Attempting to lure cord-cutters to smart TVs and Chromecast streaming devices, Google is reportedly considering plans to add several FAST (free, ad-supported streaming television) channels to Google TV this fall.
According to Protocol, multiple industry insiders have confirmed that Google is in talks with several companies about an initiative to add more free streaming channels in order to give Google TV users an experience more closely aligned with traditional linear TV models, including ad breaks and on-screen graphics.
While Google has thus far declined to confirm the rumors, there’s chatter that the channels could make their debut as early as October at the Made by Google event where the Pixel 6 is expected to be launched. However, Android Police reports that those plans are “...still in flux, and Google could end up waiting to announce the initiative along with its smart TV partners in early 2022.”
Currently, Google TV integrates with more than 30 streaming apps and channels, including AMC, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and the Google-owned YouTube TV. While live TV does have its own dedicated menu within Chromecast, Google has thus far only given users the option to access subscription-based services. On smart TVs powered by Google TV, the anticipated over-the-air channels are expected to be accessible via an antenna, similar to the way users of LG and Samsung products are able to access free streaming channels.
The addition of free linear programming has proven itself to be an enticing alternative to basic cable packages in recent years, one that smart TV manufacturers and electronics companies have seized upon. In addition to the linear TV options offered up by LG and Samsung, Roku also recently added more than 200 free channels, and Vizio and Amazon both currently incorporate live TV into their platforms as well.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.