Author(s): Raghu Gopal
On Monday, Google announced a new YouTube TV app for smart TVs, streaming devices and games consoles. The app will make it easier for users of the live TV streaming service to bring video content to the living room. Previously, to view content on a TV screen, subscribers had to use a Chromecast device to cast programming or watch it on a mobile device, tablet or computer.
The new app will be available on devices running the Android TV platform including smart TVs. It will also be released for Microsoft's Xbox console and a range of streaming products like Roku and Apple TV. Although it doesn't necessarily eliminate the need for an intermediary device, YouTube TV now behaves more like a traditional TV broadcast service, making it more natural to pull content into the family room.
YouTube TV was launched in April 2017 as Google's entry into the market for live-TV subscription streaming services. Google acquired YouTube back in 2006. It had a vision that the future of broadcast TV would look a lot more like a video-on-demand service such as YouTube, which should be agnostic to devices and location, allowing customers to watch content on a range of devices.
Google is, of course, not alone in offering Internet-based video services. YouTube TV rivals include Hulu Live Now, AT&T's DirecTV Now, Dish Network's Sling TV and Sony's PlayStation Vue (see Battle for Living Room Intensifies in US). At $35 per month for over 40 channels of live TV, Google charges less than most cable companies. The platform was initially only available in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco, but it has since expanded to cover the top 50 markets in the US, reaching roughly 68 percent of US households.
Furthermore, Google is pushing the YouTube TV app as a way to view live sports — the company is promoting the service at the Major League Baseball World Series — as it offers access to ESPN as well as live sports events shown by regional and network broadcasters.
The industry is seeing a renewed focus on improving the TV experience, as more and more people prefer to watch content on large devices. According to Google, over half of all viewing on YouTube TV has been through a Chromecast device on the big screen. Many providers are once again turning their attention to apps on TVs because of the prohibitive nature of some services that require users to subscribe to a specific TV set-top box and broadband supplier. The trend is also an opportunity for providers to boost adoption of their 4K offerings.
For Google, TV is a new opportunity for placing ads throughout the US and for helping advertisers reach their targets. Nobody knows their consumers better than Google. Ultimately, the company can work with content owners and providers to help create a fluid advertising market, in which ads are tailored to each household and viewer. Google isn't just releasing an app, but a continuation of an ecosystem that's reaching deeper into the living room. It's offering more variety at a time when top broadcasters such as Comcast and Charter report increased cord-cutting.