Hold up. Google TV isn’t totally a lost cause and it’s all because of the generosity of Comcast. Fancast, or xfinity as Comcast would like it now to be called, streams just about everything to Google TV: ABC, NBC, Fox, all but CBS shows seem to work just fine. The ironic part is that the content seems to be provided by Hulu itself judging by the logo above all the videos. But let’s keep this on the DL, m’kay? We don’t need the fat cats finding out about this little trick.
There are a few downsides to Fancast, but the benefits easily counter them. It also shows just how shallow the search depth of the Google TV search happens to be. Clearly Google TV has some growing up to do.
All you need to do is change the User Agent. It’s basically the same hack that was used to get Hulu to work on Google TV initially. But once you spend 15 seconds change the setting — and here’s how — all you need to do go to Fancast.com and start watching. Some of the premium content from Showtime and HBO are behind a Comcast paywall but the major network’s content are all available for free. Well, besides CBS material. I tried three different CBS shows and none of them got past the xfinity starting animation. But after two video ads, the rest of the content played just fine for me.
The video quality is also a bit sub-par but YMMV as Fancasts seems to adjust the resolution on the fly. Low-quality is video is better than no-quality video though. Am I right or am I right?
Google TV Search is still the crown jewel of the platform, but users should be able to modify the results. Currently, it searches a bunch of popular video sites but only displays results on the grid guide from major network sites for the free videos and Amazon VOD for the pay-per-view ones. Users should be able to change those to show search results from, say, Fancast.com and Netflix if they so please. Perhaps some content deal is behind the search tool, but it would be infinitely more useful if users could modify it slightly.
There’s good stuff to come from Google TV. That’s for sure, but it’s still a bit rough right now. Hopefully Google keeps at it and doesn’t put it out to die like Wave. (which I used quite a bit actually)
[Update] Sorry, all. The backdoor’s now locked.