YouTube’s $35-a-month live-TV streaming service just went live in five major markets — and with a surprise on the programming side. The Google-owned company said it soon will add AMC Networks channels to the previously announced services available today from the major broadcast companies: Disney, CBS, Fox, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal.
The addition shows that “our networks have become must-have programming services for viewers,” said AMC Networks President of Distribution Bob Broussard.
The news should resonate with investors who are concerned that independent programmers such as AMC are most vulnerable to lose the game of musical chairs being played as YouTube and others assemble so-called skinny bundles. They offer fewer channels than the traditional pay TV bundle but at lower prices.
YouTube will carry AMC, BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv and BBC World News. It also plans to offer AMC’s subscription VOD services: Sundance Now (independent film, TV series and documentaries for $7 a month) and Shudder (thriller, supernatural and horror films for $5).
With today’s announcement, AMC is on Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, but does not yet have a deal with Hulu’s planned live-streaming service.
YouTube launches today in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Philadelphia — markets where the major broadcast networks own the local stations that carry their programming.
The company said additional markets will be added “soon,” presumably when it has deals with local affiliates that have the right to offer network programming in their communities.
With the broadcasters’ cable channels, YouTube will have at least 50 networks with sports (ESPN, Fox Sports Networks, Comcast SportsNet), news (CNBC, MSNBC and Fox News Channel) and entertainment (FX, USA, Disney Channel and Bravo).
CBS-owned Showtime will be available as a premium add-on. Subscribers also can watch YouTube Red original series and movies. The package does not include channels from Time Warner, Viacom, Discovery or Scripps Networks — at least for now.
YouTube says its service will include a cloud DVR that can offer unlimited simultaneous recordings and no storage limits, though shows will be storied for nine months only.
Each household can have six accounts with separate DVRs and recommendations. It can simultaneously stream to three devices.
Subscribers can watch on mobile devices and, initially, on TVs equipped with Google’s Chromecast. It vows to connect with other devices “later this year.”
Google will offer YouTube TV subscribers a free one-month trial, plus a Google Chromecast TV attachment (available after the first month payment and just while supplies last).