Google plans to take TV service global

09 September 2010

MOUNTAIN VIEW: Google will roll out its new TV service globally next year, in another sign of the increasing integration of online and broadcast content.

Speaking at a recent conference in Berlin, Eric Schmidt, the search giant's chief executive, discussed plans to launch Google TV in the US in 2010, followed by an international introduction in 2011.

"Once you have Google Television, you're going to be very busy," he said. "It's going to ruin your evening."

This flatscreen appliance offers a search bar at the top of the screen, enabling consumers to simultaneously scour listings, the web and video-on-demand sites like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.

"The internet is creating a great ... disruption and that disruption is changing so many things," Schmidt continued.

Google has entered negotiations with a number of studios about forming partnerships, and does not intend to charge participating networks for streaming material.

"We will work with content providers, but it is very unlikely that we will get into actual content production," said Schmidt.

Sony, Intel and Logitech have assisted Google on this project in the US, and Samsung has declared an interest in making sets utilising its software, which is available at no cost.

"You should expect that other TV manufacturers would love to have this product. It's free," said Schmidt.

Future initiatives include adding an applications interface to Google TV, and "thousands" of these gadgets developed for the Android mobile operating system already function on this platform.

Extra tools encompass the ability to switch stations using a voice-recognition facility and employing smartphones as a remote control, although a special device with a keyboard is in the design stage.

Currently, Google is not seeking to directly generate revenues from its television activity, instead relying on paid search.

"There are no plans to monetise Google Web TV," Brittany Bohnet, a product marketing manager at Google.

"You would never want to buy a computer without an internet browser these days. Soon, you're never going to want to buy a TV without an internet browser."

Anthony Soohoo, svp, entertainment, at CBS Interactive, stated further clarification may be essential prior to considering whether Google constituted a viable option.

"While CBS is open to discussing additional ways to distribute our content, we need to have a firmer understanding of Google's plans for monetising the content that flows through Google TV before we accurately evaluate the opportunity," he said.

Harold Vogel, president of Vogel Capital Management, predicted networks could be concerned about the plans.

"It's kind of an end-run around their control of signal, and that's scary, because if you don't control the signal, then you can't provide your own advertising," he argued.

"It really destroys the legacy business model."

Barton Crockett, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, agreed traditional media companies might be anxious, but cannot avoid this emerging technology.

"I understand being scared of Google. They are big, smart, powerful and disruptive. It makes them scary from the moment they enter the room," he said.

"They also represent the future."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, Wired, Reuters, LA Times; additional content by Warc staff