Google TV, just about the “Pixel” experience on top of Android TV on special hardware, already has access to plenty of video content from a spread of streaming sources. The bulk of these sources, like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max, require upfront subscriptions, though they approximately offer free trials for a month. However, there’s a growing trend where innovative TV platforms have started offering a complimentary selection of “live” TV content. It seems that Google is on the brink of doing an equivalent for its Chromecast and other Google TV devices as early as Fall this year.
This isn’t a primary for this market, of course. Samsung’s TV Plus, for instance, 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 try to dodo likewise, and it seems that Google is going to 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 referred to as FAST. There’s an opportunity that this selection of content could launch on Google TV later this Fall, but Google might hold off until early 2022 to match the merchandise cycles of its partners. Additionally to its Chromecast, Google TV is also available on select sets from Sony, TCL, etc.
According to the report, the experience will attempt to mimic the design 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’s thus far only employed by YouTube TV and, more recently, Sling. On smart TVs, there’ll even be room for over-the-air programming coming through the TV’s antenna.
The biggest question, however, is what channels are going to be included during this upcoming election. This Google TV feature will live or die counting on what proportion of exciting content is going to be available, and as Google’s previous Android TV attempt proved, it’d not be a simple thing to tug off.