The same day that Hulu confirmed it was readying a so-called “skinny bundle” of cable and broadcast channels that it will stream live for $40 per month, reports surfaced that video giant YouTube has a similar project up its sleeves.
Dubbed Unplugged, according to Bloomberg — which was first to report the project’s name and details — the service could launch in 2017, which is roughly when Hulu says its own bundle will arrive. Bloomberg says YouTube has “overhauled its technical architecture” to offer live TV viewing and is currently in talks to offer channels from 21st Century Fox, CBS, NBCUniversal, and Viacom — though no agreements have been signed.
Google has been working on such a package as far back as 2012, according to Bloomberg, and Unplugged would exist separately from YouTube Red, another subscription service that offers ad-free viewing and access to original content created by YouTube. Executives spearheading the Unplugged project include Christian Oestlien, who was brought onboard as director of product management from Twitter last June, and YouTube’s head of content partnerships Jonathan Zepp.
It remains to be seen what kinds of bundles YouTube will offer with Unplugged. The company has considered offering the four major broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) alongside several popular cable channels, according to Bloomberg. However, YouTube has struggled to strike a deal that would enable it to offer the service for less than $35 per month, which is what it hopes to charge for Unplugged.
YouTube has also considered bundling three or four lesser-watched channels together around specific themes, according to Bloomberg, such as comedy or lifestyle. Viewers could then purchase these packages on top of the aforementioned bundle.