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YouTube TV Has Just Gone Live (Video)

Google’s live TV streaming service is available in only five markets to start

YouTube TV, Google’s much-anticipated challenger to the traditional pay-TV bundle, is now live.

The streaming service includes 40 channels — with more coming soon — and costs $35 a month, the same as AT&T’s DirecTV Now. YouTube TV’s launch markets are New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Philadelphia, with more U.S. cities coming soon. (YouTube has no plans to introduce the service in international markets at this point, executives said at a launch event in February)

YouTube is also giving interested subscribers a free 30-day trial period to evaluate the service, and offering up a free Google Chromecast after the first month’s payment, while supplies last.

The service gives each subscriber a “family plan” with six accounts, which is designed to keep individual content recommendations separate — so a news junkie mom’s suggested videos aren’t compromised by her kids’ binge Nickelodeon-viewing, and vice versa. It also has a cloud DVR with unlimited capacity to record as many shows as the average user wants, simultaneously, with recordings expiring after nine months. The cloud DVR is internet based, so users can bring their shows with them.

YouTube TV includes the four major broadcast networks and their affiliate channels, as well as several sports and news cable channels as well as The Weather Channel’s Local Now streaming service. It also includes YouTube Red Original TV shows and movies, previously only available on YouTube Red, the company’s (other) paid subscription service.

The service will add networks including AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, WE tv, Telemundo and BBC World News in the near future at no additional charge, bringing the grand total up to 50 channels. YouTube TV subscribers can also bolt on Showtime, Fox Soccer Plus, and soon, Sundance Now and Shudder, for an extra fee. HBO — and the rest of the Time Warner channels — remain absent.

YouTube TV has no long-term commitments, no hidden fees and no plans to bump the price or add tiers, YouTube executives said at the launch event.

The streaming service also takes advantage of parent Google’s Chromecast technology, giving users the ability to start watching a show on a phone, cast it to a Chromecast-enabled smart TV mid-program, and finish it on a tablet — especially alluring to multiscreen-native millennials. Compatibility with other smart TV platforms is also on the way.

Check it out here, and watch the video above to see what the YouTube TV experience is all about.