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Will YouTube's streaming service 'Unplugged' disrupt TV viewership?

25-May-2016
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Will YouTube's streaming service 'Unplugged' disrupt TV viewership?

YouTube may be the next tech giant to fight for a piece of the television world. The online video company has been reportedly working on a subscription-based online video streaming service for cable television networks, called "Unplugged." According news reports, Unplugged would offer online video and live TV channels in bundles from media providers for a monthly subscription fee.

Commenting on this move by YouTube, Shabir Momin, MD and CTO of ZengaTv, stated, “I think it’s a good news; the bigger the ecosystem grows, the better it is for everyone in the space. The market is very big and nowhere close to saturation, more players and more action helps everyone as the overheads get distributed in terms of creating awareness among users, brands and in general as a concept.”

Far from considering YouTube’s apparently upcoming service as a direct competition, the television industry seems bullish on YouTube Unplugged entering the cable television packages forefront with online video content.

Speaking about the issue, Abhesh Verma, COO, nexGTV, added, “Live TV streaming so far has been a niche activity, leaving sufficient scope for augmenting the reach and adoption. The industry is currently witnessing radical evolution with the entry of multiple players, and it would be incorrect to say that the advent of multiple large and small players will have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Unified efforts of all the existing and upcoming players, I believe, would mainstream watching live TV through web on multiple devices. What consumers ultimately choose depends on what value they receive for the monthly subscription charges, and the fact that who serves the best purpose.”

The nature of offerings that YouTube may have can change the way Internet content is streamed on TV.  

Ekalavya Bhattacharya, Chief Strategy Officer, ALT Media, expressed his curiosity about YouTube Unplugged, and how the service may eventually turn out to be. He said, “Personally, I'm curious to know more about this platform. I'm hoping it is not just a linear stream of TV channels. YouTube has pretty much led the VOD revolution and it would be surprising if this product is just a linear stream. Of course, the game-changing thing will be if none of the content is geo-blocked. That's when things will become interesting. I'm a huge fan of geographically agnostic content and being able to watch global channels will be great, but that of course comes with its own fair share of issues around rights.

However, this service may have wider implication on the way content is driven across YouTube channels. Bhattacharya concluded, “On a broader note, YouTube will continue be a key part of everyone’s strategy. Be it for promotions, windowing, branded content, eventual subscription etc., the reach of YouTube is undeniable. What one needs to keep in mind though is, platforms and media companies are not in the business of only entertaining audiences. We are all in the business of business, and hence, one will have to tackle YouTube based on their business strategy.”

The television bundle service, YouTube Unplugged, is reportedly in works as of now, and may be actualized by 2017.

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