Google’s Chromecast dongle is getting a little more love from TV networks, with new app support for CBS, Fox Now, FX Now, and HGTV Watch.
Users can now download these apps for iOS or Android, then hit the Cast button in the app to send any video to the television. CBS, Fox, and FX have also added Chromecast support to their websites, so Chrome users who’ve installed the Google Cast extension can send just the video without having to mirror the entire page.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have traditional TV service, CBS is the only app worth using. Most of its shows include several full episodes for free, and you can watch entire series and live programming with a $6-per-month All Access subscription. The other three apps put nearly all their episodes behind a pay-TV paywall. (HGTV has a handful of free episodes, but you really have to dig around to find them.)
Why this matters: Chromecast has come a long way since it arrived in 2013. The $35 dongle’s only video apps at launch were Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play, but it has attracted many more streaming services and TV networks since then.
That’s not to say Chromecast is quite on par with other media streamers. As I noted in my recent streaming app showdown, Roku still leads the pack in terms of major streaming apps that don’t require a traditional pay TV subscription, followed by Apple TV.
What’s missing, then? One notable example is Sling TV, which offers more than 20 live cable channels for $20 per month. Chromecast is also missing A&E Networks (including A&E, History, and Lifetime), PBS, and the surprisingly useful CBS News. And like every other device besides Apple TV, HBO Now won’t be available—at least until Apple’s exclusivity period ends.
Check out the chart below for the full app comparison, and click here for a deeper dive.
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Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.