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; ShutterstockIllustration: Tom’s Guide; Shutterstock

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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.

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  • FlasherMelrose
    If I could afford an additional $100 a month I'd have stayed too.
  • 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.
  • Fred_42
    I think you meant "inane" reality shows on MTV and vh1.