YouTube’s new Primetime Channels puts 34 streaming services in one place

YouTube’s new Primetime Channels puts 34 streaming services in one place

YouTube Primetime channels on a TV and smartphone
Magnify / YouTube announced the Primetime Channels feature today.

As many feared, the proliferation of streaming services has made cutting the cord feel a lot like cable TV. Not only do the cheaper monthly subscription fees start to add up, but figuring out which service has the content you want and juggling apps can feel as time-consuming and cumbersome as flipping channels. YouTube’s Primetime Channels announced today aims to change that by unifying and selling content from 34 streaming partners on YouTube.

Primetime Channels begins its US rollout with streaming services from partners including AMC+, Epix, Paramount+, Starz and Showtime available to subscribe to and watch on YouTube’s movies and series. More streaming services, including NBA League Pass, are on the way, said a blog post from YouTube’s director of product management, Erin Teague.

The full list of Primetime Channels partners includes some smaller names.

The full list of Primetime Channels partners includes some smaller names.

Primetime Channels content will be visible alongside all other YouTube content, including in recommendations and when you search purchased content, Teague’s blog said. The executive told The Verge that Primetime Channels content will not receive preferential treatment in recommendations or search results over other content. That means a viral video about Showtime’s Yellowjackets may rank higher than an actual episode of the series when looking at recommendations or search results. You’ll even be able to like, dislike or comment on videos from Primetime Channels, although there won’t be any ratings.

Over the past few years, brands have rushed to push out their own streaming services, leaving viewers inundated with a variety of subscriptions and apps. YouTube’s Primetime channels (not to be confused with Amazon Prime Video, of course) are a sensible way to bring a lot of its paid content to a single platform, which is known for presenting video in a digestible, shareable and, perhaps most importantly, gluttonous way. format.

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YouTube has tried to be a place where people watch regular TV shows and movies, as evidenced by YouTube TV, which offers live viewing on cable networks. But until now, it wasn’t able to get enough of the right partnerships to launch a feature like Primetime Channels.

YouTube told The Wall Street Journal that it plans to expand Primetime Channels outside the US and with local services.
Magnify / YouTube told The Wall Street Journal that it plans to expand Primetime Channels outside the US and with local services.

Streaming partners, meanwhile, hope to see subscription numbers improve with direct access to YouTube’s massive membership.

As The Wall Street Journal noted, YouTube saw its first annual ad sales fall last quarter, making subscription-based revenue all the more important. Despite the decline in ad sales, the WSJ reported that YouTube TV revenue is forecast to reach $9.1 billion in 2022, citing wealth manager Credit Suisse. In a statement to the WSJ, Christian Oestlien, vice president of product management at YouTube, said Primetime Channels could be “as big or even bigger opportunity” than what YouTube TV currently is.

With Primetime Channels, YouTube adds another form of subscription-based revenue. The WSJ reported that YouTube would evenly share revenue from Primetime Channels subscriptions and ad sales with its streaming service partners. Primetime Channels does not offer any significant discounts to new subscribers to partner streaming services.

After Nielsen recently reported that streaming TV was more popular than cable for the first time in the US, it makes sense for YouTube to increase its streaming efforts. According to Nielsen, YouTube (including YouTube TV) represented 7.3 percent of the TV stream in July, falling behind Netflix (8 percent) and “other” (10.2 percent).

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YouTube is not the first service to unify streaming services. There’s Roku, for one, and Amazon Prime Video has content from AMC+, Discovery+, Starz, and Showtime, to name a few, and Verizon’s +play includes content from Disney+ and Netflix. Notably, content from some of streaming’s juggernauts, including Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu, is absent from Primetime Channel’s launch.

However, YouTube seems optimistic about expanding its list of partners, making it increasingly likely that the show or movie you want to watch is available through YouTube.

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