Hands On With YouTubeTV's New 4K Plus Bundle

YouTubeTV has added a 4K tier to its live TV subscription service. The 4K Plus bundle includes other benefits like downloading recordings and unlimited concurrent streams. While it may be desirable to stream live 4K HDR TV shows, there are limitations, and it may be best to wait before committing to this add-on subscription fee.

YouTubeTV is a streaming live TV service that includes live feeds from over 85 networks. The base subscription price is a steep $65 per month for what amounts to basic cable channels. The 4K Plus add-on runs an additional $20 per month. Current promotional pricing is $10, but it will go up to $20 after a couple of months. The initial draw of 4K Plus is that you will get live 4K HDR broadcasts from a limited number of TV networks, including NBC Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, Discovery, FX, Nat Geo, and Tastemade. Of course, not all shows on these channels are 4K.

As I checked out the service, it was easy to find 4K content. Click on the 4K filter on the home screen. Continue adding filters to see a list of 4K movies, tv shows, sports, documentaries, and so forth. Most of the live 4K live shows were sports, including the Olympics and MLB baseball games. Other 4K TV shows were video-on-demand, not live.

YouTubeTV includes unlimited cloud DVR recordings to watch a live show later. DVR users have become accustomed to recording a show that stays on the device until they remove it. YouTubeTV DVR recordings are deleted after nine months.

But there is still a benefit to recording shows to the YouTubeTV DVR cloud. With 4K Plus, you can download DVR recordings to mobile devices to watch offline. Video-on-demand shows cannot be downloaded. If you want to watch without internet access, you’ll want to be sure to record the program rather than rely on video-on-demand. Users can add 4K video-on-demand videos to their YouTubeTV library for easy access in the TV or mobile app when there is internet access available.

Although you can record and playback live 4K streams, downloads are limited to 1080p resolution. It’s probably for the best. Most of the 4K recordings are hours-long sports or events like the three-hour Olympic Closing Ceremony, a 4K download would take up a massive amount of a phone’s memory. The 1080p version of the Closing Ceremony was 3.68 GB.

Once you download a video, you cannot watch it on another device —TV, player, other mobile device— until you delete it. Not to be ignored, YouTube requires that you use the YouTubeTV app once every 30 days, or the downloaded videos will be removed.

The YouTubeTV subscription allows three simultaneous streams. The 4K Plus bundle includes an unlimited number of concurrent streams in the home. All devices streaming must be connected to the same WiFi. YouTube TV 4K can be streamed to a Chromecast, Amazon Firestick (2018), NVIDIA Shield, 4K Roku TVs (it can be accessed inside the YouTube app), and limited 4K streams are available on Apple TV 4K (2021) or PS4.

For now, with very few 4K broadcasts and limited downloads, the $20 premium price might only be of value to die-hard MLB baseball fans. When you consider how many 4K streaming services you can get for $85 per month, YouTubeTV is still pricey for what is offered.

davidbe's picture

The article did not state if the 4K content was in HDR. As far as I am concerned, 4K without HDR is pretty useless.

davidbe's picture

Oops. My mistake. The article did say it was in HDR, and I could not find a way to delete my stupid comment.