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YouTube 'Unplugged' likely to launch in 2017; ESPN, ABC, CBS ready to sign

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MUMBAI: YouTube is working on deals with a few broadcasters including ESPN, ABC, and CBS for providing their TV service online without payment of any cable subscription.

While these three broadcasters seem closest to confirmation, there are reports that other large networks are also expected to soon get in on the action. The launch is expected in six to nine months or early next year.

The online streaming service may choose to give up smaller networks like HGTV, and try to replicate them with similar channels made up of YouTube videos.

A Bloomberg report said YouTube plans to call the service Unplugged and hopes to offer it for under $35 per month. The plan is to include a selection of key channels and to potentially sell small bundles of additional channels as add-ons.

However, YouTube Unplugged is bound to face some stiff competition whenever it eventually launches, with so many other established online TV services. It is learnt that YouTube’s plans might not go off completely without a hitch, as they are certainly not the only players in the space. There is Dish Network, Sony, and Hulu.com that are also offering similar deals for those who do not want to subscribe to cable.

YouTube Red, a subscription service that offers access to original shows, “doesn’t appear to be a hit.” And reports say this is “not surprising, given that many of YouTube’s one billion-plus visitors a month grew up not paying for anything on YouTube.”

It will be interesting to see how well the bigger broadcasters can play with major web streaming services.

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