Over the weekend, during Eric Schmidt’s Q&A at MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival on the 27th, new details came out – beyond Google TV entering the European market in early 2012 – that Google TV will be announcing a few new hardware partners alongside Sony and Logitech. “Wait shortly for an announcement,” said Schmidt. Interestingly, the outlet that reported the news made reference that Google TV has “received lukewarm reviews and been blocked by the major U.S. networks since its launch in the United States in October.” To which Schmidt remarked during the Q&A: “We certainly have talked to them about reversing their position and we certainly hope that won’t happen here [in the UK].”
After following this space for some time now, it occurred to me that it’s not that the TV networks hate Google TV and don’t want their content shown through the device… they just haven’t figured out a way to deal with this new platform.
Traditionally, content providers, who are not TV networks proper, have had to license content for distribution. For example, Comcast licenses content for OnDemand use through their cable box and for its Xfinity TV service online (and through its accompanying iPad app). Licensing is very specific to which devices can access and playback content. If you notice on Hulu, availability often times states: “We currently don’t have the rights to make this show available on TV or mobile devices — request to be notified if it becomes available in Hulu Plus.” Likewise, there’s shows only available on Hulu Plus that can be accessed through the premium portal.
So how does Google TV fit in this mix? It doesn’t. That’s the problem.
Google TV is an unlicensed third-party that is capable of streaming content no differently than your PC’s browser. The trouble is… content providers, be it TV network websites or partners, can detect this freeloader (no disrespect) and rightfully disallow access. In reality, what Google really needs to do is work out deals with the distributors OR make it easy for them to create managed apps for the Google TV platform, which they are. Google TV’s next Honeycomb release will be Google TV’s rebirth and lifeline that changes things dramatically for the platform.
Will Google TV be a success in the long-run? Who knows, but Honeycomb’s app capabilities will allow the platform to play in the content distribution game — legally. Personally, I’d much rather launch an app like BBC iPlayer than try to navigate BBC’s website via Google TV’s browser to find the streaming content I’m looking for.
Tags: Eric Schmidt, Google TV, MGEITF 2011
Filed in: Industry Buzz, Streaming Media Devices