YouTube TV Adds Feature That Should Have Been There Since the Start

YouTube TV just belatedly added a feature that some of the earliest digital devices ever created had: a clock. On Friday, the streamer made some self-effacing jokes on social media as it announced that users would now see their local time displayed on the YouTube TV homepage. Many commenters wondered how the service had gone so long without this basic addition.

YouTube TV is the most popular live TV streaming service available according to a report by BGR, with 5 million active users as of July 2022. It managed that success without displaying the time anywhere on its interface, but those days are finally over. A user's local time will now be visible on the channel selection menu as well as the pause screen while watching a TV show or movie. In a follow-up post, YouTube TV warned that it might take some time for the feature to show up on all devices and operating systems.

Commenters laughed at the simplicity of this new feature, but in many cases, they were more frustrated than anything else. One popular comment read: "I have a watch. What I don't have is [picture-in-picture]." YouTube TV tried to troubleshoot this along with other common complaints in the comment section.

It's true that clocks are virtually ubiquitous now, but in some ways that actually makes it more surprising that YouTube TV has gone this long without one. The streaming service has been available for about six years and has stayed ahead of comparable packages for watching live cable and broadcast TV through the internet, without a cable package. It offers over 100 live channels, unlimited DVR storage, up to three simultaneous streams and features like picture-in-picture viewing on certain devices.

Adding a clock to this kind of interface is admittedly small, and there's no guarantee all users will even see it. Depending on their age and habits, many will have formed a habit of checking the time on their phone. Those kinds of habits change slowly, as the wrist watch industry has triumphantly reminded customers over the last few decades.

Reports like this one from The New York Post have commented frequently on how clocks in digital devices have impacted existing industries like wrist watch manufacturing and sales in the 21st century. In 2016, watch industry experts told reporters that they were getting nervous about the gradual drop in sales. In more ways than one, the addition of clocks to more digital interfaces is a sign of the changing times.