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Google Lining Up Partners for a Streaming TV Service (Report)

Google is getting its ducks in a row to launch a streaming TV service, and it may already have one partner in place.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has reached a deal with CBS to include that network's programming in a new service called Unplugged that will launch sometime in 2017. CBS won't be Google's only partner: Reuters says that Google is also in talks with Fox, Disney and Viacom to include their channels in this bundle of streaming services.

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Google's bundle — known as a skinny bundle since it includes fewer channels than what you'd get from a cable TV subscription — would cost $30 to $40 month, according to reports. The package is aimed at attracting cord cutters who want to stop paying a monthly cable subscription but still want access to their favorite shows.

Should Google's Unplugged service launch, it faces some competition. Sling TV offers a collection of TV channels including ESPN for $20 a month. PlayStation Vue takes a similar approach with packages starting at $40 a month. And then there are other streaming services from Amazon, Hulu and Netflix competing for viewers' eyeballs and subscription fees.

Google may be looking to compete by lining up top networks. According to reports, its CBS partnership would bring all of that network's programming to the streaming service, including NFL games. That's important for Google's streaming service since live sports are a major reason people are still willing to pay up for cable TV.

Of course, negotiating with TV networks isn't the same thing as launching a TV service. For years, Apple had been rumored to be working on a skinny bundle for its Apple TV set-top box until talks with various networks and content providers broke down. It sounds as if Google is farther along in the process, but that Unplugged service remains a rumor until Google can lock down more providers.

Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.