Dozens of Free Streaming TV Channels Coming to Google TV, Chromecast
Google TV on Chromecast and some smart TVs may become a more friendly platform for streamers as soon as October, in the wake of plans by Google to add free streaming TV channels to the platform.
According to Protocol, Google has been holding talks with operators of free, ad-supported TV (FAST) channels to add their streaming channels to the platform. In addition, Google has been working with smart TV providers including Sony and TCL.
The announcement could reportedly come as soon at next month’s “Made by Google” event where the Pixel 6 phone may be launched. However, according to Protocol, the launch plans remain in flux and could be pushed off into early 2022.
The free TV channels could be shown in the Chromecast’s Live tab, which currently shows paid TV services like YouTube TV and Sling TV. On smart TVs running the Google TV platform, the channels are more likely to be shown next to the over-the-air programming available via antenna.
A recent report from nScreenMedia predicts that the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST industry) will reach $4.1 billion in 2023 and have 216 million monthly active users. Currently, that industry that consists of services like Tubi, Pluto TV, and The Roku Channel, and is worth about $2.1 billion.
This is not a new move for Google. When Android TV was first unveiled in 2014, it included a live channels framework designed to integrate live programming from streaming apps and over-the-air programming. The framework did not take off, and Google did not add it into Chromecast when the platform was relaunched a year ago.
Samsung has long used a similar strategy, integrating free channels into its smart TV platform through Samsung TV Plus. That platform provides viewers FAST content on an ongoing basis, just as Amazon, Roku, and VIZIO have — integrating the free video content into program guides alongside live TV and streaming channels.
Increased demand for free, ad-supported streaming TV channels is being met by programmers, hungry for a larger audience, crafting plenty of niche FAST channels. For example, AMC Networks has launched multiple FAST channels, including one dedicated to The Walking Dead and another channel featuring comedies from IFC, like Portlandia.
Other media companies, including The Weather Channel, Scripps, Reuters, Meredith, and Bloomberg have their own streaming channels. It is not known which ones will make it to Google TV, but it is expected that Google will work up deals with companies to land access to dozens of free channels.