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Google Fiber Brings ‘Cast’ to Pay TV Platform

Confirming a rumor that emerged in April, Google Fiber announced Wednesday that it is adding Google Cast to Fiber TV boxes, a move that will help to extend a bridge to various over-the-top video services and applications.

Google Cast, the engine that drives the popular Chromecast streaming adapter, lets users beam and control OTT video to the TV via smartphones and tablets, Chromebooks and Chrome browsers on any computer. Once compatible devices need to link to the customer’s Fiber  WiFi network, customers simply tap the “Cast” button from the app to send the content to the TV.

Google Fiber will be adding that capability to Fiber TV boxes in the coming weeks, according to a blog post from Google Fiber product manager Jared Nusinoff. “And since Fiber TV comes with Google Cast technology built-in, no additional equipment or setup is needed,” he added.

Google Fiber hasn’t announced sub totals, but in a report issued in March MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett estimated that Google Fiber had just north of 53,000 video subs at the end of 2015, citing data from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Nusinoff notes that the integration of Google Cast will allow customers to use “thousands of apps” on the TV without switching inputs, including YouTube, Netflix, Google Play, Google Photos and Pandora, to name a few.

But some apps aren’t yet supported. Per Google Fiber's FAQ about the coming addition of Google Cast, some cast-enabled apps  won’t work with Fiber TV, including Hulu, WatchESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Watch ABC, and HBO Now, the premium programmer’s new OTT service. However, HBO Go, HBO’s TVE service, will work for Google Fiber subs who are on the HBO Optional Package or Premium Package.

Google Fiber has been asked why its integration of Cast won’t support some apps, though a lack of streaming rights for some content on TV-connected platforms is the likely culprit.

The Google Fiber integration will expand the reach of Google’s casting technology, which has already been baked into some Vizio-made TVs, Android TV-powered TVs from makers such as Sony and Sharp, and Android TV-based streaming devices and consoles.

Comcast, meanwhile, has been beta-testing a more limited “Send to TV” feature for X1-enabled TVs using a “bookmarklet” app/extension for Chrome browsers (Comcast also supports Send to TV on Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, but no longer for iOS and Android mobile devices, per this FAQ).