction of all – streaming.

YouTube TV home screen SC
Sometimes content is just unavailable

Put simply, not all content that’s available via a broadcast network is automatically available to stream. Even though the same broadcast network might be showing a program on traditional TV, that same program might only be available on traditional TV, with internet-based services locked out from providing access. While this might seem unfair, considering the consumer subscribes and pays for access to that broadcast network, it is an unfortunate reality of the difference in broadcast rights between streaming and traditional live TV.

Total viewing restrictions such as these will often be confirmed by the presence of the same eye icon used for location-based restrictions in general. When this is the issue, there is no way around the problem, other than accessing through a traditional TV service or, if recording the program, waiting until it has finished and watching the recording.

Unavailable for streaming summary

YouTube TV subscribers may encounter a ‘this program is unavailable for streaming’ when attempting to watch live TV channels, on demand content, or recorded videos. These warnings are not decided by YouTube TV, but the broadcast network. If an eye or a luggage icon is shown, then the issue is the result of a location-based restriction. Alternatively, if a smartphone icon can be seen, then the warning is the result of a device-based restriction.

In some cases, YouTube TV will be unable to provide access to a live TV event, on demand video, or DVR recording, due to traditional TV broadcast rights.

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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