Google TV is reportedly going to add free TV channels soon
Everyone wants a slice of the online streaming video pie, and it seems that Google is the latest to want in on the trend. It appears that the company is looking to add free TV channels to Google TV, the Android-based smart TV platform that powers the Chromecast. It also powers some smart TVs from the likes of Sony and TCL.
According to the report from Protocol, Google has entered into talks with companies distributing free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels. These channels have a familiar feel to traditional cable channels, with ad breaks and on-screen graphics. Protocol reports that these free streaming channels could launch as early as this coming fall, though the company may opt to launch them alongside its smart TV partners in 2022.
As for how it will work, it appears that owners of a Chromecast will be able to browse through channels via a dedicated live TV menu. Currently, the dedicated TV menu is only used for paid TV services like YouTube TV. For smart TVs, it’s expected that these streaming channels will be shown alongside regular over-the-air programming that can be accessed via an antenna.
We’ve seen more and more companies move towards ad-supported streaming, with both The Roku Channel and IMDb TV being two major players in the space. Most smart TV makers directly integrate FAST channels into their program guides, so that you can seamlessly switch between live TV and streaming channels. As a result, FAST channels are effectively a free alternative to cable networking. It’s not clear whether elements of Google’s free TV channels will be entirely on-demand, or if they will also consist of free, linearly scheduled programming.
As Protocol notes, this isn’t Google’s first attempt at free TV streaming. When Android TV launched in 2014, a live channels framework was integrated to aggregate live programming from streaming apps and over-the-air broadcasters. When Google relaunched the Chromecast with Google TV, the company never ported the Live Channels app.