YouTube Unplugged, Google's upcoming live TV streaming service, is reportedly one step closer to becoming reality thanks to a new deal with CBS.
Google is said to be in talks with a number of major networks for its upcoming live TV streaming service, and CBS is apparently the first one to join the party. Negotiations with NBCUniversal and Disney are reportedly in advanced stages as well, while a partnership with 21st Century Fox is nearing completion.
The news comes from The Wall Street Journal, which cites unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
"The new service, dubbed Unplugged, aims to be a low-cost option targeting consumers who either have resisted subscribing to traditional pay-TV or cut the cord due to rising subscription costs," WSJ reports.
Google is apparently looking to offer a "skinny" bundle of various live TV channels at an affordable price point of between $25 and $40 per month, which would position YouTube Unplugged as a noteworthy rival to Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. Google might also be trying to keep its service cheaper than Hulu's upcoming live service so it can undercut it.
YouTube Unplugged could hit the scene as early as 2017 and is expected to operate independently from YouTube Red, Google's paid, ad-free version of YouTube. However, some YouTube Red curated videos will be offered with the skinny TV bundle, one source tells the WSJ. This means that while subscriptions will be separate for YouTube Unplugged and YouTube Red, the two will still share some common ground when it comes to content.
It also seems that YouTube execs met with a number of local TV station owners in New York earlier this week, which indicates that YouTube Unplugged could also rock some local content.
On the downside, Google reportedly faced some reluctance from potential partners regarding one aspect: overlaying data on live speeds. Google purportedly wants to offer a more comprehensive experience such as overlaying Twitter posts on news broadcasts or statistics on sports events.
Some networks, however, are reportedly fearing that the public could abuse this system and post insulting tweets during a news segment, for instance. Another concern is that Google could mix regular YouTube material with the network's "premium" content, which they feel would taint the quality and lower its value.
Google aims to sign all major networks eventually, but tapping CBS as its first major partner marks an important milestone. YouTube Unplugged will get some of the most popular TV shows from CBS, including The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and others.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that Google has yet to confirm YouTube Unplugged, which means that it all remains in the rumor state at this point. As always in such cases, reserve a dose of skepticism.