Google’s Chromecast is one of the cheapest devices you can buy that will let you stream internet video to your television. But right now there are only a handful of video sites that work with Chromecast, including Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play Videos.
PlayOn is showing off an upcoming feature that will let you stream video from Hulu, Amazon, HBO Go, and dozens of other sites… although there’s a catch.
PlayOn has been providing software that lets you send internet video to your TV for years, by leveraging a game console like an Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii. Now they’re adding support for Roku and Chromecast devices.
But you’re not streaming the video straight from the internet to your TV. You’re routing it through a PC first. So while you can pull up the PlayOn app on your phone, find a video you want to watch, tap a button and have it appear on your TV thanks to a Chromecast (or other support device), you’ll need to run the PlayOn app on your Windows computer to grab the internet video, transcode it in real-time to a format that works with your Chromecast, and keep your PC running the whole time.
As workarounds go, it’s kind of nifty — because dozens of internet video sites that work on a PC can now work with a Chromecast (or Roku or Google TV device, etc). For example, you can stream Hulu video without paying $8 per month for a Hulu Plus subscription. Since you’re technically using your PC to watch the videos — which is something that Hulu lets you do for free, PlayOn says this falls under fair use.
But it’s also not quite as efficient as streaming directly from the internet to a Chromecast, since you still need a PC. You just don’t need to run an HDMI cable from your PC to your TV.
Right now PlayOn for Chromecast is still in the testing stages. It’s based on the pre-release Google Chrome SDK, which means that PlayOn can’t officially launch support until Google’s tools come out of beta.
Once it’s ready, you’ll be able to PlayOn with a Chromecast for the same price as the company’s existing service — which currently costs $7 per month, or $30 per year, with a lifetime subscription running $60. The company also offers an app called PlayLater which lets you record internet video for watching later. Prices start at $9 per month for the PlayOn + PlayLater bundle, or $40 per year or $70 for a lifetime fee.