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YouTube Launches Online TV Service

28 Feb, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Service joins crowded field that includes Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now and Charter Spectrum TV Plus

As expected, Google-owned YouTube Feb. 28 formally launched an online TV with cloud-based DVR for $35 a month with no contract. YouTube TV features 44 pay-TV channels and includes YouTube Red Original series and movies, in addition to six separate user accounts.

Broadcast channels include ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC and the CW, in addition to ESPN, Fox Sports, Fox News, USA Network, FX, SEC ESPN, Free Form, E! Television, Disney Channel and Syfy, among others. Add-on channels include Fox Soccer Plus and Showtime.

Notable absentees include HBO, TBS, TNT, HGTV, CNN, Discovery, Viacom, Starz and Epix. All are included in Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Spectrum TV Plus and PlayStation Vue.

Nielsen recently reported that traditional TV viewing among the coveted 18–24 demo declined by 1 hour and 9 minutes per week in the third quarter of 2016 compared with the previous-year period. Nielsen also found that 50% of U.S. households use a SVOD service.

"There's no question that millennials love great TV content, but what we've seen is they don't want to watch it in the traditional setting," YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said at a media event announcing the launch.

Indeed, YouTube announced Feb. 27 that global viewership now streams 1 billion hours of content on the site daily. YouTube TV’s debut is ahead of a similar pending online TV service from Hulu. It also underscores the burgeoning consumer demand for over-the-top video.

"It is clear that cord-cutting of legacy distribution services -- that is, without including OTT-delivered virtual MVPD bundles like Sling TV and DirecTV Now -- has at last meaningfully accelerated," analyst Craig Moffett wrote in a March 1 post.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told attendees he believes all TV content should be made available online. He said OTT video should be complementary, not competitive, to linear TV — a viewpoint increasingly shared by pay-TV operators such as Comcast, Dish Network and DirecTV.

Comcast now offers direct access to Netflix and YouTube for its pay-TV subscribers.

“It’s really just beginning,” Hastings said.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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