The world’s major media companies have stopped talking about “YouTube Unplugged,” which makes industry commentators believe that it is about to be launched. YouTube Unplugged is Google’s unreleased subscription-based television service, and the logic follows that because the company needs to negotiate a number of complex content rights deals and arrangements with many different media businesses, everybody is keeping these terms quiet. In 2016, Google is alleged to have struck deals with media companies as diverse as Disney and 21st Century Fox while YouTube Unplugged is rumored to go live either “early in the New Year” or “before the end of February.” While these rumors and stories typically cannot be verified, CBS Corporation confirmed that the company was in talks with Google last month. Finally, with so many stories circulating the industry, most things point to the fact that YouTube Unplugged is coming soon.
It's currently hard to say how much the service will cost, but the entry-level package is rumored to be priced at somewhere between $25 and $40 per month, which would make it competitive in the market. For added context, DirecTV costs between $35 and $70 a month, plus an extra $5 for HBO. However, as with similar services, the cost is only a relatively small part of the appeal for customers. With television bundles, content really is king so Google needs to ensure that it covers as many popular channels as it can. Currently, many online streaming services typically bundle a number of similar channels with several specialized channels. This means that many online providers offer a significant overlap in services but one provider’s overall range of channels is narrow compared to a cable television bundle. Because of this, many customers need to use two online streaming services in order to have a channel selection that's as comprehensive as a single cable service. Although individual Internet television services are less expensive than a cable service, they can work out more expensive when combined.
If Google secures content from more providers than the competition, this could make YouTube Unplugged a very compelling product even if the service costs more than what other individual providers are offering. With Google appearing to be in talks with so many media players and considering its experience gained from operating YouTube Red and other subscription-based services, the new YouTube Unplugged could quickly become a strong competitor in an industry that already contains Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and AT&T’s DirecTV service.