YouTube is turning its TV streaming service into a four-screen entertainment center. Some YouTube TV subscribers can now enable “multiview,” which will be a valuable aid for college basketball fans during March Madness.
Multiview is currently in early access. Subscribers can see if they have the option to enable the new feature by heading to the Top Picks For You shelf on YouTube TV. From there, certain streams will be available to watch in multiview mode. After building an array of up to four feeds, users can toggle between the audio tracks for their chosen streams. Individual feeds can also be expanded to fullscreen mode. Multiview is available on all devices that support YouTube TV.
Over the past few years, YouTube has experimented with split-screen formats across its array of apps. A Protocol report from August 2022 suggested that YouTube employees had discussed multiview in conversations with hardware partners.
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In a blog post, YouTube TV engineering lead German Cheung explained that his team looked to other YouTube features as it developed multiview. The tech behind the split-screen mode is based on the compositor that powers Go Live Together. That product, launched last year, brought co-hosting to YouTube’s live streams.
“Instead of building something totally new from scratch, we could use what the Live team had already created and make adjustments from there for the YouTube TV platform and bring the feature to market faster,” Cheung said. “On the flip side, it also brings new opportunities to make the live experience even better for creators, opening the door for new features like adding commentary to videos.”
Cheung said that multiview will be rolled out “gradually” over the coming months. Though the feature is well-suited for March Madness, YouTube TV plans to hone its split-screen mode to prepare for a different sporting event: The start of the NFL season. That’s when YouTube will officially take over as the distributor of the NFL Sunday Ticket package, which offers access to every NFL game every Sunday. Thanks to multiview, football fans won’t have to focus on a specific matchup — and YouTube TV will be able to add value to its expensive football package.
YouTube TV launched in 2017. The basic version of the service currently costs $64.99 per month.