YouTube recently announced its very own streaming TV service which will offer a plethora of broadcast live streams and cable television programming, along with the usual massive online video content available on YouTube. This service is the latest in the sudden emergence of OTT (over the top) services all vying for the attention of those consumers who are seeking alternatives to regular cable television.
Youtube’s service will be available as a standalone app. Subscribers will get access to four major production networks- namely CBS, ABC, FOX and NBC, as well as more or less 35 cable channels, all for the $35 per month. Six accounts are covered by this amount, so members of the family can personalize their accounts and receive recommendations according to their preferences.
The service hasn’t even launched yet so obviously, it is expected to have some loopholes when it initially launches just as other streaming bundles. At the moment, the biggest drawback is that YouTube TV will have channels missing from Viacom which includes TV favorites like MTV and Comedy Central. Programming from Time Warner, AMC Networks, Discovery Communications, A+E Networks and Turner Broadcasting are also missing, which means there will be no TBS, CNN and TNT. Furthermore, Showtime will be available as of now but HBO won’t be. It does seem like a lot is excluded from the mix but hey! On the brighter side, YouTube TV offers original content for free from its sister, YouTube Red.
No specific date has been hinted for the launch, only that it is coming up within the next few months. The service will debut in major markets, which means that suburbs and smaller cities will possibly have to wait. As for whether this service will be available internationally, there are some quirks. Verizon has streaming exclusive rights for NFL content on mobile, so it will be available on TV and PC but not smartphones.
The Idea Behind Youtube’s Streaming Service:
The jump into Live TV occurs exactly one year after the launch of YouTube’s exclusive streaming service, YouTube Red. Featuring original series created by the top-ranking YouTube content creators, the service cost only $9.99 per month. YouTube’s current number 1 most subscribed personality, PewDiePie, had his series on Red titled ‘Scare PewDiePie’, which was canceled due to a controversy surrounding anti-Semitic production.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki presented the new subscription service by methodically explaining three major changes in consumer behavior on how they view content over the years. Cable TV rose first, paving the way for expansion of the universe of channel hopping to incorporate not only news but also sports, music and reality shows. Next was the emergence of online video, further expanding the kind of content available and allowed individuals to broadcast their own personal style of content as is evident by the countless YouTube creators. Finally, the rise of the smartphone revolutionized the way people devoured content by eliminating the need for the consumer to be a couch potato in order to watch visual content. Wojcicki states that YouTube TV is the result of all those changes, and is directly in competition with leading streaming services which includes PlayStation Vue and Sling TV.
Last May, it was first rumored that YouTube was trying to grab a segment of the sector occupied by AT&T, Sony and Hulu. Wall Street Journal was told by sources that YouTube was all set to launch a streaming service in 2017, which will go by the name Unplugged. Another report in October from the Journal stated that CBS was onboard YouTube’s service.
YouTube’s step into the live television sector is just another cord cutting move from digital content companies. YouTube’s service is considerably cheaper priced at $35 every month, but still not by much. For 45 channels, PlayStation Vue charges $40 a month and DirecTV Now’s least expensive plan is also $35 a month. The recently announced package by Hulu will also cost under $40.
The App Is Ready To Roll
YouTube demonstrated the app and showed some nifty tricks for search. If you ask the app for time travel, you will get video content in which the plot involves this genre. You may search by genre or browse live programming. Best of all, there is an option to record your favorite shows DVR-style, with unlimited storage in Google’s cloud, plus the ability to skip advertisements!
YouTube’s service is integrated with Google Home and Chromecast. Unfortunately, when YouTube attempted to show off voice command search via a Google Home device, the result of the demo was a major fail.
In the last few years there has been a huge shift in the advertising game, with billions of dollars which were once spent on television commercials being allocated to be used in on online videos. Leading the pack in this transformation has been YouTube, driven by viewers who are increasingly getting detached from broadcast television and cable packages. Reportedly, approximately 40 percent of millennial homes only use an internet connection for their entertainment.
According to Pivotal Research, connected TV viewing has experienced growth by 65 percent last year. For certain prime-time television programming, more or less 40 percent of the view are done via connected TVs. OTT is what advertisers are scrambling to get into, as it promises the engagement and quality of television as well as enhanced targeted marketing of digital.
