Following years of being kept at arms-length by Hollywood studios and broadcasters, Google is one giant step closer to launching its expected Cloud TV service after getting CBS to agree to supply programming. Reports also say that all three of the remaining Big 4 broadcasters getting closer to deals.
According to reports, Google could announce a similar deal with 21st Century Fox very soon and also is in advanced talks with Disney – which includes ABC and ESPN – and Comcast-owned NBCUniversal.
Google is planning to house the service – named Unplugged — on its YouTube platform, where it already is offering some live streaming and recently launched its subscription video on-demand service, Google Red.
Unplugged likely will cost between $25 and $40 a month and is likely to include some YouTube Red content as part of the bundle.
The Wall Street Journal reports that In addition to the CBS network channel, the deal also will bring Pop and CBS Sports Network to the YouTube package. Unplugged also hopes to get Fox, Fox News, FX, Fox Sports and National Geographic Channel, with Disney supplying ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel and Freeform.
Google for years has struggled to gain acceptance from content executives, many of whom saw Google as a threat and who worried that their content would be easily pirated if it were distributed on the public Internet. Those fears have subsided somewhat as over-the-top service have become more commonplace.
Now, the search giant hopes to offer its skinny bundle of content to subscribers beginning early next year, entering what is rapidly becoming a crowded field of player selling virtual MVPD (V-MVPD) pay-TV services that are available anywhere in the United States.
Dish Network’s Sling TV, the first V-MVPD to go live, is reportedly approaching one million subscribers and has been evolving into a more complete offering. Sony, meanwhile, this year expanded it limited eta version from several markets to a nationwide offering and Hulu also has announced plans to deploy a service – including live feeds from the network, early next year.
AT&T, meanwhile, reportedly plans to launch its own service by the end of this year, DirecTV Now, that will be focused on mobile users. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said that service would be “very, very” aggressively priced, and said he fully expects the service to cannibalize AT&T’s two legacy pay-TV offerings, U-Verse TV and satellite TV service DirecTV, which is acquired last year.