YouTube reportedly preparing Unplugged TV streaming service

YouTube screenshotYouTube is reportedly planning an online TV service that will let customers pay to stream a bundle of cable TV channels over the web.

According to Bloomberg, the service, dubbed Unplugged, is one of YouTube’s “biggest priorities” and is due to launch as soon as 2017, with the required technical architecture already in place.

Citing people familiar with the plan, the report claims that YouTube has met with the likes of NBCUniversal, Viacom, 21st Century Fox and CBS though is yet to sign any deals.

YouTube has been working on the idea since 2012, though its plans have taken on a “new urgency” in recent months as more rivals move into the online TV space, said Bloomberg.

Separately Variety reported that YouTube aims to keep the cost of Uplugged under US$35 per-month, though hasn’t yet finalised details of the model for the subscription service.

The news comes as Hulu – which is owned by 21st Century Fox, the Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal – confirmed it too is planning to launch a cable TV-style subscription service that will let users to watch television channels over the web.

Speaking to the New York Times this week, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said: “this is designed for the people that the marketplace is concerned are falling out of love with pay TV. We want to have a product for them.”

He added that the service will be personalised in an effort to make it easier for viewers to find channels that may interest them, particularly on mobile devices.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the new Hulu service is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2017 and cost in the region of US$40 per-month.

Last October YouTube unveiled YouTube Red, a new pay-monthly offering that lets viewers access an ad-free version of the service and watch videos offline on phones and tablets.

The service also includes original content, featuring some of YouTube’s biggest home-grown talent, with the company recently pledging “a lot more original content” throughout this year.