Viacom (s VIA) has officially joined the anti-Google TV (s GOOG) front, with websites like Comedycentral.com, Thedailyshow.com, Colbertnation.com and MTV.com now blocking access to full episodes for Google TV users, as GTVHub reported earlier today. However, not all is lost for fans of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Foxxy Love. The sites in question rely on the browser user agent to differentiate between Google TV devices and regular PCs, and changing this user agent string is easy as pie.
Here’s what you have to do to keep watching your daily dose of fake news on your Google TV:
Open a browser window by accessing any web site. Then press the menu button to access the following settings: “More > Settings > Advanced > Mode.” Now simply select “Generic.” You may also be required to reboot after changing the user agent, and erasing any cookies might be a good idea as well.
That very same trick currently also makes Glee, House and other content from Fox.com (s nws) accessible on Google TV. It also used to work for Hulu.com content, but the site has since switched to tighter security measures.
A number of commentators have pointed to the fact that Viacom sued YouTube over copyright issues to explain the blocking, but the truth may be much more prosaic: Most TV networks have standard policies against displaying their online content on TV devices, and it took some just a little longer to catch on to the fact that their content is now available on Google TV.
Viacom told paidContent today that it “continue(s) to evaluate Google TV to identify opportunities where it may make sense to optimize our Web content for the platform.” That represents an interesting dilemma for Google TV: The platform needs a critical mass of users to have an impact on viewership numbers for sites like Comedycentral.com — but it may have a hard time getting to that level if most of the TV content available on the web today is blocked.
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