Owners of Google TV are set to get a nice bonus in the near future, according to an app teardown from 9to5Google. The streaming platform is due to get 50 free, ad-supported streaming channels for owners to flick between if they can’t find anything they want to binge on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
Breaking down the latest version of the Android TV launcher app, 9to5Google found pretty explicit evidence that Google aims for its hardware to be more competitive with the likes of Samsung TV Plus, which comes included with Samsung’s smart TVs.
“Enjoy 50 channels of live TV without the need to subscribe, sign-up, or download,” hidden text within the app reads. This is an interesting distinction from the options available at the moment, which require you to download apps. From the sounds of it, these will just be instantly available to all, even if they don’t sign in.
You can get a taste of some of the channels from the graphic the site found at the top of the page.
Bluntly, there’s an element of quantity over quality here. The news channels certainly offer an impressive range of options, with ABC, CBC and NBC all present and correct, but there’s plenty of filler in the entertainment categories. Divorce Court, Deal or No Deal and World Poker Tour feel distinctly more "filler than killer".
But maybe that’s what this is best for. People with Google TV will presumably subscribe to at least one of the big streaming services, where blockbuster box sets are the order of the day. These channels offer a bit of nostalgic channel-hopping meandering between the algorithm-driven focus of Netflix or Disney Plus. In any case, you can’t really argue with free.
The plan for free TV channels on Google TV was first reported by Protocol last year, with the report suggesting that the channels will “have the look and feel of traditional linear TV networks, complete with ad breaks and on-screen graphics.”
The report originally pegged the unveiling for fall 2021 or early 2022, so it looks like plans were somewhat delayed. With the graphic and channel list built into the latest Android TV app, however, it looks like Google may nearly be ready for show time.