YouTube unveils v-MVPD: $35 a month for Big Four broadcast nets and 30 of their cable siblings

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The service will include notable cable networks such as ESPN, USA and FX.

Google formally unveiled its virtual MVPD service Tuesday, YouTube TV, showing off a $35-a-month package that will include each of the Big Four major broadcast networks, as well as top cable-channel siblings from their conglomerate families. 

The streaming service will include a cloud DVR and will feature Netflix-style bifurcation of user accounts and associated user recommendations for up to six individuals. 

The service will include notable cable networks such as ESPN, USA and FX. These channels will be included in an interface that also curates from YouTube’s vast flora and fauna of user-generated content. However, major programming conglomerates like Time Warner Inc., Viacom, Discovery Communications and AMC Networks are not in YouTube’s skinny bundle. 

This means that leading channels like TNT, TBS, AMC, Discovery and MTV are not in the package. Time Warner's HBO won't be available as an extra, either, but CBS Corp.'s Showtime will. Comcast-owned regional sports networks will also be available in some markets. 

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“Given the robust content and service offerings on top of YouTube's massive user base and near-ubiquitous distribution platform, YouTube TV could easily surpass sub levels of competitors. While the economics behind the network deals have not been disclosed, YouTube TV will likely operate at a loss at this early stage,” said Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald.

YouTube Unplugged is the latest virtual MVPD service to enter an increasingly competitive market. Three months ago, AT&T launched DirecTV Now into a fray that already included Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue. A live-streaming service from Hulu is expected to come along shortly. 

“Hulu is probably one of the biggest ones,” Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch said to investors during Dish’s fourth-quarter earnings call last week. “And I would expect that they'll do a good job with their launch. And that will have an impact on our market share, certainly just like I'm sure DirecTV Now had an impact on our market share. Then the question is how quickly will the market grow?”

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