Special Report on Google: YouTube, Glass, Fiber & More

First in Variety’s new 'Deep Focus' series on major showbiz topics

When Variety decided to dive deep into the state of Hollywood’s talent agencies in our May No. 1 issue, we knew it would take more than an article or two to do the job right. Given the positive feedback the “Agency Angst” package received, it was clear that providing exhaustive coverage of what matters most to the media business was worth repeating.

The July 16, 2013, issue of Weekly Variety demonstrates that commitment. Welcome to the first in an occasional series we’re calling “Deep Focus,” which aims to offer an extensive exploration of subjects that are having a profound impact on our readers, whether well into the future or on how they do business today.

Our first choice for Deep Focus was a no-brainer: Google. It’s hard to think of any company more influential in the entertainment industry — and just about every other industry that uses a computer. What founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin established as an Internet search engine has evolved into so much more. Part of what Variety set out to do in this issue was to document the myriad ways Google affects content companies for better or worse.

Hollywood can think of Google in two basic ways: One is Google as a partner, owner of a massive global footprint across platforms from Gmail to Google Play that connects the world with its products. In some cases, Google has gone so far as to be an active investor, supplying funds to content brands poised for breakout success, like Machinima and Vevo.

SEE MORE: View All Stories from Our Special Report on Google

And then there is Google the power player. From Silicon Valley to Capitol Hill, the company has made clear it will not be pushed around. Simply kowtowing to Hollywood on piracy isn’t going to happen and, as Google’s role in recent revelations regarding the NSA made clear, its data capabilities have frightening implications.

Google isn’t just about a search engine and YouTube, though we have plenty to say about both, given they are the primary drivers of a business with an enterprise value of $241 billion; no company is bigger by that metric. We also examined the next big things up their sleeves, like Google Glass — the specs Forrester Research hailed as “the next iPhone” — and Google Fiber, the ultrafast broadband network that could end up upending U.S. pay-TV behemoths.

I had the pleasure of giving Glass a try in a recent visit to Google’s offices in Venice, Calif., and was knocked out by the possibilities it presented. The same promising vibe came across earlier this year during a tour of YouTube’s new studio in Playa Vista. It was then I fi rst realized they deserved the Deep Focus treatment. Read on and I know you’ll feel the same way.

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