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CBS has become the first major network to sign up for YouTube’s upcoming over-the-top Internet television service according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
People familiar with the matter tell the Journal that Google is also close to signing a distribution deal with 21st Century Fox and is conducting advanced talks with Comcast’s Walt Disney Co. and NBCUniversal. Variety also corroborated the Journal’s report.
Rumors surfaced earlier this year that YouTube would be launching an over-the-top television service called Unplugged that’ll debut in early 2017 at the soonest.
Like rivals Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, the idea behind Unplugged is to offer consumers a low-cost option to pay-TV targeting both cord-cutters and those that may have never done business with traditional cable and satellite providers.
Both Apple and streaming provider Hulu are reportedly building streaming TV services. AT&T is also working on a DirecTV-powered streaming video service that’s likely to arrive by the end of the year, setting the stage for what could quickly become a crowded market.
CBS and YouTube aren’t exactly strangers. Nearly a decade ago, the two reportedly flirted with a partnership that would have let YouTube host clips from various CBS shows after they aired on broadcast television. A deal would have created additional revenue for both parties but ultimately fell apart as the two sides couldn’t agree on how best to implement it.