At the same time that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki touts a noted decline in television viewership as one of the company’s chief areas of potential, YouTube has moved one step closer to building its own TV service. The company has reportedly reached an agreement with CBS to make the broadcast network part of its forthcoming skinny bundle of cable channels, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The new service, first reported by Bloomberg in May, is rumored to be called Unplugged and is likely to bow next year. Parent company Google is also close to reaching an agreement with 21st Century Fox and is in advanced talks with Walt Disney, according to the Journal, which notes that the bundle of live cable channels could be priced between $25 and $40.
Channels rumored to be in play include Pop and CBS Sports Network from CBS; Fox, Fox News, FX, Fox Sports, and National Geographic from 21st Century Fox; and ABC, ESPN, the Disney Channel, and Freeform from Disney.
Unplugged, which is being spearheaded by YouTube content partnership executives Kelly Merriman and Heather Moosnick, according to the Journal, will be sold separately from YouTube Red — the company’s ad-free service that also offers original content co-created by and starring leading digital influencers. However, “a curated portion of YouTube Red videos will be included” with Unplugged, the Journal reports.
One of the biggest areas of contention throughout negotiations is the fact that YouTube wants to overlay data on top of network streams — which would allow it to blast sports stats across ESPN, for instance, or a panel of Tweets alongside a TV series. Networks are reluctant to relinquish such control, according to the Journal, and are also dubious about YouTube bundling their premium content alongside its homegrown programming, which they perceive as inferior.