Internet behemoth set to launch TV initiative
Google is now on your TV.It’s already the dominant search engine online — and growing its presence on cell phones with Android — but Google’s announcement Thursday that it will launch Google TV later this year marks the company’s latest attempt to control how consumers browse the Internet from any screen. Google TV will essentially enable viewers to search the Web, as well as programming offered by cable or satellite providers and entertainment stored on computers, using a remote or wireless keyboard, as long as the TV set is able to connect to the Web. A viewer’s favorite website can be turned into a widget stored on the TV screen for future visits. Google’s enabling this service by embedding its Android technology (which powers mobile phones) and its Chrome browser into new HDTV sets built by Sony and other manufacturers and in set-top boxes and Blu-ray players that hit store shelves this fall. Google has yet to disclose the pricing for the TVs or set-top boxes. Either way, Google’s integration into TVs — and the transformation of websites into full-fledged TV networks — will have a serious effect on Hollywood:
- The video-on-demand market should grow considerably once viewers can access video programming on any website through their TV. Searching via Google for a show or movie won’t just show where it’s playing on a broadcast or cable network but send viewers to a site like Amazon.com, where it can be purchased.
- That offering opens the doors to companies like Disney, which has been developing Keychest as a way for consumers to store movies and TV shows they purchase online and access from any device. And companies like Hulu could now have the prime platform they’ve been looking for to launch subscription-based services for TV shows.
- It could prove a lifeline for Blockbuster, which has been experimenting with new digital platforms through which to rent and sell movies in order to stay in business. But Blockbuster will face stiff competition from Best Buy, which has its own VOD service, Cinema Now, ready to launch. Best Buy will exclusively sell Google TV-embedded hardware this fall, effectively giving the company a promotional platform for its own vid service.
- YouTube has been looking to launch a similar online vidstore and, driven in part by Google TV, will bow YouTube Leanback, a version of the site designed for TV sets.
- Online marketing campaigns from studios and TV networks will now prove more valuable as TV viewers access an increasing number of websites from their TVs. Online ad budgets should increase as a result.
- By having users sign in to their Google accounts, marketers will be able to target individuals with specific promos, given that advertisers will have access to demographic breakdowns, viewing habits and other info per household.
- Video designed to play on Android-powered phones will be sendable directly to Google TV over a Wi-Fi network.
- Videogame publishers could circumvent traditional gaming consoles and turn TV sets into a major moneymaker for online gaming.