Google is expected to launch its own web TV service during the first quarter of 2017. The company is said to have reached an agreement with CBS to bring its programming to the new web TV service.
CBS is the first major television network to sign into Google’s upcoming TV service which is said to be part of the YouTube platform, sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. The deal means that CBS may offer all of its content to the new service, including the live NFL games. The new service is said to be called Unplugged and is primarily aimed at consumers who want a low-cost option for watching traditional television programming.
When Unplugged is launched, it will offer consumers with bundles of live TV channels which will cost somewhere between $25 to $40 a month. The service is also said to be a separate platform from YouTube Red, the ad-free subscription service that offers YouTube original content. However, it’s likely that Unplugged will also come with a “skinny” bundle that will include some of YouTube Red’s original shows and movies.
In addition to signing CBS, sources said that Google is also nearing a deal to distribute channels owned by 21st Century Fox and is in “advanced” talks with NBC Universal and Walt Disney. Fox is likely to offer up its key channel brands such as Fox network, FX, Fox News, National Geographic and Fox Sports, according to CNBC. This will be similar to it program offerings on Hulu and Sony’s Vue service. If Disney enters an agreement with Google, the channels it would offer include ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel and Freeform
Although it looks like networks are open to signing to Unplugged, they are said to be apprehensive about some of Google’s plans. YouTube is said to be pushing for the rights to overlay data on feeds. For example, a Twitter feed will be displayed alongside a show. Another reason why networks don’t want to be part of Unplugged is because they don’t want their content to be bundled with internet-only videos which the networks see as lower value content.
Google is said to have been in talks with several media companies over the years to bring their programs to Unplugged, but it only ramped up its plans over the past few months, according to Reuters. There’s no word yet on when exactly the service will launch.