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YouTube TV Not Working? Here’s What to Do.
YouTube TV is one of the best streaming services out there, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run into issues that you'll have to troubleshoot from time to time. As an avid YouTube TV user myself, I almost never experience problems, but the dreaded “playback error” message has popped up for me once or twice.
Here are the most common YouTube TV troubleshooting issues that you might run into while streaming:
The most common YouTube TV issue is "playback error"
All of your YouTube TV troubleshooting struggles will likely boil down to an image saying “Playback error” with some little picture above it. Something like the image below:
Below the “Playback error,” it should say why the error is occurring. In the case above, my YouTube TV account was playing on more than three devices at a time. You’ll also see a string of numbers and letters below that indicate an error code.
Possible causes and solutions for YouTube TV playback errors
The playback error can be occurring for a number of reasons, but these are the most common issues:
- Bad internet connection: You need at least 5 Mbps to run YouTube TV smoothly. If your internet is down, or simply too slow, you might get a playback error message. Make sure your internet is up and running before you start streaming.
- Too many users: YouTube TV supports three streams at a time. If you go beyond three streams, you’ll get a playback error. This means you can’t stream on your TV, phone, laptop, and tablet all at the same time. You get three streams on three devices at a time. Be careful not to hand out your login info to too many people, or this error will pop up frequently.
- TV is not compatible: YouTube TV is compatible with the latest smart TVs and most streaming devices. Make sure your device is compatible here.
- YouTube TV login verification: If you’ve recently changed the password to your account and haven’t entered into whatever device you’re using to stream, you’ll get an error message prompting you enter in the new password.
- Channel issue: In some cases, specific channels will be down. This isn’t an error on your end, rather it’s an issue for the specific channel. Not much you can do except wait for the channel to be back up.
- Location: If you are traveling, you might be geo-locked out of your normal local channels. For example, I was recently traveling to California and couldn’t get my local Utah channels.
- YouTube TV might be down. Not much you can do that besides wait for it to come back up.
Other possible problems
In recent weeks and months, users have reported a host of other problems with YouTube TV, but the good news (especially since we really like this service) is that most of them are not insurmountable. In fact, what we've found is that many of the initial problems were caused by YouTube TV itself not working during the initial launch. Recently, the problems are due to compatibility.
One of the first things to do if you are experiencing any YouTube TV problems is to check the compatibility site. For example, if you are trying to use YouTube TV on an older Apple TV device, the compatibility site makes it clear you do need to use the fourth-generation version that supports 4K. You'll also want to investigate whether there might be an issue with your Internet connection, your router, your smart television...meaning, the problem might be something with your own devices, settings, or connection.
What if you are trying to use a VPN to access the service? Well, the truth is that it depends on the VPN. We recommend using a VPN that stays up to date and works reliably and to make sure you avoid a lower-end VPN that might cause issues.
Other recommended streaming services
YouTube TV not panning out for you? There are plenty of other streaming services out there to help you binge to your heart's content.
If cable or satellite TV is your thing, our review of the best TV service providers can help you decide what provider fits for you.
Here's a look at some of our favorite streaming services.
Channel or add-on
|STARZ + STARZ ENCORE||$9.00/mo.°|
Get a different internet provider
The underlying issue with your YouTube TV stream might just be your internet connection. Your internet data speeds is the gas that makes your streaming go after all.
There's only a few Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in most areas, so it won't take you long to compare what you're paying to what other ISPs in your area offer. You might be able to save some money and get a better internet connection at the same time. Providers like Viasat and AT&T have large data caps great for streaming.
|Xfinity Internet||$19.99–$80**||75–1200 Mbps||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||$30–$70††||100–940 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||$55–$180‡‡||300–5000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Viasat Internet||$30–$169.99^^||12–100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||$49.99–$119.99°°||300–2048 Mbps||View Plans|
Enter your ZIP code below to find out what internet options you've got in your area.
What YouTube TV issues are you experiencing?
More than likely, your YouTube TV issues will stem from either internet connection issues, having too many users logged in at once, or not having a compatible device. If you check all of those boxes, then you shouldn’t have any issue streaming on YouTube TV.