Google TV recently announced that it now provides access to more than 800 live TV channels. For free.
That number is pretty staggering. And, if you’re like me, your initial reaction to reading a headline like that is probably: “What’s the catch?”
Money expert Clark Howard is a big fan of free streaming TV and has many of those freebie apps loaded on his personal television, so I figured it was worth investigating this “800 free live TV channels” claim to see what the fuss is all about.
In this article, I’ll look at what is actually included in this list of channels, how you can access them and help you determine if it’s worth bothering.
How Is Google TV Offering 800 Live TV Channels for Free?
Let’s start with the bad news: You’re not getting top TV channels like ESPN, HGTV, TBS or TNT for free via Google TV. Those still require a monthly fee via live TV streaming or traditional cable or satellite TV.
Instead, you’re getting an aggregation of lesser-known free channels via several sources.
If you visit the “Live” tab on your Google TV device’s home screen, you’ll get access to popular freebie channels like:
- NBC News Now
- CBS News
- FOX Weather
- CBS Sports HQ
The total channels available in this aggregation strategy climbs to over 800 as they’re all presented together on a menu via the “Live” tab. That’s how they’re making this claim.
This may be disappointing news if the headlines got your hopes up for free premium channels. But it’s still pretty neat that you can find so much content from your streaming device’s home screen without opening any apps.
Take a look at this illustration of how it works on a Google TV device:
You can tag your favorite channels to easily access them on the menu and can find content in several different languages.
What Do I Need to Access These Free Channels?
The “live TV” experience is available on most Google TV devices in the United States as of April 12, 2023.
The cheapest way to gain access likely is a Chromecast with Google TV, which can typically be purchased for $30. It’s also possible that your smart TV has Google TV already installed.
The devices that should have access now include:
- Chromecast with Google TV
- Sony smart TVs with Google TV
- TCL smart TVs with Google TV
- Hisense smart TVs with Google TV
- Philips smart TVs with Google TV
I was able successfully access this from my Chromecast with Google TV by selecting the “Live” tab via my home screen menu.
Google says it plans to bring the new live TV guide and free channels to other eligible Android TV devices later this year.
Final Thoughts: Is This Worth Trying Out?
Google TV has many streaming enthusiasts talking after headlines spread about the access to 800 free channels in one spot.
Those who were hoping for free access to legacy networks or live sports are likely disappointed to learn that it’s actually a free streaming channel aggregation tool.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still pretty cool.
I think it’s worth trying out if you have a Google TV device.
The ability to access content from several of the top free streaming TV services in one spot is nice. And the interface is both easy-to-use and reminiscent of a legacy cable guide menu, so there should be some familiarity and comfortability for most users.
Are you going to try out this new free streaming option? Share your experiences with us in the Clark.com community!