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Can YouTubeTV Be Shared?

One of the major trends driven by advancements in Internet of Things technology has been the trend of “cord cutting,” where people cancel traditional cable or satellite television accounts, choosing other options instead. YouTubeTV launched in early 2017 to much fanfare and is one of many options to provide people with access to television programming over their various devices. YouTubeTV, with 85 channels including local television network access in most areas, is one of the more popular options for streaming television. However, one of the frequent questions from subscribers or those considering a subscription is whether or not YouTubeTV can be shared with others? After all, many people wonder if they can share a subscription – and the cost of it – with friends and extended relatives. Let’s answer these questions.

Can I Share YouTubeTV?

The answer to this question, as with many questions these days, is: it depends. The good news is that YouTube TV was designed to be shared. In fact, one of the major selling points with YouTubeTV was the fact that users could create multiple accounts to allow them to share the service, meaning that each person would get their own personalized experience. So it is clear that the service was designed with the goal of being shareable; however, it is important to understand what this is intended to look like and what things may limit the ability to share YouTubeTV.

How do I Share YouTubeTV?

The method that YouTube (the company) uses to allow sharing of this subscription service is through the creation of a family group. It is important not to be confused by this term. While most people that share YouTubeTV are family members, the platform has communicated that the goal is for anyone within the same household to be able to share an account. Thus, you and your roommates can share a single subscription as well by adding them to your family group.

Essentially, when you purchase YouTubeTV, you are able to create one family group with up to five other people. This means that a total of six people can share one subscription. It is important to note that you can only create one family group, and any person can only be in one family group at a time. Once you create a family group, you become the manager of that group and can invite other users. There are some restrictions on who can be added to a group. Specifically, YouTubeTV requires people to be at least 13 to create an account and join the family group. However, YouTube’s rules allow for parents to create accounts for their children using a parent’s email account, which is an option for those who want an account for younger children that can be added to YouTubeTV.

Can All Six People in a Family Group Watch at Once?

All members of your family group can access all of YouTubeTV’s channels including any available local channels. However, there are some restrictions. While a total of six people (including the account holder) can be in a family group, users can only stream to three devices at a time. If you are watching YouTubeTV, that means two other members of your family group can also watch it. If you are watching YouTubeTV simultaneously on two devices (i.e. television and phone), only one other family group member can use it at that time. Thus, the stream limits apply to the number of devices within the family group currently streaming rather than the number of accounts.

Can I Share YouTubeTV with People Outside My Home?

This is a frequent question as there are many people who would like to share their YouTubeTV subscription with someone outside of their home. For example, a family with a student away in college may want to share the service. Or a family may want to share a singular subscription with relatives outside the home. Essentially, a YouTubeTV subscription can be shared with people outside of the home by adding them to the family group; however, there are some restrictions that need to be considered.

First, YouTube (the company) defines a household on the basis of residing in a specific zip code. When someone first sets up YouTubeTV, it asks them to input their zip code. Thus, the intention with a YouTubeTV subscription is that it only be shared by people who primarily reside in the same home. From YouTube’s perspective, sharing with a child away at college would be acceptable but sharing with an aunt down the street would not be. However, it appears that YouTube only enforces the definition of a household at the zip code level through the use of geolocation of the IP address a device uses to access it.

YouTubeTV does allow people to watch while traveling. When travelling, the channel lineup for YouTubeTV may change as it will be based on the channels available in the area in which it is currently being streamed. That means if you reside in New York but happen to be in Chicago, your local stations will default to Chicago. Additionally, YouTubeTV has recently cracked down on unauthorized account sharing, which they define as sharing with people outside of the home zip code area. As a result, individuals must log into YouTubeTV on a device in their home area at least once every 90 days. So a student visiting college will need to come home at least every three months in order to not have their access restricted. For Major League Baseball fans, you need to log in at home once every 30 days to avoid disrupted access to MLB games.


YouTubeTV is one of many streaming television platforms. One of the benefits is sharing. Users can create family groups with up to six total members which can utilize up to three streams simultaneously. While intended for use in the same household, individuals who primarily reside in the household can use YouTubeTV away from home but have to log in from their home area at least once every 90 days to retain access to the service.

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  • Mike has over a decade of experience in higher education as a researcher, administrator, and faculty member. He currently teaches leadership and communication. He possesses a doctorate from the University of Arkansas in organizational leadership, masters from Grand Valley State in education, and bachelors from Southeastern Louisiana University in behavioral sciences. His writing interests include politics, travel, and social issues.

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