YouTube is expanding beyond its role of being an online video hub. The Alphabet-owned company announced on Tuesday that over the next few months it will launch YouTube TV, an online cable bundle with all the networks and dozens of cable networks. For just $35 per month, you’ll have not only access to all the YouTube content, but also live shows and programming from 40 networks, including sports and news with membership for up to 6 people.
Reports about this service go as far back as May 2016 where it was said the company was working on a way to bundle cable TV channels that were streamed over the internet. At the time it was labeled YouTube Unplugged, but obviously that has changed. At the time, sources told Bloomberg that YouTube was in discussion with major media companies including NBCUniversal, Viacom, Twenty-First Century Fox, and CBS.
In doing so, YouTube is entering a market that includes competitors such as AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony Playstation Vue, and Sling TV.
People aren’t watching just on the TV anymore
After more than a decade, YouTube is now considered to be a significant rival to traditional television. It has launched stars and given rise to the influencer and creator movement while also being a hub for new opportunities through its YouTube Red subscription service. The company said that more than 1 billion hours is being consumed daily, a figure that has grown 10 times since 2012 and comes dangerously close to television viewership in the U.S.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of YouTube’s announcement that it was bringing its video social network to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 platform later this year. And as it faces more competition not from traditional media, but likeminded services including Facebook, Twitter, and Snap, there’s an opportunity for YouTube to expand its reach and show its dominion over the video space.
Netflix and Amazon have already seen good growth and adoption of its original shows, including some that have received acclaim and top honors in places like the Academy Awards and the Emmys.
Offering a virtual cable bundle could also provide networks an additional opportunity to attract younger audiences to their shows, many who have opted to cut the cord and abandon cable entirely, sans the internet and streaming services. YouTube’s attractiveness to this demographic could be an asset.
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