YouTube revealed that viewers watch an estimated billion hours’ duration of videos on its platform daily, catching up rapidly with the duration of television watched every day by all Americans. If YouTube’s latest service becomes the main go-to system for watching content on the biggest screen of the house, they will have the power to demand a higher price for advertising. In exchange, the existing traditional networks partnered up with YouTube can allow improvements on new shows and content through their tried and true machine learning technology.
Even though traditional television is looking like it’s going to be in trouble, it is still in control of most of the advertising budgets and majority of the popular programming. According to Brandon Verblow of Forrester, “Traditional TV providers control much of this content, and they’ve been cautious about making their programming available outside the lucrative TV bundle,” He further said, “Even if many viewers want to cut the cord, they may not follow through as they realize they cannot get all the content they want.”
At the same time, there is a lot of competition in the category of streaming services. AT&T has DirecTV currently, Dish Network has Sling and Sony has Vue. Each of these offer a range of streaming packages, but traditional television’s strongest factor is that the programming of streaming services has major loopholes. Other than PlayStation Vue, many don’t have CBS and certain services come with their own set of problems. Most of the major networks are however, available live through affiliates, which means that important sports programs may be blacked out in case your regional broadcaster doesn’t issue it.
As if this wasn’t enough, more competition is on its way. Hulu for instance, has announced publicly its plans for streaming services which combines live programming with its exclusive on-demand catalog. And it has been a while since Apple has been attempting to pull of a streaming package like the one YouTube recently announced.
How Will Youtube Be Different?
The attention of consumers has been spread across different mediums; traditional television, social media and online video. Advertisers want to ensure that the money they spend on ads spans these three different mediums. YouTube is in the perfect position to assist TV networks grab a foothold in this new and confusing environment which everyone is moving towards, via its massive logistics and statistics on viewers and large audience.
This is also about reaching out to a generation which has not grown in a traditional TV environment. “For kids under 18, it's really just YouTube, Instagram, some Snapchat, and Netflix for very young kids,” states David Pakman, a tech investor. “These kids will never subscribe to cable, and even in a skinny bundle world, they don't know what brands like Dish are. I believe YouTube could bring traditional shows to their audience and expand viewing of those shows.”
Another plus point for YouTube is that it has perfected its technology and distribution. For example, DirecTV has never delivered a truly consistent service, and the talk of the industry is that such services are simply “not ready for prime time, because they have struggled to deliver live signals at scale,” With this in mind, YouTube is possibly, probably in the best position right now to deliver stellar service.
YouTube also offers its partners excellent distribution. According to an Analyst, “Almost every person in the world with a smartphone or connected TV already has the YouTube app,” YouTube has a sophisticated network set up for commercials and ads that are targeted and fit for every demographic.
Features Of The Youtube Streaming Service
There are a lot of questions on our mind which we are hoping will get answered soon enough. The most important being how this service will be different from the handful of competitors that are already established on the market. Dan Rayburn from Frost & Sullivan said “All the live linear services coming out have almost no way to distinguish themselves from one another. What does it come down to for consumers? Which ones work well. Which ones have an app or platform that is easy to use and that you are already familiar with.”
One of the key highlights of YouTube TV is the cloud DVR system. Because of this, subscribers can record many shows simultaneously, without any storage limitations. No data from will be used by this feature from your mobile device. All recordings will stay stored in your saved collection for up to nine months. In comparison, the subscription service by Sony’s Vue only keeps content saved for 28 days, and Sling TV just only released a beta version of its cloud version.
YouTube wants viewers to watch videos on all devices, so this means that their service will be available online on YouTube’s website, Chromecast enabled TVs, and the mobile app of YouTube TV. At the time of announcement, YouTube presented a demo of its mobile app; consisting of three main categories: Live, featuring everything currently live in your area, Home, which features suggestions based on content you like to watch, and Library, which has all your saved and recorded content.
There is also a smart search feature: you can search by network or genre, check out ‘genre shells’ created especially for you based on videos you already watch, find the latest trending videos within your area, or simply use basic text search to find shows. As mentioned earlier, there is also a special search integrated into the app thanks to Google, utilizing thematic-specific words and phrases. For example, you may search ‘time travel’ in the search bar and content specifically about this phrase will be displayed.
At a post-event Questions and Answers session, representatives of YouTube said that they have no plans to hike up the $35 monthly subscription fee. Although this figure is not set in stone, it is unlikely to go through a price increase or be subjected to additional figures before the official launch of YouTube TV. For now, there is no known timeline for YouTube TV, but is expected in the coming months. To find out the latest updates and news, sign up on YouTube TV’s website.