Do you miss the pre-streaming days of clicking through a TV guide? What about stumbling upon three-quarters of an action flick or the last 15 minutes of My Cousin Vinny in a delightful channel-browsing haze? Well Google TV has a remedy for your nostalgia. The smart TV operating system is moving forward into the streaming future with something of a blast from the past….but only for those in the United States.
Google TV has expanded its lineup of free, ad-supported streaming (FAST) channels for customers who own one of the company’s smart TVs or enabled Chromecast devices. In total, through new integrated access to streaming services like Tubi and Plex, existing content from Pluto TV, and the launch of Google’s own line-up, there are now more than 800 browse-able, free channels on Google TV, according to a Tuesday press release.
Google’s channels include streaming versions of NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox. Other popular content like HBO shows loaned to partner streams (see: Westworld on Tubi) is also now available. In total, Google says it offers channels in more than 10 languages including Spanish, Japanese, and Hindi.
That myriad of shows, movies, news and other content can be found on Google TV’s redesigned “Live” tab. Navigating to Live now brings up a new, old-school style TV guide menu that displays a programming schedule, sorted into different categories and timeslots. Unlike what many have come to associate with streaming, Google’s Live FAST channels don’t allow users to select a show by episode or start at the beginning of a movie. Instead, content is pre-scheduled and screened at certain times. There are ads you cannot skip. It should be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched cable television.
Google TV customers can also add other paid live TV services to their Google Live menu (i.e. if you have YouTube TV or a satellite dish). The company claims this means Google now offers “more free TV channels in one place than any other smart TV platform.”
It may seem counterintuitive for streaming to backtrack towards the days of ad-based cable. But the number of subscription services has been skyrocketing, and people are apparently eager for alternative content streams that don’t each require a separate monthly payment. One Comcast analysis found that FAST viewership doubled between 2021 and 2022.
For now, Google’s expanded menu of live content is available to those with enabled Chromecast devices and televisions that have Google TV built-in like Sony and Philips smart TVs. Later this year, the company plans to offer its TV guide and free channels to certain Android devices as well.
This article has been updated since it was first published.
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