Whilst most of us were flipping pancakes with varying levels success on Tuesday, YouTube announced its brand-new live TV streaming service, YouTube TV. Set to stand up as a rival to the traditional US cable networks, the service includes all major broadcast networks (channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN) at a price of $35 a month, with add-ons available for extra channels. The service will be accessed through an app, which can be controlled by voice command using Google Home.
The BBC reported that YouTube is regarded as a “real threat to traditional cable companies” by many in the industry, and this new announcement is sure to be taken seriously by those that stand to lose a share of their audience to the new internet TV service. In particular, the offering of live sports streaming as part of the $35 package is seen as a big advantage. According to Tech Crunch, “the service includes national coverage from ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN3/ESPNU, FoxSports, FS1, FS2 and NBC SportsNet. Also offered are regional sports networks from Fox and Comcast, SEC Network, Big Ten and ESPNU. Fox Soccer Plus is available as an add-on”.
Another key offering of YouTube TV is its cloud DVR service for recording content. Storage space is uncapped and it allows for simultaneous recordings, raising the stakes in the market and seriously challenging the more traditional cable networks that offer set-top boxes with limited storage capacity.
The announcement comes amid a continuing divergence of TV viewing habits towards more agile, internet-based streaming services, pioneered by the likes of Netflix. Nowadays it’s an extremely crowded and competitive marketplace with countless TV streaming services offering quality, original content – the inclusion of live sports streaming could be a crucial part of the offering. But the Google-owned video giant has a considerable advantage over many of its equally nascent competitors, and that’s its current audience, which, it announced this week, now watches a billion hours of YouTube content every day.
With new services and offerings coming out all the time, it’s certain that our TV viewing habits will continue to evolve as our technology keeps developing. YouTube’s starting position gives them a great shot at establishing themselves as a major player in the live TV market, but with such a competitive and diverse space, nothing is a given.