YouTube introduced on Tuesday its replacement for cable television, YouTube TV, an internet service with more than 40 channels that will cost $35 a month.
“There’s no question that millennials love great TV content,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said at a media event announcing the service. “But what we’ve seen is they don’t want to watch it in a traditional setting. They don’t want to watch it in the living room with their families waiting for their favorite show to come on.”
To that end, YouTube TV will offer hit shows from major broadcast and cable networks live and on demand, and has no long-term contracts. The $35 monthly price tag includes a family plan with six individual accounts. Given its price tag and catalog, YouTube TV is positioned to challenge both traditional pay-TV packages and cheaper streaming offerings like AT&T’s DirecTV Now — which opened its service late last year with the same $35 a month rate. The service will launch in the next few months, although a specific start date has not been decided.
Subscribers also get access to content from YouTube’s premium online subscription service, YouTube Red, which has original movies and series primarily from native YouTube stars. YouTube TV also includes a cloud DVR with no storage limits.
“Access content live or record it with one tap, without ever worrying about running out of space,” Wojcicki said.
And to answer to cable companies’ notorious reputation for poor customer service, YouTube is offering instant help via an app, staffed by actual humans.
The service will also leverage YouTube parent Google’s technology, allowing users to cast a show from a smartphone to a Chromecast-enabled TV — and back to the phone — with a push of a button. And in the upcoming months, Google will incorporate voice control into YouTube TV through its Google Home smart assistant technology.
(It’s not ready yet though — a demonstration of the technology had the Google Home robot complaining that ‘something went wrong.’)
While YouTube TV includes more than 40 channels, including the big four broadcast networks and popular cable channels like ESPN and FX — as well as pricey regional sports networks — it isn’t a full-on replacement for a traditional pay-TV package yet. It offers Showtime for an additional fee, but not HBO, and fans of Netflix shows will still have to shell out for that separate service.
An individual with knowledge of the economics said YouTube TV’s structure doesn’t impact broadcast channels’ retransmission fees.
On Monday, YouTube announced that users are consuming 1 billion hours of video per day on the site — which would take more than 100,000 years to watch. In a blog post announcing the news, the company said it was able to achieve the milestone through years of focusing on engagement, rather than raw view counts, to fine-tune its content recommendation engine.