YouTube Is Joining the Skinny Bundle Party

The skinny bundle has been delivering big value for cable operators recently, but can it do the same for YouTube and Hulu?

In an effort to lure cord-cutters to its network, YouTube is reportedly readying a paid subscription service called Unplugged that would offer cable-like bundles of television channels streamed online. According to Bloomberg, the online video giant is currently in talks with major media companies, including Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, Viacom, Twenty-First Century Fox, and CBS Corp., and has not yet acquired any rights to content.

It hopes to create a viable package for under $35 per month, but is said to be struggling to obtain the desired channels at the right price—an uphill battle that has, in the past, stymied similar efforts by other companies, including Apple and Intel.

This news broke on the same day that Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed his company’s developing plan to bundle cable and network channels as part of a larger series of programming and advertising deals. The starting price point for its main bundled package is rumored to be at $40 per month.

By all estimates, these streaming entities have a tough road ahead, due to steep prices and pushback from content providers. And YouTube, in particular, has its own set of challenges. It is a global presence that has no stake in traditional TV, so it’s hard to imagine the reasoning behind this strategy. It also has an audience that likes to get things for free.

But with media companies searching for new distribution and tech companies showing more interest in TV, a future partnership can’t be discounted too quickly.

The cable space is definitely changing. The question is—who will be most likely to succeed?