Yesterday Google finally opened the curtain on Google TV, giving the world some much-needed detail on what the product is and what it will be able to do. And I was pretty impressed.
But then today I notice a series of articles talking about the content partnerships Google has announced for Google TV, and there's a strange perception in the media that Google needs the major networks to sign on as content partners in order to succeed. And I think that's just silly.
But let's back up a moment. Google has landed some seriously high-profile programming and content partners. Here are just a few… you might recognize a couple of them:
- Turner Broadcasting (TNT, TBS)
- Cartoon Network
That's pretty impressive.. I remember back before the iPad came out, when they announced content partners who were building special apps like the New York Times and Wired Magazine, and everyone was all aflutter.
But the announcement from Google on their partners list is being met with some strange criticism. Specifically, the fact the four major television networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, & NBC—are not yet signed on. And their absence from the list is all some media outlets can seem to focus on.
But either they're completely missing the point of Google TV… or I am (which, admittedly, is entirely possible). Google TV is about the operating system—the software—more than the programming. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'll still be able to get the standard network programming on my Google TV-enabled television. And I'll still be able to DVR shows I'm going to miss. Or use Google TV's Internet access to go watch reruns on Hulu–this article even claims Google is in active negotiations with Hulu to bring Hulu Plus to Google TV. Or use the new Netflix app that's being developed.
I really don't think Google is terribly concerned with network shows. The "content partners" they really care about are the ones building apps for content not traditionally found in a television signal—Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, and the like.
Think of Google TV like Android—and really, the similarities are many. It's a platform that hopes to reinvent the way we interact with our televisions. Some of that will involve software and apps. Some of it will involve the search functions, Internet access, or voice-commands. But do you really think Google is going to cry if NBC doesn't develop a custom Law & Order app?
This is in stark contrast to Apple's "competing" product, Apple TV, which won't let you browse the entire web as much as it will let you purchase iTunes videos straight to your television.
I think the TV networks are probably right to be wary. If Google TV succeeds, it could mean the start of a real revolution in the area of entertainment—one that could see the four big networks entering a time of struggle similar to what newspapers and record labels are currently experiencing.
As it always is with Google, I believe Google TV is really about advertising. Own the platform, and you can own the ad distribution. And that's what's got the networks scared. They're not ready to cede that kind of power to the search giant—particularly since they've owned the marketplace for decades.
But as long as I have a signal running into my television, I will still be able to access my favorite shows using Google TV, whether or not the individual networks develop custom apps. Stay tuned; I have a feeling we're going to be hearing a lot about Google TV this week, as apparently Logitech plans to show off their new Google TV device, the Revue, tomorrow.
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