Google TV is, in short, supposed to supplant the set-top box although devices like the Logitech Revue won’t quite work that way. Instead, in a symbiotic relationship akin to a pilot fish on a shark, the device will run in-line to your cable box and act as an overlay to standard programming. They will offer video on demand as well as an app environment but in general Google probably won’t touch copyrighted content – yet.
However, the obvious goal here is for Google to partner with broadcasters to offer video on demand. That part isn’t working out that well.
According to the WSJ, Google is having trouble talking to ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Why? Mostly because the broadcasters are worried Google will cannibalize their business.
Why? Because Google knows how. I’m reminded of the reaction of ad men to Google’s adwords system. In a world where “nobody knows anything,” Google basically tips over the boat and then takes a slash on the rudder. Whereas an ad sell for a magazine could be a few million a month back in the good old days, an adword gives the same advertiser almost guaranteed traffic for pennies per impression. It takes the magic out of advertising.
And Google can take the magic out of broadcasting. Nobody knows who’s watching what. Nielsen is a statistical outfit and their projections and extrapolations will shatter like ice when put against the juggernaut of real data. I’m absolutely sure that the broadcasters don’t really want to know how many people are really watching America’s Fattest Bachelor Dance Off. Who is going to buy ads if Google tells the world that Fix My House Please Because I Am A Real Life Housewife of Scranton only brings in 10,000 viewers an episode?
In the end, Google TV will get its content. There’s plenty of it floating around and once one company falls, the next will fall into place. It’s inevitable. But as TV goes the way to the music industry, be prepared for some kicking and screaming along the way.
See Nicholas’ take here.