YouTube Is Reportedly Planning an Online Cable TV Service
Soon, you might be trading your cable subscription for a YouTube subscription.
The Google-owned (GOOGL) online video service is reportedly working on a service that will offer a bundle of cable television channels streamed online, according to a report from Bloomberg citing anonymous sources. The service, called Unplugged, is currently a high priority for YouTube and is slated to debut in 2017, the report said.
YouTube’s main service makes money through ads. The site jumped into paid subscriptions last year with Red, an ad-free version that also lets customers save and watch videos offline, listen only to the audio of music videos, and watch original content.
Unplugged would be an additional service that would add content from major television networks to YouTube’s offerings. Though no deals have been struck yet, YouTube has already held talks with most major networks, including Comcast’s NBCUniversal, Viacom, Twenty-First Century Fox, and CBS, according to the report.
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YouTube is still figuring out how it will package the channels, but it’s reportedly looking to create a main bundle with four large networks along with some popular smaller ones. It also hopes to sell the bundle for under $35 per month, but it has struggled to secure the channels it wants at the right price.
Another approach would be to create small bundles around themes, like comedy or lifestyle, which would package up smaller, less-watched channels. YouTube would charge one subscription for the main bundle and extra fees for these themed bundles, according to the report. The idea would be to show to media companies that it can bring viewers to their smaller properties as well, and hopefully, get better deals for their main channels.
YouTube is far from the only company to chase the skinny bundle strategy. Apple and Amazon are reportedly working on similar services, while Sony and Sling already released their own. On Wednesday, Hulu, which offers on-demand movies and television shows from some networks, confirmed it’s also working on a television-style bundle.
Fortune has reached out to YouTube and will update this story if we hear more.