YouTube TV Is Rolling Out a ‘Major Update’ For the Apple TV

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Google has begun rolling out some significant updates to its YouTube TV service, including a major update to the tvOS app that it hopes will fix many of the strange problems that Apple TV users have been experiencing.

A YouTube Community Manager just outlined the changes in a post on Reddit, noting that a “major update” version 1.13+ update of the YouTube TV app has been released for the Apple TV that should resolve ongoing issues with the app opening improperly, poor HDR quality, and some 4K playback issues.

Apple TV users have been experiencing these issues for some time, rendering the YouTube TV app virtually unusable for some. Often it would simply open to a black screen, and users would be required to force-quit and restart the app several times — or even restart the Apple TV — just to get it to work properly. Those who could get the app running found that much of the 4K HDR content was unwatchable.

Sadly, this update doesn’t address a problem some folks have had with the YouTube TV app randomly crashing on the 2017 first-generation Apple TV 4K. However, the YouTube representative says that a fix for this issue will be showing up in the tvOS App Store “imminently.”

The Reddit post also explains that seeing a black screen temporarily when changing channels or during ad transitions is an expected problem due to Apple’s SDR/HDR switching. To avoid this, Google recommends setting the Apple TV to default to SDR or disabling the Match Dynamic Range setting. This problem isn’t unique to YouTube TV, but it’s more evident as users typically switch between SDR and HDR sources more frequently.

Experimenting with Better Picture Quality

YouTube has also announced that it’s conducting some experiments with transcoding changes to improve picture quality, “including a bitrate increase for live 1080p content.” These will be run over the next several weeks, targeting devices that support Google’s VP9 codec and have high-speed internet connections available.

Since YouTube TV primarily offers streamed broadcast channels, most of what you’ll get is only delivered in the same 720p or 1080i quality that you’ll get from your cable box. It’s unclear whether YouTube plans to up the bitrate for those channels or if this only applies to premium content natively broadcast in 1080p, such as its new live sports packages.

YouTube TV and Sports Streaming

Despite rumors last year that it was a “done deal” for Apple, it was Google that ended up scoring the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket for a cool $2 billion per season in a seven-year deal worth a total of $14 billion.

Naturally, that now forms an anchor of YouTube’s sports streaming strategy, much like Apple’s MLS Season Pass. NFL fans will need to shell out an additional $349 for the upcoming season. That’s on top of their standard YouTube TV subscription.

In the Reddit post, the YouTube rep confirms that the streaming service is experimenting with a new multiview feature that many already saw during March Madness and is working on some improvements to bring it to NFL Sunday Ticket. The company doesn’t yet have any details to share, but it’s telling subscribers to stay tuned for more information as we get closer to season kick-off.

Not to be outdone, Apple has also been working on its own multiview feature for Apple TV+. Hints of it first appeared in iOS 16.5, and it appears to have gone live last week for those running the tvOS 16.5 betas in Apple’s two sports packages: MLB Friday Night Baseball and MLS Season Pass.

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