We’re barely into 2016 and already it appears the future of television will truly take off in 2017. After reports, and a confirmation, that Hulu would offer a broadcast TV package via online streaming in early 2017, Google’s YouTube appears to be gearing up to do the same thing. The new service will be reportedly called YouTube Unplugged and debut at some point in 2017, according to Bloomberg.
YouTube has yet to secure much in the way of agreements for actual content, Bloomberg says. Nevertheless, the company has met with major networks including NBCUniversal, CBS, and Fox, as well as Viacom the company behind channels like Comedy Central, MTV, and VH1.
It’s not clear what kind of service YouTube hopes to roll out in 2017. One hope is to offer a so-called ‘skinny bundle’ with the major networks and a bunch of other specialty channels. Unless YouTube can strike some unexpected deals, Unplugged will probably include something similar to Sling TV, with content such as AMC, CNN, the Disney Channel, ESPN, various Fox properties, the History Channel, TNT, and others.
Bloomberg says YouTube is hoping to offer a service with a price tag around $35 a month or less. That’s significantly higher than Sling’s $20 a month charge. Once you add specialty channel add-ons to Sling such as HBO ($15 per month), however, it’s quite easy to pay $35 or more for Sling.
Unplugged would be YouTube’s second subscription service following Red, the site’s ad-free experience, in late 2015. Red’s original incarnation was as a music streaming service known as YouTube Music Key.
The story behind the story: Reports of Google wanting to offer live TV packages have been around for awhile. However, with other companies such as Amazon and Apple reportedly looking to create their own TV packages for online streaming, YouTube’s effort appears to be getting closer than ever.