As the definition of “watching TV” moves further away from meaning “paying for cable,” a number of major tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google, Roku and others, are angling to make their streaming media player the connected TV box of choice for those cutting the cord. Google actually has two entrants in this space: its recently upgraded Chromecast dongles and a larger media player platform called Android TV. The latter was updated this week with an expanded range of applications, including those from HBO, CBS, Disney and others, that will make the player more competitive with others already on the market.
Specifically, Google said it’s adding apps from Showtime, HBO NOW (HBO’s over-the-top service), CBS All Access, Disney Movies Anywhere, EPIX, WWE and UFC to Android TV.
The additions close some big holes on Android TV’s platform. For starters, much of CBS’s currently airing content is not available on streaming services like Hulu, as the network has pursued its own, standalone streaming service called CBS All Access, offering a mix of on-demand programming and live TV. (That’s why when companies forge a licensing agreement with CBS for any on-air series, they make a big deal about it – like Amazon did earlier this week when it scored the rights to three CBS summer TV shows, as well as more Showtime titles.)
Plus, with the addition of HBO NOW, Android TV has actually beaten leading streaming player Roku to offering access to HBO’s programming over-the-top. To date, HBO NOW has been slowly rolling out to more platforms, after initially launching as an Apple exclusive. It’s available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, in terms of living-room devices.
Alongside news of the new TV apps, Google also announced an expanded line-up of partners to the Android TV ecosystem this week, including Hisense, TCL, and other TV manufacturers, who will join current partners Sony, Sharp, Razer, and Nvidia. Several pay TV providers and set-top box makers are signing up to bring Android TV to pay TV viewers, too, including set-top box makers Pace, Sagemcom, Technicolor and new pay TV partners KDDI and Telecom Italia.