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Why I Won't Cut the Cord for YouTube TV or Any Other Service

Cord-cutting is all the rage right now, but even though I'm counting the days until my DirecTV contract is over, the current streaming alternatives wouldn't satisfy me, either. Whether it's due to incomplete channel listings, super-pricey options for complete packages or a weak DVR solution, I wouldn't go near DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV or YouTube TV.

Illustration: Tom’s Guide; Shutterstock

Illustration: Tom’s Guide; Shutterstock

MORE: How to Watch Live TV Online

DirecTV NOW? More like Not Yet.

As a current cable-TV subscriber who wishes for a better solution, the one aspect I refuse to lose is DVR recording. DirecTV states in its FAQ that it looks to add this in the future, but now  offers only On Demand videos.

DirecTV NOW's missing a DVR feature, and I don't think On Demand is enough. Image: DirecTV.

DirecTV NOW's missing a DVR feature, and I don't think On Demand is enough. Image: DirecTV.

As someone who accesses on-demand content from the regular version of DirecTV on a semi-regular basis, I know better than to think this service will be good enough. Often when I go to load On Demand content for a channel, many shows are missing or only a few episodes are available. If On Demand is supposed to help you binge-watch and catch up, I doubt this will be enough.

Further, I will cite our most recent review of this service, which headlined "DirecTV Now Is Still a Mess." The service may not be as buggy as it was at the launch, but we were still plagued by the mysterious "Error 40," which blocked us from watching content. We also experienced too much buffering and stuttering, as well as a lack of consistent HD-resolution quality.

I don't like the PlayStation Vue from here

One of the worst parts of being a cable subscriber is being on the wrong end of contractual disputes and losing channels. Signing up for PlayStation Vue is akin to paying for that experience, as it doesn't offer any networks owned by Viacom.

The PlayStation Vue is Tom's Guide's favorite streaming service, but it's missing all of Verizon's channels. Image: Sony.

The PlayStation Vue is Tom's Guide's favorite streaming service, but it's missing all of Verizon's channels. Image: Sony.

Without Comedy Central, I'd be losing my Drunk History lessons and getting kicked out of Broad City and South Park. If those aren't to your taste, imagine your kids rioting at the loss of Nickelodeon, or missing out on the insane reality TV offerings on MTV and VH1.  

While it's not for me, Vue is Tom's Guide's favorite streaming service, as it's the only available option with any kind of DVR, and we prefer its interface over what you get with DirecTV NOW and Sling TV. I just have a hard time wanting a service that costs upward of $75 per month (with nationwide pricing starting at $40 and select markets getting $30 slim packages) that is so incomplete.

Broadcast networks and sports aren't enough for YouTube TV

When it comes out, YouTube TV is going to offer the DVR service I want, and include all of the broadcast networks and tons of sports channels, but not much else. Not only is it missing the Viacom channels I listed above, but it’s also missing Turner channels like CNN and TBS.

I’ll also be missing out on some great channels I get now through the regular DirecTV. Switching to YouTube TV means losing the hilarious nightly commentary of Desus & Mero on Viceland. It means waiting for seasons of the epic El Rey series Lucha Underground to drop on Netflix many months after they air. And if I depend on YouTube TV, it also means I'm missing out on Guy Fieri's traveling antics on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, as it doesn't include Food Network.

So while it's called YouTube TV, it doesn't do enough for me.

I like what Sling TV is slinging, but not enough

Not only does Sling TV offer live streams of broadcast networks (specifically FOX, NBC and ABC), it has all of my niche channels, including Viceland and El Rey. It even offers a Sports add-on package that includes NBA TV, so I can watch my Knicks on those rare nights they deserve an audience.

Sling TV includes a ton of channels, but its DVR service is still in beta. Image: Sling.

Sling TV includes a ton of channels, but its DVR service is still in beta. Image: Sling.

There's just one problem: its cloud DVR is in a closed-beta program, with no schedule for when it will go live. I'll wait until it's out of beta, bug-free, ready for the public and well-reviewed by our team.

MORE: Streaming Netflix? Here's the Best Stuff to Watch

Bottom Line

So for now, I'm not ready to cut my cord and run to streaming. Sure, the option to use my service anywhere in the USA's 50 states sounds great, but not with these caveats.

Further, the idea of a cloud DVR just doesn't appeal that much to me, as it will place even more stress on my internet. I'd rather a DVR with local storage, which is what I get in my DirecTV box.

So don't worry if these cord-cutting options ask too much of you; you're not the only one who’s staying put.

