So our guinea pig, who watches TV from a 65-inch Samsung smart TV in his living room, tested out Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, FuboTV and YouTube TV, taking advantage of free trial periods.
PlayStation Vue was just OK, Randy said. Fubo was fine, save for some streaming hiccups. Sling TV was impressive. But YouTube TV, which only arrived in San Diego in late August, checked most of Randy's boxes.
IN LIKE (BUT NOT IN LOVE) WITH YOUTUBE TV
Costing $35 a month, YouTube TV comes with streaming access to around 50 channels, including all four broadcast networks and regional sports networks like Fox Sports San Diego.
The skinny bundle's lineup is particularly stacked with sports options, including the Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, Golf Channel, NBC Sports, SEC Network and the Tennis Channel. If you're like Randy, and you like to hop from station to station, and tune into just about anything in the sports realm, there's a lot to like here.
The only glaring omission is TBS. In fact, YouTube lacks all Turner stations. TBS is primarily a seasonal need for the sports fan, but with playoff baseball and college hoops, it's a must-have for some. The workaround, at least for baseball, is an MLB.tv subscription for out-of-market games, which isn't cheap at $25 per month.
There is at least one other wrinkle: YouTube TV, unlike its peers, is not a TV app. By design, it's a mobile app for iPhone and Android, and shows get "cast" from the app to your TV by way of Google's Chromecast streaming stick or through Airplay on Apple TV.
Your phone, then, is your remote and your TV guide.
You're either going to like it or leave it. And Randy really, really liked this feature, describing it as "pretty darn cool."
"Once I figured out how to use it, I really enjoyed being able to audit other channels (on my phone), while I was watching the channel on my big screen," he said. "On Saturdays, when there's 18 college football games on at once ... you can actually monitor two or three at a time because you have them on your remote, just a push of a button away, while you're watching the game you're watching on your TV."