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YouTube TV: How Many Streams at the Same Time?

YouTube TV subscribers can watch on up to three streams at the same time, regardless of the devices or the number of family members.

YouTube TV subscribers can stream on up to three devices at the same time. This is irrespective of whether watching live TV or recorded cloud DVR content. Although YouTube TV allows up to six household members to share a single subscription, the number of simultaneous streams is not affected by the number of accounts. Whether one or six accounts are linked to a YouTube TV membership, there are still only three same-time streams available.

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The number of streams a service like YouTube TV offers can directly impact the overall experience, and almost as much as the channels or even the price. After all, if everyone in a busy household expects to be able to watch live TV when they want, and on the devices they want, then they might find streaming services are not quite as helpful as they first thought.

Understanding just how many streams YouTube TV offers before signing up can go a long way to making sure the streaming service is actually the right one for your individual or household’s live TV needs.

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Three YouTube TV streams at once

YouTube TV provides subscribers with a maximum of three streams at the same time. This is irrespective of the device being used, so it does not matter whether the channels are being streamed on a computer, smartphone, or living room device. YouTube TV treats all devices equally and this is also irrespective of whether the three devices are connected to the same home network or not.

This device limitation can become a real issue for busier households or for those individuals who share a YouTube TV subscription with family or friends. While the option to share a single monthly payment with others is a major selling point for YouTube TV, accounts and streams are not the same thing, and don’t have an effect on each other.

TV family account
YouTube TV accounts unrelated to number of streams

Yes, each time someone connects to YouTube TV, the number of streams is reduced. However, one person alone could eat up most or all of the streams by watching on different devices. For example, sports on a smartphone while watching something else on a smart TV. Therefore, streams are not directly linked to the number of people sharing an account. By the same token, this also means that if six people are sharing the same YouTube TV subscription, the number of streams does not automatically increase or adjust to match the number of users.

YouTube TV streams and DVR recordings

Besides the ability to share an account with others, another major streaming service benefit is the option to record content to a cloud DVR. In fact, this is one of the primary benefits of YouTube TV specifically, considering it offers the best cloud DVR experience overall.

YouTube TV not only provides unlimited cloud DVR, but it is also customized to each account member, with each receiving their own unlimited recording space. Furthermore, this really is unlimited in the sense that, each account can record as much as they want, as often as they way. Essentially, a user can record everything on YouTube TV, if they want to.

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However, that generosity is only with recording videos as when it comes to playing back those same recordings, YouTube TV’s leniency disappears. From YouTube TV’s perspective, it makes no difference whether an account is streaming live TV or recorded content. As they are streaming in both instances, they are using up a stream. Therefore, watching recorded content also impacts on the number of simultaneous streams available at the time.

Can’t add more YouTube TV streams yet

While all services tend to place a cap on how many streams they offer, some are willing to negotiate more than others. For example, a subscriber can choose to pay more each month and get access to additional streams. However, YouTube TV is not one of those services yet.

At present, YouTube TV only offers one main subscription plan priced at $64.99 per month. This plan cannot be customized in any way to provide more streams. With YouTube TV, three streams is all there is, with no option to upgrade.

However, YouTube has confirmed that it is preparing an upgrade option which will allow subscribers to watch in 4K. As part of the same package, they will also be able to stream on up to 20 devices at the same time. However, this is only when at home, with the three-device limit still in effect when watching outside of the home network.

If three streams are not enough

If subscribers find that three same-time streams is just not going to cut it, there’s not a lot they can do, other than taking out a second YouTube TV subscription. With no option to upgrade yet and no flexibility on the number of accounts, YouTube TV does not offer any means to directly increase the number of streams.

In instances like this, consumers may find that YouTube TV is simply not the right live TV streaming service for them. Although, they also may find that switching to a competing service does not necessarily improve the situation, considering other services also place a cap on how many devices can stream at the same time.

Read more: How to Manage a YouTube TV Subscription & Make Changes

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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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