(Larry Kramer is the author of C-Scape, a book on the changing landscape for media and related industries for Harper Collins (published Nov., 2010). He also founded MarketWatch, which was sold to Dow Jones in 2005.)
The latest disclosure that Google is thinking about offering a full cable-tv service, along with phone service, is a strong indicator of where the company is heading. It wants to be the portal into all things video for the consumer.
Google has seen the future of video entertainment and realizes that consumers will ultimately seek out the easiest way to have access to the most content, and that means a system that can access all forms of delivery systems. While some programming will be best served over the traditional point-to-multipoint systems like cable, satellite or even over-the-air, more and more programming will come from interactive 2-way delivery, either on-demand or IP.
The trick will be to hand the consumer a single remote control device that will control access to all those pipes of content, and easily manage and “authorize” their access to programming on each platform.
Cable operators and programmers have called this concept “TV Everywhere” and have been working toward building systems where one point of authentication can allow access to the same programming on all platforms. Google wants to take the next step and provide not just the authentication, but the actual access to the programming through Google software and perhaps even Hardware (Android?)
Another potential player in this world is Apple, which already ties together it’s platforms and allows its customers to access paid content on phones, tablets and computers via its ITunes service. Its Apple TV product is moving quickly toward adding the home TV into the equation.
“Google has been thinking about a move into TV for many years, says Keval Desai, a former Google product director who is now a venture capitalist at InterWest Partners LLC. ‘TV is built on a closed system, which is why traditional cable and satellite operators are the only place where consumers can get ESPN and other channels," he said. As more TVs become connected to the Web, he said, "Internet companies like Google will be able to give you that same high-quality content, possibly at lower prices."