For those of us who don’t have a Samsung TV or mobile device, like yours truly, the offerings of the company’s TV Plus streaming service have been a mystery—until now. It turns out that Samsung launched a web version of its free, ad-supported TV Plus a few months back, but just didn’t tell a lot of people about it.
According to a new report in Protocol, the web service for TV Plus appears to have soft-launched in May. Besides making TV Plus available to nearly everyone, Samsung also updated its mobile app with the ability to project its streaming service to Google Chromecast devices in July. Considering the insular nature of TV Plus until now, these moves represent the company’s big, although timid, steps into the free streaming wars.
A Samsung spokesperson told the outlet that TV Plus had indeed launched in Q2 but did not specify a date.
Samsung TV Plus offers free live TV and linear programming, which is what traditional scheduled TV is referred to as. The company explains on its website that the service does not require a subscription, introduce new fees, or ask for a credit card. It isn’t exactly new either. Samsung launched the service, which resembles what you would expect from cable TV, in 2016. This gives users access to broadcast networks and TV Plus offerings, Protocol noted.
Users in the U.S. can access about 170 channels from a variety of genres, from news and game shows to gaming and reality TV, among others. There’s even a channel with South Korean dramas, called AsianCrush, which are my current bread and butter.
TV Plus has been a hit among Samsung users, executives said last year, accounting for billions of minutes watched every month. It is one of the five most-used apps on Samsung smart TVs and has been installed on nearly 50 million TVs worldwide.
Whether TV Plus will be a success with users outside the Samsung ecosystem is an open question. It enters a crowded space, with free competitors like Peacock, the Roku Channel, Pluto TV, and Tubi. While TV Plus’ channels are eye-catching, looking at the listing and considering all the other services available reminds me of how I felt when I was younger and went into a Forever 21 store—overwhelmed, exhausted, and happy to stick with what I have.