YouTube Live Vs. YouTube TV – Which Will Stand The Test Of Time?

When it comes to Google, there are two definite things we know about this tech giant. First of all it keeps changing or rather evolving its products and second the company continually expands its product mix. This time it isn’t only the Pixel in competition with Apple, but also YouTube TV that aims to win the race with broadcasters. While everyone’s comparing the new invention to Hulu and Sling, I want to speculate which will stand the test of time – YouTube Live or TV. After all, both the services fall under the YouTube umbrella but one has to be better than the other, right?

YouTube Live

YouTube Live was launched in November 2008, and marked another milestone – bringing what’s ‘happening’ to the world. The ability to record and share live videos was welcomed by the consumer market and opened new opportunities to brands, businesses and individuals. The best thing about this service is it allows instant feedback, reactions and interaction. So during the video, people from all over the world, who are watching it can chat. This way your audience isn’t limited to the physical premises, but goes beyond continental boundaries.

YouTube Live logo


It opened new doors for content producers and marketers. On YouTube Live, you’ll see more than just product launches. You can watch the latest news from both local and international channels, view sports events such as the T20 or the U19, look at players using neat techniques on games like Labyrinth, explore religious sermons for example in Mecca, discover unpacking videos of say iPhone X, visually savor movie premiers, and treat yourself to NASA live streaming of space. Well this isn’t all of course.


Since it’s a free service, anyone can watch it except in places where YouTube is censored such as in Kim Jong-un’s North Korea since 2016. It has also been blocked in China, Iran, Armenia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh etc. In some of these places the ban is lifted. Nevertheless, the point is that anyone who has access to the internet and this service can enjoy and the rest will have to work things out.

There’s usually no age restriction unless the content is PG-13, but considering the simple question it asks anyone can get through the bouncers. Anyway, the thing is “video” has overall become a popular and source of information with a billion hours of video content watched by people on YouTube daily mostly via mobile. Oh and by the way, smartphones tops desktops and laptops when it comes to viewing videos.


People with a YouTube account can share videos on YouTube Live using a particular software for broadcasting and those who have at least a thousand subscribers can upload live content. Let me tell you, it’s important to first get the hang of the interface for a better experience.

Note that many videos share illegal programs that are copyrighted because the service is open to anyone, it is also a victim of fake news and spam content. Nonetheless, nothing is perfect and with this mind we as uploaders need to make sure to use the service in the way described.

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YouTube TV

It is a paid service offering popular and premium broadcast networks. At the moment, however, the choice is limited and costs $35 a month with $10 to $15 for additional channels. The service launched in April this year and since then it has had mixed reviews largely because it is new and at the moment it has limitations such as: a) only a few states in the US have it, and b) there isn’t enough variety. As far as the user-interface goes, it is fairly simple and clean on mobile.

YouTube TV app interface


Well you can watch movies, television shows, live videos and you can also view content from YouTube Red. There is a great opportunity for advertisers who wish use video as a way to garner leads and customers. In his article on Wall Street Journal, Editor Mike Shields says YouTube TV is a “backdoor for Google to squeeze its way into the traditional TV advertising business”. Like Amazon is to conquering e-commerce market, Google is to ruling the tech scene.

Shields illuminates that Google always wanted to “steal a chunk of the more than $70 billion U.S. TV ad market”, like being the monopoly in search wasn’t enough. So here is an opportunity for brands to buy spots for marketing. The only problem is that the scope of market is limited at the moment as compared to YouTube Live which all over the world.


Just before YouTube TV came, everyone was talking about how by 2025 generation X and Y viewers will stop subscribing to pay-television service although there are 109.25 million Netflix users. This shows how confused the world is today, and this also shows that you can’t generalize statistics. There are many who crave for their favorite TV shows and the reason they don’t watch television specifically could be because they prefer another medium such as their iOS, Android, iPad and Kindle.

To cater to an audience that loves television programs and channels but wants to move away from the old-fashioned way of watching things, YouTube TV seems like a solution. Even people who still prefer the old-fashioned television can use the service via Chromecast.

Also only people in the prescribed states can download the application and use it. Now that’s a bummer. So anyone outside the current 30 to 40 markets will have to wait. YouTuber ThioJoe reviewed the service and it doesn’t seem he is too excited about the geographic limitation.


Anyone cannot simply upload videos but this is perhaps a unique selling point of YouTube TV. You pay for exclusive content, and who doesn’t like the idea of getting ‘importance’. The only problem is that at the moment there aren’t enough channels to relish.

YouTube TV network channels

Well, have a look at the infographic below. I’ve compared the two based on a few underlining factors such as interface, content, product, marketing and feedback.

what's the difference between youtube live vs. youtube tv

My Verdict

Right now, it seems like YouTube Live will have a brighter future because not only is it free, there is more content on it. Plus, it is generally considered by marketers that user-generated content receives more engagement perhaps because it acts as a word-of-mouth recommendation or because it is more humanizing to learn or be entertained by humans and not just brands or channels.

On the other hand, YouTube TV is just a new born baby. It’ll take time for it to stand strong. It depends how quickly the service will extend its arms into new markets and how many more networks will partner with it. Until then, the scope for this service is limited but in the near future it may override YouTube Live audience.

There are two important things to consider:

  • We must understand the different consumers of each of these services. Although both are extensions of YouTube, their viewers aren’t the same.
  • While YouTube Live is a feature included in the original YouTube app, the case isn’t same with YouTube TV. You need to download it separately and how many people like filling their phones with apps?

So for now I see Live with the trophy, but later perhaps TV will become the star product of YouTube.

YouTube Live or YouTube TV – which will stand the test of time?

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A visual design blogger passionate about interactive, experiential and captivating techniques designers, marketers and brands use to accentuate messages, tell stories, and spread awareness. I’m a visual addict like Alice, who finds books (or anything) without pictures boring! My writings focus on graphic and web design, branding, and visual marketing. My hobbies are to write poems, draw zentangles, read mysteries, and watch YouTube videos.

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