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Perhaps soon, YouTube will offer free, ad-supported TV channels

YouTube is now testing a new feature where viewers in the United States will be able to watch live television stations for free. It would make YouTube more of a rival to streaming media players like Roku and Plex.

YouTube verified what had previously been reported: a centralised hub where channels from different content partners are gathered to provide users a wider range of options in what to watch.

YouTube says they want to “test user interest” with this. If the beta testers find the new feature useful, it may be released to a larger audience later in the year.

Central location

Approximately 45 percent of the ad money will go to YouTube, as reported by the WSJ. It takes the same percentage cut from ads on creator-made videos as it does from ads on YouTube in general.

YouTube told Gizmodo, “YouTube is the one site where viewers can discover whatever they want, and we’re continuously searching for innovative ways to give viewers with a central location to more easily locate, watch, and share the material that important to them”.

This is distinct from YouTube TV, which charges a subscription fee in exchange for access to a library of live and on-demand television networks. Through the YouTube user interface, you may also permanently purchase movies and TV episodes.

The television industry is always evolving

As it turns out, YouTube has been dabbling in original television programming for quite some time. You can watch whatever you’ve purchased using the Google TV interface on YouTube, and in March of last year, a slew of free programming was introduced to the service.

This action is a reaction to similar ones taken by competing streaming services. Not only have we mentioned Roku and Plex, which both provide free TV channels in exchange for commercials, but Netflix has also offered a lower tier with ads, and Disney Plus will do the same in March.

Whether it’s live TV or previously recorded episodes, viewers have a plethora of options for what they can watch (and how they may watch it), thanks to the persistence of many classic television viewing options.

This is another move in the right direction for YouTube, which naturally wants as many viewers as possible to stay on the site for as long as feasible. For another new addition to YouTube meant to attract a wider audience, check out the channel’s collection of short videos.