YouTube TV is one of the best streaming services out there, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run into some issues that you need to fix every now and then. As an avid YouTube TV user, I hardly ever encountered any problems, but the dreaded “reading error” message has popped up to me a couple of times.

Here are the most common YouTube TV troubleshooting issues you might encounter while streaming:

Streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many of our normal routines and activities. Social distancing and quarantine allow people to connect to streaming services and other home entertainment services in record numbers. This has put a strain on some internet and phone networks, so be aware that your internet bandwidth may suffer and your stream may be slower as a result.

The most common problem on YouTube TV is “reading error”

All of your YouTube TV troubleshooting issues will likely boil down to an image that says “Reading Error” with a small image above it. Something like the picture below:

Under “Read error” it should indicate why the error is occurring. In the above case, my YouTube TV account was playing on more than three devices at a time. You will also see a string of numbers and letters below that indicate an error code.

Possible causes and solutions for YouTube TV playback errors

The read error can occur for a number of reasons, but these are the most common issues:

  1. Bad internet connection: You need at least 5 Mbps to run YouTube TV smoothly. If your internet connection is down or just too slow, you may receive a read error message. Make sure your internet connection is operational before you start streaming.
  2. Too many users: YouTube TV supports three streams at the same time. If you exceed three streams, you will get a read error. This means that you cannot stream to your TV, phone, laptop and tablet at the same time. You get three streams on three devices at once. Be careful not to give out your login information to too many people, otherwise this error will appear frequently.
  3. The TV is not compatible: YouTube TV is compatible with the latest smart TVs and most streaming devices. Make sure your device is compatible here.
  4. Identification: If you’ve recently changed your account password and haven’t logged in to the device you’re using to stream, you’ll receive an error message asking you to enter the new password.
  5. Chain problem: In some cases, specific channels will be down. This is not a mistake on your part, rather it is a problem for the specific channel. There’s not much you can do except wait for the channel to return.
  6. Location: If you travel, you might be geo-blocked out of your normal local channels. For example, I was recently traveling to California and was unable to get my local Utah channels.
  7. YouTube TV may be down. There’s not much you can do except wait for him to do it come back.

Other possible problems

Over the past few weeks and months, users reported a host of other issues with YouTube TV, but the good news (especially since we really love this service) is that most of them aren’t overwhelming. In fact, we found that many of the initial issues were due to YouTube TV itself not working on initial launch. Recently the problems are due to compatibility.

If you’re having trouble with YouTube TV, one of the first things you should do is check the compatibility site. For example, if you’re trying to use YouTube TV on an old Apple TV device, the compatibility site makes it clear that you should use the fourth generation version that supports 4K. You’ll also want to check if there might be an issue with your internet connection, router, smart TV … which means the issue may be with your own devices, settings, or connection.

What if you try to use a VPN to access the service? Well, the truth is, it depends on the VPN. We recommend that you use a VPN that stays up to date and works reliably and to make sure you avoid a low end VPN that might cause problems.

Other recommended streaming services

YouTube TV not panning for you? There are plenty of other streaming services to help you binge on your own.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite streaming services.

Best Alternatives to YouTube TV

Provider Monthly price Learn more
Hulu + Live TV Hulu + Live TV $ 54.99$ 60.99* See the plans
Sling Sling $ 30$ 45 See the plans
Netflix Netflix $ 8.99$ 17.99* See the plans
Amazon Prime Video $ 12.99* See the plan
Data as of 07/29/19. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*
Data as of 07/29/19. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Get another internet provider

The underlying issue with your YouTube TV stream could simply be your internet connection. Your internet data speeds are the gas that makes your streaming work after all.

There are only a few Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in most areas, so it won’t take long to compare what you pay to what other ISPs in your area offer. You may be able to save money and get better internet connection at the same time.

Recommended internet providers

Provider Monthly price Download speed Learn more
Xfinity Internet Xfinity Internet $ 19.99$ 111.95 151000 Mbps See the plans
CenturyLink Internet CenturyLink Internet $ 49$ 65 15940 Mbps See the plans
AT&T Internet AT&T Internet $ 35$ 50^ 75100 Mbps See the plans
Viasat Internet Viasat Internet $ 30$ 150° 12100 Mbps See the plans
Verizon Fios Verizon Fios $ 39.99$ 79.99** 200940 Mbps See the plans
Data in effect on 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

During the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1 or 2 year contract.

New customers only. The rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional charges apply.
^
For the first 12 months plus taxes and equipment. fresh.
°
During the first 3 months.
**
w / Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.

What YouTube TV issues are you having?

It is more than likely that your YouTube TV issues are the result of internet connection issues, too many users logged in at once, or not having a compatible device. If you check all of these boxes, you shouldn’t have a problem streaming on YouTube TV.

But if you come across a YouTube TV error which is not explained here, please leave a comment below and we can proceed to search.