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demonstrated that there was a demand for cheap(ish) cable replacement services, delivered over the Internet.iterated on the design and delivered an even better service, andtried its hand at expanding the channel selection — and.

Now, ($35 per month) wants a piece of the pie, and it’s burst onto the scene with very little preamble from its parent company, Google.

While my full review of YouTube TV is still in the works, I wanted to give you my initial impressions of the service, having installed it this morning and used it intermittently until this afternoon. In a nutshell: It’s competent, but not impressive. The mobile app is pretty and snappy, and the PC interface works as advertised. On the other hand, the channel selection isn’t all it could be, and it suffers from some device limitations that will take time to work out.

and more.

Over time, the app learns your preferences, and starts recommending content you’ll really like — the latest episode of a show you’ve been watching, or a movie in a series you follow, and so forth.

The Library section is similarly clean and easy-to-use. As you tell YouTube what you want to watch, it will record every instance of a show available, and keep the recordings almost indefinitely. Think of it as having a DVR with infinite space. PlayStation Vue is fairly generous with its DVR options, but YouTube TV sails right past it; Sling TV’s DVR-in-beta lags far behind, while DirecTV Now offers nothing.

If DVR is your thing and you feel that you left it behind with your cable or satellite subscription, YouTube TV can help fill the on-demand hole in your heart.

The Live TV section also shows live previews of channels when you run your finger or your mouse over them. It’s a relatively low-bandwidth way to give you an idea of what’s on without committing to a certain show.

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The Bad

have complained about YouTube TV’s channel selection, and I can’t blame them. With fewer than 40 channels at $35 per month, it’s not quite as robust as DirecTV Now, whose $35 plan offers more than 60 channels, nor as cost-effective as Sling TV, which offers more than 30 channels for $20 per month.

Some of the channels YouTube is missing are glaring omissions: there’s no Nickelodeon, no Discovery, no CNN, no AMC, and no TBS, among others. Sure, you get broadcast networks, but you can get those just as easily with an HD antenna.

Finding content is also not as easy as it should be due to a truly baffling design choice. I searched in vain for a way to browse by network, by genre or by on-demand availability and found nothing. At last, I clicked the search bar, and lo and behold, was redirected to a whole page of browsing options — plus a search tool, naturally. The issue is not a deal-breaker by any means, but a page that should have been front-and-center in YouTube TV’s interface is instead relegated to a function that usually does the exact opposite thing. (Users tend to browse to find general content, and search to find specific content.)

What I felt when I used YouTube TV more than anything else, though, was a general sense of “been there, done that.” Yes, the service’s DVR features are miles ahead of the competition, but in a world of on-demand content from individual channels and Netflix/Hulu/Amazon alike, DVR is not nearly as vital as it once was. Take that away, and you’re left with a decently navigable cable replacement service that has some channels you want, and some you don’t.

In other words: It’s a lot like Sling TV/PlayStation Vue/DirecTV Now. It’s not as obtuse as Sling TV, not as restrictive as PlayStation Vue, and not as buggy as DirecTV Now, but I can’t point to anything it does remarkably better or worse than its three big competitors.

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The Ugly

By far, the most unusual decision Google made for YouTube TV was allowing it to launch with onlycompatibility. (Android TV has Chromecast functionality as well, but there’s no dedicated app.) If you have an,,or just a, you (ironically) won’t be able to watch YouTube TV on your TV.

Apps for other streaming platforms are probably forthcoming, but Google hasn’t provided any solid information about them. YouTube TV could prove a very tough sell if you purchase it with only the vague hope that it will someday be compatible with the devices you already own.

First Impressions

So far, I’m not bowled over by YouTube TV, but I’m also not disappointed with it. If Google set out to launch a competent cable service at a reasonable price with a sensible interface, it succeeded. If, on the other hand, Google set out to do something unexpected and innovative in the cable replacement space, it missed the mark.

I’ll need to spend a few more days learning the service’s ins and outs before I give it a full review. In the meantime, YouTube TV offers a, so if you want to give it a spin for yourself, now is as good a time as any.

All speech is not equal, especially if it’s on YouTube. CEO Susan Wojcicki said at Google I/O that the site is different from traditional media because it serves as a “two-way conversation,” allowing people to interact with those they watch.

Then, product manager Barbara Macdonald stepped on stage and proved that’s not true anymore. She showed off Super Chat, a tool for viewers to have their message highlighted during a livestream and pinned to the top of the stream for up to five hours. It’s not a brand new tool (it launched in January), but the company wanted to show off new APIs to make videos interactive to those who pay.

YouTube says that this makes sure that your chat “stands out from the crowd to get even more of your favorite creator’s attention,” but it won’t be because it’s in bright green; it’s because you paid them.

This also fetishizes YouTubers to a degree that can be uncomfortable. As, it’s somewhat similar to chat systems that live porn cam websites have used for a long time. You’re paying for attention, for a connection that’s not there when the camera shuts off.

YouTube isn’t the only site with a system like this. Twitch, a streaming service aimed at people playing video games, has a system called cheering in which audience members pay for emoticons that draw attention to their messages. It’s kind of gross, but the intent is slightly different — to celebrate during awesome moments (think like a tip jar for headshots in Call of Duty or goals in Rocket League). YouTube’s is purely for attention from the people you admire who make videos.

Earlier this month, Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasioabout people who fall in love with Twitch streamers, and those who took that love further than is appropriate. Surely, there are people who believe they have connections with YouTubers, too, and they’ll be willing to pay to further those feelings.

The whole idea, paying for an e-celebrity’s attention, is bad for the internet and its users. It’s a slow step in making sure the rich’s speech have more influence, and it can help further unhealthy obsessions with celebrity. If this is how YouTube is going to foster “two-way” conversation, it will leave a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines.