YouTube Joins the Fray With Over-the-Top TV Service Plans

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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

If successful, YouTube Unplugged would join a growing number of online TV businesses.

YouTube is the latest of a growing number of streaming companies looking to compete in the live TV space. 

The Google-owned streamer has been developing a new over-the-top service dubbed YouTube Unplugged that would allow subscribers to watch live broadcast and cable TV content without a cable subscription, sources familiar with the plans tell The Hollywood Reporter

Like many digital companies, YouTube has explored an offering like this for a number of years, but these sources say that efforts on YouTube Unplugged have come about more recently. 

YouTube's renewed interest in creating a live TV service was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in February, but Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the service's target price point is less than $35 and that the streamer is targeting a 2017 launch. According to the report, YouTube has held talks with a number of media companies, including NBCUniversal, Viacom, 21st Century Fox and CBS, but has yet to lock down rights to particular shows or networks. The company is considering several different iterations of bundled content. 

YouTube is one of several companies that have expressed interest in taking a piece of the cable business. Hulu on Wednesday confirmed its plans for a live streaming TV offering in 2017. The company is said to be in talks with owners Disney, Fox and NBCUniversal about licensing content from their channels. 

Meanwhile, Dish launched SlingTV last year with a limited content offering for $20 a month, and PlayStation recently went nationwide with its Vue TV streaming service. Apple also has held talks with media companies about a skinny TV bundle, but those efforts appear to have stalled. 

For its first 10 years, YouTube relied solely on advertising revenue. But the company, led by CEO Susan Wojcicki, has made strides to add new revenue streams, launching ad-free subscription service Red in October. 

A YouTube spokeswoman declined to comment.