Google TV, pretty much the “Pixel” experience on top of Android TV on select hardware, already has access to tons of video content from a variety of streaming sources. The majority of those sources like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max require upfront subscriptions, though they do offer free trials for a month or so. There is a growing trend, however, where smart TV platforms have started offering a free selection of “live” TV content, and it seems that Google is close to doing the same for its Chromecast and other Google TV devices as early as Fall this year.
This isn’t a first for this market, of course. Samsung’s TV Plus, for example, has been expanding to more countries and devices, advertising billions of minutes of free linear content. The success of this strategy has inspired others like Roku and Vizio to do likewise, and it seems that Google will be jumping on the bandwagon soon.
According to Protocol’s sources, Google has been talking with companies offering free, ad-supported streaming TV channels, also known as FAST. In fact, there is a chance that this selection of content could launch on Google TV later this Fall, but Google might hold off until early 2022 to match the product cycles of its partners. In addition to its own Chromecast, Google TV is also available on select sets from Sony, TCL, and others.
According to the report, the experience will try to mimic the look and feel of traditional TV networks, putting ads as commercial breaks and adding on-screen graphics. These channels will be added to Google TV’s Live TV tab that is so far only used by YouTube TV and, more recently, Sling. On smart TVs, there will also be room for over-the-air programming coming through the TV’s antenna.
The biggest question, however, is what channels will be included in this upcoming selection. This Google TV feature will live or die depending on how much interesting content will be available, and as Google’s previous Android TV attempt proved, it might not be an easy thing to pull off.