What happens if Google TV, which aims to offer up premium online video content alongside linear and on-demand programming, isn’t able to deliver? According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, that’s a very real possibility facing the new video platform being touted by Google (s GOOG) as a revolutionary new way to watch TV.
Google is trying to get into the $70 billion TV business, and Google TV is its first foray into that market. The search giant introduced its Google TV platform to wide praise at its I/O developers conference earlier this year, with industry support from Sony (s SNE) and Logitech (s LOGI) — which plan to make Google TV products — as well as Best Buy (S BBY) and Adobe (s ADBE). Noticeably absent were programmers that could help make the platform a success.
Google has reportedly been trying to rectify that, meeting with officials from ABC (s DIS), CBS (s CBS), NBC (s GE) and Fox (s NWS) to get their help in establishing partnerships that would bring some of those broadcasters’ digital assets into the fold. That would enable a Google TV user to find their web video content alongside traditional linear TV programming. The problem is that broadcasters aren’t sold on the idea that Google could provide additional value by doing so.
Not only do the big broadcasters seem reluctant to share data with Google to improve search functionality for their digital assets, but the Wall Street Journal reports that some are considering blocking Google TV from being able to access their content online. If they chose to go that route, it wouldn’t be the first time a rights holder tried to block users from viewing its online content on the TV: Hulu famously attempted to block Boxee, as well as Hillcrest Labs’ Kylo browser, both of which were designed for viewing web video on the TV.
The fear is that the content delivered from broadcaster websites or Hulu could end up cannibalizing viewing of traditional programming on the TV. This makes perfect sense, in part because those digital assets aren’t as well monetized as the traditional linear programming. However, if the big broadcasters resort to blocking Google TV from accessing their content, it would be a big blow to the platform, which aims to make all web content available on the TV. Without the blessing of the broadcasters and other programmers, Google will have a difficult time cashing in on the TV opportunity.
We’ll have to wait and see what content is available on Google TV when the first products come to market. But if certain content is blocked, Google and its hardware partners might have a hard sell on pitching the platform as a way to access all the web’s content on your TV.
Related content on GigaOM Pro: Google TV: Overview and Strategic Analysis (subscription required)