Google’s Eric Schmidt Tells the British Television Establishment: It’s Time to ‘Think Beyond the TV Box’


eric schmidt speaking at 2011 mgeitf

Earlier today, Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt addressed the crowd at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival as the keynote speaker. We all knew he was going to bring up Google TV at some point, but the MacTaggart Lecture hit on many of the opportunities — he felt — the UK television industry and regulators need to embrace in order to compete in the global market. Frankly, I was surprised by Schmidt’s candor regarding the UK television industry’s shortfalls — which basically boils down to excessive regulation in regard to content production, data acquisition, regionalization, and advertising. No doubt many of the same shortfalls are also Google’s hurdles for entering the European market. A market he stated Google would be in by early 2012 with Google TV.

Unfortunately, no specifics were given on what Google plans to do differently in Europe than it has done in the United States with Google TV, but he did highlight the overall vision/opportunity of an Internet connected television experience (and put fears to rest that the Internet would kill television). Below are some bullet points I jotted down.

  • Static TV schedules are a thing of the past, as well as the record button on remotes (referring to DVRs)
  • Suggested/Recommended content based on usage and social signals can create the “perfect television channel” (think Flipboard, Amazon, Netflix)
  • Personalization requires data acquisition and the ability for users to determine what information gets shared
  • Social TV is a real phenomenon that gives users a shared viewer experience (works particularly well for live TV)
  • Catch-up TV is a revenue opportunity that can be taken advantage of to get higher first time viewer rates (comparable to TV first time view rates) on non-traditional sources (i.e. mobile, PC, etc.) by identifying unique views
  • The global market offers endless opportunities – there’s no reason for programming to stay regional, if it can be distributed and monetized properly
  • New viewing models can be tested — Schmidt gave Netflix as an example with its exclusive TV content that they want to show in clusters, as opposed to weekly distribution (the Internet provides a testbed for new ideas)
  • The synchronization of live content with external sources for enhanced viewing experiences (think second screen devices like the iPad, technologies like IntoNow)
  • Shared experiences with friends and families with either real-time TV content or online videos — reference to Google+ Hangouts

In the end, Eric Schmidt reaffirmed that Google’s intentions are: providing a platform (Google TV, Android, YouTube) to users and content producers, funding content through advertising & catch-up service partnerships on YouTube, and investing billions in the global IT infrastructure for the fast distribution of data. All in all, I believe Schmidt woke up the establishment and made a good case for why the Internet is TV’s best friend.

Related: Does the TV Industry Really Hate Google TV?

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