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Report: YouTube signs up CBS for forthcoming TV offering

YouTube has signed up CBS as the first major US network for a new online TV service that it plans to launch early next year, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal and Reuters both reported that YouTube’s parent company, Google, had reached terms with CBS and is in advanced talks with 21st Century Fox and Disney about carrying their networks.

The WSJ said that Google is also in advanced negotiations with NBCUniversal, while Reuters named Viacom as another company that it is close to striking an agreement with.

Both news outlets cited anonymous sources and said that the ‘skinny bundle’ over-the-top offering is likely to launch in the first quarter of 2017, priced somewhere between US$25 and US$40 per month.

The WSJ said that the service, dubbed Unplugged, will consist of live TV channels, will be aimed at cord-cutters or those who have never taken a subscription pay TV offering, and is likely to be separate from the YouTube Red subscription service that YouTube launched in the US last year.

The news comes in the same week that YouTube announced a raft of new commissions for YouTube Red, following strategy that aims to tap into the popularity the site’s home-grown stars.

YouTube’s move into the US over-the-top cable TV market will position it in an increasingly crowded space, with Hulu announcing in May that it too will start to offer streaming of live TV from next year.