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YouTube launches Primetime Channels

YouTube is getting into the third-party streaming subscription game, launching Primetime Channels, a hub where consumers can sign up for Showtime, Starz, Paramount+ and more than 30 other services.

The initiative is starting in the U.S., the company confirmed in a blog post. Visitors to YouTube can access Primetime Channels via the Movies & TV area of YouTube. NBA League Pass and other services are coming soon, the blog post indicated. While there has been a bit of consolidation in the past couple of years, most estimates peg the total number of subscription streaming services in the U.S. at more than 300.

Apple, Amazon, Roku and other streaming gateways have long been key stakeholders in the subscription game, as has YouTube parent Google via its Android store. For YouTube, the entry into channel vending accentuates a pivot it has been executing, away from original programming and toward its traditional strength in distribution and creator-driven content. YouTube TV, which launched in 2017, is now one of the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. and Nielsen’s monthly measurement of total viewing in September found that YouTube hit a new record level. On a corporate level, YouTube is coming off its first year-to-year decline in advertising revenue in the third quarter, though YouTube Shorts has emerged as a growing complement to the main arena of YouTube.

The menu of streaming options at launch reflects a divide that has become more apparent in the crowded streaming field, with a few players in the top ranks, notably Disney and Netflix, not jumping into a new hub in the name of boosting scale. Their emphasis is more on aiming to control their own subscriber destiny. Prior to WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery, its then-CEO, Jason Kilar, took a stand by negotiating a presence on Amazon outside of the tech giant’s Amazon Channels arena. Other companies like Paramount and AMC Networks, meanwhile, are more focused on gaining scale even at the cost of trading off a portion of new streaming revenue and also some valuable customer data tied to those sign-ups.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with YouTube to offer customers of Paramount+ another way to stream the content they love,” Jeff Schultz, chief strategy officer and business development officer for Paramount Streaming, said in the blog post. “This new feature gives us the opportunity to expand our presence on YouTube, broadening out reach and giving consumers even more choice when it comes to streaming the best in entertainment.” Deadline

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