YouTube is supposedly planning to introduce a second premium subscription service – this time for streaming US cable TV channels over the internet. Currently known as Unplugged, there is no word on which channels this service would offer; but sources say that Google is in talks with cable companies to provide content.
Unplugged is slated for a release in 2017, with YouTube currently in talks with major media companies like NBC Universal, Viacom Inc., Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. and CBS Corp. That being said, no broadcasting rights have been secured.
The structure of Unplugged is also unknown, as YouTube’s discussions with the media companies has not resulted in an agreement of what it can stream. One idea that is said to be floating around is that Unplugged would build a bundle with the four US broadcasting companies and a handful of cable channels. This core would then be augmented with smaller bundles of lesser viewed channels.
YouTube already has a subscription model going with YouTube Red, although in this case it is meant to provide additional income for content creators who are already using the platform. Branching out into more traditional content would be a huge step for YouTube, although whether it is necessary is unknown.
While It looks like Google intends to expand YouTube to compete with other content providers like Hulu or Netflix, this may not exactly be the case. The sources sound like Unplugged will be more of a traditional live broadcasting service instead of an on-demand model.
There should be more to the deal, although it is unlikely that we will find out before Google is prepared to make a more concrete announcement. Naturally, this looks to be a more US centric plan; but that is not to say that the company would not expand it to other regions.