Google’s internet-TV service is adding 24-hour linear channels from Tastemade, a travel, food and lifestyle media company, and TYT, which focuses on news commentary, politics and entertainment. Both will join the YouTube TV lineup starting Thursday.
For YouTube, one of the key motivations behind the deals is to tap into the large online followings of Tastemade and the Young Turks, to potentially lure new subscribers to YouTube TV and its core lineup of 50-plus traditional broadcast and cable networks.
“We’ve seen them build huge and engaged audiences over the years [on YouTube],” said Heather Moosnick, director of content partnerships, YouTube TV. “In news and lifestyle, these are really compelling content areas for us. We’re excited to see them join the rest of the best of television, which YouTube TV already carries.”
It’s not the first internet-native channel YouTube has pulled onto the service: Last month YouTube TV announced a pact with Cheddar to add the millennial-focused media startup’s flagship financial-news programming as a dedicated channel along with the general-interest Cheddar Big News channel.
The original vision of YouTube TV, according to Moosnick, was to combine traditional TV with top YouTube content producers: “This marks the beginning of that true evolution.” Several digital-media companies have approach YouTube TV about carrying linear versions of their content, and YouTube is in talks with other partners about launching 24-hour channels, she said.
For their new linear channels, Tastemade and TYT are producing original shows representing several hundred hours of original programming, which will be available only to subscribers. That includes 10 new series to roll out from Tastemade over the course of 2018, and four new shows from TYT Network at launch (with more to come later in the year).
YouTube sets “a pretty high bar for content that has to live on these channels in order for us to carry them,” Moosnick said. “The product, the talent and the shows already speak for themselves for the engagement they’ve been able to create already.”
The Tastemade and TYT linear networks are not exclusive to YouTube TV. “We would expect them to distribute those to other platforms as well,” Moosnick said.
Larry Fitzgibbon, Tastemade’s co-founder and CEO, said the launch of his company’s linear TV channel on YouTube TV is a watershed moment. “We think it’s massive. It’s enabling a new set of consumers to engage with our brand,” he said. “There’s a massive opportunity for us to increase consumer consumption and advertising [revenue].”
Tastemade hopes to strike distribution deals for the linear TV channel with other internet pay-TV players as well as traditional cable and satellite providers. Fitzgibbon noted that YouTube TV does not carry networks from Scripps Networks Interactive, home of HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network, “so we will be the food and travel channels on the service.” Also absent from YouTube TV’s lineup are Discovery — which now owns Scripps — Viacom and A+E Networks, as well as HBO. (It’s also worth noting that Scripps is an investor in Tastemade, which was founded in 2012.)
YouTube TV’s “skinny bundle” — relatively cheap at $40 per month — competes with an array of offerings including DirecTV Now, Sling TV, Hulu’s live TV package, Sony PlayStation Vue, and FuboTV. After adding Turner’s networks earlier this year, Google raised the price of YouTube TV to $40 per month for new subscribers (up from the initial $35 monthly price).
In addition to new digital channels like those from Tastemade, TYT and Cheddar, YouTube has leaned into adding local TV stations. YouTube TV is now available in 99 U.S. markets, with all four big broadcasters — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — now accessible to over 70% of the nation’s TV households. Meanwhile, YouTube TV also include access to YouTube original series, including the popular “Cobra-Kai” series (an offshoot of the “Karate Kid” movies); those have been available through the YouTube Red subscription service, which is going away — replaced by YouTube Premium ($12 monthly) for access to ad-free video and originals and YouTube Music ($10 monthly).
Cenk Uygur, founder and CEO of TYT Network, has been eagerly anticipating the arrival of internet-delivered TV for years. Previously, TYT-produced programming has aired on cable networks Current TV, Fusion, and MSNBC. “We were planning for a ‘YouTube TV’ before OTT platforms even existed,” Uygur said in a prepared statement. “With YouTube TV, that vision is realized.”
The deals with Tastemade and TYT Network include video-on-demand content but the vast majority of viewing on YouTube TV is of live television, Moosnick said — which is why it was important to introduce them as cable-style, always-on networks. She declined to discuss financial terms of the pacts but said “this is content that is being sold in a premium way” alongside traditional TV nets.
YouTube TV has rights to sell a portion of the ad inventory on Tastemade, TYT and Cheddar channels, as it does with cable TV networks it carries. That ad inventory is being sold through the Google Preferred program, with campaigns slated to begin running on YouTube TV in Q4.
Tastemade, in addition to some repurposed library content, will introduce a slate of original programming to air on YouTube TV including:
- “Her Move”: Host Saada Ahmed travels the globe to meet trailblazing women who are influencing their communities in India, South Africa, South Korea, Colombia, Ethiopia and other countries;
- “Origins”: French-Filipino chef Erwan Heussaff travels to the remote islands of the Philippines to discover the people, places and ingredients that define his home country.
- “Weird Food Jobs”: Show featuring offbeat gigs like bubble-gum tester, chicken sexer and dog-food taster.
- “Budget vs Baller”: Follows the adventures of Marko and Alex Ayling of the VagaBrothers, who will experience the same destination on drastically different daily budgets.
- “Just Jen”: studio cooking and lifestyle show that brings the homemade videos of Tastemade personality Jen Phanomrat to a long-form TV show.
TYT Network’s 24-hour television channel will feature existing programming including “The Young Turks” — the first daily video show on YouTube in 2005 — “TYT Interviews,” “NerdAlert,” “What The Flick?!,” “Think Tank,” and “Pop Trigger.”
TYT is rolling out four new original series exclusively for the linear channel:
- “The Damage Report”: morning show hosted by John Iadarola focused the most critical issues facing the U.S. today;
- “#NoFilter”: analysis and commentary from TYT host Ana Kasparian;
- “The Happy Half Hour”: hosted by Brett Erlich, it’s a more upbeat and lighter look at the “not bad” news of the week;
- “Old-School Sports”: TYT Sports host Rick Strom revisits and analyzes classic games and rivalries.