YouTube, and parent company Alphabet, has been undergoing a major overhaul of its underlying technical architecture in preparation for the launch of a subscription based, bundled TV service, as Bloomberg is reporting. It's a project that's been in the works since 2012, it will be called Unplugged, and they're hoping to roll it out as early as 2017 in an effort to beat competitors like Apple and Amazon to market.
The concept is a so-called "skinny bundle" of broadcast and popular cable channels that could be offered as an alternative to pricy cable subscriptions, at a reported price of around $35 per month, though according to Bloomberg major players like CBS and Fox have so far not signed on.
CBS, as we already know, has long been in talks with Apple about a similar service that Apple has been trying to roll out for the past seven years. As of February, Tech Insider was reporting via CBS CEO Les Moonves that Apple's big TV project was on hold, though Apple recently revealed that they're producing their first ever piece of original programming, a semi-autobiographical scripted drama starring Dr. Dre called Vital Signs.
Stymying both YouTube/Alphabet and Apple is the cutting of deals with key channels that will keep their services affordable and be desirable to consumers deals that are no doubt under pressure to collapse from the likes of Big Cable, i.e. Comcast and Time Warner, who want us all beholden to their expensive package deals.
As The Verge explains, YouTube has dangled its feet in the water of subscription services already with its Red service, which "offers exclusive access to videos from popular YouTubers, but it's not anything that approaches cable TV."
The concept of "skinny bundles" have the potential to upend and destroy traditional cable providers now that so many people are consuming streaming content from Netflix and others anyway, but so far traditional media companies seem skeptical, and it will take a popular company like Apple or YouTube to prove that such a thing can work well for all parties, and bring in extra ad revenue to less watched channels.