By Rebecca Burn-Callander Monday, 11 February 2013

Google brings Youtube to the masses with free TV deal

Google has done a deal with UK satellite TV service Freesat to add a dedicated YouTube app for customers to their telly boxes. Tune in and rock out.

That’s right, pretty soon all owners of Freesat boxes will be able to watch Gangnam Style, endless keyboard cat videos and listen to One Direction on loop through their TV sets.

Google has come over all televisual, signing yet another deal which will see Youtube streaming into livings rooms throughout the land. The video service is already available on a number of smart TVs, but now, through a tie-up with Freesat, a joint-venture between ITV and the BBC, Youtube will be added to the service's 60-plus channels through the magic of HTML5. Google will now stream a Youtube channel through the device from the end of March. The Youtube app will run in much the same way as the BBC’s iPlayer app, and other catch-up TV services.

So what’s in it for Google? Well, by bringing Youtube to Freesat TV, it should see a sizeable spike in ad views for one. It will also position Youtube as a genuine rival to traditional TV channels. After all, a number of bright sparks have been uploading entire films and TV shows to the service for some time, in effect creating a user-led ‘channel’ of sorts; this Eastenders feed is updated moments after the soap airs on terrestrial TV, for example.

As for Freesat, the company has already sold over three million set-top boxes to date, giving it a reach of approximately 1.7 million homes. This deal should only increase its market share - users will need its ‘freetime’ box to access the service. Admittedly, only those unfamiliar with the wonders of the HDMI cable will be running out to buy the gizmo.

And this won’t be the clunky, slow, glitched out Youtube that refuses to load (note to tech geeks, did you know that during the spinning wheel of Youtube caching, if you push the left arrow on your keyboard, you can start playing Snake?). Oh no, this will be ‘a TV-optimised, visually stunning and fully interactive viewing experience,’ says Freesat.

Who should be worried about this latest development in TV? BSkyB, Virgin Media and BT have all invested substantial sums in the pay-TV model, and this will go down like a DLP lamp sandwich. Especially as, despite Google’s – ahem - best efforts, lots of copyright content does end up doing the rounds on Youtube, despite endless complaints from media owners.

This is one more nail in the coffin of commoditised media. Consumers rejoice. Corporations, your move.

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