What YouTube TV Needs To Be Perfect

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YouTube TV has been the cornerstone of my efforts to cut the cord. I’ve been using it for a few months now, and I can’t imagine going back to DirecTV or cable. However, I wrote about a few of its limitations previously, and there are still a few things I think it needs to improve to be perfect.

5.1 Sound

Surround Sound Speakers

This was one of the original limitations I wrote about and knew going in, but it still hasn’t improved. I haven’t come across any programming with true 5.1 sound. Some Reddit users mentioned that some VOD may have it, but I haven’t watched any. Rumors are this is a 2019 priority. I have a nice sound system I’d like it to use! Fortunately, my receiver does a pretty decent job of up mixing stereo sound. However, the difference often striking when I switch from a Netflix show in Dolby Digital Plus back to YouTube TV. I hope Google will address this soon. When I first learned of this limitation I certainly considered going a different path. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Mark as watched/unwatched

The whole watched/unwatched functionality of YouTube TV is probably my biggest frustration. There are a few things going wrong with it:

  • It is inaccurate. Sometimes shows I watch are mysteriously marked as unwatched, and sometimes shows I haven’t watched are marked as watched.
  • There is no way to manually set a program as watched or unwatched.
  • Adding a show to your library means that you get all instances added, including reruns. Often shows will list unwatched episodes you watched a long time ago in the Roku interface. The web interface handles this better.
  • You can’t delete or remove shows from your library without removing all of them.
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All of this makes it difficult to quickly scan and know which shows you have unwatched episodes that you want to watch. All of this could be fixed by allowing manual marking of shows as watched or unwatched. I’ve decided to use Hobi to track my watched an unwatched shows. It’s great for cordcutters anyway because it allows you keep track of your shows in one place regardless of what streaming service it is on.

Better repeat show recording handling

As I mentioned earlier, you can’t tell YouTube to only add new shows to your library. It will add/record reruns too, which can add clutter. I think if they fixed the watched/unwatched feature, this wouldn’t really bother me much.

Direct seek and skip

I didn’t have this feature with DirecTV, but I did have it with MythTV. I was able to just enter a time, e.g. 17 minutes, and go directly to the 17th minute of a show. Or I could tell MythTV to skip 3 minutes ahead or behind, or any number of minutes. This is quite useful for skipping commercials or skipping back to something you want to see again.

Time Stretch

This is another MythTV feature I miss. In fact it is available in a lot of podcast apps, and even in YouTube. I watch a lot of TV. Sometimes to get it all in I’d like to watch shows a little fast, say at 105% or 110% speed. Can’t do this with shows with a British accent though… Too hard for me to understand :).

Customizable skip

This may be more of an app specific issue. The Roku app skips forward 15 seconds when using the skip button. Especially since there is no direct seek, I’d like this to be configurable (say… 30 seconds). I’d like the skip back to be 10 seconds. But maybe you would like something else. It would be great if it were customizeable.

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Customizable recording buffer


This one is simple. Currently, YouTube TV adds a 1-minute buffer before and after a show’s scheduled start time. For sports, they add a 30-minute buffer after. I would like to be able to customize the buffer, on a show by show basis, for some shows that often go more than one minute past their scheduled start, or are likely to go much longer than their scheduled end. I see this a lot with men’s 5 set tennis finals. Often they are scheduled for 3 hours. In today’s tennis, 5 set matches sometimes go 4, 5, or even 6 hours! Also, live shows often delay the start of regular programming, so I’d like to adjust the buffer when I know that is going to happen.

Stop replacing recordings with VOD versions with commercial

The great thing about video on demand (VOD) content is that you don’t have to fast forward through commercials. The bad thing is that some VOD content has commercials that you cannot skip. The worst thing is that some stations replace your recordings with VOD content with unskippable commercials within 24 hours!

Final thoughts

I still love YouTube TV for many reasons. The 9-month unlimited DVR is tough to beat. I love that I can watch on my TV and on my cell phones, tablets, and laptops wherever I am. The interface is simple and straight to the point and does a good job of predicting what I want. Most of all, I love the price savings over DirecTV. If it could just improve a few things, it would be perfect.

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What YouTube TV Needs To Be Perfect

by HomeTechHacker time to read: 3 min