YouTube to offer live TV streaming service

After Dish, Sony and AT&T, YouTube has become the latest to offer live TV streaming service, while Hulu is also expected to launch one.

Though the services launched earlier had not been huge hits, YouTube aimed to capitalise on its expertise in recommendations and search to stand out.

The YouTube TV, as the new service is called would cost $35 a month for access to about 40 channels when it launches in the next few months, similar to rivals.

But initially it would be limited to a few cities where it had deals with broadcasters. Google currently did not appear to have deals for popular channels such as HBO, AMC and TBS.

The number of traditional TV households in the US has fallen by roughly three million in four years, a decline of about 3 per cent. Online alternatives such as Dish's Sling TV, AT&T's DirecTV Now and Sony's PlayStation Vue had a combined subscriber base of 1.5 million customers in 2016.

However, companies like YouTube are looking to target a substantial number to pay for TV online. Many of these potential customers would be younger people who never had cable and watched shows and movies primarily through online services such as Netflix.

With the new service, users in the US will be able to get access on any connected device to networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, along with "sports networks and dozens of popular cable networks," according to YouTube.

"YouTube TV is designed specifically for the needs of a new generation of TV fans who want to watch what they want, when they want, how they want without commitment," YouTube chief executive Susan WojcickWojcicki said during a press briefing streamed from YouTube offices in Southern California.

YouTube TV would also combine user-created content from the Google-owned online video sharing service, with delivery customised for viewing screens from smartphones to big-screen televisions.