At an event in California, YouTube has just announced that it’s entering the world of streaming TV. For $35, subscribers to the YouTube TV service will be getting broadcast TV channels, some cable channels and the entire world of YouTube delivered to their device.
The service is aimed as a rival to AT&T’s new DirecTV Now service, as well as options from Hulu and Sling. It will exist as a standalone app on iOS and Android, as well as options to stream to set-top devices like Google’s own Chromecast.
A full lineup of channels isn’t available yet, but Google is being clear that the $35 service isn’t a competitor to full-fat cable bundles. YouTube TV will instead get you the four broadcast networks — Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC — as well as a few dozen cable channels like ESPN, Fox News and Bravo.
At launch, YouTube won’t have any channels that are exclusive to pay TV like HBO, although that’s due to negotiations rather than a higher-up decision. It sounds like YouTube will be working on adding more channels (possibly in a more expensive bundle) at a later date.
Instead of competing with DirecTV Now on channel selection, it sounds like Google is instead pushing the technology side. YouTube TV will have an unlimited cloud DVR, a Google-powered recommendation system, and a much better backend system than AT&T has been able to muster.
Given the problems that swamped DirecTV Now at launch, YouTube may have a point here. YouTube has been at the forefront of playing on-demand and live videos for years now, and happily runs thousands of livestreams with millions of viewers on a regular basis. For customers frustrated with bad interfaces and buggy apps, the notion of paying a little extra to get ad-free YouTube plus a basic TV service, with unlimited DVR, could be a game-changer.