At an event in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, YouTube may have just changed college football forever.
Okay, that statement may be getting ahead of things just a bit, but it's not hard to see how we could get there.
The Internet's official home for cat videos announced the creation of YouTubeTV, a streaming service includes nearly every channel on which college football is played -- ABC, CBS, FOX, CBS, the ESPN family of networks, Fox Sports 1 and BTN. The best part for consumers? YouTube TV will cost only $35 a month, with personalization options for up to six members on each account.
The full offering:
But one doesn't have to squint too hard to see how the best part for consumers could be the worst news for conferences. ESPN's business model is funded by a $7 per month per subscriber fee charged to each cable and satellite provider, a cost which providers then pass along to consumers. But, as we know, cable subscriptions are dropping -- 40 percent of millennials do not have cable -- and, as a result, ESPN subscriptions are dropping by about 300,000 per month (other networks are also losing subscribers; they just don't have as many subscribers to lose). We haven't seen how much of that $35 monthly subscription will make its way to Bristol, but if ESPN doesn't get 20 percent of the overall take, the entire college football ecosystem becomes an expensive game of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie:
If ESPN makes less money, it will have less money to pay conferences
If conferences make less money from TV, they will have less money to give their schools
If schools bring home less money, they'll have less money to pay coaches
The reality is likely a lot more complicated than that. It's not like Comcast, Spectrum, DirecTV and the like will take their demise lying down.
"It’s a testament to the way that YouTube works with partners of all sizes that we’re able to offer up the lineup that we have today," YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan said Tuesday. "We feel we’re in a great position to reinvent the way TV works. No other company in the world has more experience serving high quality video over the internet, high-def streaming, apps that don’t crash, and seamless integration with mobile and web."
In the end, the dollars will go toward an avenue where advertisers can find eyeballs -- wherever that medium happens to be. The nature of how people consume television is changing drastically -- "connected" TV grew by two-thirds last year alone -- but it hasn't touched college football. Not yet, at least.
Tuesday's announcement may change that.