×

Google’s Android TV Wants to Turn Every App Into a TV Channel

ABC, CBS and… TED?

Google has a new plan to surface online video on TV: Publishers of internet video apps can now add linear channels of programming to the company’s Android TV platform, where these channels are going to be available in the same program grid also used to navigate broadcast TV networks.

The new initiative, dubbed Android TV Channels, is being unveiled at Google’s I/O developer conference in San Francisco Thursday. Launch partners include TED, Vevo, the Huffington Post, Bloomberg, the Weather Network, AOL, Pluto, and and the European live-TV streaming service Zattoo.

Owners of an Android TV device can add these channels to their lineup by selecting them in the Play app store on their device. After that, these channels will be listed right next to the traditional TV channels from broadcasters like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox when accessed through the live TV interface of Android TVs that companies like Sony and Sharp started to sell in recent weeks. Consumers will be able to channel-surf broadcast TV networks and online sources, which should make for a much more TV-like viewing experience of online video content.

Google isn’t the first one to experiment with incorporating online content into the traditional program grid; DVR maker TiVo has begun to add Netflix and other apps to its TV guide in select markets. However, Google’s approach for Android TV goes a lot further: The company is asking participating online video providers to actually program their channels in a linear fashion, complete with primetime slots and presumably also lots of early-morning repeats.

Publishers can also add their own ads to their programming, and videos are still available through dedicated apps as well, allowing consumers to explore a publisher’s entire catalog and catch up on shows they may have missed on a linear channel.

These kinds of linear online video can include live programming, but Google’s Android TV product manager Allen Huang suggested during a recent briefing that they could also work well for catch-up content catering to a specific niche of super-fans. Some viewers would love to have a channel that just broadcasts “Friends” reruns for 24 hours nonstop, he said. Google’s goal was to build what he called “the 60/40 box” — a TV device that would successfully mix popular TV content with online video services.

Google first unveiled Android TV at its developer conference in June of 2014. The company has since released a set-top box dubbed the Nexus Player in cooperation with Asus, and video game fans can choose between Android TV-based streaming devices from Nvidia and Razer. Sony, Sharp and Philips are all making Android TV-based TV sets available to consumers this spring as well.

The biggest challenge for Google is that Android TV doesn’t integrate with traditional cable boxes. Consumers will still have to switch their TV input source to access their cable channels, and online video channels won’t be part of that mix anymore. Google has struck deals to build Android TV-based pay TV boxes in countries like France and Korea, but time is on the company’s side: As consumers embrace cord cutting and internet-based services like Sling TV, eventually, everything could become a channel, with consumers being able to mix and match their own personal lineup from traditional TV services and online video sources.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean Regulators Approve Four-Way Streaming Merger

    South Korean regulators have approved the merger of the video services of three local broadcasters and SK Telecom’s streaming app Oksusu. The new service, operating under the name Wavve will launch in September and be Korea’s largest. Proposed in January as a measure to combat the incursion of international video players, the deal was given [...]

  • siriusxm on playstation

    SiriusXM Announces $4 Streaming Plan for Students

    SiriusXM took another step towards taking its subscription service past the car Tuesday: The company announced a new student subscription tier that gives eligible college students access to music and talk radio stations on their mobile and connected devices for $4 per month. Some of the content available for this price includes SiriusXM’s more than [...]

  • Mission - Impossible - 1996

    Stan Australian Streamer Inks Content Deal With Paramount

    Stan, the Australian streaming video firm owned by Nine Entertainment, has signed a content supply deal with Paramount Pictures. The multi-year agreement adds to Stan’s line up of arrangements with Hollywood suppliers that already includes MGM, Disney, and Lionsgate. Subscription video has taken off hugely in Australia, where there are now an estimated 12.3 million [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    ‘Good Boys’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Good Boys.” Ads placed for the comedy had an estimated media value of $4.42 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Janice Lee

    Asian Streamer Viu Adds Wattpad Development Deal

    Multi-territory Asian video streaming service Viu has struck an original content deal with tech-driven story firm Wattpad. Together they aim to develop film and TV series under the Viu Original label. Canada-based Wattpad hosts a vast library of user-generated stories, with a claimed user base of 80 million, including 22 million in the Asia Pacific [...]

  • Oculus Go Product Shot

    Former Oculus Head of Mobile VR Max Cohen Leaves Facebook

    Early Oculus staffer Max Cohen, who at one point led mobile product for the VR unit, has left Facebook this week, Variety has learned. Cohen’s departure is just the latest staff defection for Facebook’s VR team, which recently also lost its head of VR product, Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment. [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Reportedly to Stop Targeting Ads in Videos for Children

    YouTube is finalizing a plan under which it would no longer serve targeted ads in videos that are popular with kids, Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources. The move is intended to appease U.S. regulators that have been investigating whether YouTube violated privacy laws that prohibit online services from collecting data on children, according to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content