Soon you can tune into YouTube TV channels for free, 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 the likes of Roku and Plex.
Originally reported by the Wall Street Journal (Opens in a new tab) And later confirmed by YouTube, the channels are grouped together into a central hub that gives viewers a choice of what to watch, with multiple content partners involved.
The idea is to “gauge viewer interest,” according to YouTube’s statement. If the new addition is positively accepted by those who are testing it, it could apparently roll out more widely sometime later this year.
There will also be a cut for YouTube — about 45 percent of ad revenue, according to the report in the Wall Street Journal. This is exactly the same cut that is made from advertising on YouTube videos that content creators also make.
“YouTube is the one place where viewers can find everything they want, and we’re always looking for new ways to provide viewers with a centralized destination to more easily find, watch, and share the content most important to them,” YouTube told Gizmodo. (Opens in a new tab).
This is separate from the YouTube TV service, which charges a monthly fee for a variety of TV channels broadcast across the web. It is also possible to purchase movies and TV shows permanently through the YouTube interface.
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YouTube has actually been testing TV shows for a long time. Anything purchased can be accessed via the Google TV interface on YouTube, while several ad-supported programs were added to the platform in March last year. (Opens in a 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 introduced a cheaper tier with ads, and Disney Plus did the same in March.
Throw in all the traditional ways of watching TV that’s still out there, and viewers have a huge amount of choice when it comes to what they can watch (and how they can watch it) – whether that’s live TV or set shows.
Of course YouTube wants as many eyeballs on its platform for as long as possible, and this is another step in that direction. Also check out YouTube Shorts, another innovation introduced recently to broaden YouTube’s appeal.