YouTube might beat Apple to reinventing TV

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YouTube Unplugged to stream your favorite cable channels.
Photo: Cult of Mac

If you bought an Apple TV in anticipation of Apple’s rumored TV streaming service, it seems you may have been barking up the wrong tree.

YouTube could beat Apple to reinventing the cable experience, according to a new report. Its new “Unplugged” service will let viewers pay a monthly subscription fee for a bundle of cable TV channels, which will be available for streaming on-demand.

TV lovers commonly have to pay high prices for cable services just to enjoy a handful of channels. It’s no wonder many are cutting the cord entirely, while others await the new TV experience that Apple was supposedly going to deliver last year.

Now Bloomberg, citing “people familiar with the plan,” reports that YouTube is working on a new cable experience of its own with has become one of its biggest priorities. The service is slated to make its debut in 2017, and a host of major studios are on board.

YouTube is said to have entered talks with NBCUniversal, Viacom, Twenty-First Century Fox, and CBS so far — but it hasn’t secured streaming rights just yet. Its aim is to offer a subscription package for around $35 a month that will include a number of popular cable TV channels.

“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,” Bloomberg adds. This is thought to be the same model Apple has in mind.

YouTube may also offer smaller bundles based around different themes. For instance, you might be able to subscribe to a comedy pack, which could include Comedy Central and three or four other channels, for a smaller fee.

YouTube has reportedly been working on this service since 2012, but in recent months, it has become more urgent. We’ll have to wait and see whether it has more success than Apple when it comes to bringing it to market.