Google TV takes on Roku with over 800 free TV channels

It’s adding ad-supported live content from Tubi, Plex and Hasystack News.


Google TV is becoming more like basic cable. The company announced today it’s adding content from several new providers to make browsing ad-supported live TV channels a central part of the platform. The news comes several months after the company was reportedly negotiating with media companies to add similar content to YouTube.

Starting today, Google TV is adding Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television (FAST) channels from Tubi, Plex and Haystack News to its existing FAST content from Pluto TV. In addition, Google is adding “built-in channels from Google TV that you can watch without even downloading or launching an app.” The company says the service now aggregates over 800 free channels.

FAST is the industry term for ad-supported “linear streaming content,” meaning it’s broadcast at specific times like traditional television. (Think standard afternoon programming on TNT or TBS.) Already embraced by competitors like Roku, FAST channels turn streaming into an experience akin to channel-surfing in the old days — further proving that live TV streaming has essentially become cable sent through a different pipe.

Google says the content will include shows like Westworld (which Warner Bros. Discovery removed from HBO Max), Law & Order: SVU and The Walking Dead. Additionally, it includes news content from NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. It also has international programming in more than 10 languages, including Spanish, Japanese and Hindi. In addition, the programming is organized in an updated TV guide, which Google says makes browsing easier and faster. The Google TV Live tab will also include content from YouTube TV or Sling TV (if you subscribe), putting all your live TV content in one spot.

Although the Google TV changes arrive beginning today, the company says it will roll it out “over the coming weeks,” (a Google classic) so you may have to wait a bit before trying it. First, of course, you’ll need a Google TV device like Chromecast with Google TV or a television from Sony, TCL, Hisense and Philips with Google TV built-in. The company says the feature will trickle down to Android TV devices later this year.