TV Networks hold out on Google TV

Top rated TV shows like Dancing with the Stars and Modern Family will not be available on Google TV

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
October 22, 2010 | Comments (2)
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/12f2

Google TV may be facing a long, uphill battle as it tries to get its new Web-TV service off the ground amid unenthused networks.  The Wall Street Journal reported Friday morning that several major TV networks and even Hulu are blocking TV shows on their websites from being viewable on Google TV.  Among the networks are ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., CBS, which is part of the CBS Corp., and NBC, owned by General Electric Co

Why all the negativity?  Some networks reportedly remain unconvinced that Google TV can create a business model that would compensate networks for their content.  Other networks, according to people familiar with the discussions, are not comfortable with the possibility that their programs could be lost in the Web and become lumped in with websites that offer pirated content.  Disney execs, for example, reportedly asked Google to filter out pirate sites when users search for Disney content, but were not content with Google’s response.

"Google TV enables access to all the Web content you already get today on your phone and PC, but it is ultimately the content owners' choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on the platform," a Google spokesperson told WSJ.

News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting and Viacom’s MTV are allowing Google TV to access their programming, although a Fox spokesperson told WSJ that "a firm decision has not yet been reached."

Some programs from sibling networks are also accessible on Google TV, including shows from the CW network, which is jointly owned by CBS and Time Warner, as well as shows from Lifetime, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., Hearst Inc., and NBC Universal.

So at least viewers can rest assured knowing that they won’t miss an episode of MTV’s Cribs or any number of the Lifetime movies that have the phrase “moment of truth” in the title.

Hulu (which is owned by Disney, NBC Universal, and News Corp.) is also blocking its content from appearing on Google TV, but spokespeople from Hulu and Google said the two companies are in discussions about bringing the Hulu Plus subscription to Google TV.

So for now, Google TV will be missing some of the top rated TV shows and programs, including ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, which took the largest number of total viewers last week, according to Nielsen’s rankings.  Among viewers aged 18-49, the top ranking program last week was NBC’s Sunday Night Football, followed by NBC’s Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick, and ABC’s Modern Family.  Among total viewers, ABC, CBS, and NBC account for all of the 18 top rated shows, followed by Fox’s Glee, which came in at number 19 (19?!?!), and the OT, which came in at number 20. 

Image source: dailycomedy.com

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Maria Taheny, on October 22, 2010

I can see Google's point. If they take responsibility to filter content, it will slow their search engine and discourage users. Additionally, they may not like the legal liability of being responsible for content, especially since they have no recourse other than to block the site on their engine. That could open doors of discrimination.

Frankly, it will come back to haunt the producers of the network shows. They underestimate the pull of familiarity in network browsing.

BTW, I love Google and detest Bing and Yahoo.

Faith Merino
Faith Merino, on October 22, 2010

Good points! I think you're right--the TV networks are going to regret their decision to hold out in the long run, the same way that publishers are going to regret withholding their content from ebook-distributors like Amazon.

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