Google has announced that it’s jumping in with both feet on “Free Ad-supported Streaming” (FAST). Effective immediately, it’s layered in 800-plus channels on its GoogleTV service, a smart TV operating system that runs on television sets, digital media players, soundbars, and set-top boxes.
Until now, its content depended on aggregating an estimated 50 better-known brands such as A&E, Comedy Channel, FoxNow, Disney+, and Peacock.
Now joining the lineup will be free live-linear channels such as Tubi, Plex, three channels devoted to nothing but “CSI,” classic movie channels, a “90201” channel, Hindi/Spanish/Japanese channels, Hallmark movies, and various national and local news channels among the 800 additional choices.
“From breaking news to blockbuster movies and everything in between, there's something for everyone. And with no subscriptions or fees, it's never been easier to jump in and start watching,” Google’s Nick Staubach said.
Everything will be available via the new “Live” tab and scrolling down a cable line-up. Plus, to make it as hassle-free as possible, there are no downloads or app installations necessary. The Live tab can be found on any TV that has Chromecast pre-loaded, which includes Google TV devices and ones that it powers like TCL, Phillips, TCL, and Sony.
What this could mean to Roku
In its announcement, Google said it now has "more free TV channels in one place than any other smart TV platform." That's a shot across the bow of Roku for sure, and since Google is the proverbial elephant in a lot of rooms, not to mention having had a spat with Roku before, this could put Roku in a tough spot.
Maybe we should’ve said a “tougher spot.” A recent report by S&P Market Intelligence found that Google's Android TV, and its offspring, Google TV, are tightening up any gap with Roku's dominance in the U.S.
This high noon showdown could be interesting, but what it could really do is elevate the consumer’s choices and availability of content. As they say, stay tuned…