YouTube will launch a live TV service in the next few months that offers the four major U.S. broadcast networks plus cable channels.
YouTube TV is a live TV service that will offer content from more than 40 networks including Walt Disney Co's ESPN, as well as YouTube's original series starring creators from the platform. However, there are plenty of gaps in the lineup. Subscribers won't be able to watch anything from Viacom (Comedy Central, MTV), Discovery Communications, AMC Networks, A+E Networks (History, A&E), or Turner Broadcasting (CNN, TBS, TNT), to name a few.
The service will also offer a cloud DVR, with no storage limits. With YouTube TV, you'll be able to record live TV and never run out of storage. Your cloud DVR can record as many shows as you want, simultaneously, without using precious data or space on your phone and Youtube will store each of your recordings for nine months.
YouTube TV content will look good on any screen - mobile, tablet or computer and you can stream to your TV with a Google Chromecast or Chromecast built-in TV. YouTube TV works on both Android and iOS. And your cloud DVR goes with you, so you can stream your recordings on any device.
Every YouTube TV membership comes with six accounts, each with its own recommendations and personal DVR with no storage limits. You can watch up to three concurrent streams at a time.
A YouTube TV membership is $35 a month and there are no commitments - you can cancel anytime.
YouTube TV will be available soon in the largest U.S. markets and will expand to cover more cities across the country.
YouTube TV arrives at an uneasy time in the television industry. For several years the percentage of households in the U.S. that pay for a cable or satellite subscription has been inching downward. This, in turn, has increased pressure on the major networks, which rely heavily on the per-subscriber licensing fees they collect from cable and satellite operators.
The networks have begun licensing their programming to new services - such as Dish Network's Sling TV, AT&T's DirecTV Now, and Sony's PlayStation Vue. Later this year, Hulu LLC, a joint venture backed by several major media conglomerates, is expected to introduce a competing product.
YouTube CEO Wojcicki says the company isn't worried about short-term profits. "The approach we've taken with all new products is looking at: Are we solving a real problem? Is this something we care about? And if we are successful, will it make a difference?" she says. "Ad-supported TV is one of the largest industries in the world. We see all these ways the experience could be better: search, recommendations, cloud storage. For Google, as an advertising-supported information company, it's a good investment."
For years, advertisers have paid less for placement on YouTube than on traditional TV, despite relentless efforts by the company to close the gap.