Sudden death for cable? YouTube talking about streaming live sports

Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) YouTube unit is talking with professional sports leagues about streaming their games live. If it happens--and that's the biggest two-letter word in the dictionary--it could have a major impact on cable which has been using live sporting events as a differentiator with over-the-top competitors like Google, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX).

So far, YouTube has only said that it is "in talks" with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League--hardly sports powerhouses, but with a fan base nevertheless. What's more threatening is word that Google is in talks with "most pro sports leagues."

What that means is anybody's guess. Many sports teams are tied into local broadcasters or cable operators such as Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) in Philadelphia, Cox Communications in San Diego and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI) in Los Angeles so it would be interesting to see if they could extricate themselves to be streamed on a non-cable network.

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