For a while rumors have been swarming that YouTube executives were making deals with networks for a sort of over-the-top cable service called Unplugged. This service, which would be $35, would blend together traditional media with original YouTube videos (and YouTube Red content) for a novel experience.
Today, YouTube unveiled YouTube TV at an event in Los Angeles. The service will be launching soon for $35. Up to six users can have individual profiles for recommendations, although only three streams can be played simultaneously.
Channels include pretty much everything you expect: major networks, sports, news. Viacom and Turner Broadcasting are not present. You will get local TV stations though. All in all, you should have access to forty or more channels. Showtime and Fox Soccer will be add-on channels.
DVR content is a headlining feature with this service. You get unlimited storage. You will be able to record all the shows you want and watch it anywhere without having to manage your storage. It’s likely YouTube will be storing individual episodes on their service and just linking them to you when you want to record.
This should be a major advantage to Android TV. Apple has tried to negotiate with networks in the past but has come up dry. Google can integrate this feature into Android TV very well, with recommendations and Live Channels support. They can sync their DVR with the Live Channels DVR for a seamless experience. Interestingly, the announcement doesn’t make any mention of a fairly obvious implementation: “you can easily stream to your TV with a Google Chromecast or Chromecast built-in TV.” If my NVIDIA Shield or Nexus Player was also my cable box, it’d be a game changer.
These skinny bundles haven’t been perfect. AT&T’s DirectNow service has been plagued with streaming issues and complaints since it first launched. YouTube may be able to handle the server bandwidth, and they do have experience due to Google Fiber. The company just announced users stream a billion hours of video each day. but it’s possible that the first few months will be shaky.
The Verge discusses some of the additional features that will be available with the service. Users will be able to skip ads in their recordings, search for shows based on topic, and voice search through Google Home.
If this takes off, it could hold a powerful media network. They already offer YouTube Red and Google Play Music All-Access as a unified package. Their announcement makes note of YouTube Red, but doesn’t necessarily tie-in All-Access. If it does, then a single price will give you online content, cable content, and unlimited music streaming for a cheaper price.
When will it arrive? That’s currently unclear. It’s likely major US markets will start seeing this in the coming months. You can sign up for more information on their landing page.