YouTube TV streaming in a web browser at the office -- miles away from the actual service address. (Credit: Screenshot: Tom McNamara/Download.com)

For most Americans, if you want more TV channels than what you can get with an antenna, you have a whopping choice of one cable company and one satellite company. But in recent years, video streaming tech has gotten to the point where you can watch TV over the internet and not be able to tell the difference, at least in terms of visual quality.

The biggest obstacle at this point is getting nationwide availability -- but one of live streaming's brightest stars has finally crossed this threshold. YouTube TV program manager Ben Moores announced today that the service (download for iOS or Android) is now available in over 98 percent of US households, putting it on par with the reach of cable TV.

SEE: The best live TV streaming apps in 2019

At $40 a month, with up to six different users per account, an infinite DVR, a sizeable on-demand catalog -- plus support for mobile devices, set top boxes, desktop web browsers and some smart TVs -- YouTube TV may be a more compelling option that your local cable or satellite TV provider.

Even when cable companies provide an app, it typically restricts access to your physical household. YouTube TV, meanwhile, can follow you pretty much wherever you go in the US.

And it really is $40 a month. There's no "broadcast fee," no "regional sports network fee," nor any other fine print that quietly inflates the true cost of the service. There's also no cable box that you're forced to rent. Right away, you're saving about $20 a month versus cable, for a comparable service.

As long as you have an internet connection and a device that can send live streams to your TV -- the latter of which you can get for $50 or less, in the case of the Roku Streaming Stick, Amazon Fire TV Stick or Chromecast -- then you're good.

Viacom and the Discovery family of channels remain MIA, but if you want local networks, live sports, news channels, and some basic cable, we think it's worth a look. But you don't have to take our word for it, because you can try it free for one week, too. There's also no contract to sign, so you can cancel any time without incurring early termination fees. Here's the link to get started.

As The Verge points out, not every major network is available in every market, presumably due to ongoing negotiations and pre-existing arrangements that haven't expired yet.

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On the other hand, you get full access to YouTube Premium's original content, including some real winners like Cobra Kai -- which will soon be joined by Weird City, a project headlined by Jordan Peele, who added Academy awards for best director and best original screenplay to his résumé one year ago for the harrowing Get Out, in the wake of an Emmy award for the sketch comedy show Key and Peele.

With a combination of a slick platform and highly talented content creators, YouTube TV may have the strongest position of any live TV streaming service -- but cable still has deep roots and deep pockets. 2019 is shaping up to be quite the battleground.

Takeaways

  • YouTube TV announced today that the live TV streaming service is now available nationwide in over 98 percent of US households.
  • The service costs $40 a month and comes with an infinite DVR, on-demand content, apps for your mobile devices and set-top boxes, and access to YouTube Originals like Cobra Kai and Weird City.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.