Google’s YouTube said to plan ‘Unplugged’ Internet TV service for 2017

“YouTube is working on a paid subscription service called Unplugged that would offer customers a bundle of cable TV channels streamed over the Internet, people familiar with the plan said,” Lucas Shaw and Alistair Barr report for Bloomberg. “The project, for which YouTube has already overhauled its technical architecture, is one of the online video giant’s biggest priorities and is slated to debut as soon as 2017, one of the people said. YouTube executives have discussed these plans with most major media companies, including Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, Viacom Inc., Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. and CBS Corp., but have yet to secure any rights, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.”

“YouTube has discussed different ways of packaging TV channels, the people said. In one scenario, it would build a bundle of channels with the four U.S. broadcast networks and a smattering of popular cable channels, a concept known in the industry as a skinny bundle,” Shaw and Barr report. “This is similar to a proposal Apple has discussed with media companies for some time.”

“Like Apple, YouTube has struggled to secure all the channels it wants at a desirable price. YouTube wants to sell a package for less than $35 a month, the people said, but large media companies expect new providers to pay more per channel than existing partners Comcast and AT&T Inc.,” Shaw and Barr report. “While Apple, Amazon and Google have frustrated media companies over the years with on-and-off content negotiations, they are more popular among young consumers than any cable company.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You can plan for any date you want, but as Apple has shown with Apple TV, without the deals, nothing’s happening. Hopefully, Apple can work out deals to finally launch their long-awaited programming bundle(s) before first quarter 2017. How about for Christmas 2016, please, at least?!

As we’ve oft written: Apple’s Internet TV service will have to have ESPN. It will also likely require the “Big Four” networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) – although it could launch with three out of four and eventually hammer out a deal with whichever one is being the most reticent. That said, having already missed the launch of the new Apple TV, Christmas 2015, and the Chinese New Year, Apple might as well wait until they have a full dance card.

What others networks should be considered to be must-haves?

Beyond the Big Four, if you go by primetime ratings (total viewers), the top 20 U.S. cable networks are:

2. Fox News Channel
2. USA
3. TBS
4. Disney
5. Discovery Channel
6. History Channel
7. TNT
9. Nickelodeon
10. AMC
11. Adult Swim
12. FX
13. Cartoon Network
14. Food Channel
15. Lifetime
16. ABC Family
17. Syfy
18. TLC
19. Hallmark
20. Investigation Discovery

Hulu could beat Apple to market with cable-style Internet TV service – May 2, 2016
ESPN president: Don’t hold your breath for standalone ESPN streaming – February 18, 2016
Apple cuts the cord on Internet TV plans – December 17, 2015
Apple, TV networks clash over size and makeup of Internet TV bundle – December 9, 2015
Apple debuts new Apple TV ad, ‘The Future of Television’ – December 9, 2015
Greedy media companies stymie Apple’s plan to offer Apple TV Internet TV package – December 9, 2015
CBS CEO Moonves says Apple puts live TV service ‘on hold’ – December 8, 2015
Fox’s James Murdoch, CBS’s Les Moonves hint at looming Apple Web TV service launch – November 5, 2015
CBS CEO Moonves says Apple TV content deal is likely – October 14, 2015
CBS CEO: We’re still in negotiations with Apple over new Internet TV service – May 27, 2015


  1. So . . . after all of this we are right back where we started with what essentially amounts to cable. This is disruptive how, exactly? Seems like if one takes everything on offer, it’ll end up being more expensive, too. I think I’ll leave my cord cut, thanks.

  2. The best outcome for consumers is that Apple, Google, AT&T, Comcast, Dish and whomever launches a streaming TV service and they each gain about equal market share.

    And they slit each other’s throat on pricing!

    Competition is best.

  3. Nobody in their right mind cares about TV Channels. What we all really care about is the content. MDN needs to quit pushing channels and focus on what we really want: programs.

  4. …A bundle of cable TV channels streamed over the Internet

    NO. That accomplishes NOTHING.

    …But have yet to secure any rights.

    Just like Apple. Copy-cat time again.

    …YouTube wants to sell a package for less than $35 a month.

    FAIL. We don’t need, want, desire to have the SOS (same old shite) cable bundle bullshit shoved up our back orifice all over again. STOP NOW. A la carte or die.

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