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Why YouTube TV’s ‘unlimited’ DVR feature isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

One of the features YouTube TV prominently spotlights its its DVR service, but there are some key limitations and notes about this feature you should be aware of.

  • YouTube TV sometimes refers to the DVR as a the “library.”
  • First, it’s important to understand that YouTube TV, as a streaming service, is cloud based, as is its DVR feature.
  • This means you won’t have a physical DVR box in your house — nor does the DVR service store full programs on your smart phone, tablet or other device.
  • This also means that YouTube TV, as a streaming service, is subject to certain additional licensing restrictions.
  • In general, these restrictions are due to limitations placed by the owner of the content in question.
  • YouTube will attempt to record all new episodes of a show.
  • A key point to be aware of, however, is that YouTube TV DVR sometimes forces users to view the “on demand” version of programming — even if you’ve “added” the show to your DVR.
  • In most of these cases, you will also be forced to view advertising that cannot be skipped, though it is typically less than what’s on traditional TV, despite the fact you’re paying a monthly fee to YouTube.
  • In other words, for programs under this setup, YouTube TV doesn’t operate like most traditional DVRs where you can skip commercials entirely.
  • However, if the content owner does not require YouTube TV to provide you with the “on demand” version, then you can freely skip commercials as well as fast forward and rewind as you wish.
  • YouTube bills the DVR service as “unlimited” but be aware that recordings do expire after nine months.
  • The YouTube TV DVR can also be finicky when it comes to reruns or multiple airings — especially if the same episode airs on more than one network (such as “Law & Order: SVU” repeats).
  • Sometimes the service manages to capture all reruns and airings on different networks, but not always.
  • In addition, some events, such as awards shows or sporting events, cannot be recorded with YouTube TV’s DVR. In rarer cases, they may not be available for live viewing either.
  • YouTube TV also does not currently support offline viewing — you’ll need an internet connection to use the service at all times.
  • Again, it’s important to keep in mind that this service is cloud based and full programs are not stored locally.
  • In addition, you may also be subject to certain DVR limitations when viewing programming on mobile devices or while traveling out of your home market.
  • The DVR feature is also subject to the same blackouts as select programming — though this is fairly rare.
  • All that said, it’s worth noting that many programs are available as “on demand” even if you have not “added” the show to your DVR library — but these are typically require you to view advertising just like with on demand services on traditional cable. However, this comes in handy if you forget to record a show.