I may be biased in saying this, but it seems like Google will do anything to force YouTube TV down your throat, even if it must mix it with a little bit of what you love in order to make it palatable. Now, I’m not talking about cable channels themselves, per se, but the incessant need the company has with YouTube TV and Google TV to urge its users to sign up for other streaming services.
In both core experiences, many service providers like HBO Max, Peacock, and more are ever-present, and you’re forced to see content from them many times even in situations where you have not signed up to pay these additional services for their ‘add-on packages’. Google TV does let you hide them from the home screen via the settings of the device, but YouTube TV is the worst offender.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that Google has had a plan in the works for the past 18 months to integrate these streaming competitors and partners into your main YouTube app experience. No, I’m absolutely not kidding you right now. You may think I’m exaggerating quite a bit with the implications this will have on YouTube itself and how you use it, but imagine for a second being a Premium subscriber and seeing advertisements to sign up for each individual add-on package or subscription service.
Worst still, imagine seeing content you’d love to click and watch only to be told it’s from one of those services you’re not subscribed to. Just as with your Chromecast with Google TV, it’s extra fluff and constant advertisement for crap you don’t want or need being force-fed to you – a paying, valued member of YouTube Premium.
As streaming services begin to lose subscribers in troves, they want to go where all of the action is in order to recuperate that userbase – YouTube. Since Google wants to ‘co-exist’ with its competitors in order to provide more choice to its users (and avoid anti-trust lawsuits, of course), it’s willing to infect YouTube with a bunch of things you certainly didn’t pay or ask for.
Apple, Amazon, and others already do this, so perhaps I’m being hyper-critical, but I just don’t see the point. Isn’t YouTube TV a breeding ground for those types of partnerships and content distribution? If it were as successful as Google hoped it would be, then streaming providers wouldn’t be migrating over to YouTube itself, but here we are.
“They are making their services available in as many places as possible, so that they have as big a shot as possible of getting people,” said Bill Rouhana, chief executive of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc., which owns a large stable of free, ad-supported streaming channels.The Verge
The Verge, which originally reported on the Wall Street Journal article, seems to believe it’s the other way around though. Maybe Google needs its competitors to get YouTube users engaged with movies, TV shows, and more since many people just aren’t buying content there. Whether or not this is true depends on how Google views its success. Premium itself racks up a bunch of money for the Search giant, but as the company tries to get away from ad revenue as a source of income due to its past legal battles, these reports and its future actions certainly tell us where it stands. It’s worth noting, however, that YouTube content like this that you buy is also directly integrated with Google TV, so if you buy it on one, you have it on the other.
YouTube wants to be the end-all-be-all of Channel Stores, and it may be able to pull it off, but to me, it looks like all of these competing companies are starting to perpetuate the cycle of traditional cable all over again, just for the modern era. Wasn’t cord-cutting supposed to be about breaking free from this model? If so, why are we coming full circle?
One last note is that within the YouTube platform, content creators are now going to have to compete for viewers’ time against traditional Hollywood media and big-budget films. This has always been the case though, just not all in the same place. Something about that just feels a bit disrespectful to those who have made YouTube what it is today, don’t you think? Hey, at least you’ll have everything all in the same place, right? At least until Google has another contract dispute with a content provider.