It looks as though Google TV is going to follow the path trodden by Plex and others by introducing live TV: a list of 50 free, ad-supported television channels has been discovered in the Android TV launcher app for Android devices.
The dutiful code digging was done by 9to5Google, and refers to “50 channels of live TV without the need to subscribe, sign-up, or download” that users can enjoy. These channels will apparently cover “news, sports, movies, and shows”.
Google TV already integrates neatly with several live TV apps, including Pluto TV, Philo, and (of course) YouTube TV. However, it seems the update would make these channels available without the need to install any additional apps.
Some of the channels listed in the code include ABC News Live, America’s Test Kitchen, ChiveTV, Hallmark Movies & More, Nature Vision, NBC News Now, Power Nation, Toon Goggles, USA Today and World Poker Tour.
It's a reasonably impressive list, even if it doesn't match up to the likes of Samsung TV Plus – which has more than 200 live channels available for free. As yet there's no indication of when the addition of these channels on Google TV might be made official, and so far Google hasn't said anything about them.
Of course TV platforms is just one of many areas where the big tech giants – Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung – are going head to head against each other, and Google will be keen to get any kind of advantage it can.
Analysis: what's Google TV again?
If you're confused about what Google TV is, we don't blame you. The platform/interface/app made its debut on the Chromecast with Google TV in 2020, and has since been making its way out to various other devices as well.
It started life as a revamped interface for Android TV, and is heavily based on Android TV: you get a more modern look, better search integration across multiple apps, and extra features like a watchlist. By the end of this year, Google is looking to update as many devices as possible from Android TV to Google TV.
At the same time, the Google Play Movies & TV app has been replaced by Google TV on smartphones and tablets. This new app is similar to Google TV on televisions and streaming dongles, only it's running as an app on top of Android rather than a full operating system on a different device.
Wherever you experience Google TV, you can buy and rent digital content, access all your streaming apps, and make use of Google Assistant. You can think of it as a direct competitor to the Apple TV app (not the Apple TV 4K streaming box).