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Google TV has announced a significant update that aims to expand access to free streaming TV on its smart TV operating system. The update will now integrate access to free streaming channels like Tubi, Plex, and Haystack News directly into its redesigned Live tab alongside its existing lineup of channels from free streamer Pluto TV. With this integration, Google TV is organizing its own set of more than 800 free live TV channels, including news channels from NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX, and others featuring popular shows like “Westworld,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and “The Walking Dead.”
The company claims that this expansion will make Google TV the platform offering the most free TV channels within one electronic programming guide. The expansion of FAST (free ad-supported television) channels is driven in part by inflation and the channels’ relative ease of access. FAST channels offer a more traditional cable TV-like experience where content streams live when you tune in, which may appeal to new cord-cutters. Many FAST channel providers also do not require accounts to begin watching, making it easy to get started.
Several services have adopted FAST channels as a way to reach price-sensitive viewers while still generating ad revenue for the service provider. Roku’s popular free streaming hub, The Roku Channel, hosts over 300 free live TV channels, in addition to its 80,000+ free movies and TV shows. A TiVo survey last year ranked Roku’s hub as the most popular ad-supported streaming service, with a 21.5% market share among consumers. Amazon’s Fire TV offers a similar experience with Freevee, a free-streaming hub that also includes free live TV channels. Pluto TV, Xumo, Plex, Crackle Plus, Xperi, and others have also long offered FAST content to viewers.
Google TV’s new experience will include programming in over 10 languages, including Spanish, Hindi, and Japanese. The channels will offer a wide range of content, including news, blockbuster movies, true crime, classic TV reruns, cooking shows, and more. Some of the new premium content, like “Westworld,” comes from licensing deals. Google has prioritized offering channels in a variety of different languages to cater to its diverse audience.
In addition to organizing the free channels, Google says viewers who subscribe to paid services like YouTube TV or Sling TV will be able to watch those channels in the new Live tab as well. Moreover, if viewers use an antenna to capture over-the-air channels, those will also be fed into this new experience.
Google says the new live TV experience launches starting today to all Google TV devices in the U.S., including its Chromecast with Google TV and TVs with Google TV built-in from Sony, TCL, Hisense, and Philips. The company later this year plans to bring the new TV guide and free channels to Android TV devices, expanding its reach to a wider audience. With this significant update, Google TV is well-positioned to become a top destination for cord-cutters and price-sensitive viewers who are looking for a more traditional cable TV-like experience.