You could soon be able to tune into free TV channels on YouTube as the feature is currently being tested with a small group of users in the US. It would put YouTube in more direct competition with Roku and Plex.
Originally reported by the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab) and later confirmed by YouTube, the channels will be collected in a central hub that will give viewers the choice of what they want to watch, with various content partners signed up.
The idea is, according to YouTube, to “measure viewer interest”. If the new addition is well received by those testing it, it looks like it could see a wider launch later this year.
A key goal
There will also be cuts for YouTube – around 45 percent of advertising revenue, according to the WSJ report. This is exactly the same cut as advertising on YouTube videos, also created by content creators.
“YouTube is the only place viewers can find anything they want, and we’re always looking for new ways to give viewers a one-stop destination to more easily find, watch and enjoy the content that matters most to them to share,” YouTube said gizmodo (opens in new tab).
This is separate from the YouTube TV service, which charges a monthly fee in exchange for a multitude of TV channels streamed over the internet. It is also possible to buy movies and TV shows permanently from the YouTube interface.
Analysis: Television is constantly changing
YouTube has actually been experimenting with TV shows for a long time. Anything purchased through the Google TV interface can be accessed on YouTube, while numerous ad-supported programs have been added to the platform in March last year (opens in new tab).
This move is also in response to what other streaming platforms are doing. We’ve already mentioned Roku and Plex, which also offer free TV channels with ads, Netflix has launched a cheaper tier with ads, and Disney Plus is doing the same in March.
Add in all of the traditional types of television that still exist, and viewers have a massive choice when it comes to what they can watch (and how to watch it) – whether it’s live TV or certain shows.
Of course, YouTube wants to have a lot of eyeballs on its platform for as long as possible, and this is another step in that direction. Also see YouTube Shorts, another recent innovation to boost YouTube’s appeal.
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