YouTube TV just tipped a huge upgrade for this summer — what you need to know

Youtube TV app on Apple TV home screen
(Image credit: Future)

YouTube TV is one of the best cable TV alternatives out there, even with a recent price hike. Its key plays feature helps fans catch up on sports games, and it's one of the biggest reasons I ditched Xfinity for YouTube TV. Now, subscribers are due to get a huge upgrade.

In a Reddit post on the r/youtubetv subreddit, the Google-owned cable TV alternative laid out several upgrades that are coming or have already gone live. The biggest one though is listed as “Picture Quality Experiments” and this could make the extra $8 a month actually worth it. 

The first of these picture quality experiments is a transcoding upgrade that will improve the bitrate for live HD content — aka content in 1080p. Practically, this should reduce visible compression and pixelation and create a noticeably better picture. According to YouTube TV, this bitrate improvement will be targeted at “devices that support the VP9 codec with high-speed internet connections” and is temporary for now but could become permanent this summer. 

Competitors Hulu + Live TV and Fubo support up to 1080p.

This upgrade should cover a lot of the best streaming devices — from TVs to smartphones, iPads and more — but some older devices may be left out. VP9 codec is commonly supported now, but devices older than 2014 or 2015 could be left out. Additionally, it looks like you may need a fast internet connection to get the most out of this bitrate improvement, but that should cover most people with high-speed broadband or fiber internet. If YouTube TV provides more details, we will update accordingly.

Other YouTube TV upgrades

A 2 by 2 grid of four college basketball games is seen in YouTube TV's multiview mode.

(Image credit: TBS, truTV, CBS and TNT via YouTube TV)

Aside from the picture quality boost that YouTube TV is rolling out, there are a few other upgrades that have either rolled out already or are coming soon.

First, Apple TV devices like the Apple TV 4K (2022) have an update available with some major fixes. Update 1.13+ fixes issues with the app opening incorrectly to a black screen, enables HDR and fixes 4K playback bugs and app crashes. This update is available now so make sure your YouTube TV app is up to date if you have an Apple TV. 

And on the subject of bugs, there is a 5.1 surround sound bug that YouTube TV says it is aware of. It thinks it has landed on the cause of the issue and a fix will be tested soon. So stay tuned for that.

Multiview is another upgrade that has already been rolled out. This feature debuted during March Madness and allows you to watch multiple games on the same screen. I tested it myself and it became my default way to watch the games, and now YouTube TV is looking to roll out an improved version for the NFL season this fall.

Speaking of the NFL, YouTube TV is now the home for NFL Sunday Ticket. YouTube TV has already made registration for the NFL games package available, and if you want to get the best price you need to sign up now. A Sunday Ticket price hike is coming, but you can save if you sign up before June 6, 2023.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.