Today at an event in Los Angeles, YouTube announced a huge new feature that could change what you watch on the online video platform. The company debuted YouTube TV, a television streaming service that combines live content from broadcast and cable networks with content from the online creators that have made YouTube so successful. This announcement comes as YouTube also revealed the passing of a huge milestone: as of last year, users globally watch one billion hours of content on the site every day.
YouTube TV will launch in the coming months and will start off with more than 40 networks available for streaming. Subscribers will be able to stream live content from these networks and record shows for later viewing. A YouTube TV subscription will cost $35 per month, which gives customers six separate accounts to share with friends and family.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki introduced the new subscription service by diving into three big changes in how people have consumed content over the years. The rise of cable was the first, and it expanded the universe of channel selection to include news, music, sports, and scripted shows. The second was the rise of online video, which continued to expand the types of content available and made a way for personality-driven content like that of many YouTube creators. The final was the rise of the smartphone, which changed the way people consumed content by moving it out of the home and into people’s hands, wherever they may be in the world. Wojcicki says YouTube TV is a product of all those changes, and it puts YouTube TV directly in competition with other streaming services, including Sling TV and PlayStation Vue.
The initial offerings are fairly comprehensive: subscribers will get full access to channels including ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, popular news outlets including MSNBC, Fox News, and Fox Business, and other channels including ESPN, USA, FX, Oxygen, E!, Disney Channel, and National Geographic. YouTube TV will also stream content from local television networks to bring local news and weather information to subscribers in participating areas. Other premium channels, including Showtime, will be available to add on to a subscription for an additional fee.
In addition to broadcast and cable content, YouTube TV subscribers will have access to shows and movies that were previously exclusive to YouTube Red. Red is YouTube’s other subscription service that costs $10 per month and removes ads from its videos, provides access to Red content featuring YouTube creators, and lets customers save individual videos to watch offline at a later time. However, a YouTube TV subscription only gives you access to Red Original content—other features of YouTube Red, including ad-free viewing, are not part of YouTube TV. The only way you can watch YouTube content (not broadcast or cable content) without advertisements on YouTube TV is if you’re also a Red subscriber.
One of the standout features of YouTube TV is its cloud DVR system. This lets subscribers record as many shows as they want simultaneously, with no storage limits. This feature won’t use any data from your mobile device, either. Each show you record will stay in your saved videos collection for nine months. Comparatively, Sony’s PlayStation Vue subscription service only saves content for 28 days after air date, and Sling TV only just debuted a beta version of its cloud DVR feature at the end of last year.
YouTube wants users to be able to watch content on any device, so YouTube TV will be available on Chromecast-equipped TVs, online via YouTubeTV’s website, and on mobile via the YouTube TV app (which is separate from the original YouTube app). At the event, YouTube showed off a demo of the YouTube TV mobile app, and it has three main sections: Live, which has everything currently playing live in your area; Library, which stores all your recorded content; and Home, which shows content suggestions based on what you already like to watch.
There’s also a search element to the app: you can search by genre or network, check out specially created “genre shells” that have been made based on what you already watch, see what’s currently trending on your area, and use simple text search to find the shows you want. Google also integrated its search expertise into the YouTube TV app with thematic-specific keywords: for example, you could search “time travel” in the YouTube TV app, and it will show you all available content in which time travel is essential to the plot.
At a post-event Q&A, YouTube representatives said that YouTube has no plans to increase the $35 monthly membership fee. That number is not set in stone, but we likely won’t see any price increase or additional subscription tiers before YouTube TV launches. There’s no official timeline for the launch of YouTube TV, but it will be available in the coming months. You can sign up on YouTube TV’s website to be notified about the service and its rollout.
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