YouTube Announces YouTube TV, a Value-Priced Skinny Bundle
While channel selection is limited, the unlimited cloud DVR helps make up for it. Look for the $35 monthly service to debut this spring.
Sling TV and DirecTV Now may have had a head start, but YouTube upended the skinny bundle market today with the announcement of YouTube TV, its long awaited streaming service. While the details aren't all in, the announced specs are attractive: YouTube TV will go for $35 per month with no monthly commitment, and will offer live streaming from ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. It will also include ESPN, regional sports networks (RSNs), and "dozens of popular cable networks." Included in those dozens are MSNBC, USA, FX, the Disney Channel, Sprout, E, and Bravo. RSNs include Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet. The service will also include regional sports based on location. (NFL content won't be available on mobile devices, however, as Verizon holds an exclusive there.) Subscribers will get 40 channels at launch. Several popular cable channels, such as AMC, HGTV, CNN, History, MTV, TMC, and Cartoon Network, are not on the list (there are no Viacom or Time Warner channels). Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus are available as extras, but YouTube didn't give their prices.
One of YouTube TV's most attractive features is an unlimited storage cloud DVR. Sling TV is currently testing a cloud DVR with a 100-hour limit, but it doesn't allow commercial skipping. The Verge reports that YouTube will allow ad-skipping. YouTube subscribers will be able to save recordings for nine months in the cloud. The announcement didn't mention an on-demand content library, something competing services offer.
YouTube TV is pegged at multi-screen families: Membership includes six accounts (each with unlimited cloud DVR storage) and can play three streams at any one time. The service will work on computers, iOS and Android devices, and Google Chromecast devices and TVs. YouTube didn't mention other set-top devices, so it sounds like Roku and Apple TV support won't be a feature at launch.
The service also includes access to original content created for YouTube Red, the company's $10 per month subscription service. YouTube didn't mention whether or not YouTube TV customers will get ad-free YouTube service, as YouTube Red subscribers do.
As for when the service is launching, YouTube is only saying "soon," but other reports say this spring. It will debut in major markets first, then expand. Those interested can sign up for a notification at tv.youtube.com/welcome.
YouTube TV channels
A low-priced skinny bundle called YouTube Unplugged may launch early in 2017, with 2 or 3 major broadcasters providing channels.
Previously only available to select creators, YouTube's mobile live streaming is now an option for anyone with 10,000 subscribers.
It's been a challenging week for the leading online video destination, as hundreds of advertisers have pulled ads after learning they supported hate videos.
Verizon has also launched the 3.0 version of Go90, its ad-supported streaming service for millennials, now featuring more focused content areas.
Now in the skinny bundle business, YouTube offers an unlimited cloud DVR and access to YouTube Red originals. It's still a work in progress, though.
Channels in the YouTube Partner Program now need 10,000 lifetime views to qualify for ads, and must be reviewed for policy compliance.