YouTube TV seeks Digital Publishers

YouTube’s $40-a-month live TV streaming service, YouTube TV, reportedly wants to add channels from digital-native publishers like Cheddar, Tastemade, and The Young Turks (TYT) Network to its package of network offerings, Digiday reports. The skinny bundle service is now testing up to six new channels from such publishers.

YouTube deployed the service last year amid a wave of launches of similar services, known as vMVPDs (or virtual multichannel video programming distributor) or “skinny bundles,” that offer a smaller package of networks than the traditional pay-TV bundle, for less money.

Adding popular digital-native publishers to its package could give YouTube TV greater cachet and potential uptake among young viewers, while further legitimizing these publishers by opening them up to broader, more linear-based viewership — and bigger advertisers — as vMVPD subscribers more often watch through connected devices on TV screens.

By adding live streams from digital-native publishers, YouTube TV could differentiate its service in a way that rivals haven’t. Despite the many skinny bundles out there, none are markedly different from the others. Moreover, vMVPDs are arguably not only offering nearly identical services among themselves, but they are also practically identical to the traditional bundle, aside from being cheaper and delivered over-the-top (OTT). YouTube TV could therefore stand to gain subscribers, particularly millennials, who are likely to be more familiar with digital-first publishers and to want their video product as a viewing option.

Meanwhile, digital publishers are seeking revenue diversification, as Facebook proves to be an increasingly unreliable partner, as Adweek recently reported.Earlier this year, Facebook de-prioritized publisher content in News Feed, which has long driven significant traffic to publishers’ sites. Additionally, publishers that have agreed to produce content for Facebook Watch aren’t relying on those partnership deals — which typically run a year — as a long-term revenue source, per Digiday. This means these publishers are in search of new distributors, which YouTube TV could provide.

Digital publishers may also be enticed by YouTube’s strong reputation as a video destination, as well as its historically consistent monetization model, with 55% of ad revenue going to publishers. vMVPD players have structured deals with networks similarly to traditional ones with cable companies, wherein the distributor pays a carriage fee on a per-subscriber-per-month basis. In the case of these six digital publishers, YouTube isn’t paying a carriage fee yet, but will implement an ad share model, with both YouTube and publishers selling inventory.

Google starts Unplugged Streaming TV Service

Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google unit has reached a final agreement or one in principle with CBS (CBS) , Disney (DIS) , Viacom (VIAB) and 21st Century Fox (FOXA) and could launch its streaming video service as soon as February, according to people with knowledge of Google’s plans.

Time Warner (TWX) is in talks as well, but they haven’t yet progressed as far as the others, said one person with knowledge of the situation.

The video streaming service, Google Unplugged, will be operated by Google’s YouTube service and will join a growing number of subscription video-on-demand offerings lining up to offer consumers so-called skinny bundles of networks that are less expensive than those offered by cable or satellite operators.

The service initially was expected to be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that begins in Las Vegas on Jan. 5, but unspecified technology delays and the need to finalize contracts have pushed it back to February or later, according to two knowledgeable people.

The crowded field of cablelike streaming services includes DirecTV Now, which AT&T’s (T) DirecTV satellite service launched in November, as well as Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation Vue service and Dish Network’s (DISH) Sling TV.

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