Google’s YouTube channel has started offering free ad-supported TV (FAST) channels to go up against the likes of Pluto TV, Roku TV, Peacock, Tubi and others.

The company announced the channel’s new service expansion Wednesday in a blog posting, which indicated more than 4,000 episodes of various TV shows are now available to stream free with ads.

The TV shows join the channel’s existing library of user-generated content mixed in with more than 1,500 free ad-supported movies from Disney, Warner, Paramount, Lionsgate and FilmRise.

The company said it is offering the TV shows to U.S. viewers, and will include full seasons of many popular TV show franchises including Hell’s Kitchen, Andromeda, Heartland and others.

YouTube said the new content comes in response to a growing trend among TV streamers looking for free or affordably priced programming. YouTube has been one of the most popular channels in that field.

“More people are choosing to experience YouTube on the big screen with friends and family,” the announcement said. “In fact, according to Nielsen, YouTube reached over 135 million people on connected TVs in the U.S. in December 2021.”

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In conjunction with the expansion, YouTube said it introducing new streamlined navigation and immersive banner art, including new visuals and menus to guide viewers to their favorite TV shows.

The company said many of the shows will be available in high definition 1080p with 5.1 surround sound audio on supported devices.

Viewers will have access “to 100 new titles each week” available via web browsers, mobile devices, and many connected TVs carrying the YouTube on TV app.

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By Greg Tarr

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