Google Play Movies & TV—and the Google Play brand in general—seems doomed. Google already pulled the Play Movies & TV app from Rokus and other smart TV platforms last year, and it will now remove the Movies & TV section from the Play Store. The Play Store, which used to offer a large collection of content, now only sells apps and books.
Google posted a message to the Google Play Help community saying that the Movies & TV Play Store section will shut down in May 2022 and that the Google TV app will be the new home for buying movie and TV content from Google on phones and tablets. The company also sells video content through YouTube, and when it shut down the Google Play Movies & TV app on smart TVs, Google pitched the YouTube app as its replacement for purchased content.
So when you buy video content from Google, you use the Google TV or Google Play Movies & TV app to play content on Android, the Google Play Movies & TV app on iOS, and the YouTube app on third-party smart TVs like Roku. “Google TV” isn’t just the name of the phone app and video content store; it’s also the new name of Android TV OS, which you can get on the new Chromecast (it’s also integrated into some Sony and TCL television sets). On those devices, your purchases are built into the operating system. Google Play Movies & TV will be completely dead if Google chooses to shut down the phone apps, and that seems inevitable at this point.
The move is the latest step in Google’s sunsetting of Google Play. The company hasn’t officially announced that it wants to kill the brand yet, but a suspicious amount of Google Play services are being turned off. Google Play launched in 2012 as a home for all of Google’s content. Android apps and games, music, books, movies, TV shows, and magazines could all be bought in a unified Play Store interface, and a collection of content playback apps allowed users to access each library type. It seems that Google gave up on this idea at some point. Google Play Newsstand was shut down and merged into Google News in 2018, and Play Music was shut down in 2020 in favor of YouTube Music. Google Play Movies & TV seems next on the list. With the removal of purchases from the Play Store and the app from smart TVs, only the phone app is left.
On the Play Store, that leaves apps, games, and books. Google Play Books does not have an alternative home yet, but don’t be surprised to hear about one soon.