  • FlasherMelrose
    If I could afford an additional $100 a month I'd have stayed too.
    Reply
  • mathfaster
    As you stated above, these streaming options don't seem ready yet for Prime Time. Dish introduced their Flex pack about 6 months ago so I switched to that recently and was able to cut my bill by $25 month. Not truly a la carte programming but a step in the right direction as sports, kids TV, etc. are available as add ons.
    Reply
  • Fred_42
    I think you meant "inane" reality shows on MTV and vh1.
    Reply
  • Dean R
    We have been off all of the cable, satellite TV options for several yeats. We now have Netflix and that is about all we watch. If it's not on Netflix we just don't watch. We actually have Comcast for our internet and get a small basic package but never watch anything on there unless it's a movie from the on demand service..


    In my opinion the " cord cutting " is more about wanting ala carte packages than it is about price....I think most people just don't want to pay for channels they won't watch but are more than willing to pay a reasonable fee for the channels they will watch..
    Reply
  • natschultz
    Stupid question: Don't you STILL have to pay a cable or satellite company to have the internet access necessary to get TV online???
    We pay $130 per month for FIOS triple-play that has internet, land-line and cable with ALL network and basic cable channels (common ones and weird ones) plus Showtime and HBO. That cost includes two separate cable boxes. I watch too many cable channels from different companies that just aren't offered on any internet TV service. None of these offer History or Discovery or FYI or HGTV? No One America News, AWE, The Blaze, Bloomberg, BBC, RT? No IFC or other channels that show indie, foreign and old films? That means no 'Vikings' and no 'Outsiders'.

    Seems that once you pay for both internet service plus one of these services that you are not saving that much money, blowing through lots of bandwidth, and getting very little variety. Better to just call up your cable provider when they raise their rates and bitch until they lock in your current price or give you something worth the extra $30 (free Showtime & HBO in our case). And, if you still use your landline, or just want to keep the number for emergencies, it is essentially free. If you live in the mountains of Vermont a cell phone is virtually useless; as in with Verizon you get a connection 20% of the time, and all other providers maybe 5-10%.

    Also, a lot of the cable channels now allow you to stream content for free on their websites from anywhere as long as you can prove you pay for cable service at home.
    Reply
  • FlasherMelrose
    19384911 said:
    As you stated above, these streaming options don't seem ready yet for Prime Time. Dish introduced their Flex pack about 6 months ago so I switched to that recently and was able to cut my bill by $25 month. Not truly a la carte programming but a step in the right direction as sports, kids TV, etc. are available as add ons.

    Reply
  • Fred_44
    Still the best and always the best... Windows Media Center PC and now combined with EMBY.. It does everything. Cord cutting???? So you pay $60 a month for internet.... Then let's say $25 for sling blue so you can watch it on more than one TV... Who knows what they will charge for DVR. So now you are talking $85 a month. Throw in Netflix at $10 so that's $95. Not bad compared to cable TV usually $200 a month paying for all the boxes and so forth.

    Now comes WMC. Yes the computer, TV tuners, and other equipment will be fairly expensive upfront. A good computer with 6 cable card tuners will cost $1000 but has enough room to store double the amount of TV shows your cable box does plus digital copies of movies and TV shows. It can auto skip commercials for you and has a TVGuide that destroys any cable box experience. Then let's you need other tv well with EMBY you can get all of them to the other TV's as well just with a smart TV box. So Apple TV, shieldtv, mi box, or firetv will work. So let's say 5 more TV's for a total of 6 TV's and $1600.

    What's my cable bill? $90 a month. Yes that is correct $90 a month. I get every non premium channel plus HBO with 100mbps internet for $90 a month from Comcast. How? Because I use none of their equipment. So $100 a month with Netflix and I'm only spending $5 more than a cord cutter. That $1600 upfront cost is paid for in at least 16 months maybe sooner... Depends on how big your bill was. So cable TV experience with cord cutter prices? That's the right way to do it.
    Reply
  • alexseven7
    TiVo box with additional satellite boxes, a good antenna. Sling and netflix. Under $35 per month. Problem solved.
    Reply
  • mlaphand
    I was with VZW for years and felt raped, finally switched to Google Fi, now pay less than $30/mo sgl line for everything(I don't stream anything). Currently w/Comcast, feeling raped, tried others but went back to Comcast due to quality, now waiting, watching the options. I hesitate cutting the cord and instead will wait for Comcast to realize loss of market share due to cordcutters, and eventually offer ala carte programming, or at least lower priced packages, its just a matter of time as competitors rush to be the first to do so with lower priced options..., fingers crossed.
    Reply
  • DevinSerpa
    Cord cutter for 5 years. Legacy movies on Plex, new stuff on Ultraviolet. Programing on Netflix and Amazon, free ad based choices like Crackle and more recently Vudu movies on us.

    Never again paying for ads on packaged programing, whether it be channels like offerings discussed in this article or on demand like Hulu.
    Reply