YouTube is entering the third-party streaming subscription market with the launch of Primetime Channels, a hub where consumers can sign up for Showtime, Starz, Paramount+ and more than 30 other services.
The company confirmed the initiative is starting in the US in a blog post. YouTube users can access Primetime Channels through the Movies & TV area of YouTube. NBA League Pass and other services will be available soon, according to the blog post. Over 300 subscription streaming services are estimated to exist in the US, even though there has been some consolidation in recent years.
Streaming gateways such as Apple, Amazon, Roku and others have long played a key role in the subscription game, as has YouTube parent Google through its Android store. YouTube’s entry into streaming highlights a pivot away from original programming toward distribution and creator-driven content, which has been its traditional strength.
YouTube TV, which launched in 2017, has now become one of the largest pay-TV providers in the US.
The number of streaming options available at launch illustrates a divide that has become evident in the crowded streaming field. A few players in the top ranks, notably Disney and Netflix, have not jumped into the new hub just for the sake of growth. They are more focused on controlling their own subscribers. Prior to WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery, its then-CEO, Jason Kilar, negotiated 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 scaling up even at the cost of trading off a chunk 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 our reach and giving consumers even more choice when it comes to streaming the best in entertainment.”