YouTube has launched its live television service in limited markets.
The service, YouTube TV, is now available in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia. For $35 per month, subscribers will have access to live television programming from more than 50 networks including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN. AMC Networks, including AMC, BBC America, IFC and Sundance TV, will also join the service soon. Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus are available for an additional charge.
YouTube TV is the culmination of several years of work at Google-owned YouTube and represents a radical shift in the company's business from its roots as an ad-supported platform for user-generated video to a full-fledged provider of traditional television programming.
"This is such a new marketplace," says YouTube vp content partnerships Kelly Merryman. "Our goal from the beginning was to really listen to our users and understand from them what they loved about TV and what they want changed. What we recognized is that it was really distribution that was a struggle for them. They wanted the experience that they were used to from YouTube, Spotify and Netflix so that they could watch programming anywhere they wanted, whenever they wanted, wherever they wanted, on any device."
She notes that they weren't looking for a complete package of linear television but a combination of popular programming and a good experience. The popularity of AMC's The Walking Dead, for example, led YouTube to strike a deal with the cable programmer, the only company in the bundle that does not also operate a broadcast channel.
In addition to its offering of live, traditional television programming, YouTube TV will also give members access to its slate of YouTube Red originals. But YouTube Red, which offers ad-free viewing and access to those same originals, remains a separate product.
YouTube TV also comes with unlimited cloud DVR that will store shows for up to nine months. The service works on a phone, tablet or computer and will stream to a television using a Google Chromecast. Support for other connected TV devices is expected later this year.
YouTube TV enters a crowded marketing for streaming TV services designed to entice people who don't want to pay a cable company to watch their favorite shows. Already Dish offers Sling TV; Sony has PlayStation Vue; and AT&T has DirecTV Now. Hulu is also working on its own live streaming service.
To entice new users, YouTube is offering a free trial for 30 days and will give new members a Google Chromecast after they make their first month's payment.
YouTube says that YouTube TV will become available in more markets.