You might think of YouTube to be a place where you can watch short videos, but that isn’t the case.
YouTube can be a serious and substantial entertainment resource—at no cost—if you know where to look and how to watch. You’ll also discover how, with the right resources, you can transform shorter YouTube videos into marathon viewing sessions, such as comedy skits, instructional videos, and late-night TV segments. We also have advice on how to enjoy YouTube material in an appropriate way for your living room.
First and foremost, relax.
Before we begin, make sure YouTube’s TV app is installed on your living-room gadget of preference, if it isn’t already. YouTube comes pre-installed on Apple TV and LG Smart TVs and several LG Smart TVs and Blu-ray players. If you have a Roku smartphone, you can get it from the Roku app store. You can access the TV-friendly edition of YouTube through your web browser at youtube.com/tv if you have a home theatre PC or a Chromebox.
The more channel subscriptions you have, the better.
When you’re just browsing YouTube or using its smartphone apps, it’s easy to forget YouTube Channels, but they’re an important part of the television viewing experience. To add more, go to YouTube’s main site’s Channel list and click “subscribe” on the ones you want. The top-right corner’s “More channels like…” box will make additional suggestions based on what you add. It’s best to start with many channels and then remove those that you don’t like later.
If you’ve compiled a solid list, go to the YouTube TV app’s “My Subscriptions” section, where all of your channels’ most recent videos are mashed together into a continuous stream. Individual channels can also be viewed from the main menu’s “Subscriptions” portion. (I avoid YouTube’s key “What to Watch” segment because it often contains so many random videos from other sources.)
Get several full-length films and specials together.
YouTube viewing isn’t limited to stringing together short clips. Longform videos are also available on the web, ideal for a relaxing evening on the sofa. If you’re feeling nostalgic, Reddit also has a list of old television shows.
Of course, browsing these lists on your computer won’t make it any easier to watch them on your TV, which leads us to the next point:
Make yourself at home with Watch Later.
Hover your mouse over any video thumbnail when browsing YouTube on your screen. Do you notice the small clock icon in the bottom-right corner? You can link the video to your “Watch Later” queue by clicking it, which you can access from the YouTube TV app’s sidebar menu. The same button can also be found in the bottom-right corner of any currently playing video, as well as in the “+” button on YouTube’s mobile app. Watch Later can be used for anything, but it’s great for curating your collection of full-length movies, series, and specials.
For TV-friendly videos, use advanced scan.
The lists we mentioned earlier aren’t the only places on YouTube where you can find long-form images. You can limit your searches to HD videos at least 20 minutes long using advanced search terms (found in this list at Digital Inspiration).
Split the words “long” and “HD” with commas in your searches. You might, for example, look up “pearl jam concert, long, HD” if you want to rock out, or “wildlife, long, HD” if you want to watch some nature documentaries. This feature is only available on YouTube’s web-browser edition, so you’ll have to check from your computer first, then add the results to your trusted Watch Later list.
Consider making a TV-only account.
If you already use YouTube’s Channels, Playlists, and Watch Later sections extensively, you may want to create a separate Google account for your TV-related activities. That way, you can concentrate on gathering only the videos you want to watch on TV while keeping your other interests and activities separate. You might also find that YouTube’s “What to Watch” section functions better this way since it won’t take into account all of the weird videos you see during the day.
Convert your phone or tablet into a remote control.
When you’re looking for something to watch on YouTube, the TV GUI can feel confining at times. Many devices, thankfully, allow you to use a paired phone or tablet as a remote control, allowing you to find videos on the small screen and queue them up for viewing on the big screen.
You can pair the phone or tablet with a Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or LG Smart TV with very little setup. Open the YouTube app on your mobile device and tap the Cast icon, which should appear in your TV device is connected to a similar Wi-Fi network. Other devices can also pair with the phone or tablet, but it’s a little more difficult. Scroll down to settings in the YouTube TV app and select “Pair Device.” On your remote computer, go to youtube.com/pair and enter the code that appears on your TV screen.
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