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YouTube Announces Cable-Free TV Subscription Service

YouTube is giving viewers a way to tune in live to their favorite shows, without a cable or satellite subscription.

The company announced a live and on-demand streaming TV service called "YouTubeTV" on Tuesday. The subscription, which will cost $35 a month for a family plan of up to six accounts, is expected to launch in the next few months in the U.S. Currently there are no plans for international service.

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Subscribers will have access to up to 40 networks, as well as YouTube creator content like original content from subscription service YouTube Red.

Channels include all broadcast channels, including NBC, and cable channels like USA, FX, Freeform, ESPN, Fox Sports and NBC Sports. Users can add Showtime and soccer programming for an additional fee.

"There's no question that millennials love great TV content, but what we've seen is they don't want to watch it in the traditional setting," said YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at a press event.

The over-the-top service will let people wach on any device. Users can also record as many programs as they want. Some content with restrictions, like NFL games, may be blocked on mobile but will be available on TV and on desktop.

Image: youtube
YouTube Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in New York, NY John Brecher / NBC News

People will be able to stream to their TVs using Chromecast when the service launches, with additional devices to be added in the future. In addition, Google Home and Google Cast will allow people to speak to their TVs to control their TV experience in the near future. (The voice search functions failed during the demo on Tuesday, proving more work needs to be done.)

Google and its network partners will have the ability to sell ads for an additional revenue stream.

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The news comes at a time when more Americans are open to cutting the cord. A study from research firm GfK said a quarter of American homes don't subscribe to a pay TV service, with 6 percent only using the internet to watch their favorite shows on a TV using a device like Apple TV or Roku. A recent U.S Energy Information Administration survey shows 2.3 televisions were used in American homes in 2015, down from an average of 2.6 televisions per household in 2009. The number of homes with three or more TVs declined, while the number of homes without a TV grew.

Google will have competition in the space. Hulu is planning is own over-the-top service this year, with CBS, Fox and Disney -- including ESPN --among the networks which have signed on.

Note: Hulu is partially owned by NBCUniversal, which is the parent company of NBC.