Google Is Making It Easier to Stream Live Television With a New YouTube TV App
YouTube TV, the online video giant’s live-TV subscription streaming service, is rolling out a new app for over-the-top streaming TV devices. That means the service’s subscribers will no longer be required to only cast live programming to their TV sets (through a Google Chromecast device or tools like Apple’s AirPlay) or watch live shows on a mobile device, tablet, or computer.
“It’s about getting our service on as many platforms as possible and making it accessible to as many consumers as possible however they like to consumer their content in the living room,” Christian Oestlien, YouTube TV’s product management director, tells Fortune.
On Monday, Google said that the new app is immediately available for use with its Android TV streaming devices as well as Microsoft’s Xbox, with YouTube TV planning to roll out versions of the app for a larger range of streaming TV devices in the coming weeks. Those devices will include over-the-top products like Roku and Apple TV, as well as smart TV makers like Samsung, LG, and Sony, among others. “We really hope to be deployed across all of our partners devices by the end of the year,” Oestlien said.
(Earlier this month, Google also added voice-control support for YouTube TV using its Google Home speaker when paired with Chromecast.)
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YouTube TV launched in April of this year as Google’s entry in the live-TV subscription streaming market, which also features rivals like Hulu Live TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV, and Sony’s Playstation Vue. Like its rivals, YouTube TV offers access to a skinny list of live TV channels for less than the average cable TV bill ($35 per month for over 40 channels in YouTube TV’s case). YouTube TV was initially only available in a handful of U.S. markets, but the service has expanded to cover the top 50 markets in the country, representing roughly 68% of American households, the company said. (YouTube does not disclose subscriber totals for YouTube TV.)
Oestlien says that YouTube TV found that more than 50% of the time spent on the service is spent casting live programming onto a television, and that those users are casting YouTube TV for about 4 hours each day. That was enough to convince the company that it needed to roll out a YouTube TV app that works directly on streaming TV devices. “We think it really indicates a huge amount of demand for a great, lean-back living room experience,” Oestlien says.
Users will be able to control the new YouTube TV app with the remote control (or game controller) they already use for their streaming TV device. The app includes a variety of new features, such as the ability to pick up where you left off with a program on another streaming device and a “background playback” feature that allows you to search through different streaming titles while the live programming you were watching continues to play in the background.
The new YouTube TV app also includes several features aimed at sports fans, such as the ability to view team rosters and standings from leagues like the MLB, NFL, and NCAA football when you’re searching for live sporting events. YouTube TV is really pushing its service as an option for streaming live sports, as the service offers ESPN as well as regional and broadcast networks’ live sporting events.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, YouTube announced a new partnership with the MLB, aimed at bringing more sports fans to the service, that includes several ads and in-game callouts for YouTube TV that have aired during the 2017 World Series.
CORRECTION: This article originally misspelled the name of Christian Oestlien, YouTube TV’s product management director.