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Does YouTube’s new channel store mean the official end of cable?

Streaming services have been dominating, but are we nearing the official death of cable TV with YouTube’s Channel Store?

TV and remote showing Youtube streaming service and channel store

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal revealed YouTube’s plan to sell streaming service subscriptions from its home screen via a “channel store,” according to anonymous sources.

While full details are still under wraps, the feature has reportedly been in development since early 2021 and could be introduced this fall, if all goes according to plan.

YouTube’s “channel store” would function much like current competitors Amazon Prime, Roku, and Apple TV. Users would be able to access their existing streaming subscriptions and initiate new subscription purchases directly from the “channel store” on YouTube’s app or website.

Revenue from subscription purchases made via YouTube’s interface would be split according to the contract signed between Google and the streaming service itself.

The YouTube “channel store” leak occurred just a week before Nielsen reported that in July 2022, for the first time ever, streaming viewers overtook cable viewers in the U.S. by just .4% (34.8% of TV views came from streaming, compared to 34.4% from cable). Of that 34.8%, YouTube came in second place with 7.3% of total streaming views, following streaming leader Netflix with 8.0%.

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With that in mind, the move isn’t just a sweet deal for YouTube – the benefits are clear for streaming providers, too.

Last December’s prediction by consulting company, Deloitte, reported that this year would bring $150 million in streaming subscription cancellations. Some providers are hopeful that teaming up with platforms like YouTube will curb any potential mass exodus of users. More eyeballs on your content + a convenient “Subscribe” button = A major win for anyone lagging behind in the streaming rat race.

YouTube already offers YouTube TV, its own virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD – yeah, I just learned what that is, too) which gives subscribers access to local channels in addition to optional channel bundles including Starz, Showtime, and HBO Max.

However, the “channel store” has been specifically described as offering “a la carte” streaming subscriptions, suggesting that a commitment to YouTube TV won’t be necessary.

Are we hearing the death knell for cable TV? When viewers can begin and end their service subscriptions alongside the first and last episodes of their favorite shows’ new seasons without ever having to leave one app, will convenience eclipse variety? Or has it already?

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Jesse has a B.A. in Women's and Gender Studies from St. Mary's College of Maryland and a PhD in Theatre from the University of Texas at Austin. His research on LGBTQ+ theatre has been published in multiple anthologies and on stage in Austin. At home in Dallas, he enjoys cooking, reading, and spending quality time with his partner and their three dogs.

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