Google TV is built as a content delivery vehicle for the various streaming apps out there now including Disney+, Netflix, HBO Max, and others, but it seems Google might have loftier ambitions. According to a new report, Google TV is set to add free channels baked directly into the platform.

Protocol reports on the word on multiple industry sources that Google TV is preparing to add free channels in the not-too-distant future. The free channels would be ad-supported with “the look and feel” of traditional TV networks with ad breaks and on-screen graphics. Apparently, the free channels could launch as early as this fall, but could be pushed into early 2022 to fall in line with smart TV partners. The free channels would apparently come to the Chromecast dongle as well as smart TVs from Sony and TCL.

The exactly method of Google adding these free channels is currently unclear, but it seems like that they would appear within the “Live” tab on the platform’s homescreen. So far, that tab has only been used for paid subscription services including YouTube TV and most recently Sling. The report also mentions that this tab would be able to integrate with over-the-air antennas on hardware, namely smart TVs, that support it.

It’s pointed out that this is an approach that has worked out very well for Google’s competition in the space. Samsung says that its users stream “billions of minutes” of free live TV through the company’s “TV Plus” service, and Roku and Amazon have been building out free channels for quite some time now. It is not known what channels Google intends to offer through this service.

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Ben Schoon

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