Get ready to look up your cable subscription credentials when Google (s GOOG) TV launches a new version later this year: Turner (s TWX) will be launching new apps for TBS and TNT that will offer access to full-length episodes of TBS and TNT shows, as long as users log in and prove that they are pay TV subscribers. But while this type of TV Everywhere pay wall could help ease the relations between TV networks and Google, it could also disappoint consumers.
The TBS and TNT apps for Google TV made a brief appearance on the Android Market last week, but have been taken down since. Screenshots of the apps show an option for users to sign in with their pay TV credentials, with Suddenlink highlighted as one of the participating pay TV operators.
The pay TV authentication featured in these apps seems to mirror what TBS and TNT are offering on the web as well as through their iPad (s AAPL) and iPhone apps. The networks both offer pay TV subscribers access to full episodes the day after they air on TV and the ability to play episodes from an extended catalog. A Turner spokesperson confirmed that the TNT and TBS apps for Google TV will offer authentication for pay TV customers, but didn’t provide any details about when these apps will be officially made available. A Google spokesperson sent us the following statement via email:
“While we won’t comment on the specifics of a product that hasn’t launched, we do believe that authentication can bring more content to users and the HBOGo app demonstrates this. We hope and expect that the authentication option will continue to be popular on the Google TV platform for both Web and Android apps.”
Google TV wasn’t exactly embraced by TV networks when it launched about a year ago. Virtually all broadcasters and most cable channels blocked Google TV users from accessing catch-up episodes online for fear that Google TV owners would drop their cable subscriptions. One of the lone exceptions was Turner, whose web apps for Google TV have featured short clips from its programming on the platform. Google TV has also offered HBO content to viewers that could authenticate themselves as subscribers of the premium cable network through a dedicated HBO Go app.
Google is expected to launch the next version of Google TV within the coming weeks. The second iteration of the platform will be based on Android 3.1 (a.k.a. Honeycomb) and have access to the Android Market. Dedicated apps as well as authentication features could possibly convince other TV networks to embrace the platform as well, but it’s unclear how this would be received by consumers.
Google executives have been struggling with the perception that Google TV is meant to replace traditional pay TV services. Tying the platform closer to pay TV subscriptions could help to mend relations with networks, but it might also go counter to what some consumers have been expecting when buying these devices.
Consumer interest in Google TV has been weak until recently, which forced Logitech (s LOGI) to slash the price of its revue set-top box from $250 to $99 in July. Interest seems to have picked up since, and the Revue even made a brief appearance in Amazon’s list of the ten best-selling gadgets last month.