Just a couple of hours after Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed that the streaming service would be teaming up with Fox and Disney to bring live television programming to subscribers, it looks like YouTube may have similar plans.
YouTube is getting ready to announce a new service called Unplugged that would bundle different cable networks and stream different programs directly from its main site for people willing to subscribe to the service, sources close to the project told Bloomberg. Unplugged is one of the company's top priorities, according to the report, and YouTube is looking to launch the service as early as 2017.
The goal is to increase viewing time for people already on the site and increase the company's non-advertising related revenue. Executives at Alphabet, YouTube's parent company, have already begun to talk to NBCUniversal, Fox, CBS and others about securing rights to various television series and sporting events. YouTube launched its first subscription streaming service, Red, at the end of October last year. Users could choose which channels they subscribed to for $5.99 a month.
According to Bloomberg's sources, the path YouTube executives are most interested in exploring is a form of skinny bundling that would pick channels from the four different networks to offer as a bundle and then choose other popular channels to offer as stand-alone options. Other companies like Apple and Amazon were rumored to be considering similar live TV streaming deals like this in the past, and based on this report, looks like they may push ahead with it.
While development for this type of subscription-based streaming package has reportedly been in the works since 2012, YouTube has buckled down and made it a top priority. Although there could be multiple reasons for that, with Hulu making the announcement that it was getting ready to launch a similar platform, it makes sense that YouTube would want to get in on the relatively young market.
These types of cable bundle streaming packages aren't new, but as stand-alone services like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix and even YouTube build their subscriber base, there's a need to provide those consumers with as much content as they can. For example, PlayStation users can subscribe to its Vue service, which offers a variety of cable channels, for $30 a month.
YouTube has yet to confirm whether or not they are in the negotiation stages with other companies to secure the rights to live TV programming, but Polygon has reached out for comment.