Playback Error on YouTube TV: Here’s How I Fixed It

The playback error on YouTube TV can haunt you at the most unexpected times.

I was watching YouTube TV last weekend.

About 3 minutes into a live UFC match, the YouTube TV app displayed the playback error. Instead of cheering for the battle, I could only see a dark screen with the error stating I could no longer play the video.

To say that I was annoyed would be an understatement.

I went online and spent a few hours researching the best solutions. I watched troubleshooting videos, read dozens of guides, and also skimmed through reviews on Reddit.

The good news is that I could finally fix the playback error.

The YouTube TV playback error is usually fixed with a simple restart. However, if the Youtube TV playback error persists, power cycle your TV and router to fix the error. If this does not help, it is time to update the Youtube TV app because software bugs can also cause playback errors.

Restart The YouTube TV App

The first thing I did was restart my Youtube TV app.

As obvious as it may seem, it is often enough to stop the playback error from appearing.

This is because restarting the app will allow your device to reload the app data and resolve any glitches.

If you are using YouTube TV on a smartphone, close the app and then remove it from the recent apps list.

This will ensure it is not running in the Picture-in-picture (PiP) mode or background.

Now restart the application.

On a TV, close the YouTube TV app using your remote. You can restart the app by going to the home screen and selecting the YouTube TV app from the menu.

While using YouTube TV on a computer, you can close the tab and reaccess it using a new tab.

Unfortunately, this might not be enough in some cases (such as mine) to prevent the error.

At least, now we know it doesn’t have anything to do with the app.

Check Your Internet Connection

An unstable internet connection can stop the YouTube TV app from loading any content and often display the playback error.

Start by checking if other websites are loading.

If you cannot access any website, there might be a problem with your router, leading to unstable internet.

Only if other websites are not loading, take a quick look at your router.

Do you see a red LED light, among other indicators?

This could mean two things. A loose wire must be pushed back inside your router or a disabled Internet connection. 

You can power cycle your router to fix an unstable internet connection.

  • Unplug your router from the power source and let the device turn off.
  • Wait for 30 seconds before plugging back the router.
  • Turn on the router again to see if there’s a stable internet connection.

If you get the Black screen of death on YouTube TV, power cycle your streaming device.

Clear Your YouTube TV App Cache

Your browser stores cache data every time you visit a new page. 

When stored for long periods, cache data can lead to glitches. Many users reported that clearing the cache fixed the Youtube TV playback error.

The fastest way to delete a TV’s cache files is by power cycling.

  • Turn off your TV using the remote.
  • Unplug the power cable of your TV from the power output.
  • After a gap of 30 seconds, plug the cable back in and turn on your TV.

This will clear all the apps running in the background and remove the cache data.

Here’s what you need to do if you’re using a smartphone.

  • Open the Chrome browser.
  • Click the three dots menu in the top right corner.
  • Find the settings option and scroll down to select Privacy and Security.
  • Click on clear browsing data.

Check If YouTube TV Is Running On Multiple Devices

My YouTube TV account runs on multiple devices, including a bedroom TV, a mobile, a laptop, and a tablet.

Now here’s the catch. 

You can only play YouTube TV on up to three devices simultaneously.

Beyond this limit, your YouTube TV app would fail to load any content and display the playback error.

Keep track of the number of devices you’re logged in to. 

You must log out of the YouTube TV app on one of your devices to fix the playback error.

This will help you stream seamlessly.

Update Your YouTube TV App

Keeping your apps updated to the latest firmware version can be a task you don’t want to deal with. There’s a new update popping up every few days.

But here’s the deal. 

Running an older version of the YouTube TV app on your device can expose it to bugs frequently. 

And this is one of the major reasons behind facing the playback error on the YouTube TV app.

You must update the YouTube TV app to the latest firmware version to ensure it runs uninterrupted on your device. 

If you’re an iOS user, 

  • Go to the App Store and search click on your profile. 
  • Now scroll down to find the pending updates section. 
  • Look for YouTube TV in the list, and you’ll find an Update button beside the logo.
  • Click on Update and restart the YouTube TV app

On an Android device, 

  • Go to the Google Play Store App, and click on the search bar.
  • Now search for the YouTube TV app.
  • You’ll find the update button below the app name.
  • Click on update and wait for the new version of YouTube TV to install on your device.

If you continue to face the playback error despite updating your YouTube app, you should try to switch to a different network or use a VPN.

Using VPN to Fix Playback Error

The YouTube TV app is currently only available for use within the US. If you’re traveling abroad, YouTube will display the playback error.

If this was not enough, there are restrictions on certain channels you can view based on your domestic location. 

You can set up a VPN to ensure your YouTube TV app works normally while traveling.

However, remember that using a VPN can slow down your internet speed. 

So here’s the recommended internet speed based on the resolution of the video.

Recommended Internet Speed for YouTube TV

3MbpsStream standard-quality videos
13MbpsHD videos
25Mbps4K videos

Playback Error – One of those Vague Errors

A playback error is one of those errors that are almost always caused by unstable internet or a software bug.

If your internet is working, then the next step is to check for any pending software updates.

In my case, there was a pending update.

Once I got that out of the way, everything was back to normal.

If none of the solutions covered in this article fix YouTube TV for you, contact YouTube TV Help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my YouTube TV say playback error?

Your YouTube TV might display a playback error due to several reasons like bad internet connection, outdated application, multiple devices, or even due to your current geographical location.

How do I fix the playback error on my smart TV?

You can fix the playback error by restarting the YouTube TV app, downloading the update, ad making sure you have a stable internet connection.

How do I clear the YouTube cache on my TV?

You can clear your YouTube cache by rebooting or power-cycling your TV. Disconnect the TV from the power source, and after waiting for 30 seconds, plug the TV back and turn it on. This will clear the cache of all apps, including YouTube.

How do you update YouTube on a smart TV?

You can update the YouTube app on a smart TV by going to the Play Store and selecting the YouTube app from the list of pending updates. You can find this inside the profile icon located in the top right corner of your screen.

Why does YouTube TV keep buffering?

YouTube TV can keep buffering if you run high-resolution videos while being on a slow Internet connection. To stream videos without buffering, maintain the recommended download speed on your device.

About the author

Maria Chan, or MC, as we call her, is the genius girl-boss who gave up on her cushy silicon-valley job to grind it out with us. Her undying pursuit of wanting Zeebox to the best makes it very clear that she has no interest in running a generic tech-site.