If you own one of the best TVs with the Google TV OS, such as one of the best Sony TVs, you're about to get a huge upgrade: in a feature rivalling the Samsung TV Plus service that you get with the best Samsung TVs, it's preparing to give you at least fifty channels of streaming TV that you can watch for free. They'll be ad-funded, but not so ad-heavy that you won't want to watch them.
The news comes via 9to5Google's APK Insight, which peeks inside the code of newly released apps to see if there are any surprises in there. And in the latest version of the Android TV launcher app there's this: "Enjoy 50 channels of live TV without the need to subscribe, sign-up, or download." As 9to5google points out, that no need to download bit is crucial: it means you don't need an additional app. And the launcher also refers to these channels as "Google TV channels", which seems pretty conclusive.
What new channels is Google TV going to give you?
In the US at least, we can see about 30 of the new channels thanks to a graphic included in the app. The list includes a number of well-known brands ranging from USA Today to the Teletubbies, NBC News Now and Newsmax TV, America's Test Kitchen and Maverick Black Cinema. It's not as wide a selection as you get on Samsung TV Plus, which I have on my TV and which includes 200+ channels including some decent music ones, but it's a strong start. And of course it's free.
Google's free channels were expected to appear not just on Google TV but on the Chromecast dongle too, but as yet there's no details of when or if that's going to happen. The presence of so much detail in the TV Launcher app package suggests that a launch isn't too far in the future, though, so hopefully it'll come to the dongle at the same time it comes to the best Google TVs.