Univision joins HBO and CBS in hugging cord cutters

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Univision is looking to make every day Sabado Gigante with plans for a standalone streaming video service, following HBO and CBS into the a la carte fray.

The Spanish-language network giant revealed its plans to the Wall Street Journal, but hasn’t announced pricing or a timeframe. While Univision currently offers a streaming service called UVideos, it’s only available to cable subscribers, and the network believes it can reach many more viewers with a standalone service.

Univision is in a unique position because 76 percent of its viewers aged 18 to 49 watch only the network’s flagship channel, and nothing else. But as a broadcast channel, it’s available free to anyone with a TV antenna. The paid streaming service needs to offer enough value to viewers who otherwise don’t have to pay anything.

CBS, which announced its own streaming service on Thursday, is in a similar situation, and believes it can charge $6 per month. The service includes both live and on-demand video, but there are several strings attached, such as no NFL games, no past seasons of The Big Bang Theory and some other current shows, and ads on top of newer on-demand content. HBO hasn’t announced pricing or details on its own standalone service, which is coming next year.

Why this matters: Univision’s plans are yet another sign that big TV networks are starting to dip their toes into a la carte content. But if CBS’s plan is any indication, they are moving slowly, with deliberately inflated pricing, so as not to cannibalize their cable revenue streams. As more networks add their own standalone streaming services, the pricing tug of war between viewers and networks will be highly interesting to watch.

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