Something struck me as I was reviewing the new TiVo Stream 4K. It had nothing to do with TiVo, and everything to do with Android TV. See, the thing about TiVo Stream 4K is that it's mostly and Android TV device (and only $50, at that), with a little bit of TiVo special sauce on top — plus a little something extra for Sling TV.
So I went into the Stream 4K wondering if anything else had been neutered because of that special relationship with Sling. Would competitors be shut out somehow? Would something else just be broken? Strange (and often unexpected) things happen all the time on the Android platform.
Android TV's Live Channels app is a great way to bring multiple live sources together. So why doesn't YouTube TV use it?
The answer, it turns out, is no. I didn't see any obvious changes. You can still use competitors like YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV. Services like Pluto TV and Tubi actually are installed as bloatware — you don't have a choice in the matter. (Though you can uninstall them later.)
But something else stood out to me, and it's actually something that I should have noticed quite some time ago, given that YouTube TV is among the Top 3 live TV streaming services in the United States. (Hulu With Live TV is No. 1. YouTube TV and Sling TV are second and third; though we don't know which is which because Google hasn't given anything more accurate than "more than 2 million subscribers.")
Sling TV (which isn't my everyday streaming service) shows up in Android TV's excellent Live Channels application, which aggregates various live services in one place. Other apps also can use Live TV, such as an integrated over-the-air antenna, or if you use one through an HDHomeRun box, or Pluto TV.
But know what's missing from the Live Channels aggregator? YouTube TV. Google's own live TV streaming service doesn't partake in Google's own live TV aggregator.
On one hand, that sounds crazy. Google's a notorious dogfooder. That is, it uses its own products all the time, and it's certainly not shy about pushing one service inside another. (Example A: Google Meet now takes up space inside your Gmail sidebar.)
On the other hand, I get it. The YouTube TV app allows for in-app promotions that you just can't do in the Live Channels app. How else would Google be able to bombard me with recommendations for Cobra Kai, if there's no longer any place for it to do so? There's space in the YouTube TV app. Not so much in Live Channels.
It's just weird, is all.
- Canceling YouTube TV? These are some great alternatives
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